Trickett calls for ‘single Yorkshire voice’
YORKSHIRE NEEDS to speak with a “single voice” to drive forward the economy and ensure the region punches its weight on the national and international stage, according to one of the region’s most senior political figures.
Labour deputy chairman Jon Trickett, the Hemsworth MP and former Leeds City Council leader, expressed concern at proposals to divide Yorkshire into smaller areas as part of moves to devolve powers from London.
His intervention comes amid fierce debate over how Yorkshire should respond to Chancellor George Osborne’s offer to hand over powers including transport, health and skills to areas which adopt elected mayors.
Proposals on the table include having a single elected mayor for the whole region or a series of mayors covering smaller areas based around cities and their neighbours.
Mr Trickett expressed reservations about the idea of a “mayor of Yorkshire”, arguing such a post risked diminishing Yorkshire’s status, and suggested the region should be aiming for a “full scale devolved administration”.
But he was particularly concerned that the devolution debate could leave the region divided into small areas, with damaging results.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “Yorkshire is bigger than Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even Denmark.
“In my view it is time to establish a single voice for Yorkshire to speak powerfully for our wonderful county.
“Only then will we achieve the ambition and the scale to make a real difference on issues like transport and economic development.
“It would be a mistake to divide Yorkshire into smaller sub regional groups and dilute the identity which is our biggest asset when competing nationally and internationally.”
The latest in The Yorkshire Post’s Big Debate series focuses on the choice now facing the region and which will have a significant bearing on Yorkshire’s future.
Writing in The Yorkshire Post today, former Northern Foods chairman Lord Haskins lends his support to the idea of a “whole Yorkshire” devolution plan.
He suggests that on their own, groups of councils centred on Leeds or Sheffield will be unable to persuade the Government to given them the same level powers and funding already devolved to Greater Manchester, which agreed to have a mayor last year.
But, he argues, a “proposition for the whole of Yorkshire could earn high credibility in Whitehall.”
Lord Haskins, who now chairs the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, writes: “It would be tragic if we allowed petty jealousies and rivalries to prevent us from seizing this exciting opportunity.”
Mr Osborne revealed in his post-election Budget that the Treasury has already begun discussions over devolution with the Sheffield City Region group of councils and a partnership made of West Yorkshire and neighbouring authorities.