YP Comment: What is fate of metro-mayors? New twist over devolution deals

IT remains to be seen whether speculation about the fate of metro-mayors is wishful thinking or not '“ recent reports that the Northern Powerhouse was to be ditched '˜lock, stock and barrel' were wide of the mark.

What now for metro-mayors in cities like Leeds?

There’s also no denying the fact that Theresa May is a pragmatist prepared to jettison unpopular policies and George Osborne’s insistence on directly-elected mayors, in return for devolution powers, did prove to be a sticking point here.

However it is being suggested that the Government is floating the idea because it is worried that Labour will use the mayoral role to launch its electoral revival in the North – Andy Burnham is the party’s candidate for Greater Manchester while Steve Rotheram, currently Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary private secretary, has been selected for the comparable role in Liverpool. This, alone, is not sufficient reason to scrap the plan. If the Government believes in localism, it must be for the people of Yorkshire – and elsewhere – to determine the most appropriate leadership model and the latest soundings from Whitehall do appear, if true, to offer a chance of ending the current impasse.

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Nevertheless it would be remiss not to consider three related points. First, did Manchester win the race to host the Team GB victory parade because it has a strong leadership structure in place? Second, there must be a clear link between responsibility and accountability – the public interest demands nothing less. Finally, regional government – in whatever form – needs to be far more attractive to visionary entrepreneurs who not only understand a profit and loss sheet, but know what it takes to run a successful business. How these issues are reconciled remains to be seen – council leaders in West, North and East Yorkshire can’t keep putting off the day of reckoning if they want this county’s economy to grow and prosper.

Winter remedies: Insulate homes of the vulnerable

THE fact that hospitals are already preparing to cut back non-urgent operations, and cancel outpatient appointments, to stem a winter crisis indicates the extent of the funding and staffing shortage. This contingency planning offers further proof that the Government and NHS trusts need to recruit, and then retain, a new generation of nurses and doctors rather than becoming over-dependent on ‘agency’ staff which have cost cash-strapped Yorkshire hospitals £171m in the past year.

This false economy cannot continue – there’s even a case to be made for individual hospitals coming up with their own contracts for on-call staff in order to cut out agents’ fees. Although these sums won’t come close to rivalling the reported £20m pocketed by ‘middle man’ Mino Raiola when Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive footballer, joined Manchester United from Juventus, the principle remains the same.

Yet threatening to cancel operations and so on is morally wrong. It makes the elderly and vulnerable feel guilty when they require care. And it patently fails to tackle one of the root causes of this crisis; namely the sheer number of pensioners at risk of hypothermia, and other winter-related illnesses, because they cannot afford to heat – or draught-proof – their homes. If this scandalous failure of social policy can be tackled, and it will require the Government heeding the calls of Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis and demanding that the ‘big six’ energy providers start insulating the properties of those most susceptible to the cold as part of a nationwide programme, the NHS might be in a better position to cope this winter.

It’s a potentially priceless remedy called team work and joined-up policy-making.

Cricket traditions: Scarborough annual pilgrimage

EVEN though cricket has become much more dynamic following the advent of the Twenty20 format, old traditions still die hard. For many, the highlight of the year is still the annual pilgrimage to the Welcome to Yorkshire Scarborough Festival which begins today when Yorkshire host Nottinghamshire.

One hundred and 40 years after the town’s North Marine Road ground first hosted first class cricket, there’s still something intoxicating about the timeless sound of leather on willow at this enchanting venue, the thudding sound of ball on bat pieced by squawking seagulls circling the boundary for picnic remnants. And while many cricket festivals have been bowled over by fragile economics, there’s no better place in the world to watch the summer game than Scarborough on a sun-kissed August afternoon.

Long may this be so.