SENIOR council figures say changes to the way the UK is run following the Scottish referendum result must extend beyond reforms in Westminster.
They spoke out after Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled proposals to take a fresh look at whether MPs from other parts of the UK should continue to have a say on English-only matters.
Civic leaders in Yorkshire warned a Westminster shake-up was not a substitute to giving regions a proper say over their own affairs.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority chairman Coun Peter Box said: “While the Scottish people have voted against independence, a decision which I think is the right one and personally welcome, a result of the whole referendum process is that Britain’s political and administrative landscape has changed permanently.
“What we now need to see is all the main parties, who in the lead up to the Scottish vote have been talking about the need for more devolution and taking an interest in our cities across the north, making good on their proposals.
“That means a fundamental reorganisation of how government deals with the City Regions. Not a symbolic tinkering at the edges, so-called commissions or imposed gimmicks that some current Ministers might want to see. We need real changes that enable us to make our own decisions based on local experience and expertise rather than have them made for us by civil servants 200 miles away.
“The Combined Authority is currently drawing up a set of devolution demands that include the powers to grow the City Region’s economy faster and develop a rapid, integrated transport system, which will support that growth.
“As I have said before, the genie is out of the bottle on devolution and I can guarantee the minister and shadow ministers, we will not go away.”
He was supported by Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield.
“The Scottish Referendum has proved people feel passionately about, and want to get involved with, political debate when it directly involves them and their local communities. This result reinforces the widespread belief that further devolution must happen, giving local people much more say and control over spending and investment in their areas to promote growth, job creation, stronger communities and prosperity for all.
“For this to happen we need a true commitment to decentralisation and there needs to be a genuine timetable in place, with strong direction as to how this will happen.
“Leeds City Council and its partner neighbouring local authorities in the Leeds City Region will continue to call for significantly more devolution from Whitehall, not only for countries but for cities and city regions, in terms of greater decision-making powers and financial control including local tax retention. This is vital if we are to be able to take the local action we know we need to improve transport connections between different economic markets - to promote growth, create jobs and in turn rebalance the national economy to benefit the north,” he said.
Writing on Twitter, Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: “Don’t think people in North would feel it was devolution if English Parliament moved power from one committee in SW1 to another.”
James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Whilst the Scottish referendum has been a real wake-up call for Government, it shouldn’t mean that Westminster continues to shower the Scottish government with more funding and powers whilst making piecemeal gestures to City Regions in England.
“The referendum exposed the urgent need to change the way our Government works and we now expect more devolution and local accountability to be given to our City Region.”