2015 was a big year for Yorkshire First. We stood in 14 seats in the General Election and, as importantly, influenced the emerging debate that Yorkshire needs first rate decision making powers similar to Scotland. Tried and tested powers; not fifth rate city regions.
This past year has seen many things, not least the recent floods which show again the inadequacies in our governance. Priorities have to be balanced, fair and made closer to the people affected wherever possible. However, decisions for our region should be made here not at the whim of civil servants hundreds of miles away in London. Without the full range of powers to act locally and regionally we will continue to stumble from one crisis to another.
A new year is a time for reflection and a time to look ahead to 2016 with hope.
A future renewal of our democracy has to be built on the will of the people as citizens, not imposed from the top down. Anything less is an affront to our democracy. When asked, people have consistently shown their desire for a Yorkshire wide solution to our governance and civic renewal. Yorkshire is the real deal, anything else is selling us all short
We have consistently called for a 'Conversation for Yorkshire' to involve a wide cross section of communities across the region to begin to agree a vision for Yorkshire. One that addresses our challenges and opportunities we have as a key region of the U.K. One that allows us to build towards a shared vision that delivers for all who choose to live here. One that works for the people, environment, and economy here. When will the national parties begin to listen? When will they put their petty grievances aside and argue for a region with the powers to create a brighter future for Yorkshire.
Our local council leaders could make this happen. It would strengthen their hand in their negotiations with Whitehall and Westminster. We have 22 council leaders that are negotiating behind closed door deals with a government that seem determined to impose a top down solution. Mayors? Yorkshire is better than that.
The council leaders could and should be more demanding and jointly call for a wider public consultation, to look at how we best deliver for our communities across the region: how we organise, involve and deliver services effectively, what additional powers the region should take from Westminster, whilst at the same time building towards a shared vision of a stronger region. Negotiation through togetherness and strength through involvement of people in the region.
2016 is a year of renewed hope that all with an interest in shaping a Yorkshire fit for the 21st century will pull together and demand first rate tried and tested powers similar to Scotland. After all, we have a similar population and an economy twice that of Wales. But the powers of neither.
Yorkshire First's mission in 2016 - both through the ballot box and beyond - will be to continue to argue for the powers that allow Yorkshire to unlock its undoubted potential. It's a powerful argument which I am glad so many people are now part of.
If you're not already a member, please click here to join Yorkshire First today.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Leader of Yorkshire First
Yorkshire First - The Party for Yorkshire