Guest Post: Unleashing Yorkshire's potential

Yorkshire First's Deputy Leader, Stewart Arnold, believes it is time for people to have a greater say and unleash Yorkshire's potential.

Yorkshire is the sum of its parts – large cities, towns, villages, countryside, seaside resorts, ports, the Wolds and more.

It's right therefore that local council leaders in the East Riding and Hull are pressing for powers to be prised away from the fingers of civil servants in London to the benefit all of the people of Yorkshire rather than one or two large conurbations.  After all Yorkshire has a similar population to Scotland (and indeed several successful Nordic countries), a large economy and international recognition.

Devolution to Yorkshire can be a catalyst for meaningful improvements to people lives, the economy and environment here.  And yet, even if Yorkshire gets its devolution what is on offer is very limited and comes with the catch of there being a mayor.  This seems at odds with the tried and tested method of devolution which has been in place throughout the UK in the past 15 years or so.

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and even London, have directly elected parliaments or assemblies which are transparent and accountable to the people.  And successful, because if any politician now proposed to take these legislatures away from the people they serve, they would be met with a very hostile reception.

Those parliaments are here to stay. Why wouldn't people support a parliament and executive in Scotland where there are no prescription charges, no tuition fees, no bedroom tax or where railways stations and lines which have been shut for 50 years are being reopened?

Or in Northern Ireland where corporate tax is to be reduced in order to attract inward investment?  Or Wales with spending on flood defences?  Or in London, where when educational levels were rock bottom, they had the opportunity to introduce a 'London Challenge' which has transformed the schools and life chances of London's children?

In Yorkshire we face some of the worst poverty levels in the country and some of the lowest levels of inward investment; so much of what's been achieved elsewhere looks very tempting.

Or, of course, we could do something entirely different. In either case that decision would be ours.  But it must be meaningful, inclusive, and democratic.

It is time to bring powers (and a fairer share of money) out of London and closer to the people in Yorkshire.  Just imagine the possibilities if we had the ability to unleash the undoubted potential of Yorkshire and its people.


Stewart Arnold is Deputy Leader of Yorkshire First and was parliamentary candidate for East Yorkshire in the 2015 General Election.

This article was first published in the Hull Daily Mail - 12th August 2015.

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