The Government is talking nonsense in its decision to snub a One Yorkshire devolution deal, Chris Whitwood has told radio listeners.
Speaking to Liz Green on BBC Radio Leeds, the Yorkshire Party Deputy Leader said: “We’ve got 18 out of 20 councils, not just in West Yorkshire but across the region, who want Yorkshire to work together as a whole to improve our schools, our businesses, our hospitals and our transport. The fact that this is being denied by an MP whose constituency is in Greater London is utterly disgraceful.”
Chris Whitwood: the Government is acting against the people’s wishes
Picture: Robbie MacDonald
The Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire, claimed the One Yorkshire devolution bid, which would have passed decision-making powers to the region, did not meet the Government’s criteria.
However, Chris responded: “James Brokenshire’s assertion that Yorkshire is not a viable economic area is utter nonsense. The Government invited councils to come together to create proposals for devolution. The West Yorkshire Combined Authority, working with 18 of the 20 councils in Yorkshire, prepared an economic report just last year that proved Yorkshire could be a vibrant and successful economic region.
“The fact that the Government continues to try divide Yorkshire into city-regions based around Leeds, Sheffield and possibly even Humberside, goes against the wishes of not only our elected representatives but the beliefs of business, civic leaders, including people like the Archbishop of York, and the general public.
“Let’s not forget that people in Barnsley and Doncaster were offerd a choice (the only voters in Yorkshire who have so far been offered a choice) between a Sheffield City Region and a whole Yorkshire devolution deal. 85% of people who voted in that referendum voted for One Yorkshire.
“Council leader across Yorkshire, not just in South Yorkshire but in West Yorkshire, North and the East Riding, have been working together to put this devolution deal in place.”
Liz shared a text from a listener, Mark from Holmfirth, arguing that it would be better to save money and reduce the number of councillors across the county.
“I can understand completely where Mark’s coming from.” Chris responded.
“The Yorkshire Party has always campaigned for devolution for the whole of Yorkshire in the form of an elected assembly, much as there is in Greater London for example, because devolution means passing decisions to local people. That an MP in Westminster is able to deny local people and local leaders the ability to make decisions to improve their own area says to me that the Government may not even understand the meaning of the word.”
The decision to snub the proposed deal that would see Yorkshire councils working together as one raised questions over what would happen next.
Chris was unequivocal. “The Archbishop of York tweeted that ‘Yorkshire people will stand firm’. That’s exactly what I believe will happen. The Yorkshire Party will continue campaigning and I’m sure that Yorkshire’s councils, businesses, civic leaders and members of the general public will continue fighting to get the best for Yorkshire.”
The radio programme is available to listen to online here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06yzd13