Is the greater Yorkshire devolution deal on its way?

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There are currently a few different devolutions deals on the table for Yorkshire. There is a West Yorkshire deal (that contains Leeds,Bradford, Calderdale, Wakefield, Leeds and York), a North Yorkshire Deal and a Greater Yorkshire Deal. All of these are with the government to decide which option happens.

The Liberal Democrats in Yorkshire and Humber would like to see powers devolved to the entire region rather than see Yorkshire being carved up into different areas. Unfortunately Labour are supporting a separate South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire deals. Cynically you might say this is because they are strong in those areas and want to stay in control of them (there is a reason it was called the people’s republic of South Yorkshire). The local Conservatives are however supporting a greater Yorkshire deal, and a Conservative government making the decision the later option could well be the one that is chosen in the end. I hope so as I think it would be good for the region to stay united.

The devolved area is only one of the questions at hand, others are what powers will be devolved, and also what governance structures are put in place to make use of those powers. Currently the government is insisting that to get these powers the regions will have to have a new directly mayor. This new regional Mayor though will have none of checks and balances that exist with Mayors such as the London Mayor.

We would like to see a fully fledged regional assembly or parliament for the Yorkshire and Humber region. Such a body could have people elected to it on a proportional voting system. It works in Scotland and Wales, and Yorkshire as a region does have roughly the same GDP and population as Scotland. Failing that if we are to have a Mayor it would be much better if there was something like the London Assembly model to hold them to account. This would stop too much power being in the hands of one person. I’m told the majority of Conservative Council groups in Yorkshire are now in support of this London Assembly model too. If it’s a good enough model for London, I don’t see why we can’t have it up North too. It’s not as a good as an assembly but at least it allows some plurality in the ideas and political views that will govern our region.

The cost of funding some of this could be reduced if you were to give the new body the powers that are currently with the Police and Crime Commissioners. Cutting all the commissioners and their deputies across the region would likely cover a big chunk of the expense. So would scrapping the special allowances that go to Councillors currently servicing on combined authorities, as the new body could take on those roles too.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign for the most democratic system that we can get. A system in which political parties have representation on the new body, based on the percentage share of the vote they get. This will ensure thousands and thousands of people who vote Green, UKIP or Liberal Democrat will get their voices heard alongside those that vote Labour or Conservative.

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