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.

Calderdale Lib Dems call for a Yorkshire Parliament

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Calderdale Liberal Democrats are proposing that a Yorkshire Parliament be established to replace Police & Crime Commissioners and regional quangos such as the City Regions and Combined Authorities.

They argue that the current structures of regional government being established such as the Leeds City Region, the Sheffield City Region and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are undemocratic quangos. The complaint is that the politicians who sit on these bodies are appointed there by other politicians rather than being directly elected by the people they are meant to represent.

Liberal Democrat Councillor James Baker said “John Locke, one of the fathers of classical liberalism, famously said civil government requires the consent of those which are governed to govern. At no point in time did we consent to be governed by regional quangos full of well-paid bureaucrats, and politicians who were appointed there by other politicians. As a democrat I believe all levels of government must be held directly accountable to the people they represent.”

In comparison to the new City Regions and Combined Authorities Yorkshire forms a single recognisable region, with a common culture, dialect, and identity which is one of the strongest in the UK with the population and GDP being roughly equivalent to that of Scotland.

Calderdale Liberal Democrats are taking their proposal to the Liberal Democrats regional Yorkshire & Humber conference taking place on 1st November. If the motion is passed and accepted it will become the policy of regional party to support this move.

Alisdair Calder McGregor the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley said:

“A Parliament for Yorkshire is a no-brainer. Yorkshire has a proud identity, its own dialect, and as many people and as strong an economy as Scotland.

The Tories’ idea of English Votes for English Laws isn’t good enough, because it leaves those votes still taking place in Westminster, and Labour’s idea that they can ignore this entire issue is utterly misguided.

The Scottish referendum has finally exposed that Yorkshire gets a raw deal because of being run from London. It’s time for Yorkshire to run its own affairs. I am proud to champion the long-standing Liberal Policy of local rule.

Let’s cut the shadowy bureaucracies and remote Westminster parliament down to size, and have Yorkshire run for Yorkshire, by Yorkshire and from Yorkshire!”

Calderdale Liberal Democrats motion to Yorkshire conference

Clegg confirms devolution on demand

Alisdair Calder McGregor  our prospective parliamentary candidate for Calder Valley has been lobbying Nick Clegg to request that we have the ability to push for regional devolution powers. The response we got confirms that the devolution on demand policy the Liberal Democrats are pushing would allow for devolution of powers not just to cities but to counties and regions too.

Dear Alisdair,

Thank you for your email about the devolution of powers. Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I hope the following lines will make clear the position we are taking when responding on this issue, and will confirm our commitment to more localisation and regional powers.

As was highlighted by Ministers at conference, we as party remain absolutely committed to delivering significant new powers to Scotland – the party leaders made a clear ‘vow’ on this, and we are determined to keep that promise in full and on time. Nick and the Lib Dems have been strong on this, despite unclear messages from other parties. We remain longstanding advocates of reform and of a fully Federal solution for the whole UK, and to this end, we want a radical rebalancing of power within England, devolving power away from Whitehall and Westminster. We are also committed to delivering further powers for Wales as recommended by the Silk Commission and to strengthening devolution in Northern Ireland too.

Nick has been clear that a solution is needed to the so-called “West Lothian Question”, and that more powers should be given to the cities, counties and regions of England. Liberal Democrats are proposing this in government currently, and our party policy of “Devolution on Demand” would make this available as of right across England. David Laws’s article in the Guardian set this out clearly, 
Any changes to the way legislation passes in Westminster should take account of votes cast in elections, and should not, for example, allow one party to block English legislation on the basis of only minority support in England. In light of the importance of such changes, we want to see a constitutional convention take place, starting next year, with a Citizen’s Jury representing every part of the UK making the decisions. In doing this, we could hopefully tackle some of the issues you raised in your email and give local people their say in the kind of governance they want.

With other parties beginning to endorse our longstanding commitment to devolution, and to the belief that the future direction of the UK should be for people, not just politicians, to decide, Nick will use this opportunity do everything possible to make it happen. Decisions across the whole country should be taken as closely as possible to those they affect, and this period may be the best opportunity in our lifetimes to disperse power out of the corridors of Westminster to the cities, counties and regions of England, improving not just our democracy but revitalising and rebalancing our economy too.

I hope this information is helpful in addressing some of your concerns. Thank you again for your email.

Yours sincerely

Kelsey Smith
Office of Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP