Maintain momentum in push for devolution
Whilst it was disappointing to hear Communities Secretary James Brokenshire say the One Yorkshire proposal did not meet the government’s criteria for devolution, it was positive to hear that he was prepared ‘to begin discussions’ about a different approach to devolution in our region.
This proposal is backed by 18 out of 20 local authorities and the Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis. And we, The Institute of Directors (IoD) are fully behind devolution for Yorkshire in whatever guise it may eventually form, but now time is totally of the essence to make this a reality and not a ‘novel’.
That is why, just as in business, the region must act quickly, adapt and revise the strategy for achieving devolution. Much has been gained in recent months and we cannot afford to lose the momentum if we are to take advantage of devolved powers.
You only have to look across the Pennines to see how Manchester is benefitting from devolved powers, enabling it and its people to have local control over issues such as health and social care, regeneration, transport and importantly, economic growth.
Birmingham, Liverpool and the Tees Valley are all using devolved powers, so why not Yorkshire and its 5.5 million population? The potential to generate £30 billion for the regional economy is too big a prize to ignore.
Decisions made closer to local people, communities and the businesses they affect, providing greater freedoms and flexibility is why devolution has to be the goal for Yorkshire.
But what does that mean in real terms? In the city regions devolved to date, it means devolved powers for Metro Mayors who represent Combined Authorities. And what are these powers? They can vary but, for example, Greater Manchester has powers over transport, housing and policing – with more powers on route. Tees Valley has powers over planning and housing, transport, business support, education skills and employment. In all instances, an investment fund is created and in the example of Tees Valley, there is a 30-year initial allocation of funding for capital financing of at least £15 million a year. Simply put, without devolution, decisions will continue to be made in Westminster and not by the communities that these decisions affect.
The One Yorkshire proposal has brought together local government, unions, universities and businesses as a coalition of the willing in the drive towards devolution. We must do everything to support their endeavours as they plan the next steps in making sure devolution remains firmly on the table in front of government. If this means following the Metro Mayor route, then this must be considered.
To this end, the IoD in Yorkshire is partnering with Leeds Law Society to enable the debate around devolution for Yorkshire to continue at this critical stage in its development.
Wednesday 6 March will see a range of stakeholders come together to discuss what has been achieved so far, how to maintain the momentum and where the campaign for devolution heads next. Hosted by Walker Morris, Leeds, this is a timely opportunity to get involved and make your voice heard if you haven’t already done so.
IoD Chair Charlotte Valeur and Jo Morris, Chief Executive of Doncaster Council, will be among the speakers at this event. We have 10 free tickets for Yorkshire Post readers – find out more here.
This latest event will be one of many opportunities in the coming weeks and months to engage and become involved in the campaign to secure devolved powers for the region. I’d urge you to take advantage of these opportunities and help shape the future of Yorkshire.
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Natalie Sykes, regional director, Institute of Directors