With Scotland’s rejection of independence and the approaching constitutional crisis, now is the time for Yorkshire to seize its chance pitch regional assemblies and devolution as the prefered solution to our devolution crisis.
The ‘outer’ regions of the UK have long been neglected by successive governments, clearly evidenced when 9 of the 10 most deprived regions in Northern Europe are in the North of England. These regions require major investment which only devolution can seriously deliver.
Politicians are now clamouring for a solution, a way to create devolution in the UK in a fairer manner including suggestions of an English Parliament, city regions or even regional assemblies.
English MP’s have petitioned to prevent Scottish MP’s from voting on English only matters if Scotland is to receive the promised ‘devo max’. Though this, or the creation of an English only Parliament would do little to help the regions, instead it would likely prove to be, as Nick Clegg suggestions, another talking shop for an already established political class.
Nick Clegg has also suggested devolving power to the UK’s top cities in order to move power away from Westminster. However, there is evidence that this would prove disastrous for the regions ‘second tier’ cities. Cities such Bradford would further suffer at the hands of their larger neighbours like Leeds, to be reinvigorated as a city Regions with more power to draw business and industry out of the surrounding areas.
Whether its unemployment, underfunded infrastructure or the remnants of industrial decline, each region in the UK is suffering its own issues. Regional governments and assemblies are the only way to ensure investment and growth is shared between the wealthiest cities and the poorest areas, a system of no town or village left behind.
Though this option is not without danger, a regional assembly would need to draw power both from local councils and from national government and not simply become another layer of bureaucracy that fails to develop our democracy.
There is a desire in Yorkshire for devolution as a survey by Huddersfield University shows that 75% of people wanted power devolved to the region, and that 40% of people described themselves as being from Yorkshire before describing themselves as being English.
By gaining our own powers over our economy we could have a bold, prosperous and potentially fairer Yorkshire that would be able to deliver on desperately needed investment. HS2 could be built in the north first, bringing the benefits to the north decades before current plans, we could do more to alleviate the shortage of housing in our region, our cities could deliver thousands of jobs. But, this is only possible if Yorkshire, and other regions can rally together and further build the case for regional devolution.