Is devolution the future for Yorkshire? Councillors have their say

Drastic changes to the way the UK is run are the way forward, according to council leaders responding to the Scottish referendum result.

Saturday, 27th September 2014, 5:30 pm
Scotlands referendum  one year to go. The Commonwealth Unionist Party held a demo outside the parliament against Independence

Though the Scottish people voted no to independence, Westminster politicians have promised to deliver more devolved powers to the Scottish parliament.

Now, senior North Yorkshire politicians have told the Harrogate Advertiser that more powers to places like Yorkshire is the way forward.

Further Scottish devolution, which would allow more control over money and resources, sparked calls for an English parliament, and senior councillors in Yorkshire say they should have an equal opportunity to take control.

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Scotlands referendum  one year to go. The Commonwealth Unionist Party held a demo outside the parliament against Independence

Harrogate Borough Council leader, Conservative Richard Cooper said: “More devolved powers is a good thing and I would highly support that. Decisions need to be taken closer to the people they affect and I am pleased with what this government has done in terms of localism and I think we need more and more of that.

“What we really need is more control of the money that is raised in Yorkshire and for it to be spent in Yorkshire.

“I think it is an important issue that is worthy of ongoing debate.”

Discussions have begun over what powers will be devolved to Scotland and next month a report is due to be released setting out possibilities for more autonomy.

This is likely to include more ability to raise revenue, as all tax is currently collected nationwide. This is also the primary concern for Yorkshire council leaders who say money raised in the county should be spent in the county.

North Yorkshire County Council leader, Conservative John Weighell said: “I have no wish to have any more actual devolution because it would cost money, but it is having more powers from the national government that I think is important.

“We have a number of large councils in North Yorkshire and I believe that devolved powers to those would be the way forward.

“Transport and economic development and so on, that is where I am coming from and nothing more. It would be costly but wouldn’t achieve anything if it went further.

“It should be the area of the authority that is able to make its own decisions with its larger amounts of money. If the local authority could make the decisions about spending that money instead of having to bid for it I think it would be far more effective.”

Senior councillors did, however, say that a vote for an independent Yorkshire, should it ever come about, would be unfeasible.

The county does has a population larger than that of Scotland, at 5.3million against 5.295million at the last census.

Coun Cooper said: “Yorkshire couldn’t be a separate country from the rest of England. It is simply inconceivable that Yorkshire could become a country on its own.

“It never has been a separate country and I just can’t see any circumstance in which it could be.”

Coun Weighell echoed his sentiments, adding: “There is absolutely no chance of Yorkshire becoming an independent country. Scotland was far too small and I am glad we have kept the United Kingdom.

“It was not a viable option for Scotland, I feel quite strongly about that, and I think that it is an even less viable option for Yorkshire.”