Things simply cannot be allowed to carry on as they have been – the people of Yorkshire deserve much better.
Even the Government’s own recent Northern Powerhouse so-called Independent Economic Review (NPIER) found that over the past thirty years the economic productivity gap between the North and the rest of England equated to £4,800 per person, and a massive £22,500 per person, as compared with London
The reasons for this gap were identified as:
Clearly, something drastic needs to be done to correct this unfair imbalance
We at the Campaign for a Yorkshire Parliament believe that the only answer is for Yorkshire to be given the same opportunities as Scotland to govern its own affairs, through a devolved Parliament for Yorkshire.
There is much talk about the election of a regional mayor – but the election of a Parliament would be so much better.
Yorkshire has a diverse landscape and community, only a Parliament can offer fair representation and speak with one united voice for the needs and aspirations of the people living in every city, town, village, estate and hamlet that make up our wonderful county.
With similar powers to those in Scotland, a Yorkshire Parliament’s prime purpose would be to transform the county into one of economic and social prosperity and inclusion, and ecological sustainability. Such a goal is not achieved easily but requires focus, fair representation to ensure no one’s left out and sustainable, joined-up strategic thinking.
At the moment, Yorkshire’s future is dictated by Westminster. Where there is any local control, the county is governed by a mishmash of expensive, organisational structures with different budgets, powers; covering different areas, wasting taxpayers’ money as they move forward, with no single accountability or joined-up thinking.
A Yorkshire Parliament offers a simpler, less costly and bureaucratic, effective and efficient way of managing the county’s affairs than the current mixture of City, Town and County Councils, Transport for the North, the amorphous Northern Powerhouse and its offshoots, the Police and Crime Commissioners, Regional Schools Commissioners and so on could ever hope to achieve on their own.
We are not just talking about one form of administration over another, but about a new system of government supported by its own values and philosophy. Without these, a parliament is just a system within a building; with them it becomes a means of achieving so much more.
The Yorkshire Parliament would be just a small part of this new system of government; a parliament that would empower people from every level of society and every background to participate fully in decisions affecting both their immediate communities’ and the county’s future.
Gone would be the days of top-down government based on ideology; that would be replaced by a new, bottom-up approach that dealt with things sensibly and realistically in a way that was based on people’s needs and aspirations, on “user expertise” rather than on the theoretical considerations of outside experts who tend to be unfamiliar with local conditions.
Here we are talking about much more than the traditional consultation process practiced at times by both central and local governments to varying degrees of effectiveness, a process that is often just window dressing for community involvement.
We would create a mechanism that via “collective deliberation” genuinely empowers each citizen to initiate and contribute their own ideas on what should be done with devolved powers and budgets to make decisions affecting the environment, infrastructure and amenities in their area.
People would be empowered to work together to determine the detailed specifications of their local services, determine who the provider should be and, where they wish to, manage those services themselves, either at arm’s-length, through community co-operatives, or through a social enterprise.
There are already some successful examples of this happening across Yorkshire. The Selby Garden Enterprise offers a practical gardening and landscaping service for residents and businesses in the Selby area; The Wilf's Café social enterprise provides employment training for disabled people in the Pickering area, to enable them to move into the local employment market. The café also includes a sandwich delivery-round to the local area. An additional enterprise on the premises provides a full laundry and bed-making service for people with long-term health conditions and terminal illness. We want to build on these types of initiative.
We envisage that this process of empowerment will start with discussions in small groups at a neighbourhood level or through local representative organisations and then gradually build.
Where these synergies of ideas merge into common themes, those common themes would become the policy and priorities of a Yorkshire Parliament and Yorkshire Government.
We are talking here about a completely fresh way of doing things: one where every Yorkshire man and women feels a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own, their neighbourhood’s and their county’s future.
The Yorkshire Parliament would be genuinely a Parliament close to the people; one that restored trust in politics and politicians; one that worked with each local community and community-of-interest to identify their needs and aspirations, and, finally, supported and worked with those communities to realise their ambitions to build a better Yorkshire.
The Campaign for a Yorkshire Parliament is not affiliated or supports any single political party – we simply want a better future for our county, and for the people of Yorkshire to be given much greater control over our future.
Whichever political party you may belong to or political party you choose to vote for – we invite you to support us in campaigning for a Yorkshire Parliament.