Saturday 28 February 2015


It's amazing how much the approach of an  election can change Government policy. After four years of austerity and telling us spending had to be cut they've begun to splurge. After four years of increasing centralisation they've suddenly discovered the joys of devolution in this over centralised country.

More powers to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and now DEVO-Manc  combining 12 local authorities  into a super city with a £6 billion NHS budget and an elected Mayor. 

Unfortunately it looks like just another week in the continuous process of meddling with local government the Tories have given us.
First. They create the Metropolitan counties under Peter Walker. Then they abolish them under Margaret Thatcher. Now they're trying to bring em back, along with Humberside which they also abolished.This is hokey-cokey not local government reform and in any case it's a mistake to start building the Northern Powerhouse on the wrong side of the Pennines!

This is tinkering not a real transfer of power. You can't have asymmetrical devolution. It creates a patchwork quilt not a structured hierarchy of power. It leaves huge areas and lots of smaller towns like Grimsby York or Peterborough out in the cold:the garden sheds of power

If you're to hand powers down from London, as we should, you need firmly based and strong structures to hand the, to and if you're to have democratic control you can't have it through coalitions of 12 local authorities such as the one in Greater Manchester,so Labour ,which has been wrong footed by Osborne's opportunism  should revert to proper regional government with the planning regions as a base

Why not start with Yorkshire and Humberside with a population as great as Scotland's? Combine Leeds and Sheffield the old rivals in a Yorkshire region with its own elected government and give it control over local government budgets, transport, housing and the NHS give it a proper budget and tax raising powers and let the people decide their own spending and what weight they want to give to each function.

Don't force this on anyone else. They can watch and wait but when it succeeds they'll be wanting their own I'll bet. 

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