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Leeds MP calls for cross-party meeting on Yorkshire Mayor and Yorkshire Parliament

January 20, 2017 1:55 PM

Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has called for a cross-party meeting of MPs and Councils to discuss the establishment of a Yorkshire Mayor - and also the establishment a Yorkshire Parliament.

With Yorkshire and Scotland both having populations of 5.3 million, and GDPs of £117bn and £102bn respectively, Greg Mulholland believes that Yorkshire should be given real and meaningful devolution - and as well as uniting the County under a Yorkshire-wide mayor, that there should also be a Yorkshire Assembly or Parliament, getting real powers as exercised by the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.

Since the proposition of accepting elected Mayors was put forward, Greg Mulholland has supported having a single Yorkshire Mayor, to maximise the power of Yorkshire as a region and a brand and to have the ability to deliver major infrastructure projects and bringing Councils together, tabling an Early Day Motion on this in Parliament. A Yorkshire Mayor is back on the agenda following the High Court decision to halt the establishment of an elected Mayor for the Sheffield City Region.

Greg has been critical of Councils who have not properly consulted local people. He also believes that the area of focus should be the county of Yorkshire and not seeking to bring in parts of other counties, which is what led to the problem in the Sheffield City Region. Mr Mulholland argues that most people identify with the historic county of Yorkshire, as opposed to the divisions of West, South and North Yorkshire, and that devolution should focus on a reunited Yorkshire:

Mulholland also believes that rather than just challenging the Government on allowing Yorkshire to have a single elected Mayor, that it should also be challenged to allow real devolution by the establishment of a Yorkshire assembly or parliament - to really give Yorkshire the powers and status it deserves.

The Scotland Bill, which was implemented after the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, ensures that more than half the money spent by the Scottish Government is raised by the Scottish Parliament. It is responsible for raising around 40% of Scotland's taxes and for deciding around 60% of its public spending.

Mulholland challenged ministers in 2015 as the Scotland Bill was going through Parliament to give Yorkshire similar powers, saying:

"Yorkshire's population is almost identical to that of Scotland and its GDP totals over £100 billion, yet we have nothing like the powers given, rightly, to Scotland and have no ability, bar what councils have, to raise our own taxes and to make transport decisions."

He went on to say that the people of Leeds should not have to depend on the Department for Transport, based 200 miles away in Whitehall, for deciding what transport infrastructure the city needed:

August 2015, blankCommenting on the possibility of a Yorkshire Mayor and Parliament, Greg Mulholland said:

"It is time Yorkshire's politicians and Councils got behind a single Yorkshire Mayor. A Mayor of Yorkshire would be a powerful champion for the region and also be better placed than Whitehall civil servants for deciding how best to promote and develop the region and I hope that more and more MPs and Councillors will get behind this. I also hope that Councils all over Yorkshire will accept that people would prefer this rather than having several faceless mayors for artificially constructed regions.

"We should also start to challenge the Government over their over-prescriptive Mayoral model and call for real devolution, which means having a Yorkshire Parliament or Assembly with real powers as well rather than with too many decisions made 200 miles away in Whitehall.

"I hope ministers will realise that Yorkshire is the real entity, a real northern powerhouse that can and should be allowed to thrive and that carving it up in 1972 was a mistake. So let's go back to Yorkshire being the county and the region represented by a Mayor and a Parliament and let's get rid of the artificial divisions of West, South and North Yorkshire. The power of Yorkshire working together would be immense and would deliver for local people and businesses and be much more accountable to them.

"As one example, the people of Yorkshire still have to depend on the Department for Transport, based hundreds of miles away in Whitehall, to decide what transport infrastructure our county needs. We should not have to go cap in hand to the DfT for every basic transport need, especially those with fairly modest costs compared to the large inter-region infrastructure projects that the DfT handles. We want the power locally to make bold decisions about 21st century transport in and between our villages, towns, and cities. To do that, we need real devolution, clear responsibility for infrastructure projects and also the necessary fiscal authority to do that."