Yorkshire’s identity cannot be denied, nor can it be trumped by appeals to an economic model that does not deliver for enough people, says an expert on English devolution.
In a detailed article on CityMetric, the online arm of the New Statesman magazine, Professor John Tomaney says: “All eyes are now on Yorkshire. As the Government’s devolution programme runs out of steam, England’s largest county has become the battleground for competing visions of what a devolved England might look like.”
The professor’s article has been welcomed by Yorkshire Party Leader Stewart Arnold, who said: “Prof John Tomaney has been commenting and campaigning on regional devolution in England for many years and knows what he is talking about.
“In this article he sets out the importance of the Yorkshire identity and how One Yorkshire is a response to the weaknesses of the preferred city-centric policies of George Osborne and others. It is therefore worth a read!”
Prof Tomaney says in the article: “On one hand is a vision of devolution based on the big cities like Sheffield and Leeds; on the other, is the ‘One Yorkshire’ vision, where power is devolved to the larger regional scale to create a more inclusive form of development that addresses the needs and aspirations of communities beyond the big cities.”
The Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at University College London analyses what is at stake in the debate and the background to it.
Professor Tomaney Picture: UCL
“New research suggests that large cities are not always the most dynamic engines of growth, and that some smaller and medium-sized cities and rural areas have outperformed them.
“Yorkshire identity is not just a potentially powerful international brand but represents civic capital and the basis for a shared collective project. Bavarian identity, expressed among other ways through its powerful state parliament, does not appear to have prevented Munich from becoming one of the world’s most prosperous and liveable cities.”
Prof Tomaney concludes: “The appeal of One Yorkshire lies in its promise a more holistic, integrated and inclusive economic and social vision for the region. It remains to be seen which vision of devolution will triumph, but the choices are clear.”