So far there has not been a proper public consultation exercise on the future arrangements for the government of Yorkshire. The idea of such an exercise is not new. In fact, it was Labour Party policy at the last election to set up a public led Constitutional Convention to determine the future of the UK’s governance. The idea of something similar for Yorkshire has been around for at least a couple of years and the YDM launched an appeal a few months ago to local government leaders for them to take ownership of just such a “conversation” but this was not taken up.
Such an exercise is not currently on the government’s agenda and without government support and a commitment to respect and act on the results of the exercise, the process is unlikely to get off the ground; unless there is overwhelming public support for it.
There has been some public debate on the government’s current devolution proposals in the media and at public meetings but this has been very limited and certainly does not amount to a meaningful consultation process. The government has ignored the result of referendums held in some cities which came out against the introduction of elected mayors and continues to pursue its own agenda of extremely limited devolution tied to the acceptance of elected mayors for those areas prepared to accept the conditions imposed. Local leaders seem determined to pick up the crumbs on offer irrespective of the consequences so deals have been done behind closed doors.
This is not devolution and this is not democracy. The concept of a meaningful Yorkshire Conversation is as relevant as ever.