A campaign group has renewed its call for more powers to be devolved to the north.
The Hannah Mitchell Foundation, which wants an elected assembly for the north, says as the Scottish independence referendum approaches, the government should introduce an “England of the regions“.
Professor Paul Salveson, the foundation’s general secretary, has published a paper titled One Nation, Many Rivers, exploring England’s radical political history and suggesting this could form the building blocks of a new, democratic English politics.
Foundation chair Barry Winter said:
“Paul Salveson calls for a genuine devolution of power to England’s regions in line with the changes taking place in both Scotland and Wales.
“His argument could not be more relevant in these fluid times.
“He recognises we have an opportunity to break with our over-centralised system and with the political cynicism it encourages.
“As England of the regions, he argues, drawing on our democratic traditions, should ensure that power is then widely dispersed.
After the foundation was launched in 2012, Labour leader Ed Miliband said the public was not interested in a “government of the north” and it was better to devolve power to local councils than create “more layers of politicians”.
Michael Knowles, from the Campaign for an English Parliament, said creating a government for the north would worsen the country’s “widening social and economic divide”.
Prof Salveson’s paper is available online at http://www.hannahmitchell.org.uk/
Source – Durham Times, 02 Sept 2014
An MP has said the North-East has been “totally ignored once again” in a Government consultation on rail travel.
The Government is consulting on future Northern and TransPennine franchises which start in February 2016.
Plans have already been unveiled for major improvements to Manchester train stations and the possibility of electrification of the railway lines to York or Leeds has been raised.
But Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, said the North-East and especially the Tees Valley is being “totally ignored.”
In a written response he pointed to an Institute of Institute of Public Policy Research report which showed that for nearly £3,000 spent per person on transport in London and the South-East just £5 is spent in the North-East.
He also said current TransPennine trains were “third rate,” any investment in the North-East was confined to the Tyne and Wear Metro and the current franchise plans were likely to lead to ticket office closures and price hikes for customers. Stopping electrification at York or Leeds would also reduce the region to being left with mere “shuttle services to the 21st Century.”
He continued: “I went to one presentation about rail with the secretary of Transport about this and all I could see on the screen was an arrow pointing North-East. That was our only mention. I went beserk. There’s nothing for us, despite the fact that we’re the only region outside London actually with a positive contribution to GDP. It’s like the North doesn’t exist at all outside the M62 corridor.”
Mr McDonald said he had sympathy with The Hannah Mitchell Foundation which campaigns for the North to have a regional Government. The Foundation has appealed directly to the Labour Party to promise to make changes if elected to the franchise to include new trains which it says should be made in the north.
Companies will be chosen to run the new rail franchises in the coming year.
Source – Northern Echo, 18 Aug 2014