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Sign of Hull and East Riding

As we usher in the New Year the focus turns towards the proposed devolution deal between Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire County Council. Is it worth the hype?

Claim vs. Reality: Scrutinising the Devolution Deal

Advocates of the devolution deal argue it gives greater autonomy and decision-making power at the local level. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the proposed deal is not the true devolution it claims to be. Instead, it is mainly a transfer of powers from the local authority to a mayor with little real devolution of power from Parliament.

Aside from the ability to potentially set up bus franchising, all the Mayoral powers over transport, housing and skills are things both councils currently do, working together where they see advantages in that. The Mayor’s other ability, to set up “Development Corporations” will remove the Councils’ planning and compulsory purchase powers in specified areas, making them less susceptible to democratic control and leaving local Councillors powerless to intervene to protect residents interests against powerful players.

The Financial Façade: Peeling Back the Numbers

The headline figure of £400 million may catch the eye, but a deeper look reveals a different story. In reality, this amounts to £13 million per year over thirty years which is a meagre benefit after factoring in election costs and the mayor’s office expenses. In light of the severe budget cuts we’ve endured through austerity and the desperate financial struggle both councils are facing, it’s apparent that this deal falls well short of addressing the financial challenges our region faces.

Another particular concern is the likely increase in council tax from a mayoral precept which is an additional charge added to your council tax.  This would place a burden on residents already facing a cost-of-living crisis. With both East Riding of Yorkshire County Council and Hull City Council contemplating a 5% maximum-allowed council tax hike, it’s crucial to question whether an additional charge with little real devolution to benefit is the right path for our community, especially given the current economic uncertainties.

A Comparative Analysis: Hull and East Yorkshire vs. Other Regions

When you compare the deal for our area with those of other regions with combined authorities and a real power transfer from London, ours feels second rate. I’ve attached a table which shows you the deals for other Yorkshire regions in comparison to Hull and East Yorkshire’s.

Table comparing the Devolution Deal

Voicing Concerns: Advocating for Genuine Devolution

I fully support real devolution and we deserve a devolution deal that genuinely empowers our local councils, respects the unique needs of our region, and addresses funding shortfalls affecting essential services. The current proposal falls short of these expectations, offering a mere token gesture of devolution while maintaining a top-down decision-making approach.

As the Labour Party proposes a “take back control” bill, promising genuine devolution within its first 100 days if successful in the upcoming election, one may wonder why both councils opted for a deal at the end of this parliament. Perhaps waiting for potential offers post-General Election would have yielded more substantial outcomes.

Time to Act: Participate in the Consultation

Now is the time for you to voice your concerns and demand a better deal for Hull and East Yorkshire. The ongoing consultation provides a platform for you to make your opinions known. Let’s unite in advocating for a devolution deal that genuinely empowers our local authorities, safeguards essential services, and prioritises the well-being of our community.

Please respond to the consultation, share your thoughts, and let’s collectively work towards a future where genuine devolution becomes a reality.

You have until 27th February:

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