The Star Says: Northern power is now on the agenda

Opinion
Opinion
0
Have your say

When it comes to issues on our doorstep we may soon be in a situation where major decisions are made by our locally elected representatives.

Across the Pennines, Greater Manchester will become a test case for new powers when they elect a mayor in two years.

Chancellor George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne

It will be interesting to see how it works after Chancellor George Osborne said it was time for major cities to ‘take control of their own affairs’.

In Mr Osborne’s first major speech of the new Parliament he outlined plans under the Cities Devolution Bill to create a so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Last year, a devolution deal for Sheffield – shifting powers over transport, skills, business and housing from Whitehall – was signed.

The idea is to create what is being termed a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ which is designed to get the great cities of the north, including Sheffield, working together to rival London and the wider south-east area.

It is easy to be sceptical – and many already are.

The north is traditionally a Labour stronghold so for a Conservative Chancellor to be proposing new powers and greater autonomy could be taken in a couple of ways.

Is it a way of casting off the north to deal with their own issues under their own terms? A give-them-the-money-and-let-them-deal-with-it kind of attitude.

Or, more positively, is it a way of showcasing what can be done if decisions are made at a local level.

It is hardly likely to turn swathes of our cities blue but it may shake up the political landscape to a certain extent.

The truth, as usual, will probably be somewhere in the middle.

Doncaster already has an elected mayor and it still has its share of political frustrations.

Having spoken with readers of The Star there is also a fear of providing more powers to local politicians who they believe wouldn’t spend the money wisely.

That can only remain to be seen but it would be a huge change in responsibilty.

However, a city like Sheffield may benefit from greater control over areas such as transport.

Local knowledge and being able to channel more resources into infrastructure or public transport could prove to be popular.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens but it is certainly a subject that will continue to raise its head over the next five years.