|Kirklees Cllr Andrew Cooper with from l to r York Cllrs Lars Kramm, Denise Craghill , Andy D'Agorne, Leeds Cllr David Blackburn & Sheffield Cllr Rob Murphy|
Let us be clear there is no popular clamour among local people for an elected Mayor and in fact where referenda have taken place the public is overwhelmingly opposed to the concept. The Green Party are opposed to the centralisation of power inherent in the Government’s Mayoral proposals. Instead of a Mayor the Green Party would ideally prefer an elected Assembly for the whole of the Yorkshire and The Humber Region with the same powers as the Scottish Government.
Greens recognise that there is no actual increase in funds being offered to the Region by the UK Government, but instead the transfer of control from a remote Whitehall Government to remote Mayors. This is not true devolution of power that is on offer but the centralisation of power in the hands of one individual.
There are some attractions in taking powers from Whitehall to the Yorkshire and The Humber Region. For example, in 2013 the UK Government redirected £200million of European funding that was destined for Yorkshire to Scotland, presumably with one eye on the Independence referendum. If what is on offer could prevent that misappropriation of funds by the UK Government then that would be a positive thing. It has to be pointed out that ‘Asks’ from Yorkshire Council Leaders have not been voted on by the Councils in the Region so the negotiations themselves lack any democratic legitimacy.
The ‘Asks’ that Yorkshire Council Leaders have requested of Government in return for having Elected Mayors will be meaningless if they are not accountable. The Combined Authorities in the Region are not truly democratic or accountable bodies. Its members are there by virtue of the fact that they are Leaders of Councils, along with a few Opposition leaders to nominally give political balance. They are effectively unelected appointees to a political body and have no mandate.
Green Party Councillors in the Yorkshire Region believe there should be no Mayoral Deals without Elected Assemblies. The Assemblies, elected by proportional representation, should become the Combined Authorities. They should have the same powers as the Greater London Assembly and be able to veto any Mayor’s proposed Budgets and Strategies with a 2/3rds majority. What is good enough for London should be good enough for Yorkshire.
The Green Party believes that any proposals for an Elected Mayor within the region should be subject to a Referendum to be held at the same time as the Police and Crime Commissioner/Local Elections in May 2016. This will help reduce costs and ensure that the people have the final say.
Without all these conditions and safeguards Green Party Councillors will oppose any proposed Elected Mayor in our region.