As a Yorkshire business representative, I am add my voice to the current debate regarding devolution to the Yorkshire and Humber region and in particular to express my support for the Greater Yorkshire proposal.
The final make up of a devolved Yorkshire will have enormous consequences for the business community and it is essential that the proposals present us with the means through which higher economic growth and a competitive advantage can best be achieved. The outcomes that we hope to achieve through devolution will only be secured through a unified approach across the region with the counties of North, East and West Yorkshire working collectively towards a shared economic goal.
The Greater Yorkshire proposal will give a strong voice to North, East and West Yorkshire, enhancing our ability to attract large private sector investment and opening up greater opportunities and potential for infrastructure and transport investment. A Greater Yorkshire comprising of these three distinct areas, will also help to create additional economic muscle, building on the inherent strengths of our industry and skills base to create a strong offer to international markets.
The enormous benefits of a holistic and strategic approach to Business Development support across North, East and West Yorkshire will ensure that businesses have the opportunity to develop end expand and will no longer be constrained by small districts creating barriers to growth and development. We need to be able to share our expertise across the Greater Yorkshire region and employ a combined approach that brings the different economies of our region together. The other devolution proposals for our region are too narrow in their geographical focus and context and so fail to take advantage of the opportunities that a Yorkshire-wide economic partnership would create.
Our UK and international markets recognise Yorkshire as a distinct identity and an individual brand. If devolution is to be successful it is vital that it is based upon a geography that people can relate to and recognise and therefore devolution at a Greater Yorkshire level makes perfect sense. Only a strong, unified voice that sits across the whole of our region will be able to command public support and to engineer the strategic approach required to achieve greater inward investment and improvements to infrastructure across all parts of our region. This will ensure that Yorkshire takes its rightful place at the centre of the Northern Powerhouse.
In summary, devolution based on the Greater Yorkshire model will help to create a global economic brand that can secure real economic benefits for our area. It will create a single, unified voice that commands legitimacy across the whole region. We are all proud of Yorkshire, and when people ask where we are from we don’t differentiate between towns or counties. We only have to look at the success of the Tour De France, and subsequent Tour De Yorkshire to see how collaboration and a strong regional-wide voice delivers a successful outcome. This is our strength - let’s build on that through continuing to work together across North, East and West Yorkshire.