Does Councillor Peter Box Speak For You?


My parties’ calls for a full, Yorkshire wide devolution deal and endless campaigning for it is starting to gain traction, with a number of council leaders now discussing the plan. However our council leader, Peter Box, insists Wakefield would prefer to join a “Leeds City Region” than be part of a Yorkshire Assembly type body.

Does he speak for you? Do you identify yourself as Leeds or Yorkshire?

This week most of the council bodies across Yorkshire met and finally agreed to form a coalition willing to look at Yorkshire wide devolution. Sheffield and Rotherham (still part government controlled) decided against, they still wish to pursue a Sheffield City Region. Last week the leader of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, Peter Box, said in the Yorkshire Post that the people of Wakefield don’t want it, we would prefer to be part of Leeds City Region. He hasn’t asked us, of course. At the historic meeting of councils this week Wakefield Council had no representation. I consulted Wakefield Councillor Nadeem Ahmed, who agreed with me that Councillor Peter Box has not properly consulted the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council nor Wakefield residents on whether we would want to join Leeds City Region. Let’s not forget that up until recently Peter Box was also Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, a body that tried last month to rebrand itself as Leeds City Region! Councillor Nadeem Ahmed added “there appears to be an ongoing dispute between the Labour leaders within West Yorks. There has been no public view of the Leeds deal.”

I took the opportunity to write to the Wakefield Express ‘Your Say’ section, my letter can be read below in full:

First of all let me start by wishing all readers of the Wakefield Express a very happy Yorkshire Day.

Yorkshire is more than a name to many of us, it represents an identity that encompasses a myriad of cultural backgrounds and geography across our great county. I was dismayed then that this week Peter Box emphasised his commitment to taking Wakefield into a Leeds City Region rather than joining the vast majority of councils across the county who on this fine Yorkshire Day announced that they will forge a coalition to seek a Yorkshire wide devolution deal. According to the press release by this coalition Wakefield sent no representative.

Council leader Peter Box said that the people of Wakefield would prefer to join the Leeds City Region, yet Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett has clearly stated he would prefer we push ahead with a county wide identity and full devolution model as ‘One Yorkshire’. So, Peter Box, I would like to know when the people of Wakefield stated that we would prefer to join with Leeds rather than form a part of a powerful, county wide plan? I must have missed that memo, as did Jon Trickett and many of my friends and colleagues in the Yorkshire Party.

The future of our district is far too important to be dictated by Wakefield Council and Peter Box when it is clear that there is a cross party will for us to at least explore a Yorkshire wide devolution deal without dismissing it out of hand.

Matthew Thomas

Yorkshire Party Member

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