People may well wonder what a man from a mining family, in a Labour stronghold is doing being a member of the Yorkshire Party. Lots of ‘facts’ are out there about the party, lots of them are untrue.
It is often claimed that the Yorkshire Party wants Yorkshire to break away from the United Kingdom and forge a new nation. This is fallacy (though i am sure a number of Yorkshire Party supporters may wish this to be the case). What the party is really campaigning for is devolved powers for Yorkshire. This means, essentially, that like London, Wales and Scotland Yorkshire would have the powers and be in control of its own destiny. The government has made it very clear that Yorkshire is getting devolution in one form or another and has made it clear that will likely be via city regions, with elected mayors. This means that you, as a resident of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe would become part of a Leeds City Region, when Wakefield is swallowed up by the devolved city power. Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council, has made it very clear he sees this as our future. What makes is all the more bizarre is that Doncaster, probably our nearest big town, would be eaten up by Sheffield City Region, and Doncaster have indicated that they are not too keen on the idea.
What the Yorkshire Party proposes instead is that Yorkshire is given a full devolution deal, county wide, as one Yorkshire. This solution would form a powerful region, not a fragmented one. It wouldn’t open up old rivalries where smaller towns are lost to their larger city neighbour (and subsequent loss of identity). An assembly in the form of that which London already enjoys is one option, another is a form of parliament for the county as seen in Scotland. Either option would allow us to potentially control our own taxes, invest in our own infrastructure and not be dictated to by London. People worry that this means extra costs and more bureaucracy but this needn’t be the case at all. Either body could enable us to dismiss a large portion of often unelected councillors and staff across the region and potentially save millions that could be better invested elsewhere. Take our own locality as an example, we already have a Parish council and pay the highest Parish taxes in the district as a result. On top of that we have our district council who raise taxes from us personally and from local businesses via the council tax. On top of them we have our member of parliament and other bodies you probably have never heard of such as the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority ‘super council’. The government proposes we add an elected mayor on top of that! A proper, county wide devolution deal will enable us to streamline this mess and get our finances in order properly, to better suit us.
Personally, schools are a big local issue for me too. I was a lucky one, i managed to find my way through our school system and into university with the help of some excellent local teachers. It wasn’t easy though and many local children suffer from a lack of investment in Yorkshire, by the government. In contrast children in London are given extra funding and are excelling by comparison. This is simply unacceptable and is an issue the Yorkshire Party have made a priority. Our teachers and our children in South Kirkby and Moorthorpe deserve better.
Another area of Yorkshire Party policy which is potentially of interest to residents of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe is the pledge from the party to support small and medium sized businesses. Since the closure of our collieries we have lots a vast number of large employers and in their place many sole traders and local small businesses and charities have sprung up in their place. In the 2017 general election a poll showed that small and medium sized businesses, on the whole, believed in the Yorkshire Party over Labour or the Conservatives. This speaks volumes. I personally try to promote local businesses and charities where i can, such as the excellent Bag Fairies.
The Yorkshire Party is also passionate about protecting our heritage, whether that be our buildings, sports or other aspects of our heritage. Nearby Doncaster has seen the Yorkshire Party campaign heavily for the preservation of the beautiful former girls school, which will be conserved as part of the new town library and museum. As someone with a heritage background i have campaigned in our own area for the protection of the nationally important and scheduled ancient monument, South Kirkby Camp, from HS2. I have also campaigned for the preservation of South Elmsall and Moorthorpe War Memorial, which should be nationally listed but has not been assessed for almost two decades.
Hopefully i have dismissed some myths about the party for you here and given you an idea of how the party can speak up for you on local issues, issues that really matter. I have hopefully also demonstrated that the Yorkshire Party has many members, like myself, who are passionate about where they live and their fellow residents. Sometimes it is useful to have a councillor or member of parliament who isn’t aligned with any of the big parties, who sees local issues with a more local perspective. If you would like to know more or join the party please click here.