Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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Carlisle meeting told north of England needs to control own affairs

Cumbria and the rest of the north needs control of its own affairs to help combat a building sense of resentment.

Viv Dodd photo
Viv Dodd

That was the view expressed at a meeting in Carlisle on regional devolution.

The event took place in the Old Town Hall and was organised by campaign group The Hannah Mitchell Foundation.

One of the people attending was Craig Johnston of the RMT union.

He said: “There is a building resentment because other people in the UK are having a say on politics and issues whereas we are stuck with the Westminster bubble.

“We are landed with MPs who don’t really give a damn about the issues that matter to us.”

The meeting considered a variety of issues affecting the north of England such as poor transport links, high unemployment and a need to build a sustainable economy.

Viv Dodd, a former chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, told the meeting there was a value in having decisions made locally, highlighting work that regional development agencies did before they were abolished in 2010.

He said: “When Carlisle was flooded I was on the phone to the chief executive of the regional development agency and in two days money was provided, not just to local people, but to local businesses.”

Brian Leather, a Labour party member from Stanwix, also called for radical change.

He said: “We have got to get the big bang or nothing at all, there is no use skirting around the edges. Big things like the NHS, public transport, economic policy and unemployment have got to be taken away from London and brought over to regional government.”

Regional assemblies in the north west, north east and Yorkshire and the Humber were proposed by the last Labour government following devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, the idea was dropped after an unsuccessful referendum in the north east in 2004.

Eric Martlew, who was Carlisle’s MP at the time, pointed out a large number of MPs in the Cabinet at the time came from that region and said this may have contributed to the defeat.

He urged people to get support for the idea now.

“We have got a Conservative and Liberal Democrat government where most of the members come from the south and as a result there is a resentment against that London government at the moment,” he said.

He added that a Labour government would have more northern members, which could lead people to question the need for regional government.

Chris Harvie, a former Scottish National Party MSP attending the meeting which attracted around 20 people, said the north could find itself as the link between an independent Scotland and London within a few years and would need local government that could make use of this situation.

Barry Winter, chairman of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, said: “What we really want to do is start a conversation about devolution.”

For more details on the campaign visit

Have your say

We are landed with MPs who don’t really give a damn about the issues that matter to us.”
I agree whole heartedly with this comment. Some are more interested in representing African countries and jetting around the world on freebies than they are in representing those who vote for them. Everyone in every constituency should have a vote on who will stand as an M.P for ALL parties. Once these people realize that they are responsible to the voters and not the leaders in London we would see a difference. One thing for sure there would be no apologizing for errors on expense claims, as there would be no errors.
As for the rest of the argument; silly and unworkable. Just another layer of Politicians when we have far too many as it is.

Posted by Dave on 28 February 2014 at 00:29

Darren may be right that Crossrail in London is of no direct benefit to us but wrong about HS2 which will allow faster journeys to London from the north west with many existing services joing HS2 tracks at Wigan. HS2 will also relieve capacity on the existing West Coast Main Line, this allowing additional services to run there such as the proposed GNWR route to the Midlands and London for West Cumberland and Furness, for which paths are currently almost impossible to find.

Among the noisy HS2 opponents are London residents who would prefer to see the money go the way of Crossrail 2 running south-west to nort-east across London.

Posted by Mark Green on 26 February 2014 at 22:10

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