We have issued a media release regarding our recent survey on awareness of devolution amongst Yorkshire’s public. Here is the article published by the Yorkshire Post in response to to it with the Media Release itself below.
The survey suggests nearly 55% had never heard of the policy and less than 9% felt at all informed about it.
The Government’s devolution plans for city regions are part of the Northern Powerhouse proposal. It was the brainchild of former Chancellor George Osborne as an attempt to redress the north/south divide and attract investment to the north. However, since the installation of the new PM, Theresa May, uncertainty now surrounds the future of the Northern Powerhouse proposal and recent media reports suggest that the new Prime Minster could scrap the idea of elected Mayors (with the exception of Greater Manchester, Liverpool and possibly Sheffield where elections for ‘metro mayors’ should go ahead in May 2017).
The findings are based on a representative sample of 1,003 people in Yorkshire carried out by Survation.
Devolution poll: Key findings
On a scale of 0-10 where 0 = not at all informed and 10 = very well informed, respondents said that they were not aware of devolution plans in Yorkshire. The results clearly show that over half the people interviewed (54.8%) were not at all informed (0 on the scale) about the devolution plans in Yorkshire. Just under 9% felt informed (7-10 on the scale).
Chair of the Yorkshire Devolution Movement, Nigel Sollitt, said of the results:
“The fact that most people in Yorkshire are ignorant of the Government’s plans for devolution is clearly worrying.
“Even in South Yorkshire, where devolution to city regions is planned, people are overwhelmingly unaware of the Government’s proposals.
“The proposals for Yorkshire have been nothing more than local elites talking to national elites so it no wonder people feel uninformed and disengaged.
“Putting more power in the hands of people who live in Yorkshire and know about the Yorkshire rather than having decisions taken in London has to be a good thing. However, people have to be involved in this process just as they were in Scotland to give any plans credibility. This has not happened at any stage in Yorkshire and the survey results confirm how much people are detached from the Governments plans. “
The survey also asked people which form of devolution they would most like to see in Yorkshire.
Devolution options: Key findings
In terms of devolution options in Yorkshire those most favoured are:
No devolution at all/maintain the Status Quo -38.4%
Don’t know – 28.57%
A directly elected parliament – 17.6%
Devolution to City Regions – 12.5%
Nigel Sollitt added:
“Opinion is mixed in Yorkshire about what is the most favoured devolution option. This is not surprising because so far there hasn’t been a proper public consultation exercise.
“What is desperately needed is some form of ‘conversation’ which engages both the political classes and the wider public. This was an idea which worked well in Scotland when it came to setting up their Parliament in the 1990s.
“We want something similar for Yorkshire especially now that uncertainty hangs over the devolution plans here and over the Northern Powerhouse proposal in general.
“We are doing the groundwork to make that happen so that we get meaningful devolution for the whole of Yorkshire and the people engaged along the way.”
Dr. Arianna Giovannini, Lecturer in Local Politics at De Montfort University and an expert in regional devolution, commented:
“The results are remarkable, but perhaps not surprising.
” As others have coomented, the ‘devo deals’ in Yorkshire have been driven by political elites at local and national level. Public consultation has been limited and often last minute. Only very small portions of the electorate participated the online consultations set up by local authorities. Moreover, in such exercises people were not asked how they felt about the introduction of devolution deals and ‘metro mayors’ – they could only comment on the deal agreed by political elites.
“In short, citizens are not aware of devolution plans for Yorkshire because they’ve been left out of the process so far.
Dr. Arianna Giovannini added:
“An effective devolution policy requires concerted efforts from the centre and from the bottom, so as to engage in a constructive dialogue on how to build a more democratic and accountable system of governance that can ultimately improve people’s life.”
Stewart Arnold, Leader of the Yorkshire Party added:
“It’s significant that of those surveyed who think there should be a change, the majority want a Yorkshire parliament and this is despite the apparent publicity the city region option has had recently.”
The polling work was commissioned with the support of a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.
Females are less informed than males (On a score of zero, the percentages are 60.3% for female and 49.0% Male). Younger age groups are also less informed as indeed are Conservative voters.
The least informed group, by geography, is in the East Riding but even those living in South Yorkshire and Leeds (where devolution is planned) feel uninformed (51.2% and 53% respectively) and indeed below the average for the whole of Yorkshire
The most informed groups are older, LD voters, those living in Leeds and the East Riding. Paradoxically, LD voters are both the most informed and the least of all voters for a party. However, the least informed overall in this category are those that didn’t vote in the 2015 General Election.
Looking at those that support a no devolution at all/ maintaining the status quo option, there is no difference in gender. They tend to be in older age groups, (55-64 and 65+), Conservative voters, and living in North Yorkshire.
Don’t knows are noticeably female, older (55-64 and 65+), those that didn’t vote at the 2015 General Election and living in the East Riding and West Yorkshire (excluding Leeds).
Those supporting a directly elected Yorkshire parliament are predominantly male (20.2% to 15%), people between 25 and 44 (highest group is 35-44 year olds – 21.2%). A higher proportion of UKIP voters support this option than the other main parties except for ‘other parties’ which has the highest share – 32% (Yorkshire Party, Greens?) . Geographically, the highest support for a parliament is in West Yorkshire (excluding Leeds) [19.7%] and the least in the East Riding (12.9%).
Devolution to city regions with a directly elected mayor is more popular with males (by a ratio of almost 2:1). There is no significant difference in age profile for support for this option whilst ‘others’ and LD voters are most supportive of this option. The least support for this option is in North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire excluding Leeds. The highest in Leeds although not noticeably significant compared to East Riding and South Yorkshire.