YEP Says (Jan 1): 2016 - A year for Yorkshire to stand up for itself

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IT was inevitable, of course, that the aftermath of the floods would put a significant dampener on the New Year celebrations of many; this is a hangover from hell, and the recriminations over the Government’s betrayal of Yorkshire and the North, will continue long after the last floodwaters have subsided and the stricken areas have returned to some semblance of normality.

As a New Year dawns and Britain’s political leaders put their wellington boots away until the next time they have to wear them for appearance’s sake, attention will soon turn other matters.

While the repatriation of powers from the EU will dominate the national agenda, the devolution of responsibilities to this region will also be a defining theme.

The significance of this should not be under-estimated – Yorkshire is the only area which has yet to reach a consensus on the way forward.

It remains to be seen whether council leaders in West, North and East Yorkshire will join forces or look to go their separate ways because of differing priorities and a lack of political unanimity.

However it would be prudent of them to consider the following two points. First, they should not under-estimate the power of the ‘Yorkshire’ brand. This county’s reach extends far beyond the Government’s Northern Powerhouse rhetoric which still needs to be turned into reality.

Second, local authorities across this region will need to pool their expertise so residents are better protected in the future – decisions in one area could have repercussion for riverside communities further downstream.

Either way, this county’s long-term economic interests must trump any short-term and narrow-minded political calculations.

After all, this week has proved, once and for all, that Yorkshire must stand up for itself in Whitehall’s corridors of powers because, frankly, the country’s political elite cannot be trusted to do so because they only appear to care about their own.

What’s good enough for London must be good enough for Yorkshire – this is the blunt message which must be heard loudest of all in 2016 if the tide of anger over these floods is to be turned into positive action.