YEP Says, March 19: Osborne’s way or the highway in devolution tussle

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THE Tories may be painting themselves as the ‘Party of the North’, but their silence on genuine devolution for Leeds is deafening.

THE Tories may be painting themselves as the ‘party of the North’, but their silence on genuine devolution for Leeds is deafening.

In his pre-election Budget yesterday, George Osborne made fleeting reference to a city deal for West Yorkshire.

But this watered down version simply marks a temporary ceasefire in the struggle between local leaders and the Government to secure powers on the same scale as those handed to Manchester.

On the other side of the Pennines they have control over health, planning, housing and, as the Chancellor announced yesterday, can now keep much more of the money they make from business rates.

Such powers dwarf those that have been promised to Leeds.

As council leader Keith Wakefield says, what we’re being promised doesn’t come close to matching our ambitions for the city.

Having lost out for so long to London in terms of investment and infrastructure, there’s a real danger that we will now end up playing second fiddle to Manchester.

The North-South divide will simply be swapped for an East-West one as our rival along the M62 establishes itself at the centre of the so-called Northern Powerhouse.

It’s now clear that devolution will only happen on George Osborne’s terms. And that means following Manchester’s lead by accepting an elected mayor.

If the Tories are still in Downing Street on May 8, then it may be a bitter pill Leeds has no choice but to swallow.

The road to better play for children

THE YEP has long been a champion of getting kids away from the TV and outside playing. It’s why we launched our Let Them Play campaign calling for more public play areas.

So it’s great to see more funding being made available for street play schemes which close roads to traffic and give youngsters free rein.

It’s a throwback to the days when children could play on the streets in perfect safety.

You can’t turn back time, but it’s just the taste of freedom that kids today need.

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