Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My thoughts on the planned secession of some towns from larger boroughs

Earlier this year, an online poll showed that many residents of the small town of Yarm, historically in the North Riding of Yorkshire but now part of the unitary authority of Stockton-on-Tees (which really should be part of County Durham and in fact was before former Prime Minister Edward Heath's local government reforms came into force in 1973) want to move back into North Yorkshire, and within Hambleton District Council. Within the north of England, two other relatively small towns also want to secede from larger authorities: Morley from Leeds Metropolitan Borough Council (which covers quite a few other towns that are not really in Leeds, like Pudsey and Otley) and also Chorley from Lancashire County Council.

These three northern towns have good reason to secede-neglect by the larger boroughs they were forced to be part of. The imposition of the main local government act of recent times was undemocratic and culturally disrespectful-even after many of those merged authorities were disbanded (notably Humberside and Hereford and Worcester), there is still resentment in parts of many metropolitan boroughs and unitary authorities, as demonstrated often by localist parties in these areas. Such areas include Kirkby in Knowsley MBC, Hove in Brighton and Hove, Southport in Sefton MBC, and others. 

Like many Greens, I believe local areas should have more autonomy and a greater voice in their affairs, and I also believe local government finance should be decentralised so that local governments can support themselves without being at Whitehall's mercy. I therefore believe that these local secessions can be useful for self-determination and resistance to centralisation in general. I also believe it would be easier if all towns large enough became self-determining unitary authorities that would not be under the yoke of (usually Conservative-dominated) county councils which often fail to respect the needs and wishes of many towns under their authority.


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