I'm a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Overview & Scrutiny Committee and this morning (through the post rather than by electronic means) I received a document that you good folk don't even know exists. It's entitled:
Northern Devolution: West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Joint Response
You don't know about this document or the proposals it contains because, for reasons that entirely escape me, the covering letter accompanying the report is headed:
Private and Confidential - Not for Public Circulation
I'm assuming that the proposals are marked as confidential because of the words 'negotiating document'. This is the pitch from our politicians up here in Yorkshire to those politicians down there in London. Now it's true that Calderdale Council at least had a debate about devolution but other than this there has been no public discussion of the issues involved - what the geography should be, what powers might be devolved, what it means for the broader issue of England's democratic deficit and how any devolved arrangements should be governed.
What we have here is a summation of the problems we face with politics and why so many people are so fed up with us politicians. These are proposals for a very substantial change to government in West Yorkshire yet it hasn't be subject to consultation, let alone any recognisable process to secure a democratic mandate. The proposals are significant but have been agreed by a small group of Councillors meeting in secret plus a few select business folk who have been appointed (by those same councillors) to the board of the local economic partnership.
You the public are not to be trusted with any role or say in this matter. These leaders want to determine the governance themselves (in which case it will be a cosy secondary body that isn't directly elected or noticeably accountable) and through this to secure control of several billion pounds a year of public funding in West Yorkshire. All done in secret.