SPERI brings the power of debate to the North

Power to the NorthYesterday SPERI held a very successful public debate about devolution to the North. With a great line up of speakers and in front of a full house the debate focused on the Government’s Northern Powerhouse agenda, which political and economic powers should be devolved to the North, how devolution can strengthen local democracy and lots more. The event titled ‘Power to the North?’ was part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Sciences and was held in collaboration with the Sheffield Urban Institute.

We were delighted to have a fantastic line-up of speakers on our panel: Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change & Labour Member of Parliament for Wigan; Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Ben Lucas, founding partner of Metro Dynamics & member of the RSA City Growth Commission, and Craig Berry, Deputy Director of SPERI. Each speaker gave their thoughts on the recent constitutional changes before we opened up the debate to questions from the floor.

Helen Pidd, The Guardian’s North of England Editor, chaired the event and had the difficult job to pick questions from the audience. There was no shortage of hands to choose from which confirmed the interest in devolution and the need for greater discussion.

Thanks to everyone who came along and contributed to a great discussion. You can catch up on all of the tweets from the event via the #PowerToTheNorth hashtag and SPERI’s twitter account @SPERIShefUni. Our storify will give you a great idea of the issues covered last night and a full video of the event will be online soon.



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13 November 2015 by
Categories: News | Tags: , | 1 comment

Comments (1)

  1. We fall for Government propoganda if we use the term “Northern Powerhouse”. The arrangements under discussion are neither confined to the north, nor do they transfer a balance of significant powers to the new structures concerned.

    All authorities in England and Wales are being drawn into the new arrangements – north, south, east, west and in the middle. The Bill to confirm the deals is currently in the Commons, awaiting its Report Stage and Third Reading. It is the “Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill”. It does not stop the Central Government controlling Local Government purse strings – it only develops new methods.

    We are being provided with a confusing hotch potch of differing authorities, who do not share common powers and responsibilites. The media and the electorate will just be confused as to who does what.

    The Sheffield City Region is to made up of the leaders from nine Councils, plus a Mayor who will be elected only by the people in Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and Sheffield. Yet these four South Yorkshire Councils on the City Region will be outmatched by five District Council leaders from north Derbyshire and north Notts. But the voters in the Derbyshire and Notts bits will be joining in the vote for an East Midlands Mayor and not the one for the Sheffield City Region. It is to be hoped that the Sheffield does a better job in electing a Mayor than it initailly did in its PCC election.

    I live in Dronfield in North East Derbyshire. We will be called upon to elect Town Councilors, District Councillors, County Councillors, a Derbyshire Police Commissioner, an East Midlands Mayor, with our District Council leader serving on the Sheffield City Region. How are we to understand who does what? Then how clear will the pattern be when a voters moves to a new area – even just across the border into Sheffield?

    Whilst there might be a case for doing the best one can in current circumstances (whilst not misleading ourselves about what is on offer), we also need to be looking to produce a meaningful and understandable structure via which people can exercise significant and co-ordinate local powers.

    Here is an option, which the speakers on this topic at your Speri meeting hardly seemed to comprehend – http://threescoreyearsandten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/constitutional-conundrums.html

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