Yorkshire devolution deal: Gavin Howarth, managing director of Howarths
As devolution has once again become the current hot topic in Yorkshire, Bdaily is now going to put a spotlight on the progress of the proposed ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution deal.
Ever since the agreed £900m devolution deal for the Sheffield City Region (SCR) was postponed, there has been a question mark as to when, or if ever, a deal will be struck to see our region’s local authorities gain powers devolved from the government.
Throughout Autumn, Bdaily is setting out to give the business people of Yorkshire the opportunity to voice their opinions on the prospect of a ‘Yorkshire One’ devolution deal.
This week, I spoke with Gavin Howarth, the managing director of Howarths.
Based in Cleackheaton, Howarths provides HR, Employment Law and Health and Safety support to other SME businesses.
Hi Gavin, so do you believe that devolving powers from the Government to regions across the UK is a good idea?
To a degree, yes. I think devolution has the ability to allow more localised decisions for local issues. However I think there has to be a balance and central decision making is important for a unified, country-wide approach and strategic direction.
Could you give a brief explanation as to why you support or don’t support a Yorkshire-wide devolution deal?
In principle I would support a Yorkshire-wide devolution as it allows important decisions impacting the region, to be made in the region. This has to be a good thing for the local economy and the people within the county.
Sheffield City Region previously agreed to a £900m devolution deal before it wa postponed. Do you think having devolution deals for different parts of the region is beneficial or detrimental towards Yorkshire’s economy?
I think it has the potential to be detrimental. I would support a ‘Yorkshire-wide’ devolution deal, but I wouldn’t be in support of devolving powers more locally than that. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and as with all deals, compromises have to be made, and I personally think devolution at a County level achieves the right balance between centralised Government and localised decision making.
What issues do you think will greatly benefit from a devolution deal?
Transport is an area which I think would benefit. The question around transport links within a particular region, and specifically Yorkshire looking at the major cities within the region, are specific and localised.
To find the right solution for the people and businesses of Yorkshire in respect of transport to my mind would be best served by a localised decision making process.
Do you see the devolving of powers help you/your business? If so, how?
I’d expect that one facet of a local decision making process which would benefit everyone is speed. Devolution has the ability to ensure decisions are reached more frequently and actions implemented sooner.
That can only benefit the business community, the vast majority of which are SME businesses, like ours, who themselves are very used to making quick decisions in response to changing circumstances.
An environment whereby traditional governmental matters can be decided upon quickly and more locally can only benefit the business community who by their very nature want to progress and improve.
Many believe that a Yorkshire devolution deal would be a major step towards realising a Northern Powerhouse. Do you agree?
Yes I agree. Yorkshire is the biggest County in the Country, and has a population only second to London. If you can get a unified Yorkshire on board with devolution, then in my opinion you take a major step towards a stronger northern economy.
What would mark a successful devolution deal for you?
A deal in which all the various interests within the County are catered for. To me it isn’t about the cities of the region being prioritised over the neighbouring towns.
It is a deal in which all the constituent parts of the region come together, for a shared interest, and actively want to work together to improve, strengthen and develop this great County.
Do you believe Yorkshire is better off with a region-wide devolution deal? Why not get in touch to share your views. Please contact Editor Nick Hill.