Yorkshire Citizens Demand Real Devolution

The Yorkshire Declaration was signed by 100 citizens of Yorkshire and read out loud in York on 1st April 2024.

Action | 02.04.24

The Yorkshire Declaration was signed by 100 citizens of Yorkshire and read out loud at the Eye of York. York at 12.01 on the 1st April 2024. The Declaration makes the case for bringing real Democratic power to Yorkshire and ending the extreme centralisation of power in London.

The Declaration was created by Colin Speakman (a poet) and Simon Duffy (a philosopher). It draws attention to the extreme inequalities of power and money that undermines the ability of Yorkshire to shape its own future and create a fair and sustainable future for everyone in the United Kingdom.

You can read the full text of the Declaration at: https://citizen-network.org/library/yorkshire-declaration.html

The Declaration was covered by the Yorkshire Post and the Yorkshire Bylines: 



Colin Speakman, the lead author of the Declaration, said:

“Those of us who live anywhere in the North of England, and especially in the proud, and beautiful thousand year old former three Ridings of Yorkshire, once divisions of a fiercely independent Anglo-Viking Kingdom, which were abolished without ceremony exactly fifty years ago, are increasingly aware of the huge divide between the comfortable and prosperous parts of so much of southern England and the savagely de-industrialised and investment-starved towns and cities of the North. Yet we know that this Region of 5.4 million people, a tough, resilient, creative population, supported by eleven Universities whose research institutions could provide a workforce that could lead the world in green technologies and good quality of life. Yorkshire is held back by a failed political system in what has been described as one of the most over-centralised states in the western world.

“Things have to change. In 2024, and with a general election only a few months away, we are asking the people of Yorkshire to use their vote to support candidates for Parliament who will support genuine devolution of powers to allow the people of Yorkshire to decide their own future. Instead of being dependent on handouts from Westminster and Whitehall, the people of Yorkshire should be drawing in private, public and voluntary sector investment and drive, to enable the release of the energy and creativity which is inherent in our communities. No less than three major recent studies have shown beyond any doubt that prosperity will only return to Yorkshire and the North when people are free to take decisions about their own future.”

Dr Simon Duffy, Director of Citizen Network Research, the publisher of the Declaration, said:

“Although there has been much talk of the need for devolution of power in England the reality has been quite the reverse. In England, since World War II, power has been progressively concentrated in Whitehall and Westminster. Public services, pioneered in the North, have been converted into bureaucracies run and regulated from London. The power to raise money locally through taxation or borrowing has been radically reduced. Austerity and so-called welfare reforms have all been used to reduce local services and redirect resources to London-based privatised services. The economy has been restructured to benefit the City of London and undermine local businesses. All of this feeds into a sense of injustice that is deeply felt, but which is often misdirected other into blind anger or cynicism.

“Wales and Scotland, as different countries, after much campaigning have eventually been able to achieve a reasonable degree of devolution. But for the regions of England nothing similar has been achieved. Ironically the only place with something close to regional devolution is London itself. The recent sub-regional mayoralties and combined authorities is welcome but the system is confused and these mayoral powers are extremely weak. Nothing has been done to establish the kind of new democratic constitutional settlement that England so desperately needs.

“At the heart of the problem is the fact that the people of England are not encouraged to see themselves as citizens nor expected to have any real say in the destiny of their own communities—at any level. There is no neighbourhood democracy, no regional democracy and no constitutional protections for our rights. The UK is outwardly proud of its democratic history, but it has failed to evolve and its democratic institutions are hollow shams.

“Yorkshire has the history and sense of self-identity and pride to help make the necessary changes. If we wake up to our own citizenship and become more aware of what a modern democracy needs to survive then Yorkshire can lead the way towards the kind of democratic renewal that the whole of England requires.”

If you want to find out more and stay in touch with developments please sign up to the Devolution Yorkshire mailing list here.

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