Yorkshire Party sets its stall out in Wakefield ahead of local elections

The Yorkshire Party is ramping up its calls for a regional assembly ahead of the local elections on Thursday.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 4:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 4:50 pm
The party is fielding eight candidates in Wakefield in Thursday's poll.

The party, which was set up in 2014, is hoping to build on its traditionally strong performances in the Wakefield district, having finished second and taken a quarter of the vote in one council ward last year.

The absence of a devolution deal for the county despite protracted talks between the government and council leaders may help its cause.

Speaking ahead of the vote on May 2, the Yorkshire's Party deputy leader Laura Walker said the group was bringing "fresh ideas" to the table.

The Yorkshire Party's deputy leader, Laura Walker

Mrs Walker said: "We're the only party who's actually putting Yorkshire at the heart and soul to what it is we're trying to do.

"Everything we do will be about the people we represent, rather than following a fixed ideology. It's about what's best for the people in our area.

"We haven't got a whip telling us what to do. We've got nobody in London giving us direction."

The party, which was originally called Yorkshire First, has laid out its ideas of how devolution could work, but stresses that it's keen to demonstrate how a deal would make life better for ordinary people.

Mrs Walker blamed Labour and the Conservatives for playing "party politics" over the One Yorkshire deal, on which an agreement between council leaders and the government appears as far away as ever.

Mrs Walker added: "We want a One Yorkshire assembly. That's the gold standard.

"That's more preferable to a metro mayor, which as we've seen in places like London and Greater Manchester, is too much power to place in the hands of one person.

"It becomes a cult of personality.

"Having an assembly will ensure that the voices of small rural communities and ex mining towns, like we have here in Wakefield, will be heard.

"It will make sure that they're not gobbled up by places like Leeds.

"Rather than just trying to be a pressure group about devolution, we want to make the case for what we can do with it.

"It's not about devolution for the sake of it, it's about showing how it will be better."

Mrs Walker also called on Wakefield Council to be more "transparent" over issues.

She said: "We need to get the basics right, whether that's children's services, and being honest about the problems that they've faced and the things that have gone wrong."

This article is part of a series of profile pieces about the political parties and independent candidates standing in the local elections in Wakefield. Each profile will appear on our websites in the run-up to polling day.

Number of candidates standing - 8

Martin Roberts - Ackworth, North Elmsall and Upton

Laura Walker - Altofts and Whitwood

Paul Phelps - Castleford Central and Glasshoughton

Steven Crookes - Pontefract North

Staurt Rick - Wakefield East

Arnie Craven - Wakefield North

Daniel Cochran - Wakefield South

Brent Hawksley - Wrenthorpe and Outwood West

Local Democracy Reporting Service