Letter - Big themes for the North of England

At the beginning of last week, because my local councillor almost bumped into me at the traffic lights and had wound down the window and told me that she was going to full meeting of the ‘full council,’ I decided to go to get some railway tickets and then stroll up the hill and go into County Hall and witness that part of the political process that most affects me, ‘local government’.

Scotland was going to the polls the next day to discuss its future. This seemed a good time to visit the bastion of local influence.

With one caveat it was exactly as I expected, mind-gnawingly boring. Since the sound system did not work and like the majority of the councillors I was confronted by the backs of heads it was only possible to hear odd phrases.

There were six in the public gallery and all that was needed was a podium at the front to which Chairs of committees could approach and face colleagues and Josephine Public.

The phrase, “If you always do what you always did you will always get what you always get”, came to mind.

Fortunately the Leader of the Council, in Wakefield’s case, Peter Box, sat side-on to the Chair and as a consequence I could read his lips at least in profile. It was the day before Scotland went to the polls and after a preamble he launched into a big theme.

He said that we had to consider where we stood in relationship to Westminster and the South East. In this Parliament we had allowed the instruments of whole scale economic regeneration, I assumed, for instance he meant, Yorkshire Forward, to be stripped away and not replaced.

We accepted too easily that all lines should lead to that great-life sucking carbuncle, London.

I like Coun Box and generally, though not always, agree with him for these were big themes.

On Sunday driving up from the airport as we passed the Cambridge Crematorium I noticed a sign with an arrow above it which said, “The North”. This reminded me that there is a consortium, bigger than either Coun Box was talking about.

Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Geordieland and the North East make an impressive anvil. Let’s start sweeping the floor and washing behind the fridge.

Brian Lewis

Linden Terrace