Never mind EVEL what happened to our devolution?

untitled (183)Todays announcement by Boris and George that a future Tory Government will hand the Mayor of London greater planning powers and a new ‘London Land Commission’ will be established to deliver more development on brownfield sites, under measures outlined in a ‘long term economic plan’ for the capital, should be a matter all of us have an interest in. After all this decision to further increase an already Lopsided English Devolution means that the one part of England that is putting other parts in the shade, will simply increase its power, whilst no one appears to be arguing for greater powers for places like Surrey, Kent, Essex whose planning powers, and fiscal resources are incapable of matching the Mayor when he or she decides that waste, transport or housing should happen on the borders or perhaps even beyond the borders of the Capital. I recall my 7 years as one of the senior ‘Social, Environmental and Economic Partners’ within the South East England Regional Assembly. Although the Tories that dominated that body never stopped complaining about the fact that it had been imposed on them by a Labour Government, they were honest enough to admit that if they had been given the powers that the same Government handed to the Mayor, they would have been better placed to resist some of the excesses and demands of London’s Planning system. It was clear that when the Mayor asked to meet with SEERA and EERA as the two Regional Assemblies that surrounded London, that the relationship was not one of equals.

We can be clear that when the current Government raised the prospect of English Votes for English Laws, a cause currently being championed by people such as Crawley MP, Henry Smith, that there was absolutely no intention to use this devolution to allow some comparable powers for our region, that Boris greedily exercises on behalf of the Capital. The clear evidence of that is that it is MPs who are demanding EVEL in the context of denying votes to some of their number, not expanding the democratic franchise through the creation of regional senates or bodies. Henry Smith was in any case one of the most vocal critics of SEERA in Sussex, despite being a fully paid up member of it. We need some creative thinking on this, to ensure that the already dominant Mayor does not force his or her political way on the whole of the South of England. Sadly people like Henry won’t offer a meaningful alternative. We need some fresh thinking, in time for the next election!



About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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One Response to Never mind EVEL what happened to our devolution?

  1. Colin Miller says:

    There is a lot of people arguing for English devolution, most of the leading academics, plus the labour, liberal and green parties. It’s just the Tories who don’t seem interested. Indeed Miliband pledged that a Labour government would have a radical devolution of power to communities, users of public services and local government (Hugo Young Memorial Lecture 2014). The Labour Party, along with the Electoral Reform Society, Compass, Demsoc and others are agreed that we must have a citizen led Constitutional Convention, the Tories are not, and even the pro EVEL constitutional experts (for example Robert Hazel UCL) says it will not work without radical devolution of power. We are likely to face a constitutional crises post election. There will be three major Assemblies for Democray in London, Manchester and Glasgow next month, the aim is to bring the many organisations demanding constitutional change and devolution of power together to start the process of creating a coherent campaign/movement for change. Il send you a copy of my Compass report on EVEL via email Ian.

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