Author Archives: Huw Jones

Opinion: Devolution to cities with elected mayors is not as good an idea as George Osborne thinks

Yesterday’s news that George Osborne is to offer devolution to cities with elected mayors is worrying. Although he is right to say that “The old model of trying to run everything in our country from the centre of London is broken. It’s led to an unbalanced economy. It’s made people feel remote from the decisions that affect their lives. It’s not good for our prosperity or our democracy.” He is wrong to tell the cities: “It is time for you to take control of your own affairs.”

The reason is that cities do not exist in isolation. Firstly they depend on a hinterland of small towns that supply essential services to the people and industries of the city. Not least they depend on the countryside that supplies food and opportunities for leisure. Secondly, cities are not permanent, for example as recently as 1911 Merthyr Tydfil was the biggest city in Wales. What are the chances of George Osborne devolving power to a Mayor of Merthyr now? People will argue that modern cities are “too big to fail”, but when Merthyr was supplying rails and coal to the Empire, people would have said exactly the same thing. Our Port cities will be severely disrupted by rising sea levels, and the increased storminess that will make us rethink our need for international trade. Other cities will be effected as new technologies replace the old.

Posted in News | 17 Comments

Opinion: The UK is not working

WalesFor 45% of Scots and for many in the NW, the SW and in Wales (which I refer to as the devolving regions), the UK doesn’t work, and this should matter to a Unionist Party. As a Welshman who was forced, as were my parents, to spend decades working in England the reasons are only too clear.

In England we are quite often subject to xenophobia. And while our local colleagues go for exotic weekend breaks, we have to struggle back home to tend to ailing relatives via a crazy London-centred transport network that means that the quickest route from Penzance or Aberystwyth to Dover or Great Yarmouth is via the M25 or Paddington. The quickest route from Liverpool to Southampton is via the M25. And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 63 Comments
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