Devolution brings power to the Northern Cities

Devolution is in the air. Locally we are going to have more say – through our elected representatives – about how we spend public money.

Like many people, I take a lot of things of granted. Things like freedom of speech and living in a democracy. OK, it’s not perfect but it is the envy of many millions across the world. A fundamental part of that is the right to vote.

In England, it was Henry VI in 1432, who first granted male owners of property worth at least 40 shillings, the right to vote. That hardly changed until the 1800’s. But it wasn’t until after WW1 that all men over 21 had the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1928 that women had the same rights. And we all know that many people both here and abroad have died for that right.

I am one of the many who has been guilty of not exercising my franchise. I usually vote in general elections, but occasionally I haven’t. Typical self-justification for my apathy includes; “my vote won’t make any difference” or “well XYZ party will get in easily without my help” or “I’m tired, it’s raining, I can’t be bothered”.

I have to admit that my indifference is even greater when it comes to local elections. I don’t even know the name or gender of my local councillor or to which party he or she belong. In some ways I should be even more concerned – it affects me directly if the bins are only emptied once in a blue moon or if other services are cut back.

Suddenly, devolution is in the air. Locally we are going to have more say – through our elected representatives – about how we spend public money. And the more control and power we pass into local hands, the more important my vote becomes.

How we spend public money can impact on local businesses. If a cavalier approach is taken it could result businesses going into Administration or Liquidation, causing job losses which can hit consumer confidence and leave some individuals facing bankruptcy.

So I have made a resolution that if I want to grumble in the future about the lack of local amenities then I need to vote in each election whether it is a local or general election.

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