My View, Peter Davies: PM ploughing on with authority plans

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

Now that the dust has settled on the General Election, it is an opportune time to assess the democratic prospects for Doncaster which at the moment do not look particularly promising.

David Cameron and the Conservatives won the election because they appeared to be the best of a particularly bad bunch. It was noticeable there were no crowds cheering the Prime Minister around Downing Street and Westminster and I certainly encountered no-one outside the Tory faithful who was celebrating the victory.

The Conservative Party’s share of the national vote was around 23 per cent and it is no longer acceptable in a multi-party situation that the House of Commons does not reflect the political views of the whole electorate.

Nevertheless Cameron ploughs on with his plans to create massive local authority blocs in the North and the Midlands and hand unlimited power to his opponents who have failed their communities so often in the past.

In 2010, Doncaster was persuaded to join the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, the description of which was quite attractive since it appeared to involve business people ameliorating the worst excesses of Labour Party activity in South Yorkshire.

The concept which turned out to be of limited use and very expensive was merely a sprat to catch a mackerel.

In 2013, South Yorkshire councils were asked to endorse the concept of a combined authority which would only have limited powers, mainly in the sphere of transport. Doncaster Council saw fit to agree to this, ignoring mayoral opposition and not bothering to consult the electorate.

And now Cameron is advancing his plans to create large authorities with mayors whether people want them or not – plans advised by Michael Heseltine whose track record in local and national government is not good.

Here in South Yorkshire we appear to be on the fringe of a new Socialist Republic as in 1974-1987. The Sheffield City Region covers a large geographical area.

It is disparate and it stretches from Greater Manchester to East Yorkshire. It is not in any sense similar to the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester or West Yorkshire and it is quite ludicrous to lump rural Doncaster and Bassetlaw with urban Sheffield and Rotherham.

There is no community of interest and it would be totally impossible for any local politician to represent the whole area fairly.

And, in any case, the people of each local authority should be fully consulted before Heseltine, for the second time in his political career, interferes with and further damages local government in this country.