AS A teacher, it’s a massive let down to hear so many local schools have been denied funding for expansion and refurbishment. Everyone in Wharfedale and, indeed, all Leeds, knows we need more school places to cope with current demand, let alone future demand with more and more new housing being proposed.

Local councillors and MPs agree with local people but, with everything decided in Westminster, it really doesn’t matter who’s elected locally; in the current system of centralised government, your vote changes little. Academies, whilst offering freedom from local authority control, essentially replace it with Westminster control. The result is, little strategic planning, reduced investment, and a whole region under-performing.

We can do better. London’s schools were performing badly, but with a regional approach and close collaboration between education professionals and support agencies were able to improve performance significantly. The right investment and focus should be focused on creating a Yorkshire Challenge to give all our children the best start in life to allow them to compete.

Only one thing can help Yorkshire take control of its own affairs: devolution. This is why I’m standing for Yorkshire First in Leeds North West. Why do we need Westminster’s permission to expand and refurbish schools? These are local and regional matters.

University students are lumbered with massive debts, even though most people agree the system is unfair. Scotland is different: devolution enables Scotland to protect its students from fees. Yorkshire deserves the same right to decide.

Whether it’s education, too much new housing or our critically under-invested local transport, centralised government does not reflect the needs of our region. A Yorkshire Parliament with powers similar to the Scots will allow us, not Westminster, to decide on our priorities and allow us to strengthen the United Kingdom creating a region that works for all the people of our Yorkshire.

Bob Buxton

Yorkshire First Candidate for Leeds NW