Scotland votes no to independence - but more powers should be handed to Yorkshire

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A “no” vote in the Scottish referendum on independence has been welcomed by the leader of Wakefield Council.

But despite voters’ rejection of making Scotland a fully independent state, Peter Box believes the result will trigger greater powers being devolved to Wakefield and other northern cities.

He said more spending powers should be handed to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which includes Wakefield, Leeds, Kirklees and Bradford, instead of decisions being made 200 miles away in London.

Speaking as the chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Coun Box, said: “While the Scottish people have voted against independence, a decision which I think is the right one and personally welcome, a result of the whole referendum process is that Britain’s political and administrative landscape has changed permanently.”

Scottish voters rejected independence by around 55 per cent to 45 per cent in an election which had an 84 per cent turnout.

But following the vote, ministers are expected to come under pressure to quickly deliver devolved powers to Holyrood, as was promised when polls suggested a “yes” vote was likely.

In a statement released this morning, Coun Box said: “What we now need to see is all the main parties, who in the lead up to the Scottish vote have been talking about the need for more devolution and taking an interest in our cities across the north, making good on their proposals.”

Some spending powers are already devolved from Westminster to the Leeds City Region, an coalition of local authorities set up to boost the economy and create jobs.

Now voters’ enthusiasm for independence has led political leaders in northern cities to draw up demands for devolution.

Coun Box said: “That means a fundamental reorganisation of how government deals with the city regions, not a symbolic tinkering at the edges, so-called commissions or imposed gimmicks that some current Ministers might want to see.

“We need real changes that enable us to make our own decisions based on local experience and expertise rather than have them made for us by civil servants 200 miles away.

“As I have said before, the genie is out of the bottle on devolution and I can guarantee ministers and shadow ministers, we will not go away.”

Popular support for an independent Scotland was seen as a rejection of Conservative party policies and cuts to public services imposed by the coalition government.

But fears were raised that Scotland’s economy might be more vulnerable if it became independent.