Monday, 26 November 2007

Yorkshire "Pride not Prejudice"

Above are both sides of a remarkable leaflet published by the Labour Party in Bradford who use Yorkshire Day as a way of uniting people in an area where the BNP is active and where there are from time to time racial tensions.

It is so very sad that in the Borough of Redcar & Cleveland Labour are using Yorkshire to create divisions, where there should be none.

Our campaign for recognition of our status as part of the North Riding of Yorkshire is a pragmatic attempt to clear up the confusion that exists as a result of regular changes of name for local government administrative areas. We seek to promote the Borough as part of Yorkshire for all cultural, ceremonial, sporting and postal purposes. We recognise that administratively we are part of the North East Region and we work with four other local authorities in a kind of sub-region, which was named Tees Valley for economic development and strategic planning. We don't seek to change any of this. We are proud of our Yorkshire identity that has been part of the lives of people in this area for more than one thousand years; we encourage people use Yorkshire as part of our postal address; campaign for our real county boundary to appear on maps, alongside our local government areas and we seek to erect Yorkshire boundary signs.

Labour in Bradford have taken Yorkshire Day, an event created by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, which I now chair, and have used it as a symbol to campaign against hate and prejudice. They are to be congratulated for it and Labour in our area should take note of this.

Rather than continue suggesting that we are seeking to change local government and somehow undermine the work of the North East region or the Tees Valley organisation (nothing could be further from the truth), we would urge Labour locally and in the Tees Valley area in general to recognise that we CAN retain our respective Yorkshire and Durham county identities without conflict and without affecting local government administration in any way at all.

Being part of Yorkshire means something good. It is a top tourism brand that is instantly recognisable throughout the world. It is a good postal address that Royal Mail approve of and the Council should think again about abandoning it. Above all, as Labour in Bradford have recognised, it has the potential to unite people.

You do not have to be born in Yorkshire to be a Yorkshireman or Yorkshirewoman. You simply have to accept that our real counties are more than just units for local government and that they exist alongside our administrative areas. As Labour says in Bradford "It's friendly". We Yorkshire folk are proud of our roots, our heritage and yes even our accents."

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