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Politics students and graduates join devolution roundtable

31 May 2024

The implications and barriers to devolution were all up for discussion when politics students, academics and local councillors met at the University of Hull’s School of Politics and International Studies.

Devolution HUB B

Dr Matt Beech, Director of the University’s Centre for British Politics, said: “We have extensive expertise in local government and democracy – practical expertise and theoretical knowledge. 

“By building on our outstanding relationships with our graduates, students and stakeholders we can create a devolution policy hub, that can help to inform local residents about the advantages of devolution.”

Research and policy analysis, data support and public engagement are just some of the ways that the University – as a trusted anchor institution in the region – can support the devolution campaign.

Politics students and four local councillors – all University politics graduates – joined the discussion, confirming the University’s role in upskilling, attracting young people to the region and highlighting issues relating to devolution from their own political perspectives.

The advantages of having a mayor to represent the region for key projects such as the high-speed transport link and other investments was also noted – since it was felt the region has already missed out on securing some potentially lucrative opportunities.

Dr Elizabeth Monaghan, Senior Lecturer in Politics, provided comparative analysis, confirming that Hull and the East Riding are well-placed to learn from how devolution has progressed elsewhere. Dr Monaghan referred to Greater Manchester as ‘the gold standard of Devolution’ and continued by emphasising that devolution deals are not static but have an ‘inherent dynamism’. Dr Beech reflected on the merit of policy learning and transfer while Dr Joseph Tiplady, associate member of the Centre for British Politics, suggested the need to build a cohesive community between Hull and the East Riding. Dr Tiplady also commented that the role of mayor is an opportunity for an aspiring local politician to step up and take regional leadership, rather than for a high-profile politician to step down.

Lord Norton, Professor of Government, gave a round up of the discussion; building on the importance of letting people know the benefits of devolution and how it affects communities; training local people; partnership working and also the need to exploit devolution rather than simply managing it.

The discussion was attended by students: Thomas Athey, fourth year student and President of the University’s Politics Society; Joanna Collins, second year History and Politics student; Finn Anderson and Liam Roberts, second and first year British Politics and Legislative Studies students, respectively. The following councillors also took part: Cllr Nick Coultish, (Con), Goole/ East Riding Council; Cllr Jack Haines, (Lib Dem) Hull; Cllr Leo Hammond, (Con) Wolds/ Weighton/ East Riding Council; and Cllr Jessica Raspin, (Lab), Hull.

Politics students have their say

Finn Anderson (second year British Politics and Legislative Studies) 

What did you enjoy about the event?

“I found it really interesting finding out about more details about the devolution deal and how a metro mayor for Hull and East Riding would work. I am opposed to the proposals personally, but it was good to hear the other sides arguments.

What have you enjoyed about your course?

“I've really enjoyed learning more about the legislative process and how it effects decision making that impacts our lives.”

Liam Roberts (first year British Politics and Legislative Studies)

What did you enjoy about the event?

“It was a unique and remarkable experience to hear both distinguished academics and elected politicians discuss and debate a topic as complex as regional devolution. It allowed me to understand each local party's opinion on it and the academic response each received.”

What have you enjoyed about your course?

“In terms of my course, after only 1 year here I feel have been able to enjoy some truly unique experiences, from events such as this, as well as the Centre for British Politics’ conference with former Home Secretary Alan Johnson and of course Lord Norton's parliamentary studies lectures – all only possible because of the course I have chosen to do.” 

Find out more about devolution

By creating a devolution policy hub at the University, it is hoped facts and key messages relating to the economic prosperity and growth that devolution promises can be shared across the University and with the wider community. For example:

  • Devolution will offer political and financial support for a range of critical infrastructure projects. 
  • The £400m long-term investment will enable local leaders to address regional challenges, including housing, jobs, skills and transport and provide a catalyst for innovation and growth.

Read more about the University’s statement on devolution here.