Balls promises new era of Leeds power

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls at Hilton Doubletree where he delivered a speech on the economy and took questions from the audience on the first day of the new financial year.  6 April 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls at Hilton Doubletree where he delivered a speech on the economy and took questions from the audience on the first day of the new financial year. 6 April 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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A multi-million pound devolution promise has been made to Leeds as Ed Balls offers new powers for Yorkshire.

The shadow chancellor has said a Labour Government will offer a full devolution package for Yorkshire cities which will match the deal George Osborne has handed only Manchester so far.

Labour and the Conservatives are divided over the need for new elected mayors, with the chancellor only handing Manchester extra powers because 12 council leaders there decided to introduce a new city-wide mayor.

Mr Balls, seeking to be returned as the Morley and Outwood MP, said: “It is wrong for George Osborne to pretend he was trying to devolve powers, but make it conditional on Westminster imposing elected mayors.

“I think it is really unfair to businesses and taxpayers in Leeds, just as it is in Sheffield where they also had a second class deal.

“We will go further on devolution for Leeds, we will go further than the Manchester deal and we will do so without any requirement for an elected mayor.

“We do need to have proper accountability, we want to know local authorities will work together in a combined authority, but it is for them to work out their accountability arrangements, rather than for Westminster to impose it.”

Mr Balls has committed Labour to handing over control of business rates and skills cash to Leeds and other cities as a devolution minimum.