Devolution promise from Labour

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LABOUR has said it wants to end the days of councils going cap in hand to Whitehall.

Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn has said Labour will not back away from the devolution promise, though his keynote speech to the party’s annual conference stopped short of offering real detail.

The Leeds Central MP said Labour had already agreed to hand local leaders a say over £30bn of of Whitehall cash, with a bigger say over transport and growth cash for councils.

Mr Benn said: “We will go further in changing the way decisions are made so that we can free local communities, the people of England, to shape their own destiny.

“Not something cooked up in corridors of Whitehall, but a deeper, more profound change involving people from every part of the country.

“A national debate – leading up to a Constitutional Convention – as fervent and as involved as the one that paved the way for devolution in Scotland.

“This isn’t about the long grass; it’s about the grass roots telling us what they want in the long term. A Convention with a purpose.

“Change that is a means to an end. No longer “what will you do for me?” but “what shall we do for ourselves?

“The change we need to build the homes, generate renewable energy, create jobs, give our young hope, overcome poverty, care for our community and one another.

“So, Conference, change is coming.”

He added: “And by doing this we will help communities to build a stronger economy, so that not only does London get investment and flourish, but Leeds and Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle, Sheffield do.”