Mayors to get 'strong' new powers over planning, Labour pledges

Labour will give mayors department-style funds to build affordable homes, Angela Rayner has announced.

In a speech at the The Institute For Public Policy Research North 20th anniversary in Manchester, the shadow Levelling Up Secretary unveiled new powers for transport, housing and skills which Labour would transfer to mayors once in government.

She said that her party aims to “finish the job” on devolution following the progress made in giving London and the nations of the UK greater control of their areas.

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Ms Rayner celebrated mayors as “local leaders, who are taking that flame of devolution and using it to light up the places they call home”, and promised that her door will “always be open” if she enters cabinet.

Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner speaks at the Convention of the North.Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner speaks at the Convention of the North.
Deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner speaks at the Convention of the North.

The new details of Labour’s devolution offer involves giving mayors “strong powers” over planning, by setting strategic planning policy in their patch.

The party said that it would also “reserve the rights” of local authorities to take individual planning decisions.

However, it is understood that this will not extend to rent controls, as pushed for by London’s Sadiq Khan.

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Mayors would also be give “departmental-style funding settlements” for housing investment and affordable homes, bringing together existing pots of funding across government.

In addition, the party will combine and devolve adult and skills education budgets to allow them to shape their own plans for growth alongside letting mayors lead the creation of Technical Excellence Colleges from existing further education colleges.

On transport, the party will extend bus franchising to “every community that wants it” by letting local leaders join up their plans for housing and businesses alongside its transport network.

It comes after Tracy Brabin, Labour’s mayor of West Yorkshire successfully brought local buses back under public ownership ahead of May’s local elections.

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Yesterday, South Yorkshire’s combined authority confirmed that the Home Secretary has passed legislation to transfer policing powers to its mayor, Oliver Coppard.

“For too long the Tories have put party over country, failing to make the tough choices to unlock national renewal and put money back in people’s pockets,” said Ms Rayner.

“Labour won’t be afraid to take on vested interests and hand power back to the working people of Britain.

“Our ambitious plan to hand mayors the tools to take on vested interests so that all towns and cities have what they need to boost local economies, deliver the homes they need and create the high-quality jobs communities want.

“While the Conservatives cower in Downing Street too scared to call an election, Labour has a plan to create an economy that works for the whole country.”

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