ED Miliband has promised a fairer funding deal for Yorkshire councils if Labour wins next year’s General Election.
He also urged his party’s core voters not to be tempted to back the UK Independence Party at the local and European elections, insisting Labour is listening to concerns in areas such as immigration.
Labour-led Yorkshire councils have been highly critical of reductions to their Government funding which they blame for the millions of pounds of cuts being made to services.
And with further cuts to come councils will need to make additional savings in the coming years whatever the outome of this month’s polls.
Asked if he would give more money to councils if he wins next year’s General Election, Mr Miliband said: “I’m not going to be able to say I will make your life easy, but I am going to say I’m going to give you a fairer deal.
“Because what you have already seen in the way that council funding is allocated is some areas finding they have got very big cuts and other areas getting increases.
“We have got to look at those issues so we get fairer funding. I think that’s absolutely essential because I think you can’t have a situation where there’s such a deep sense of unfairness even within the difficult decisions that have to be made.”
The Labour leader was on a visit to the region yesterday which included a stop in Horsforth, Leeds, where Mr Miliband lived as a young child. He took a look at his former family home before talking to shoppers on Town Street.
Council elections are taking place in 13 authorities in Yorkshire and the Humber on the same day as the European poll.
Ukip is hoping that voters who normally support it in the European elections will take the chance to vote for the party at a local level as well.
Horsforth is one of almost 200 council wards across the region where Ukip is fielding candidates. It will fight every ward up for grabs in Doncaster, where Mr Miliband is the MP.
Ukip has been trying to appeal to tradtional Labour voters in areas such as immigration but Mr Miliband urged his party’s core supporters not to be lured away.
“To those that are (considering voting for Ukip) I would say I don’t believe Ukip is the party of working people.
“Nigel Farage says he wants to keep the flame of Thatcherism alive, his health spokesperson says he wants to charge people to see the GP, he wants cuts in taxes for the richest and he wants to get us out of Europe, which would be bad for jobs.
“I don’t think that’s a party of working people.”
Asked if Labour voters’ concerns about immigration and the European Union were legitimate he replied “absolutely”.
The Doncaster North MP said he had shifted Labour’s position on immigration to demand longer transitional controls when new countries join the European Union and wanted to see tougher action on the exploitation of migrants where low wages can undercut those of people already here.
“I think immigration has benefits for our country but we have got to make it work for all, and not just for some. I’m keen in this campaign to talk about immigration and how we can change Europe so it works better for people.”
The May 22 elections will be an important test for Labour in Yorkshire, where there is a string of marginal Westminster seats the party will need to win in less than a year’s time at the General Election if it is to return to power.
“We would like to make gains, we want to do well, this is less than a year from the General Election so we are fighting for every vote, we are fighting hard,” Mr Miliband said.