Hague urged to give Leeds powers

William Hague meets members of the 'core cities' group including Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield.

William Hague meets members of the 'core cities' group including Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield.

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LEEDS has joined with other major cities to urge a senior Government figure to hand over greater control over its own affairs at the same time as Scotland is given new powers.

Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield met William Hague to press the case for the city having a bigger say in the way money is raised and spent locally.

Leeds is part of a group known as the ‘core cities’ which are together campaigning for more key decisions to be taken at a local level rather than in London.

Following Scottish voters’ rejection of independence, Mr Hague, the Leader of the House of Commons, was asked by the Prime Minister to look at future devolution of powers north of the Border and to English cities.

Coun Wakefield said: “I’m pleased that after strong and sustained lobbying, our requests for further talks on this hugely important issue have led to today’s meeting.

“Currently around 95 per cent of all finance raised in Leeds and other cities goes directly to national government coffers, with the money coming back having literally thousands of strings attached.

“Now is the time for us to have greater control over how finance is raised and invested locally so we can join up public services, and support jobs and growth.

“Our discussions today have shown the increasing awareness and support across the political spectrum for greater devolution of powers away from Whitehall.

“It’s good to talk but what we really need to see is action to back up the words and a clear timetable that will result in Leeds city region and the other core cities releasing their true potential and transforming the lives and opportunities of millions of citizens.”

Manchester recently reached an agreement with the Government that will see significant powers handed to the city as well as the introduction of an elected mayor.

At an event in Leeds earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg suggested that the main elements of a deal on devolution of powers to Leeds and its West Yorkshire neighbours could be negotiated before the end of this year.

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