Campaigners are banging the drum for Leeds at Whitehall

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LEEDS’s decision-makers have joined a chorus of national voices to launch a major campaign demanding more power over how the city’s money is spent.

The Local Voices campaign was launched today (July 21) at a Parliamentary reception with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, where council leaders stressed the need to make the most of taxpayers’ money by having the power to make decisions locally.

The campaign consists of people in each of the eight Core Cities - of which Leeds is one - whose work has benefitted, and would benefit further, by greater devolution of freedoms to cities.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Where we have the freedom, power and resources to determine local solutions to the big challenges facing our communities, we can deliver more effective solutions than Whitehall alone.

“We also recognise that enabling our regions to thrive economically will be key to rebalancing the national economy and delivering long-term sustainable growth.”

He said Leeds had already proved that the local approach works, with the council and local employers and training providers working closely together on skills and apprenticeships.

Simon Murphy, general manager of Premier Inn Leeds & Bradford, who was among the Leeds delegation speaking in London today, said: “We need greater influence to give far more young people meaningful training that firms are actively seeking.”

Commentators say that international cities, such as Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, have enjoyed huge amounts of economic success due to having the policy and tax freedoms to boost their local economies. They say that comparatively, England’s Core Cities are being hindered by central Government retaining control over 95 per cent of funds raised locally.

Last week, the Think Leeds campaign was also launched as part of a drive ahead of the General Election in 2015. It argues that sustained national economic growth requires more powerful and better funded cities.

Nigel Foster, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “Think Leeds is bringing together key voices from across the city to make the case for more powers and freedoms at a local level ahead of the next General Election.

“Over the next 10 months, we will be lobbying politicians across Leeds and in Westminster, to make sure that the next Government ‘Thinks Leeds’ after the next election.

“Only through better funding and more local authority powers will Leeds be able to unlock the huge growth potential that exists within the city – for the benefit of the people who live here, and the UK’s future economic growth.”

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