Leeds council leader attacks “timid” deal

Harriet Harman at Labour's local election campaign launch in Leeds
Harriet Harman at Labour's local election campaign launch in Leeds
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LEEDS council’s Labour leader Keith Wakefield described the Coalition’s offer of powers to West Yorkshire as “timid” as the party launched its local election campaign.

A deal to transfer powers from London to West Yorkshire was agreed last month but Coun Wakefield said it did not go far enough.

Chancellor George Osborne has said he wants to give the North more control over its own affairs as part of his plan to create an economic “powerhouse in the North.

Coun Wakefield said: “We want to balance the national economy but so far, certainly in Yorkshire as a whole, we’ve had rhetoric about powerhouses.

“The substance behind that has been negligible. There has been very little support for our ambitions that we were told we should have.”

He added: “Yorkshire got a very timid deal and frankly Yorkshire has been let down by this Government in its offer of devolution.”

Coun Wakefield was speaking at Labour’s local election campaign launch in Leeds alongside a string of senior party figures including deputy leader Harriet Harman.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, campaigning for the Conservatives in Garforth, accused Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, of trying to slow down devolution to Yorkshire.

He said: “I think that in Yorkshire the leaders really do need to tell Ed Balls to pipe down. He is seeing this through the very narrow confines of just the general election.”

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has written to Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry about Yorkshire devolution.

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