Labour stands for a bottom up approach to the devolution of power. This is not what is on offer from the Tory government.
The government’s decision to impose Metro Mayors on local areas and combined authorities as a precondition of devolution is wrong.
It is doubly wrong when that imposition is being applied even to areas where the local population voted only recently in a referendum to reject the idea of being governed by a Mayor.
And it is triply wrong when combined with the iron grip which the chancellor has exercised on local councils’ spending by imposing cuts on some of the most deprived communities in Britain. Instead of empowering councils, the government is cutting funding and holding communities back.
It is also wrong for the Conservative government to take powers back to Westminster. The latest example being the forced academisation of schools. We need a much more serious approach to getting powers and funding out of Whitehall and into our communities.
Labour believes in a devolution that gives local people the power to make their communities and economies stronger and fairer.
My question is: why doesn’t the Tory government trust local communities to decide how they should be governed? Some may want Mayors. Others may not. The imposition of mayors is in direct opposition to the very definition of devolution and it is deeply unhelpful that Osborne is insisting on making these deals behind closed doors therefore appearing to exclude the public.