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Sheffield leader supports devolution

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Sheffield’s leading lady has backed the call for a devolution of powers to Yorkshire.

As councils across the county ask for a new deal to give them a bigger say in how taxes are raised and spent, Coun Julie Dore has thrown her weight behind their campaign.

The leader of the city council believes a system similar to Scotland and Wales could be a solution to ‘disproportionate’ cuts in Government spending Sheffield has faced in comparison with other areas.

Bringing big budget decisions back to a regional level could redress the balance, according to campaigners.

Coun Dore said: “We believe that cities are best placed to drive growth, which is why England’s eight largest cities have proposals that would give us the tools we need to develop our local economies and create more jobs and prosperity in our area.

“Currently, Britain is one of the most centralised countries in the world.

“This is leading to bad outcomes with an increasingly centralised economy and a growing North/South divide. That’s why we’re calling for a fair deal for our cities.

“We have already seen the benefits that devolution can bring in Sheffield.

“Now that we have control of skills funding we are able to match the training offer for young people with the needs of local business.”

Last week York Council reignited the debate by arguing the case for a new Royal Commission to decide ‘once and for all’ how the region can take control of its own affairs.

Examples of where such powers could help local people is the planned rise in council housing rent – due to increase by more than six per cent in Sheffield this year.

Guidelines are set by the Government and implemented through the city council in its annual budget.

The argument has also been backed by local MPs Clive Betts and David Blunkett.

Coun Dore said: “We need the Government to roll this out on a much wider scale and give cities the powers they need over so we can meet the needs of our local areas.”

Responding to calls Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, has insisted local councils already have ‘a high degree of autonomy’ – and suggested many use their powers unwisely.

He said: “Local authorities have a high degree of autonomy but sometimes with local choices, people make bad choices.

“Sometimes I think some authorities take almost a perverse pleasure in saying ‘it’s nothing to do with me, it’s that Pickles fellow’.”

 

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