Jeremy Corbyn has urged Sheffield City Council to ‘band together’ with other local authorities to prevent more cuts to local services.
Mr Corbyn, who is the favourite to become the new leader of the Labour Party, addressed more than 1,000 people during a political rally in Sheffield city centre on Saturday.
The Islington North MP told the crowds: “The cuts have been made partly in welfare expenditure, but also in the systematic under-funding of local government.
“If the government carries on with this level of local authority under-funding then many other services will go.
“I’m suggesting that local authorities have got to band together and be much more demanding of central government – because local government is paying the price for this whole programme of austerity and it’s going to affect everybody.”
Mr Corbyn – who is the front-runner to replace Ed Miliband, who stood down in the wake of the general election result – addressed a 900-strong crowd inside The Crucible theatre. Hundreds more who had not been able to register for seats were given the chance to hear him speak outside in Tudor Square.
He said Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to create a Northern Powerhouse was an ‘interesting concept,’ of which people should be cautious.
He said: “The problem is that it seems Mr Osborne is very keen to persuade local authorities to take over central government functions. But when they open the parcel labelled ‘central government functions,’ unfortunately they find a rather large bill inside and I think we should be very cautious of that.”
On Saturday, Mr Corbyn was also helping to launch a new Labour group, Northern Futures, devoted to pushing regeneration projects in the party’s traditional heartlands.
He suggested his policies would be shaped the body, spearheaded by MP for Hemsworth Jon Trickett, and said a policy relating to arts and culture funding would be announced tomorrow.
Corbyn faced a backlash last week when he suggested that introducing women-only train carriages in Britain would protect females from sexual harassment. When asked about his remarks on Saturday, he said the idea was something he was willing to discuss.
He said: “There is a serious level of harassment of women on public transport. A suggestion – it’s not a proposal, it’s open there for discussion – was in some countries, Mexico for example, they do have women-only carriages on the metro and the buses. It doesn’t mean women can’t join the rest of the train, they can.”
He also spoke about education, pledging that every child should have a pre-school place, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay.
He believed primary and secondary schools should work together more closely, and university tuition fees should be scrapped to give all young people the chance to attend.
Mr Corbyn added that he believed the leadership race was ‘the biggest exercise in democracy outside of a normal election,’ something which he said was ‘exciting.’