Plans put forward by Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband to create economic powerhouses away from London has been given a warm welcome by York’s council leader.
Coun. James Alexander was responding following Mr Milliband’s speech in Leeds where he said that the national economy needs to be more balanced, away from London to the regions, and that a Labour Government would support councils coming together to foster greater economic growth.
Coun. Alexander said:
“I’m really pleased to hear the direction Ed Miliband is taking in advance of the general election with a genuine move to give more power to councils in determining their economic futures.
“I welcomed many of the proposals in Lord Heseltine’s report on boosting growth last year and am pleased they have been developed in Lord Adonis’s proposals presented today. I and a number of pro-growth Labour council leaders have met with Lord Adonis to push for greater devolution to drive local economies”.
A key proposal from Lord Adonis’s report is allowing councils to retain all increases in business rates, while deducting the same amount from the amount councils receive in grant from the Government. The move, it is argued, will give councils more confidence in developing their local economies by having the certainty that the Government won’t change the rules to pull more cash back to Whitehall.
“York contributes £40m extra in business rates to London than we receive back and the figure for Leeds is £60m”, said Coun. Alexander. “The Monks Cross Vangarde site would have delivered York an additional £7m in business rates per year under these new proposals, which would massively reduce cuts to local services forced upon us by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government. It would also present opportunities for infrastructure spending that as things stand are never going to get off the ground”.
“This shows how we as a council could benefit under a Labour Government, giving us the opportunity to grow economically and benefit as a city from that growth. This also offers the potential to reverse unpopular cuts made as a result of David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s funding cuts to councils”.