Council leader calls for more cash for Wakefield if the Tories makes Northern Ireland deal

Coun Peter Box.
Coun Peter Box.

The leader of Wakefield Council has called for more money to be pumped into local government if extra-cash is allocated to Northern Ireland under a Conservative and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deal.

Coun Peter Box said an agreement to give the country more investment would prompt West Yorkshire council leaders, including himself, to call for more funding to provide local services.

His comments come as Prime Minister Theresa May continues her negotiations with the DUP, to try and prop up her government after failing to secure a majority in last week’s general election.

Whilst details of potential DUP demands have been kept firmly under wraps, analysts have suggested the party may ask for investment in Northern Ireland in exchange for the support of its 10 MPs.

Mr Box said: “We are going to be saying to government, if it’s true that huge amounts of money end up being given to the DUP either directly or because of increased borrowing powers, then clearly, at a West Yorkshire level, including Wakefield, we want extra funding for the things that matter most to local people.”

He said the district’s residents would be “aggrieved” if the country “can afford to give money to the DUP to help the Conservatives in power”, after the local authority has grappled with six years and £144m of budget cuts.

He said: “We want resources allocated to the North of England to help residents who had to make do for the last few years.

“We are going to be, at a West Yorkshire level, making representations very, very quickly to government making the case for resources, which will benefit Wakefield if we are successful.”

Reflecting on the election, Coun Box said he believed young people in particular had taken to Labour’s manifesto of “hope and optimism”.

Referring to the Wakefield seat, the most closely-contested of the district’s constituencies, he said: “There had been a lot of talk I think because of the fact that we had a strong leave vote [in the EU referendum] in Wakefield and that Mary Creagh made her views quite clear and voted to remain. I think talk revolved around whether that would impact on her.”

He added: “I am pleased that she won - it is clear that she will fight for better resources for the area, in the same way that she and Yvette [Cooper] and John [Trickett] have done for the last two years.

“They have supported the council in its fight for more money at a national level. I look forward to working with them again.”