Wakefield Council leader calls for more powers after budget

Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION:  Wakefield Town Hall
Peter Box after announcing budget proposals' 'LOCATION: Wakefield Town Hall

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box has called on the government to devolve more powers to local government, following this week’s budget.

Chancellor George Osborne said the government is working on a devolution deal with authorities in West Yorkshire during his budget speech on Wednesday.

But Coun Box said the only “acceptable” deal would need to include wide-ranging powers and more funding.

Wakefield Council and authorities across the county have asked the government to devolve powers on matters such as transport, roads management, education and skills training and the environment.

Coun Box said: “We currently have the 30th largest economy in the UK and we need more local control over our own affairs so we can create more jobs and continue to grow our economy.

“We have made it clear to the government that we are hugely ambitious and what we have asked for matches that ambition. If the chancellor is serious about putting power into the Northern Powerhouse then he will agree to us getting additional powers.

“But the scale of centralisation in this country means we are still held back by decisions taken in Whitehall.”

In his speech to parliament on Wednesday, Mr Osborne said “significant additional powers” could be handed to local authorities if they agree in principle to the idea of an elected mayor.

Coun Box said: “This budget statement is an unprecedented opportunity to drive our future development in ways that really make a difference to people’s lives, whatever their circumstances.”

‘You need to give us more power’