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Labour to hand more powers to local councils


Labour is promising to hand more powers to local councils and transform the relationship between local and national government.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed is to promise the “most radical programme of devolution our country has ever seen” if Labour wins the next election, when he speaks at the party’s annual conference.

Mr Reed, a former leader of Lambeth Council, will set out plans to give local authorities greater control over the spending on infrastructure, in a bid to boost new jobs. Infrastructure spending typically includes measures such as major road or rail schemes, or the provision of broadband services.

READ MORE: Labour pledges to help thousands of young people with no future

He will also say that Labour would give people more control over the delivery of local public services.

Mr Reed will say: “We will do for communities and local services what we did for the NHS and put them beyond the reach of any future Conservative government by placing so much control in local people’s hands the Conservatives won’t be able to take it away again.

“We must learn from the best of Labour in power locally if we want the British people’s trust to govern nationally.

“Public services work best when local people have a bigger say.

“That’s why Labour will guarantee people a voice and the power to use it in the workplace, in their communities and over the public services they use.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves will set out plans to help smaller businesses, and in particular independent shops, by cutting the tax they pay. She will say Labour would scrap business rates, a tax based on property values. It would be replaced by a new property tax, but Labour would also increase corporation tax, which is based on profits made by businesses.

The overall effect would be to cut taxes paid by retailers, Labour says.

In other conference developments, party leader Keir Starmer faced a concerted attack from former leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

Addressing a meeting outside the official conference, Mr Corbyn appeared to urge members to “get organised” against the current leadership. He said: “We were promised effective opposition, but instead the Tories have been given a free pass time and again.”

Mr Corbyn said: “We have seen the leadership’s true colours”.

He added: “If we want the Labour Party to be a vehicle to win elections to confront the climate emergency and redistribute wealth and power to the many from the few, then we need to come together and get organised.

“There is another way forward, for the Labour Party and Britain, that is based in peace and justice, in the policies the majority of people actually want, not what the establishment and its media mouthpieces insist they should want.

“If our leadership won’t champion that path, our movement must and will.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, an ally of Mr Corbyn, described an essay published by Keir Starmer last week as “banality after banality”.

Speaking at a Labour conference fringe event in Brighton, he said: “I have read the 11,500 words. We were told it was 14,000 words – so there is 2,500 missing. That must be where the politics was.

“The rest of it is banality after banality. It really is.”

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