Devolution a ‘sham’ while UK Government holds the purse strings says Conservative
Devolution is a “sham” while the UK Government continues to hold the purse strings, a Conservative politician has said.
James Palmer, a former ‘metro mayor’ for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said that devolution was a “smoke and mirrors exercise” and that what was really on offer was “puppet devolution”.
The aim was to “give the illusion of local autonomy while maintaining a firm grip on the process from the safety of Whitehall,” he said.
James Palmer, who is now the Chair of the Eastern Powerhouse, wrote in City AM that to be effective, devolution within the UK needed to devolve financial powers as well.
“The only way to achieve true local decision-making and devolution is to devolve fiscal responsibility,” he said.
“Any other route will end up in a fudge deliberately engineered by Whitehall to make it seem that only they can exercise power for the region.
“Keeping the regions weak and centralising power in Whitehall does not serve the people.”
He was reacting to what the UK Government called “historic devolution deals” signed by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove last week that rolled out some devolution to Suffolk and Norfolk.
Last week also saw Cornwall sign its own devolution deal with the government, with long-term funding of £360 million.
“Empowering strong local leadership is key to levelling up and ensuring we spread opportunity and unlock the economic potential of communities across the country,” Michael Gove said.
“Ultimately it is local people who know what is best for their areas and it is my job to make sure local leaders have the levers to address the issues unique to them.”
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