Government approach to devolution ‘offensive and wrong’, says Nandy

Labour’s Lisa Nandy has attacked the Government’s approach to devolution as “offensive and wrong”, saying local areas needed “German-style” autonomy.

The shadow communities secretary said devolution deals were “pretty offensive” and local areas should be able to choose their own way instead.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference on Monday, Ms Nandy said: “We have got this situation where the Chancellor sits in Whitehall and draws lines on a map and he labels some places functional economic areas, which presumably means other places are not.

“He creates chances for some places and choices in those places and not for others and then tells communities they should be grateful and they should accept it.

“In any democracy worth its salt we have the right to choose our own governance arrangements.”

She added: “Our political arrangements, our governance arrangements surely have to reflect our own sense of identity. They have to reflect economic geography.”

Instead of making decisions from Whitehall, Ms Nandy said a Labour government would ask local areas to list the powers they needed and these would be “repatriated”.

She also criticised the Government’s approach to levelling up, which she said resulted in small pots of money being handed out “Hunger Games-style for mayors and councils to compete over crumbs from the table”.

She added: “It offends me deeply that young people in Bolton now have the right to get on a bus to the places, the apprenticeships that they need, and to see friends and family because some government minister decided he liked the cut of Andy Burnham’s jib, but yet in Barnsley those young people don’t have those same rights and those same powers.

“It’s offensive and it’s wrong and we are going to set that right.”