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Council leaders call for devolved powers for England

PUBLISHED: 08:39 01 December 2014 | UPDATED: 09:50 01 December 2014

The Houses of Parliament in Central London

The Houses of Parliament in Central London

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Kent leaders sign letter

THREE Kent council leaders have joined more than a hundred English local authority bosses in calling for more powers to be devolved from Westminster.

Canterbury City Council’s John Gilbey, Swale Borough Council’s Andrew Bowles and Gravesham’s Borough Council’s John Burden have added their names to a letter saying ‘it’s England’s turn now.’

Published in The Observer newspaper, the letter calls on the chancellor to take firm action in his forthcoming autumn statement and that many services ‘such as libraries, leisure centres and road maintenance continue to buckle under the strain of cuts’.

The full letter reads:

“Funding for services provided by councils has borne the brunt of austerity while demand continues to rise. When the chancellor delivers his autumn statement this Wednesday, “more of the same” cannot be an option.

“After a 40% reduction in funding during this parliament, our efficiency savings are coming to an end. Further reductions without radical reform will have a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life and will lead to vital services being scaled back or lost altogether. Services such as libraries, leisure centres and road maintenance continue to buckle under the strain of cuts and the ever-rising cost of caring for our growing elderly population. Failure to address this will not only jeopardise other services, but will pass costs on to the NHS, which will have to pick up the pieces if we cannot protect adult social care or provide the services that keep people healthy.

“Last week, the Smith commission set out a better deal for Scotland, granting more control over funding and recognising the importance of devolving power down beyond Holyrood. It’s England’s turn now.

“There is compelling evidence that taking decisions closer to the people affected achieves better results and saves money. It is vital that the autumn statement sets out a new settlement for England, which puts powers beyond Westminster, and shares out tax and spending across the UK on a fair basis. The people we represent, who look north of the border with envy at the greater control Scots are to get over their everyday lives, will expect nothing less.”

The letter has been signed Cllr David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association, as well as 40 Conservative, 65 Labour council and ten Liberal Democrat leaders from across England.

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