Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regions to Get Their Own Cabinet as Miliband Sets out Labour Plans

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regions to Get Their Own Cabinet as Miliband Sets out Labour Plans

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

ED Miliband would chair a Cabinet of the English Regions bringing together leaders of major cities such as Newcastle and Government ministers if he becomes Prime Minister, he is set to announce.

Chairs of combined authorities, such as the North East authority chaired by Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, would also attend the new English committee which would meet regularly - giving them a say on issues such as transport, health and education which affect their regions. A Labour government would also introduce new laws to ensure councils can seize control of bus services without fear of a legal challenge.

The North East Combined Authority has already voted unanimously to introduce a Quality Contract Scheme for Tyne and Wear, giving councils more control over services, but faces a battle with bus companies bitterly opposed to the scheme.

And Labour would also pass an English Devolution Act, enshrining in law new powers for local councils and combined authorities to manage funding for transport and housing, further education and support for employers, as well as giving them a formal role in commissioning health and social care.

Mr Miliband is announcing the three-point plan for a dramatic shift of power away from Westminster to the regions of England as he meets local authority leaders in Manchester today.

The announcements were welcomed by Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, who said: "There is recognition in these proposals that we need a new relationship between local and national government.

"An English Regional Cabinet Committee which includes senior secretaries of state as well as local authority leaders is a significant step forward."

Many of the new powers will be aimed specifically at combined authorities, with councils which have not yet joined forces with their neighbours strongly encouraged to do so. …

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