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Clegg’s English devo plans ‘not enough,’ say activists

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will today call for a devolution programme for England — but democracy campaigners are unimpressed.

The IPPR North think tank report endorsed by Mr Clegg calls for a wave of “metro mayors” who would run city regions as well as giving councils more power to vary taxes.

The think tank’s director Ed Cox said local leaders in England had missed out on additional powers granted to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland through devolution.

But Paul Salveson of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, which campaigns for local democracy in northern England, said the proposals did not go far enough.

“We want directly elected regional parliaments as they have in Scotland and Wales,” he told the Star.

“We want to create a new form of governance that is more inclusive and open. In Scotland the independence debate has energised people about the meaning of democracy. We see great ideas from groups like Common Weal.”

And Communist Party Northern district secretary Martin Levy said that local governments had lost fundraising powers under the last three administrations — and warned against further upward transfers of power.

“There is a case for regional devolution, but not at the cost of further destruction of local democracy,” he said.

“Metro mayors is a con because we used to have metropolitan counties that dealt with transport and so on — the Tories took them away.

“If this is about London mayor-style figureheads for business to do deals with over councils’ heads, that only reduces scrutiny.”

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