Sadiq Khan has said that further decentralization is “integral to the future of our country” as he seeks greater powers as mayor if he is re-elected on May 6.
In his re-election manifesto, the current mayor of London called on the government to give him additional powers, including the power to set prices for businesses in London as well as the ability to impose rent controls.
But Khan also said further decentralization elsewhere would lead to “wealth and prosperity for the whole country” and said the nationwide local elections on May 6 should serve as a “referendum on decentralization”. .
Speaking exclusively to the Local Democracy Information Service today, Khan said he wanted the Conservative government to “keep the promise” in the party’s 2019 manifesto to grant decentralized powers to cities and towns. regions of the country.
Mr Khan said: “When the majority of our country voted to leave the European Union – Brexit – it was apparently to ‘take back control’. This did not mean that Whitehall officials and politicians in Parliament wielded all the power. It meant that the powers were scattered all over the country, and that’s what it is.
“We have to make sure that this government, Boris Johnson, keeps its manifesto promise because the reality is, whether it’s me in town hall, whether it’s Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham or in the West Midlands Andy Street, or Liverpool Steve Rotherham, or anywhere else across the country, those of us who are closer to our communities know our communities much better than the politicians in Whitehall ever can.
The Labor mayor referred to London’s global competitors, pointing out that the mayor of New York manages to spend 50 percent of the taxes raised in New York and that in Tokyo it is 70 percent.
“In London, it’s 7%. Seven against 50 against 70 ”, he declared.
He added, “The more control we have over our powers and resources, the more we are in charge of our destiny. But also, we would be more accountable to the electorate.
Asked how he would argue with the government for increased powers, Mr Khan said there would be lessons to be learned from the ‘terrible’ Covid-19 pandemic and that a public inquiry might even recommend decentralization .
He said: “One of the lessons we will learn from this terrible pandemic is that centralization has been one of the reasons the government has failed to deal with the consequences of the pandemic fast enough, to both in terms of the health of individuals. and the health of our economy. And devolution would have been a way to achieve less worse results and could be one of the recommendations of a public inquiry. ”
He went on to say that he would continue to argue that ‘you can’t have a national recovery without a London recovery’ and that ‘it is in the interest of everyone across the country that London is successful’.
Mr Khan said the government had a choice whether it wanted to make the country more equal: ‘to make London poorer so that we are more equal as a country’ or ‘to transfer powers and resources to all parts of the world. countries, including London ”. .
“The latter leads to wealth and prosperity for the whole country. The first one cuts your nose to annoy your face, ”he says.
With recent opinion polls showing growing public support for decentralization, Khan said “the public is okay” with the idea.
He said: “They are not happy with the status quo, and the problem is that the government is keeping the promise it made in its manifesto in 2019, to delegate more power to cities and regions.”
A recent opinion poll by Redfield and Wilton found that 35% of Londoners were in favor of the mayor of London getting more powers vested in the government.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by Savanta ComRes and the Center for Cities found that a growing number of Londoners believe the mayor of London should have more direct power over things like housing and business support.
Paraphrasing former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, Khan said: “If the 19th century was the century of empires and the 20th century the century of nation states, the 21st century is about cities and mayors. I think the government needs to wake up and smell the coffee. ”
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This notice was published: 2021-04-20 16:34:01