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Angela Rayner to meet local leaders for devolution talks



Angela Rayner to meet local leaders for devolution talks

The first government meeting with mayors to discuss “shifting power out of Westminster” towards the regions will take place on Tuesday, the new deputy prime minister has said.

England’s regional mayors are due to meet with Angela Rayner, who is also communities secretary, and Prime Minister Keir Starmer at 10 Downing Street where they will discuss “a major programme of devolution”, the government said.

Ms Rayner said “for too long” Westminster has “tightly gripped control” and “held back opportunities for towns, cities and villages across the UK”.

In the meeting, local mayors will be asked to identify local specialisms which could contribute to a “national industrial strategy”.

Labour has made growing the economy one of its five “missions” for government.

As part of this, it says local leaders will be required to draw up Local Growth Plans, which “identify growth sectors and the infrastructure they need to thrive”.

Twelve areas of England, including Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Tees Valley, currently have devolution deals giving powers over areas such as transport, housing and employment.

Tees Valley’s Conservative mayor Ben Houchen, who was re-elected for a third consecutive term in May, is currently the only metro mayor who is not a Labour politician.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin are also among those due to attend the meeting.

West Midlands’ mayor Richard Parker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he hoped the meeting would help to give mayors more agency to improve their communities.

Mr Parker said rules set up by the previous governments were drawn “too tightly” over the spending of funds, and with “more freedom” to use them he would be able to create more than 3,000 new, affordable homes across the West Midlands.

Devolution deals were expanded under the Conservatives, who formed new combined authorities made up of several council areas and chaired by metro mayors.

This also formed part of the “levelling-up” strategy, which aimed to reduce inequality between different parts of the country.

Powers were already set to be devolved to more areas in 2025, including Suffolk, Norfolk and Greater Lincolnshire.

Sir Keir said he believed it was those “with skin in the game” who “know best what they need”.

Ms Rayner said the new government is focused on “a full reset of our relationship with local government”.

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