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Labour leadership candidates set out their stall on devolution

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Labour leadership candidates have pledged to push the government’s devolution plan even further, during a party hustings broadcast throughout the Local Government Association’s annual conference.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham MP said he wanted power to be pushed “down as far as possible” from Whitehall.

“There should be a new role for local communities. We can’t keep hollowing out local democracy of their power and responsibility,” he told party members.

Local authorities, he added, should be given greater freedom to borrow to build homes.

“I want a new vision for councils in Britain,” Mr Burnham continued. “We have an unbalanced politics in this country… [a] Westminster-centric model.”

Liz Kendall MP, the shadow care minister, told party members the country needed “a radical devolution of power down to our cities and counties and communities”.

She told council members that they knew “best what is going to work and to have decent public services”.

Both the country and the Labour party were too “centralised”, she added.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper MP also called for a “radical development plan”.

She suggested councils should gain control of local energy planning and skills for 14 to 19 year olds.

Ms Cooper said the party should not have been “against the principle of Manchester taking on health”.

Her comments appear to refer to criticism made by Mr Burnham in February that the devolution of health funding to the city risked creating a “Swiss-cheese” NHS.

The idea of devolution had always been a Labour principle, Ms Cooper added.

“It should proper devolution, should be power to many not the few and about towns not just cities”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the MP for Islington North called for a wholesale re-think of the country’s constitution

“We have a scrambled egg of a constitution,” he added. “We need to work out how we develop devolution and a regional government

“We also need to give back some of the powers that have been removed such as permitted development rights.”

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