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PRESCOTT SPEECH FAILS TO IMPRESS

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Deputy prime minister John Prescott said nothing about freedoms and flexibilities for local government in a speech ...
Deputy prime minister John Prescott said nothing about freedoms and flexibilities for local government in a speech that made little impression on delegates.

He apologised for his speech beforehand, saying: 'This policy area changes very quickly so you'll have to give me a little time to read into the brief.'

Mr Prescott said his personal priorities were finance, housing and planning.

He warned financial reform would take time and not everyone could gain from it as even the LGA found it impossible to produce a formula everyone agreed on.

He reiterated his expectation of at least one regional referendum by the end of this parliament, and legislation for assemblies as well if there was time.

But he failed to address the nagging fear of delegates that the CPA is being fast tracked while the freedoms and flexibilities are being kicked into the long grass.

Rodney Bass, leader of Maldon DC (Con), said: 'He didn't say anything about freedoms and flexibilities. It was all taken up with his obsession about regionalism which is a big distraction for local government.'

Stephanie Elsy, former Labour leader of Southwark LBC and now an assistant to Newham LBC mayor Robin Wales, said: 'No surprises, typical Prescott speech. There wasn't a lot of detail.'

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