'We must deepen regional accountability. I believe it's time to take the next steps to publish a green paper,' he said.
The paper would enable regions to hold binding referendums following public consultation, he said. Devolution had improved accountability in Scotland, Wales and London and people there 'believe it's time the people of the English regions should have that chance too'.
He told councillors to embrace community leaders. 'I know there are many councillors here today and I know some feel threatened that such people will take decisions under these schemes, but it's important that they feel involved.
'That's not a threat to the present democratic structures, it's making it more accountable.'
And he said best value should not mean worse working conditions: 'Best value shouldn't be used by councils as a cover for doing things on the cheap, otherwise there's no difference between it and CCT.
'Best value services should be matched by best value employment practices. Good public services require good public sector workers who feel they're fairly treated and proud of the services they give to the public.'