Starmer invites Labour mayors to develop 10-year local growth plans

Sir Keir Starmer said “boosting growth across every region” will be top of the agenda in Labour’s devolution plans as he brings together his party’s newly-expanded team of mayors.

Labour notched up a string of wins by high-profile incumbents in this year’s mayoral elections, as well as scoring a clean sweep of victories in those parts of the country that were voting for a mayor for the first time.

The local Labour politicians are “already setting the agenda” in the face of “a failing Tory Government that is choking off our economy and hoarding power”, Sir Keir said.

The Labour leader will invite the group to help develop a “gold standard” for boosting local economies when they meet for the first time since the contests.

Existing work Labour highlighted includes Andy Burnham’s Greater Manchester Strategy, Tracy Brabin’s West Yorkshire Business Board, as well as Sadiq Khan’s plans to create 150,000 jobs in London by 2028.

The party accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the Tories of failing to fulfil their flagship policy of levelling up UK regions, pointing to its analysis of Office for National Statistics data showing the average gap in gross domestic product per person between London and other combined authorities in England averaged £29,000 in 2022.

Sir Keir Starmer celebrating Claire Ward’s victory in the East Midlands mayoral contest (Jacob King/PA)

The Labour leader said ahead of the meeting: “These local elections showed that the British public is ready to put their trust in this changed Labour Party. We will repay that trust by delivering economic growth for everyone, everywhere in partnership with our Labour mayors.

“Our growing team of Labour mayors is already setting the agenda and delivering for local people despite a failing Tory Government that is choking off our economy and hoarding power in Westminster.

“My Labour government would rebuild our economy hand-in-hand with local leaders. That’s why boosting growth across every region will be top of the agenda for our devolution plans. Drawing on the expertise and ideas of Labour mayors who know their communities best, we can set the ‘gold standard’ for delivering local growth.

(PA Graphics)

“We’ll turbocharge growth across our towns, cities and regions, put more money in people’s pockets, and improve living standards across Britain.”

Labour’s wins included Richard Parker’s shock victory over Conservative Andy Street in the West Midlands, Claire Ward becoming the East Midlands’ first elected mayor, Kim McGuinness winning the new North East mayoral election, and David Skaith winning the new York & North Yorkshire mayoralty – which includes Mr Sunak’s Richmond constituency.

The party retained mayoralties such as London, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Liverpool City Region.

The Conservatives suffered a mauling from the electorate in the contests earlier this month, also losing nearly 500 council seats and the Blackpool South by-election.

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden said: “Sir Keir Starmer’s metro mayors have spent more time wading in on international issues they have no control over rather than delivering on people’s priorities.

“The worst thing Labour could do for regional growth is hike up taxes across the country – for that reason they should immediately rule out both the business rates and council tax revaluations they have opened the door to. We all know exactly why Labour would do that – to raise taxes on communities everywhere.

“We are boosting regional growth and creating thriving communities, investing over £15 billion in projects across the UK and backing 75 towns through our Long-Term Plan for Towns. Labour would take us back to square one.”

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