December 4 2013 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Friday, November 1, 2013
Regions such as Norfolk and Suffolk should not be “cosying” up to London and should be fighting its dominance, Lord Heseltine has said.
The Tory grandee said he was appalled by the silence with which people wait for an answer from the capital, and called for a “peasants’ revolt” against Westminster.
The author of the report No Stone Unturned, also hit out at a hidden agenda where Whitehall departments thought they were doing a first class job and could do it better than anyone else.
“Try to get the districts to cede power to the counties. Try to get a quango to give power to another quango. The moment you say to the local authority ‘we don’t need two tiers in local government’. You are talking to the wind.”
At an East of England local government association event in London he also said the government should let regions lose out on funding, claiming “that is where you make winners”.
Chancellor George Osborne promised billions of pounds of regional spending in the budget earlier this year, for which authorities will have to compete.
Lord Heseltine said: “The government should hold its nerve and let you lose. It will cause the local press and the local MPs to say the system was cheated, it was wrong and it is unfair.”
But he said that he had found when running a similar scheme called City Challenge – targeted at the most destitute parts of provincial England – when he was in power: “I had exactly that reaction and the second year the losers found out how to win.”
He added: “I have said all this because there is no point at all wandering around the place saying ‘good on you, it will all be all right’.
“We are 20pc less productive than the Germans – ouch. Our education system placed us 21st in the world.”
He also warned of a very “serious skills shortage in the very near future” and urged localities that they had to “say some uncomfortable things”,
He said: “There is nothing you can do in the short term about skills except import it – and that will get lots of people excited about immigrants. If you just think about productivity it is a very nasty thing to think about. It is not somebody else problem. It is our problem.”