We want to devolve powers to local government in the North’

Ed Balls MP and Samuel Rushworth with residents on Wingate Avenue, Cleveleys.
Ed Balls MP and Samuel Rushworth with residents on Wingate Avenue, Cleveleys.
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Resorts like Blackpool will continue to be overshadowed by the south and will see no real evidence of economic recovery until more powers are devolved from Westminster, a senior MP has claimed.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was on the Fylde coast knocking on doors in a bid to drum up support for Labour in the lead-up to the 2015 General Election.

And he also insisted towns across the Fylde coast would not see any real evidence of economic recovery until Government powers are devolved to regions.

Mr Balls told The Gazette: “I think that when you talk to people in Blackpool and even in parts of London where I am from, working people are saying to me that there is a recovery ‘but not for us’.

“Wages are stalling and the cost of living is rising so Coalition policies are not working for them. The working people in Blackpool I have spoke to are worried about living standards and want Labour to help make life fairer for them by doing things like raising the minimum wage and reducing the amount of zero hour contracts.

“Until we have a plan to change how control of resources are distributed around the country, towns like Blackpool will continue to be overseen at the expense of big cities down south.

“We want to devolve powers to local government in the North so that they get their fair share of any recovery that can be seen in the south.”

Mr Balls was on the Fylde coast as part of a team of Labour campaigners knocking on doors on Wingate Avenue, Cleveleys.

Another point raised during the visit was the national campaign to cap VAT at five per cent for hotels and attractions, a move which it is believed would bring major benefits for towns like Blackpool.

Sam Rushworth, prospective Parliamentary candidate for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, who was campaigning with Mr Balls, said: “It is a vision in the long-term and, as a passionate campaigner for Blackpool, I am very keen to push forward benefits like this through.

“It’d be great to make it easier for families to have a holiday and a trip away to Blackpool and, as long as I am representing the town, I will continue to bang the drum for breaks like this.”

But when asked about issues with alcohol in Blackpool, Mr Balls said cheap supermarket booze and the prevalence of under-age drinkers could be issues.

He added: “We plan to scrap Police and Crime Commissioner elections – a move that would save £50m and help to inject £2.5bn to help save the NHS and, in turn, 
alcohol abuse.”

Latest figures show Blackpool has the worst rates in the country for hospital admissions because of substance misuse and liver disease in under-75s.

And last year a Gazette investigation uncovered some off-licences in the town where alcohol was on sale for a lower price than water.

Meanwhile, current Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw defended his position last week, insisting PCCs have contributed to their communities.