THE SHADOW Chancellor has backed a York MP’s campaign against the government’s decision to close the city’s barracks.

John McDonnell was in York yesterday, and said they would be backing Rachael Maskell over the barracks closure and asking the government to “think again”.

Ms Maskell said the government had “gone down a list and put a cross next to some barracks”, without doing any proper assessment of the devastating impact the closure would have on York.

She has written to Michael Fallon to request an urgent meeting, in the hope the decision can be in some way reversed.

Mr McDonnell said: “It is not a lost cause, we will be backing Rachael’s campaign. We will be demanding the government publish all the details, and we will be challenging their figures as well. Something like this has a ripple effect across the economy, local shops and all that supply chain.”

The closures also go against some of the military objectives of reconnecting the Armed Forces with the community, Ms Maskell added.

Mr McDonnell was in the city to speak at the Locality conference at York Barbican yesterday morning, and to take part in an economics debate with University of York academics Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.

In the morning he backed a call from Locality - a national network of community organisations - for a £1 billion investment fund for community asset transfers which could save public buildings and open spaces from austerity by handing then over to community ownership.

He said community groups also need reliable support to make sure they have the resources to take buildings on.

Mr McDonnell added: “We are politicians, so we like opening things, so trusts and charitable groups like to fund physical assets that politicians can then open, or short term limited projects.

“Sometimes what’s needed is core funding for an organisation, to enable it to build up expertise and experience so it can then manage a community asset.”

With Labour preparing for a predicted May 2017 General Election, the shadow chancellor also spoke of the party’s plans for a National Investment Bank, with regional branches including a possible “Bank of the North”.

Priorities would be determined locally, he said, by local authorities and by elected mayors, and the party is already asking councils about their projects - from major infrastructure works to housing projects.