LEADER of the opposition, Ed Miliband has backed Southampton City Council’s decision to look again at a massive casino for the city.

The Labour Party boss said he was “cautious” about any Government expansion of gambling dens. But as council bosses consider holding a referendum of residents, he insisted local people would need to have the final say.

He said: “I can’t be the person that says Britain is too centralised a country, and that local people need to decide and then say I am going to make the decision for Southampton on what they do, they’ve got to make the decision.”

Southampton secured one of eight licences for large casinos in 2007 – but after the then Labour government went cold on the idea and the recession struck, there were no more developments.

But now Labour is making moves to explore the scheme, and this week the Daily Echo revealed more than a dozen companies had expressed their interest.

Mr Miliband added: “We’ve got to be pretty cautious nationally as a Government in relation to what we do with casinos, but people have to make the local judgement about what is right for their town or their city and what local people want, and I totally trust Southampton, as a local council, to make that decision.”

Mr Miliband was speaking to the Daily Echo ahead of his party conference in Manchester. He also revealed a new youth unemployment taskforce would be set up in Labour council areas and constituencies such as Southampton.

Asked how he could repair the damage after the Labour vote was decimated in parts of southern England, he insisted: “The most important thing we can do is show people we can make a difference to their lives.”