City leaders at devolution summit


Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

The leaders of 10 UK cities will today call for enhanced local powers at a major devolution summit.

City representatives are meeting in Glasgow, one of 10 so-called core cities demanding more control over taxes and public spending to boost growth and compete with the south east of England.

The others are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Glasgow is hosting the Core Cities UK Devolution Summit whose speakers include Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

City leaders attending the meeting are expected to sign a “freedom charter” setting out the powers they say are required to reach their potential.

Figures suggest core cities currently contribute almost a quarter of the combined economic output of England, Wales and Scotland.

Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese said: “Today, in the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, we launch our own radical Modern Charter for Local Freedom designed to set out the powers our great cities need to create jobs, build houses and improve lives.

“We believe it is only by devolving powers to cities and their regions that the UK can succeed on a global stage.

“What is good enough for the UK’s nations should be good enough for our cities. We are proposing a revolutionary shift in power from our remote parliaments to local people who know their places best.”

The summit will see the launch of a report by think-tank ResPublica which says core cities need “bottom up” devolution by the end of the next parliament.

Devolved powers would encourage growth and attract investment, with the potential to generate an extra £222 billion and 1.3 million jobs for the UK by 2030, it claims.

The report recommends that all city regions have a political figure in the form of a Metro Mayor or an elected cabinet to shoulder responsibility.

It also calls for the establishment of a devolution agency in the first 100 days of the next parliament to oversee the changes.

ResPublica director Phillip Blond said: “It’s time to change the old ‘one size fits all’ model of centralised public services delivering the same thing to everybody regardless of need. It simply isn’t working for the core cities.

“They deserve a better, more integrated system, free of all external ringfencing. If we do this correctly the benefits to the public purse will be in the billions of pounds.”

Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said ahead of the meeting: “A centralising, power-grabbing Scottish Government is as much a barrier to achieving optimal economic growth and tackling inequality as an over-bearing Whitehall.

“Merely transferring powers between one parliament and another does not advance the cities agenda.”

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will meanwhile use his speech to delegates to outline his future vision of “ever-greater devolution” to boost growth.

He is expected to say: ” It was popular, not so very long ago, to say that the only way the UK could deal with the post-industrial period was through the managed decline of the great manufacturing cities.

“I’m glad to say that that argument has been won. Our cities are seeing a new era of pride and prosperity.

“If we want to be serious about unlocking growth then we need to be radical about empowering our cities and regions, to put in place the policies that they judge will work best for them.

“My firm belief is in doing locally what is best done locally, regionally what is best done regionally, and nationally only what is best done at the national level.

“My message today is that our future is one of ever-greater devolution – ever-greater liberty – and ever-greater growth.”

The summit will also hear from Scotland’s Infrastructure and Cities Secretary Keith Brown and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.

Mr Brown will announce plans to position Scotland’s seven cities as economic hubs that deliver for all Scots, while Mr Murphy will say there needs to be greater collaboration between the country’s two largest cities.

He will say: “I want to turn our twin cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow into the economic powerhouse it should be, an economic hub to rival London, Greater Manchester and the other city regions across the UK.”

Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search