David Cameron’s speech on handing more power down to local government has been praised by the chair of Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Lord Peter Smith welcomed the news and believes Manchester is in a good position to manage greater freedoms and make major decisions.
The speech, which followed this morning’s announcement of the result of the Scottish referendum, addressed the issue of local authorities being given more power to make decisions and funding allocations for themselves.
“Just as the people of Scotland will have more powers of their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs,” said Mr Cameron.
“I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.”
Calls have increased from various people within the city to increase the autonomy of Manchester from executive power in Whitehall.
Thinktank ResPublica earlier this week have called for the Greater Manchester combined authority to be given control over tax and spending, and an elected mayor.
Lord Smith responded: “Greater Manchester has a bigger economy than Wales or Northern Ireland, yet considerably less freedom over our funding and spending priorities.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s words about the need to empower our great cities and look forward to discussions with central government about how we achieve this as soon as possible. Greater Manchester has the experience and capability to move quickly.
“We believe that our record of joint working, and the maturity of our institutions such as Greater Manchester Combined Authority, make this area uniquely well-placed to demonstrate the benefits of greater freedom to make the decisions and funding allocations which will help the region realise its full potential.
“But to be achieve that we need the freedom to make decisions on funding and priorities based on the area’s needs, not ‘one size fits all’ approaches handed down from Westminster and Whitehall.”
He spoke of the need to boost economic growth; creating jobs and reforming public services whilst reducing spending.
His comments echo those of Mr Cameron in his speech this morning.
“It is important that we have wider civic engagement about how to improve governance in our United Kingdom, including how to empower our great cities. And we will say more about this in the coming days.”
Image courtesy of Number 10, with thanks.