Devolution agenda not ‘radical enough’, says leader of Manchester City Council

The Leader of Manchester City Council is calling for more drastic efforts in transferring power to the country’s major urban centres.

Sir Richard Leese and representatives from Core Cities UK met with Boris Johnson and William Hague yesterday in an attempt to bring about UK devolution at the same pace as the process in Scotland.

Core Cities UK is a united authority representing the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London, along with Glasgow and Cardiff, and are concerned with promoting economic growth.

Sir Richard Leese said: “A programme of devolution for Scotland has been set out, but the national agenda for devolution is just not radical enough.

“Any legislation must make provision for the whole of the UK, and specifically for its cities. Although the timing should not restrict the promises to Scotland being delivered, we would like to see this within the same time frame for the whole of the UK.

“We are pleased the Government is taking notice as in an increasingly competitive global economy, the UK’s big cities are Britain’s best.”

Mr Johnson backed the calls for greater powers to UK cities across borders, thereby avoiding the unnecessary extra bureaucratic layer of an English parliament.

Following the meeting with Johnson, the ten leaders and mayors representing Core Cities UK spoke with former Foreign Secretary Hague to discuss a plan to drive forward devolution away from Westminster to UK cities.

The Core Cities UK group consists of representatives from Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities UK cabinet member for growth, stressed the importance of these major urban centres in stimulating the UK economy, and the potential the cities hold.

Mr Collins said: “Greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in our cities would help the Core Cities meet their target of outperforming the national economy, and become financially self-sustaining.

“Independent forecasts demonstrate that, for the eight English Core Cities alone, this could mean an additional £222billion and 1.3million jobs for the country by 2030.

“That is like adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK and with Glasgow and Cardiff on side, it will be even more.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and Core Cities UK cabinet member for public service reform says he sees the meetings as a step in the right direction.

He said: “[The] discussions are a sign that the argument for city devolution continues to gain ground among decision-makers in Westminster.

“Our cities are essential growth hubs. With greater freedoms we can reform public services, integrating them at the point of delivery, saving money, improving people’s lives and getting more people into training and employment.”

Image courtesy of Manchester City Council, via Youtube, with thanks.

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