Core Cities UK leaders gathered in Westminster to call for the new government to deliver on city devolution
Leaders and mayors of the 10 largest city economies outside London in England, Scotland and Wales – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – launched a ‘Devolution Declaration’ in front of an invited audience of decision-makers from the public and private sectors.
The Declaration sets out exactly how Core Cities could ‘rebalance, reform and renew’ the UK, transforming the lives of millions of people and ensuring Britain can compete in an increasingly globalised and technical world.
It calls for a ‘radical modernisation’ of the UK’s over-centralised state, allowing Britain to succeed at every level from the global to the neighbourhood.
The declaration is launched 228 years to the day since the start of the first ever Constitutional Convention which began in Philadelphia and set out bold, ambitious powers for a new kind of modern state in North America.
Leader of Manchester City Council and chair of Core Cities UK, Sir Richard Leese, said: “If the new Government is serious about economic growth and deficit reduction, it should prioritise maintaining a dialogue with us. Our offer is to work with them to rebalance, reform and renew Britain.
“Rebalance and grow the economy to create more jobs and eliminate the deficit. Reform public services to improve outcomes and reduce costs through better coordination of funding and services, focusing on people and place. Renew democracy to give people a major stake in their own future.”
The event has attracted a high profile panel including Phillip Blond, founder of Respublica, Charlotte Alldritt, director of public services and communities for the RSA and Ed Cox director of IPPR North.
Also speaking will be Prof Tony Travers from London School of Economics and Political Science.
Prof Travers said: “A new Government, as well as continued devolution to the UK’s nations, makes this a key time for city devolution agenda. The Core Cities have made a convincing argument to Westminster on devolution to cities, now is the time look in more detail at policy and what the cities can actually deliver for the UK.
“Despite progress, the UK is still one of the most centralised countries in the world. Fiscal control is incredibly limited and we must work with Westminster to change that.”
In an open letter to national politicians sent earlier this week, Core Cities quotes independent forecasts that say that with greater freedoms the eight English Core Cities could alone deliver £222bn extra and put 1.16m jobs into the economy by 2030. That is the equivalent of adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK. With Cardiff and Glasgow on side it could be even more.
It adds that international evidence shows that devolution below the level of nations is critical to increasing prosperity, increasing equality and strengthening democracy.
The letter adds: “Cities must be freed from unnecessary central controls, whether from Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay or Stormont.”