Core Cities launch Local Voices campaign

Manchester and Liverpool are among the eight cities behind a new campaign for regional devolution, called Local Voices, launched at a Parliamentary Reception on Monday.

Speaking in advance of the Parliamentary Reception, Cllr Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and chairman of the Core Cities Cabinet, said: "The national economy needs our cities to succeed like never before in delivering jobs and growth, and reducing dependency on public services. To do so means going further and faster in devolving resources from the centre.

"The Local Voices campaign clearly demonstrates the positive impact devolution can have on people's lives. Each of the case studies has benefited from decisions being made at a local level but at the same time have been hindered that the freedoms cities enjoy do not go far enough to enable them to make a real difference. This campaign seeks to highlight the excellent work cities do and how with more freedoms we can make our community's better places to live."

The Local Voices campaign consists of people in each of the eight Core Cities whose work has benefitted, and would benefit further, by greater devolution of freedoms to cities. Spokespeople include, the manager of a Premier Inn in Leeds, a family intervention project team leader in Manchester and the chief executive of an SME in Nottingham.

The Local Voices campaign was being launched at a Parliamentary Reception with Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and Nottingham City Council leader, Cllr Jon Collins, telling MPs and Council leaders of the need to make the most of taxpayer's money by having the power to make decisions locally. Also attending the Parliamentary Reception today was Mayor George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, numerous council leaders from the Core Cities and London and MPs from England's biggest cities.

Campaigners say greater freedom to decide how to spend the money generated in cities, such as property taxes, would help the Core Cities meet their target of outperforming the national economy, and becoming financially self-sustaining. Independent forecasts demonstrate this could mean an additional £222bn and 1.3m jobs for the country by 2030. That is like adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK. This could also mean an additional £41.6bn to the Government in taxes from increased jobs by 2030 – enough to pay off almost half the national deficit. And that's not by raising the levels of taxes, just by changing how current taxes are invested.

Cllr Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and Core Cities Cabinet member for Business, Growth, Trade and Investment, said: "We can't deliver on jobs, growth and financial self-sufficiency with our hands tied behind our backs by Whitehall. Our overly centralised system is no longer fit for purpose, and though growth deals are a step forward, the current annual negotiation process won't solve the problem. The Core Cities want to see a better balance of funding for the regions so we can effectively meet the needs in our cities."

Julie Cusack, family intervention project team Leader from Manchester and one of the Local Voices speaking of how local freedoms in Manchester through the Family Intervention Programme has benefited her work, said: "The transformation in the family's lives has been remarkable: better school attendance, less interventions by police and social workers, improved health outcomes and generally happier and more motivated people.

"We now need to build on the programme, and others like it, if we are to fully reform our public services."

Simon Murphy, general manager, Premier Inn Leeds & Bradford and one of the Local Voices talking about the need for devolution to help young people get into work, such as the Leeds Devolved Youth Contract, said: "Locally devised and targeted skills programmes can significantly boost the number and quality of young people able to go on and have economically productive lives. We need greater influence to give far more young people meaningful training that firms are actively seeking."

International cities, such as Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, have enjoyed huge amounts of economic success due to having the policy and tax freedoms to boost their local economies. Comparatively, England's Core Cities are being hindered by central Government retaining control over 95% of funds raised locally.

Birmingham Alabama for example retains a lot more locally raised taxes than Birmingham UK. According to the OECD, the level of taxes managed at the local or regional level is about 10 times greater in Canada, 7.5 in the US, 7 in Sweden, almost 6 in Germany, and over 5 times greater across the OECD on average.

Local Voices forms part of the wider City Centred Campaign for greater devolution to cities run by Core Cities, the Mayor of London and London Councils.

Your Comments

George Ferguson faces a petition of No Confidence in him in Bristol today precisely because he is not up to the job. That is the reason pushing power down to the cities is so dangerous. The quality of the candidates coming forward to lead as Mayors is so appalling that millions will be wasted on Mayoral personal vanity projects instead of essential services that citizens need.

By steve virgin

Well one thing is for certain and that is that our over centralised political system has failed and failed us badly. Our towns and cities are currently run from Westminster as though they were distant colonies. Is it any wonder that the economic performance and quality of life lags so far behind that in equivalent European cities and other developed nations. Comments about the quality of local candidates are depressing but probably a reflection of the way in which power and resources have been stripped from local government over the last 80 years. Returning power to where it belongs, to where information about local needs and challenges actually resides and you are sure to see places prosper and local politics reinvigorated.

By Devo max

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