Monument in Albert Square and Manchester Town Hall

Manchester welcomes regional governance review

Lord Peter Smith, chairman of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said the city region was "uniquely well-placed to demonstrate the benefits of greater freedom" after the prime minister referred to devolution for England largest cities in his post-Scottish independence referendum speech.

David Cameron, addressing the nation after 55% of Scottish voters opted to keep the union, said: "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."

Smith responded: "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.

"The referendum process has highlighted the compelling case for greater devolution for English city regions.

"Greater Manchester has a bigger economy than Wales or Northern Ireland, and a population of almost three million, yet we have considerably less freedom over our funding and spending priorities. As more and more powers and flexibilities are devolved to other parts of the union, the position of major English economic powerhouses such as Greater Manchester becomes ever more untenable.

"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 – maximising economic growth and job creation and reforming public services to improve results at the same times as reducing spending. 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."

Manchester's leaders have for many years argued for greater fiscal control, delegated policy-making powers and additional funding to deliver its own economic growth agenda, rather than fit into a centralised system. Victories have been achieved in establishing the first statutory sub-regional combined authority, playing a part in the current rail franchise competition alongside the Department for Transport and securing the £1.2bn tax increment finance-style fund to pay for infrastructure projects including the Trafford Centre Metrolink line and the airport relief road.

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