Greater powers needed for cities and mayoral regions

A first meeting of cities and regions has resulted in reignited calls for further devolution away from Westminster as Brexit becomes a reality.

A network of mayors and city leaders met at Bristol City Hall as part of the Global Parliament of Mayors Annual Summit and agreed to press central government for greater local control more broadly. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said Brexit meant dramatic changes were needed.

He said: “The country urgently needs to rebalance and we need a radical shift of power out of Westminster and the London-centric system we’ve got. The reality of Brexit means people are looking at what’s coming next year with new eyes. We’re of the view the engine of the global economy is the city and city region.

“The mayors have agreed we need to make a unified call as part of the comprehensive spending review next year. It means freeing cities up to punch their way and make their own way, take control of their destiny. We’re going to hit next year and, if we’re not careful, there could be a sense of loss of confidence in the regional economy. The government needs to get ahead of that. It needs to be making plans to put more energy and confidence into the regional economy. The best way to do that is through a radical programme of devolution.”

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said that cities and regions needed more control of the money given to them and, in the long term, more fiscal devolution.

He said: “How can you plan for your future if you’re waiting to see if you’ve been lucky enough to get something dished out to you? “We’re grown-up cities and regions. At the moment, government is like a drowning person. Cities and regions can come to the rescue but the danger is that government drags us down with them by thrashing about. Just relax, give us the space to do what we need to do. Having a relationship of equals would do untold good for the UK.”

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