Core Cities UK leaders gathered in Westminster today (May 14th) 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.
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 £222 billion extra and put 1.16 million 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 open letter in full:
The Core Cities UK Cabinet calls on those forming the new Parliament, across all parties, to ensure that devolution to cities and other places remains an absolute priority.
Any Government serious about economic growth and deficit reduction should immediately enter a dialogue with us. Our offer is to work with Parliament 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 local coordination of funding and services, focusing on people and place. Renew democracy giving people a major stake in their future.
The facts speak for themselves. Independent forecasts demonstrate that with greater freedoms the eight English Core Cities alone could deliver an additional £222 billion and 1.16 million jobs into the economy by 2030. That’s the equivalent of adding the entire economy of Denmark to the UK. With Cardiff and Glasgow now on side that figure will be even higher.
Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continues, raising important questions for England. This will not however unlock the massive economic potential of cities across the UK. The international evidence is clear. Devolution below the level of nations is critical to address urgent challenges of driving prosperity, increasing equality and strengthening democracy. Cities must be freed from unnecessary central controls whether from Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay or Stormont.
Report after report has demonstrated that devolved cities do best. With more freedom to invest in infrastructure, skills, trade and innovation, cities across the UK will boost their nation’s economies.
Devolution will deliver better public services, recognising the different needs of communities and managing reductions in public spending in a joined up way. Far from avoiding a post code lottery, our current one size fits all approach guarantees it.
Through more local empowerment we can also reverse the loss of faith in politics and strengthen civil society, which cannot be restored by remote national governments. Greater local power gives people a major stake in their future.
Important progress has been made. Across the political spectrum, business leaders and academics there is agreement that cities are the solution not the problem, and that they could contribute more with greater freedoms. There is also agreement on the need to rebalance Britain’s economy to unlock that potential, and a programme of devolution has begun to support this, with our cities already generating results; more jobs, higher levels of skills’ economic growth, more people in jobs and training.
This is not the time for hesitation or doubt. It is a time for action and trust. Action, to give people more freedom to decide how taxes raised locally are spent locally. Trust, to let those who know their places best get on with the job.
The choice for devolution is a choice about what kind of country we want. One that remains amongst the most centralised in the world, holding back its economic powerhouses, undermining civil society and placing little faith in anyone outside Government? Or one that seeks to build a stronger sense of shared endeavour, with all its economic centres freed to contribute, local people trusted to make the right choices, and a sustainable future for services that support quality of life, place and prosperity.
We choose the latter and urge you to show the shared leadership this country needs to deliver that future.
The Core Cities UK Cabinet
Notes to editors
Core Cities is unique and united voice to promote the role of our cities in driving economic growth and the case for city devolution. It represents the councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London along with Glasgow and Cardiff.
A photograph from today’s event can be downloaded here. Cllr John Cotton stood in for Sir Albert Bore to represent Birmingham at the event.
For more information contact Will Mapplebeck, strategic communications manager, Core Cities UK, 07932 568571. firstname.lastname@example.org