The pleasure of the 7.42am East Midlands train service to Nottingham this morning. I'm off to a meeting of Core City leaders, the first meeting for over a year, and half of the eight leaders have changed since I last attended.
The English Core Cities ( Manchester,Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool ) have had a significant impact on urban policy over the past fifteen years. They have played a key role in building the evidence base that shows that successful economies have at their heart successful cities and their city-regions. Developments like the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the recent " City Deals " are based on evidenced case-making of the Core Cities over a number of years. So the work of Core Cities is important to us. Although the argument on the role of cities has been largely won we shouldn't assume it will stay won. Changes of government, indeed even a change in Minister can make a profound difference. And in any case, although the argument may have been won city-regions still don't have all the devolved powers they need to maximise sustainable economic growth. Today's meeting starts with a politician only meeting looking at how we can re-energise ourselves both to consolidate what we have achieved and take our agenda forward. The session ends with a presentation from Professor Michael Parkinson providing more compelling evidence from a pan-European research project. This work not only demonstrates the economic importance of " second tier " cities ( major non-Capital cities which would include all the English Core Cities ) but also that these cities perform best in countries where both power and investment is most decentralised. Still a bit to fight for there.