Manchester City Council

A New England

The question of devolution has dominated my week as well as attracting a large amount of media attention, largely because of the publication of the final report of the Royal Society of Arts ( RSA ) City Growth Commission chaired by eminent Jim O'Neill. The report is underpinned by the macroeconomic argument for why our fifteen largest metropolitan areas, those with a population of over 500,000 people, should have far greater control over our ( economic ) future.

The commission put a massive cost of £79b against our centralised state, and make the case that set free, the fifteen could add an additional 0.2%, that is over and above currently anticipated growth, to national economic output. That might seem a small number but it is actually very significant indeed.

Also been playing with my train set this week. Not really but we did have a meeting of the Rail North leaders' forum to review progress on refranchising and localisation. On the latter, Rail North now exists as a company and has entered into an agreement with Central government as to how the two northern rail franchises will be jointly managed from the North. Rail North will account to a northern transport association which is expected to include all thirty ( yes thirty which is crazy ) northern and north midlands transport authorities and should be established before the end of the calender year. Work is now very advanced on the franchise specification and although the content is currently highly confidential for good commercial reasons,I'm confident that the next franchise period will give us far better train services in the north.

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There are 5 responses to “ A New England”

  1. Nick Says:

    I hope the franchise specification includes an insistence on new (or at least newer) rolling stock and a supply that is adequate for the needs of GM. Commuters into Manchester (those on non-electrified routes at least) have to put up with appalling levels of peak time overcrowding on trains (especially Class 142's) that are best described as cattle trucks.The difference in age and quantity of rolling stock between GM and other areas such as London and the West Midlands is a classic example of the so called North-South divide.

  2. i love jack russels Says:

    and now I can't get that Billy Bragg song out of my head ! The devolution argument does make sense so long as the collective political will of the cities in question are not fragmented by increased competition with each other for funding rather than together addressing the imbalance between North and South that affects all, including Scotland. Someone on question time last week said that public funding spent on infrastructure in London is approx £5k per head, £1200 per head in North West and less than both these in North East.

  3. Resistance is futile Says:

    What I don't understand with the "devolution for the North" argument is that the bulk of local government funding is surely going to remain centralised,and decided on by government-so what's to stop the government suddenly cutting that in the way they have over the last five years so devastatingly to individual councils?I'm assuming that the devolution plan is being supported by Labour (it's hard too tell what the Labour party actually stand for and what their policies are these days-as they seemingly actually say very little with regards to anything of any consequence)...so what happens if this "economic powerhouse to rival the South" suddenly finds itself with even fewer resources after the initial "bounce" of independence from London?Does anyone believe that this rotten government will prejudice any of it's Southern bias in favour of the North?The track record is a resounding "no" if the previous Tory administrations'are anything to go by...pretty much all of their policies seem to be about dividing the country,privatising everything that moves and cutting decent jobs...isn't this just a way to do it "en masse"-effectively washing their hands of the North?Splitting in two seems a strange way to run a country.....

  4. Tony Says:

    The acid test here will be the issue of 30 local authorities working together on transport. The optimist in me points to - Combined Authorities as a way of lumping authorities together - and then some type of voluntary arrangement to lump together the various CAs. Surely the leadership shown by AGMA in 1980s could be replicated in a pan-north equivalent? The ludicrious alternative is the DfT proposal to split the Liverpool-Norwich train service because long distances are too difficult to administer.

  5. i love jack russels Says:

    Resistance is futile - yes, this worries me also. The last 4 years of cuts (over 40% cuts in funding to Manchester) and the government's subsequent pantomime puzzlement and "concern" over reductions in libraries, sure start, social care, etc doesn't exactly inspire confidence. This government's idea of devolution and localism to date has been to devolve to local authorities the sad tasks of cutting services and announcing the cuts and job losses. So lets hope that this isn't an extension of worsening of this.

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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