Manchester City Council

The Power of Place

Been in London this morning with a couple of hundred other people at the Connected Core Cities Summit 2015, an event organised by Core Cities UK with Bilfinger GVA. The main external speaker was Jim O'Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury who gave a challenging address, reflecting on progress since the publication of the final report of the RSA City Growth Commission last year, and what cities outside London needed to do if they were to pull their weight in the national economy. Underpinning this was the importance of scale and a recognition that our cities outside London are at best medium sized and will only be able to balance London and match big cities around the world by pulling together as for example northern cities are doing through Transport for the North.

 There were two reports launched at the conference. One was an independent report produced for Bilfinger GVA , UK Infrastructure:Unlocking UK Cities and Commercial Property. The report looked at historical and current infrastructure spend which clearly demonstrated that in-city and inter-city links between the Core Cities have been underinvested in for many years. It then went on to look at the investment needs of the Core Cities and how that investment would drive increased productivity, growth and job creation. On average, every £ spent on infrastructure generates £1.30 of additional GVA. Infrastructure projects appear to cost mega-bucks, many billions of £s. They do, but over time most of them also pay for themselves

The other document was Core Cities UK's submission to the comprehensive spending review (CSR), Unlocking the Power of Place, a Core Cities prospectus for a place-based, multi-year CSR. For anybody who has been following the Manchester devolution story, much of the thinking here will be familiar. Core Cities argue the need to fundamentally change the way public services are delivered, organised around people and the places they live, instead of around departmental and professional silos. Sensible planning is seriously impeded by annual settlements where there is no certainty over what the next year will bring. Multi-year settlements will allow thorough long-term planning, more cost effective services and better outcomes.

This is the right approach with or without cuts, but if we are to have more cuts, this approach gives us and the people we represent a far better chance of surviving them.

 

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

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