No successful cities, no successful nations
The English Core Cities held their 9th Summit yesterday. The first in Sheffield in 1999 started the debate around city-regions which culminated in the establishment of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011, now due to be followed by similar bodies in the Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, and Newcastle city-regions next year. Since then summits have been held in each of the core cities not just for the sake of it but only when we have serious questions to ask, serious things to say.
For the 9th summit we were joined by representatives of Glasgow and Edinburgh and took our message to London, meeting just across the road from the seat of central government to launch our Prospectus for Growth, an evidenced case for national government to set us free to make a bigger contribution to national economic performance in a way our citizens can get maximum benefit from.
We had a number of fascinating and challenging speakers including Will Hutton and Michael Parkinson who is quoted in the title of this post. The messages, including those from Cities Minister Greg Clarke and Opposition representative Andrew Adonis were consistent. England is one of the most centralised countries in the developed world and it is holding us back, although the Leader of Glasgow council told us that Scotland was just as centralised.
The Core Cities prospectus identifies how in skills, housing, business support, transport, digital infrastructure, energy, public services we can devolve, decentralise, do things differently, do things better to build a better Britain. It makes the case that if we do not do this in our major city-regions, because of their sheer scale we will not do it at all. Again to quote from Professor Parkinson " ...Government must take seriously the key ideas Core Cities have put before it. The rewards of doing so could be high. The risks of not doing so could be even higher ".