Manchester City Council

Devolution for Real

In London today for a Core Cities business summit bringing our devolutionary message right to the heart of the City. There is now a flood of publications coming from all sorts of positions making the argument that centralisation hasn't worked, isn't working, and the UK and its people would be a lot better off if our major cities had more control of those things that support job-creating growth and those things that ensure our population can benefit from that growth.

We will be joined by our newest member, the City of Glasgow, because as far as they're concerned all Scottish devolution has done is to replace centralised government in Westminster with more of the same at Holyrood. Whether its Glasgow or the Western Isles, they both need greater freedom at a local level, and in this respect Glasgow has far more in common with cities like Manchester than it does with the Western Isles. The Nationalist argument is not for devolution, just for a change of jailer. We need to win the argument for real, local devolution, and this is something cities and business have a shared interest in pursuing.

Back in Manchester, and back to Tuesday, when we launched Project Grow, outlining the massive amount of both transport infrastructure work and private sector developments that will happen in the city centre over the next three years. The launch was backed by an independent report commissioned from Ekosgen looking at the economic benefits from the transport investment which estimates it should support the creation of an extra 40,000 jobs. Good in the long-term, but there is also an important short-term message which is, that although the work will inevitably cause some disruption to travel, Manchester will be fully open for business as usual throughout this period. A number of things will help this including signage, but we don't want too many hoardings because we want Mancunians to be able to see as much of the work as possible, and, as we can with Victoria Station, see the progress that is being made.

One last thing. Wednesday saw the announcement of the £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the University of Manchester supported by a £30m investment from Abu Dhabi. Turning pure research into commercial ideas is normally a long and complicated process. The soon to be completed National Graphene Institute will allow us to stay at the leading edge of the early stages of these processes. The GEIC will give us the capacity to complete the full development cycle. This is just the sort of thing we need to help rebalance the economy. It's not just moving the economic deck chairs around. This is something new, unique that helps not just Manchester, but the UK compete in a global race.

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

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