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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