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First ever mayoral meeting urges government to speed up devolution

The six metro mayors will meet with Sadiq Khan in London today to discuss plans to increase the pace of regional and city devolution.

The group will meet for the first time to argue that cities and metropolitan regions have become the main drivers of economic progress in Britain, despite it being one of the most centralised countries in the western world.

London, the West Midlands, the West of England, Liverpool Region, Tees Valley Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Greater Manchester will all be represented at the meeting.

The mayors are expected to call on central government to increase fiscal powers to these regions – specifically setting taxes and spending the subsequent revenue.

“We may come from different parts of the country and represent different political parties but we all share the same belief – that the best way to secure ongoing prosperity across the country is by giving city regions more control,” commented Khan, mayor of London.

“Many of the most dynamic and prosperous cities and regions in other countries have mayors with substantial powers and funding, and it is high time we followed suit.

There are representatives of both political parties among the groups, with four Conservative and three Labour members.

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said devolution was “the best chance we will ever get” to change the way the county works and “take control of our own future.”

Andy Street, West Midlands mayor, added: “I believe now is the time for government go a step further and provide us with the tools to tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities we each face. We are already proving our worth, now let us really kick on with the job.”

The seven areas under the remit of these mayors reportedly account for 39% of the country’s GVA. In accordance with this the group is expected to ask for more power over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services.

West of England’s Tim Bowles reinforced his mayoral colleagues and said the group were “in the right place to make decisions” on important economic and social issues in the UK.

Similarly, Liverpool Region mayor Steve Rotherham called devolution plans “the most important means” of achieving prosperity across the country. This was backed up by the mayor of Tees Valley CA Ben Houchen, who urged the government to increase current powers to cities and regions.

In addition, James Palmer, the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough explained: “Though we represent very different areas many of the challenges we face are similar and there is great worth in us all coming together to speak with one voice when we can.

“For too long power has been overly centralised in this country. We all agree on the need for further powers to be devolved to enable us to play the fullest possible role in enabling the areas we represent to flourish.”

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editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >