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Leaders join forces to demand more power from Whitehall

Cities across the country should have significant responsibilities devolved from Whitehall so they can stimulate growth, boost employment, improve housing and offer better value in delivering public services, city leaders from the north and south have said. 

Speaking at a joint fringe event at the Labour Party’s annual conference, Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils, and Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities, emphasised the urgency for powers to be devolved from Whitehall.  

Joined by speakers including the Chief Economist of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Professor Tony Travers of London School of Economics, they said further devolution to cities – including control over education budgets, housebuilding and helping long-term unemployed people back into work – will play a crucial role in ensuring that communities across the UK can rise to the challenge of Brexit.

Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils said: “We have long been working with the core cities – including Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool – to push for further devolution, but this important work is now all the more vital in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“The current centralised system – with Whitehall calling the shots in so many areas – has led to huge disparities within London and between the north and south of the country.

“We know we can better promote economic inclusion locally, including getting London’s nearly 700,000 unemployed residents back into work. Government now needs to give us the tools to get on with the job.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities and Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “In post Brexit Britain, cities are more important than ever. We are delighted to share a platform with London Councils to push home the message that cities are innovative, creative places that can help us achieve the sustainable, inclusive growth the UK so badly needs.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The core cities are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  2. Speakers at London Councils’ joint fringe event with the GLA and Core Cities were:
  • Cllr Claire Kober, Chair of London Councils
  • Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities
  • Ashwin Kumar, Chief Economist at the Joseph Rowntree Trust
  • Professor Tony Travers, Director of LSE London

The session was chaired by Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning.