Member Article

Mayors of Big Cities 'Should Have More Power'

Large cities should have more control over their own economic development, argues a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Birmingham and Manchester were specifically named as cities which would benefit from giving elected mayors more control on transport, regeneration, skills and the power to raise business tax. The report argues for around £1.2 billion a year to be devolved from Regional Development Agencies, Transport Boards and then the Learning and Skills Council.

This could be topped up by a five per cent levy on business rates, but local government must first build a consensus with business over public spending priorities. Dermot Finch, Director of ippr’s Centre for Cities said: “Our biggest city-regions need more power. Greater Birmingham and Greater Manchester are big enough to control their own economic development.

This is the best way for them to increase jobs, improve transport and drive economic growth. Unelected regional quangos are too big and undemocratic but local authorities are too small. Directly-elected mayors will be controversial but they provide clear leadership and a visible line of accountability, as Ken Livingstone has shown in London.“ The IPPR report recommends that smaller cities and towns should gain greater financial flexibility through Economic Development Contracts, which would devolve decision-making, limit central oversight, and promote regeneration.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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