Magazine article Public Finance

Treasury Ministers Cast Doubt over City-Regions

Magazine article Public Finance

Treasury Ministers Cast Doubt over City-Regions

Article excerpt

The city-regions agenda has been thrown into doubt after two of the chancellor's closest political allies this week revealed their 'deep scepticism' at its viability as a model.

Treasury ministers Ed Balls, Gordon Browns former chief adviser and now economic secretary, and financial secretary John Healey are warning that a move to governance structures based around England's core cities risks a return to the old local antagonisms'.

In what amounts to a repudiation of existing government policy, Browns allies argue that the way forward is to strengthen existing structures and organisations, rather than create new ones under which smaller towns could lose out to their larger neighbours.

'We are deeply sceptical about the case for city-region government writ large - and believe it is false to suggest that a choice has to be made between new powers for cities on the one hand, and the current structure of regional and local economic decision-making on the otheri they say.

'By reforming existing institutions and using existing elected representatives to shift the focus from Whitehall to the English regions, we believe that the constitution of the United Kingdom will develop in a healthier, inclusive and fair manner.'

Their argument is set out in a pamphlet, Evolution and devolution in England, published by think-tank the New Local Government Network on July 26 and co-authored with its director Chris Leslie. …

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