Magazine article Public Finance

Key Cities Urge Ministers to Set out Clear Vision for Devolution

Magazine article Public Finance

Key Cities Urge Ministers to Set out Clear Vision for Devolution

Article excerpt

A senior council leader has urged the government to streamline its localism initiatives and set out more details about preferred structures for devolved powers.

Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of the Key Cities Group of 22 midsized cities in England, called on ministers to 'grasp the nettle now' in bringing devolution policies together.

The cross-party group, founded last June to strengthen the voice of cities across England, published a Manifesto for Growth in January settingout a host of reform priorities.

The manifesto called for cities to be freed from Whitehall control, with greater powers to raise and spend money locally, and design services specifically for their areas.

Watson told Public Finance the devolution agenda was now accepted by most in the government. The issue was where this would take place.

Local Enterprise Partnerships have been established across England to work with councils to support growth, while City Deals have either been reached or are being negotiated with 28 areas. In addition, 18 loca I authorities areworkingon Community Budget spending packages after four trials, and more than 100 neighbourhood pooled spending initiatives are being developed.

But Watson said there was now such a mix of schemes that "you would not start from here if you had the choice'. …

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