Clegg to hand 20 cities more economic powers

Nick Clegg is giving more economic powers to a new batch of cities and major towns.

– Devolving powers out of Whitehall in order to stimulate growth.

It is very difficult not to see this as A Very Good Thing.

The Independent takes up the story:

Up to 20 major towns and cities will today be offered extra powers over jobs and transport to help them to recover from the downturn.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will promise them freedom “to carve out their own economic destinies”.

The second phase of “city deals” comes after England’s eight largest centres outside London – including Birmingham and Manchester – won the right to decide how skills and transport funding is spent locally. They are also allowed to borrow against future tax receipts to invest in job creation schemes.

Potential recipients of the new powers include Black Country, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Coventry, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Oxford, Reading, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton, Southend, Stoke, Sunderland, Swindon and the Tees Valley.

Each of these 20 locations will be asked to bid for the new status, and it will be granted if they can demonstrate they have good ideas for economic regeneration. Mr Clegg will say: “It’s about central government getting out of the way to put local people in the driving-seat, because they are best placed to deliver jobs and growth.”

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • I do not want to put too much of a dampener on what is generally a positive idea, BUT, there is a problem with local democracy. There are too many fiefdoms where one party rule stretches back generations. A representative system of election of councillors would largely solve the problem. However, as things stand local democracy is too easy a target for vested interests (i.e. corruption)

  • Charles Beaumont 30th Oct '12 - 2:02pm

    It’s chicken and egg. At present a lot of people don’t take local democracy seriously because they don’t believe the councils have real powers (and this is not to take away from the hard work done all over the country by councillors). Give more power to localities and more people will take an interest in the workings of local government. Nothing beats corruption like the combined scrutin of ordinary citizens. I think this is an excellent initiative. Shame it took so long to happen, but I suspect we can blame Whitehall for that.

  • Tony Dawson 30th Oct '12 - 3:16pm

    Is this ‘gift’ going to involve transferring power and funds s to (largely-Labour) non-accountable (between elections) Mussolini-like ‘metropolitan mayors’ to allow them to spend all the resources in central cities and trample over the needs of the populations of (often Lib Dem voting) peripheral areas?

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