What is good for the North……


untitled (129)The promises of Devo-Met being made to some of the Northern Cities and the land in between may yet come to naught. We are about to elect a new Government and just as this Government has picked and chosen the elements of the constituent Party manifestos it wishes to adopt, the next will almost certainly do the same. However City Regions was a concept that the previous Labour Government promoted for many years, working with Lord Heseltine in its development. The idea has a great deal of relevance for other places outside the ‘conurbation’ that stretches from Liverpool to Leeds along the Canal I played alongside as a child, providing that it is adopted as a matter of principle, not a matter of specific geography. It is this test that as electors we need to place before the men and in a few cases women who will be asking us to vote for them next May. However we also need to ask at least three more questions. Firstly bearing in mind that the current ideas for urban devolution leaves large parts of the UK dependent on what would be a hollowed out Whitehall, only able to fire on one or two cylinders, how will rural communities benefit or engage with this form of devolution. What is in it for them? Then there is a second matter for some of us to discuss. The South is all but excluded from the current proposals with only Bristol and South Hampshire (what used to be termed PUSH) included. However that cannot be the end of the idea. The proposal undoubtedly needs its outliers, but there also needs to be a solution for places such as Brighton & Hove, already working with other local authorities (Adur, Worthing, Mid Sussex and Lewes to form the Greater Brighton Economic Area) that will enable this population of half a Million people plus others who wish to participate to develop their own focus and sense of identity with powers that could be devolved from Whitehall. Finally we need to consider who are the actors in this drama. At present the Public Sector on our taxes are developing these ideas, along with big business relying on shareholders largesse. However as we all know, this is only part of the picture. The flesh on these dry bones will be formed from residents in their communities, the voluntary sector organisations that are often the agencies that residents trust quicker than they do the statutory authorities and of course the small business sector that in many parts of the country actually generate the jobs that will help these regions to soar.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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