Still All About Cities

I’ve only read the snippets of news about the UK Devolution Summit, summed up by this article in The Independent. However, my initial thoughts reflected my usual ones about central government’s concept of devolution – they mention ‘regions’ but, really, it’s all about the cities. Of course, the report they’re basing discussions on was commissioned by ten cities (the Core City Group) which straight away skews the findings in favour of city regions and city mayors; all that stuff that Westminster seem to think will work brilliantly up here. I wish they’d spend some time talking to us about it instead of pressing on regardless.

The phrase the Independent article highlights is ‘city states’. That makes me cringe. I say repeatedly that I don’t want Wakefield to become any more of a satellite to Leeds than we already are. It feels like we’re finally starting to come out of their shadow in terms of culture etc and I can just see that being reversed by a resurgence of the Leeds-centric attitude that permeates this area. I wonder if people in Rotherham feel the same about Sheffield, as much as I love the latter.

A ‘proper’ devolution deal shouldn’t have to ‘generously’ give power to cities. They shouldn’t be aiming for ‘powerhouse’ cities, as I discussed in this post in November, but for powerful regions. Yorkshire is a cohesive community. We’ve got our differences, yes, and that’s what makes every town unique, but we all fit together rather well. The rest of us aren’t merely extensions of the major cities, destined to pick around for the scraps of funding and decision-making left over. Or, that is, we shouldn’t be.

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2 thoughts on “Still All About Cities

  1. In terms of history and culture, the UK has the regions it needs embedded within it: they are called counties. Within those counties there are three sorts of areas: metropolitan, urban and rural. Again we had a system for representing them but then along came the Maude report and the rest is history.

    Not that I suggest we look back – but do we need any additional divisions? Don’t we already have what we need? It just wants the centre to pass down the line the required powers – and with that the right to raise the required revenue. It won’t happen – Westminster thinks it knows better than the rest of us.

  2. That’s pretty much a replica of the conversation I had with my father earlier, Rodney. I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you.

    You’re right, the divisions are already there and, of course, some boundaries etc will always be contentious at a local level (probably also rooted in history). Persuading Westminster to relinquish tax-raising powers to areas and not mayors would be many Christmases come at once.

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