Prime Minister’s speech on ‘levelling up towns and regions’: CCN response

CCN Latest News, CCN News 2019 | 29 July 2019

During the weekend, the Prime Minister made a speech in Manchester, outlining that he will seek to to ‘level up’ the powers offered to mayors so they are more akin to devolution deals in Manchester and powers enjoyed by London.

Below, the County Councils Network has responded to the speech.

Last week, the network released its ‘five-point plan’ for the new government. Download it here.

Cllr Martin Hill, County Councils Network spokesman for devolution, and leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said:

“The new Prime Minister’s commitment to a renewed drive for devolution is welcome after the agenda fell by the wayside under the previous administration. Counties’ ambition for genuinely devolved powers and fresh resource still burns brightly and if the shackles are taken off then we have much to offer the new government in helping solve some of its biggest domestic issues, not least in housing, care, and economic growth.

 “We have much to offer if the shackles are removed; we have the ambition and appetite for post-16 education and skills powers to address productivity gaps, alongside new infrastructure and transport functions and funding, and we are best placed to lead on the care in the community agenda.

 “The major sticking point for many counties under the previous government was the requirement for a metro mayor in return for a full suite of devolved powers. Whilst this model can work in large cities and urban areas, there is little evidence it is suitable for large and diverse county areas, with rural residents showing little appetite for county mayors. We would encourage this new government to take this on board and ensure there is no mayoral requirement for a ‘full’ devolution deal. 

 “We would encourage ministers to publish the Common Devolution Framework as soon as practical so local authorities know what is required to secure a devolution deal for their areas. Counties, as strategic authorities in their areas, want to work with the new government on a fresh devolution drive which is successful – but it cannot be a one size fits all model.”