Home > Uncategorized > Giving Cities More Powers- Yay or Nay?

Giving Cities More Powers- Yay or Nay?

Today it has been speculated that six cities in the United Kingdom (Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Bristol and Sheffield) will be given more money over a £1.5 billion investment fund that they will be able to control rather tha having to lobby London for the money. This will also seemingly give these cities a greater control over the things that they do with this money, therefore making them more powerful.

Firstly, these cities could do with some extra money to use to develop these areas, especially in terms of the economy and boosting the rate of employment. After all that is what this new idea is seemingly a return for. Personally speaking I would love to see both Birmingham and Newcastle develop and become greater cities not only within the UK but within Europe and the world. The beauty of this fund is that it is seemingly going to cut the red tape that is needed for City Councils to get these funds. That means that projects and new businesses can be started up quicker with little blocking or involvement for the national government. This creates more freedom and power for the local council to implement policies that they know, through their experience, will help the local area and more importantly help the people in these areas that desperately need the assistance.

However, this is not the first time that new powers have been attempted to be bestowed on these cities. In May, we had the referendums for elected mayors in some of these cities and all but one rejected it out right. This elected mayor, although it was never clear was going to be designed to be the leader of the Council, accountable to the people independently of the Council and control more of the finances of the City. Now to me that sounds a lot like what the Coalition are trying to introduce in terms of this policy except the directly elected mayor, which they clearly see as the major sticking point. All I will say is that politicians need to make it clear to the public what exactly is going to happen, how much power the council will have and the jurisdiction that they will cover. One of the problems with the elected mayor referendums was that people did not know their powers and what they would be able to do. This means it needs to be clearer – although this time there won’t be a referendum.

My other issue is why are only these cities the only ones receiving it. I understand that they are the big cities, but there are many others in Britain where this funding could make a lot of difference. Again from personal experience, Carlisle, Sunderland and Wolverhampton are places where this money, and easy access to it, could do a lot of good. There are many projects that could be set up that could be used to improve areas and help the people of these areas. So I find it hard to believe why more areas will not be involved in this and am wondering if this will be a trial for rolling it out further (although do we have the money??). I am glad to see that it is not limited to the South of England and that the north gets some fair treatment on these schemes for a change.

Overall, I think this could be a very good idea from the Coalition (..you can not comprehend how difficult that was for me to say…) as it will help boost local areas and put control of money into the hands of people who actually understand the area and have a knowledge of the issues. It will also remove a lot of the bureaucracy of this issue, which is something that plagues the development of local politics. All I hope, especially in Birmingham, is that the Councillors use the money wisely to develop projects to help the less fortunate and to boost employment as they are the key things that need to be tackled. I hope that they can do this without interference from the national government as insinuated. I also hope that they can be held accountable for their actions as well…

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