Dermot Finch, Director of the Centre for Cities, calls for more financial powers to be devolved to cities.
If David Cameron and George Osborne want to succeed in making the Conservative Party credible on the economy – and appealing to urban voters outside the South of England – they must produce a credible policy on cities.
Early next year, the Centre for Cities will host the launch of Michael Heseltine’s Cities Taskforce – commissioned by David Cameron to address this very issue. For many, Heseltine is a totemic figure, whose government-backed public-private partnership schemes jump-started the regeneration of many of our city centres in the 1980s.
Many of Heseltine’s ideas survived under New Labour. A decade of sustained economic growth has further improved the fortunes of our city centres. But the party that forms the next government – Conservative or Labour – still has many big urban challenges to answer.
Out cities’ performance is still too uneven – across the country, and within cities themselves. And with the national economy looking more uncertain, cities will need to work even harder to succeed in the years ahead.
We’ve still got a “North-South divide” – but it’s an over-simplification, and it’s changing shape. Ten years ago, there was a clear-cut difference between our Northern and Southern cities. Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester were all losing population and jobs. Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Reading were on the up.