Regional mayors make call for more powers to be devolved

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer says five years is "too long" to wait for a ne

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer says five years is "too long" to wait for a new rail station in south Cambridge. - Credit: Archant

The mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has joined colleagues in calling for the government to increase the pace and scale of devolution.

James Palmer and his six fellow regional and city mayors met in London last Wednesday (November 1) and agreed that more devolution would help to boost economic growth in Britain and improve public services.

The meeting was the first in what Mr Palmer says will be a series of summits attended by all of England’s regional and city mayors, who are Sadiq Khan (London), Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), Tim Bowles (West of England), Ben Houchen (Tees Valley), Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region) and Andy Street (West Midlands).

At the inaugural meeting, the mayors called for further devolved control over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services, as well as real influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work.

They also called for a significant increase in fiscal devolution, with regions given greater control over existing taxes and the revenues they create, rather than having to rely on government grants.

Mr Palmer said: “Though we represent very different areas many of the challenges we face are similar and there is great worth in us all coming together to speak with one voice when we can.

“For too long power has been overly centralised in this country.

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“We all agree on the need for further powers to be devolved to enable us to play the fullest possible role in enabling the areas we represent to flourish.

“The creation of the new mayors is a key part of the process but it’s not the end of the process. The achievement of creating seven new mayors needs to be built on through further devolution.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, added: “We may come from different parts of the country and represent different political parties but we all share the same belief – that the best way to secure ongoing prosperity across the country is by giving city regions more control.

“Many of the most dynamic and prosperous cities and regions in other countries have mayors with substantial powers and funding, and it is high time we followed suit.”