British communities minister David Miliband has welcomed proposals on city regions



FRONT PAGE
SiteSearch
About us
Directories


City regions (UK)
England's mayors assessed
Localis: Learning from Europe
English local government reforms
City of London Corporation
London government
Mayor of London
UK local government
Mayors in Europe
Gibraltar government
Federated local government
Multi-tier local government
UK elections 2009



City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa | Events |


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa are competing for the annual World Mayor Award. More


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world and questions them about their achievements, policies and aims. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


City Mayors invites readers to write short stories about people in cities around the world. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More

UK government studies
the case for city regions

By Andrew Stevens, UK Editor

15 December 2005: A London-based think tank with the ear of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has published proposals for a city region-based system of local councils in England, which have attracted the support of government and opposition alike. The New Local Government Network was originally established in 1998 to encourage the new Labour government to bring about elected mayors as means to invigorate local democracy and to quicken the pace of modernisation in other areas.

The network's City Regions Commission was established earlier this year in response to the rejection by voters in the North East of the government's proposed elected assembly for the region. Instead, the commission examined the alternative case for city regions rather than the elected regional assemblies that have been Labour policy since the early 1990s. As well as a number of city leaders, the commission's membership also included Local Government Association Chairman Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, London Assembly Member John Biggs, historian Tristram Hunt and urban commentator Tony Travers of the London School of Economics.

To some extent, the commission were pushing at an open door, having quickly spotted an opportunity following the policy void created by the emphatic rejection of regional government by voters in the North East. With over a decade of momentum called to a sudden halt, Labour's attention had quickly turned to other models to address not only the democratic deficit in England created by the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies but also the need to reconfigure the non-unitary pattern of local government left by the failed review of councils in the mid-1990s. As such, the notion of city regions quickly gained currency in policy circles around New Labour, with the IPPR's Centre for Cities also springing up in response.

Though the term city region has been in use among economists, planners and urbanists throughout the post-war period, in a UK context the term arrived with Derek Senior's Memorandum of Dissent against the Redcliffe-Maud Report in 1969, with Senior proposing a city regional framework instead of Redcliffe-Maud's proposals for a unitary system of local government and eight provincial councils.  In the 1974 reorganisation of local government by the Conservative government of Edward Heath, which dismissed the Redcliffe-Maud Report of its predecessor, the resulting two-tier system saw a partial city regional system emerge under the Metropolitan Counties, which were later abolished alongside the Greater London Council by Margaret Thatcher in 1986. Today, the vestiges of the late 1960s appetite for city regions remain in the Passenger Transport Authorities in the former metropolitan counties. Currently, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has factored city regions into its workplan through its Core Cities Group and the Northern Way regeneration initiative, though this remains the stuff of civil servants rather than anything formal.

Having accepted this landscape and the need for reform, the City Regions Commission examined both existing models, such as the Greater Toronto Area Council, and how a British solution could be worked out. Competitiveness against European rivals is of interest to both the commission and the government, with this already driving much of the ODPM's agenda. The commission examined how city regions work elsewhere in Europe, looking at the Association of the Urban Region of Stuttgart and the Lille agglomeration.

The report's foreword comments that any solution must be rooted in British circumstances, building on existing arrangements rather than imposing any top-down model for uniform adoption. It explicitly rejects a "German urban federal solution", arguing that Britain's ancient local councils have historical liberties and do not share Europe's post-fascist experience of regionalism. Instead, the commission believes it is possible to graft alternative arrangements on different conurbations to reflect local circumstance – a Black Country 'Senate' of West Midlands local councils might wish to pursue a different road to Newcastle-Gateshead, for instance. The report also singles out Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol as leading cities in need of new arrangements to recognise both their economic role and civic aspirations.

In addition to allowing city regions to emerge from below in an asymmetrical fashion, the report calls for enabling legislation to pass powers over housing, planning and transport to the new bodies. Though asymmetrical in nature, the report argues for co-terminosity alongside existing bodies such as Learning and Skills Councils.  The need for upheaval through reorganisation or referendums to assent to establishment would be avoided through using existing authorities and mandates for their creation, argue the authors.

The fundamental consideration is the role of cities as the drivers of regional economies, with defined travel to work areas that also see cities as the centre of retail, leisure and cultural activities. The government has already recognised the economic case for more fiscal autonomy in this regard, though it does not want to comment further until its review of local finance is concluded. The IPPR's Centre for Cities has boosted the network's research in this area with its own studies of regional housing markets and the role of cities in this regard.  This alone guarantees a receptive audience for the proposals as housing market issues generally attract more media attention than local government.

City regions are expected to form a major strand of next year's local government white paper, with Communities Minister David Miliband throwing his weight behind the report and welcoming its contribution to the debate. David Cameron, the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party also welcomed the proposals, pointing out their appeal to Conservatives over unwanted regional government. Mr Cameron used his recent leadership campaign to show support for more elected mayors in English cities and recent policy initiatives by the party have moved in a more localist direction. Having already set up a review of its own the shadow the government's Lyons Inquiry into the future of local government, due to report next year, the commission's findings may yet find their way onto the statute book.


Mayor Monitor allows you to rate the performance of your mayor More


How good is
your mayor?

City Mayors provides Mayor Monitor (MM) to allow residents and non-residents to rate the performance of mayors from across the world as well as highlight their ‘best’ and ‘worst’ decisions. Mayor Monitor uses the widely understood one-to-ten rating system, where '1' signifies an extremely poor performance and '10' ‘an outstanding one. In addition to rating mayors’ performances, citizens are invited to highlight the best and worst decisions by city leaders.

Over time, Mayor Monitor will provide a valuable track record of mayors’ successes and failures as well as their popularity among residents and a wider public. The results will be published on the City Mayors website and updated monthly.

Please rate your mayor now.

The ratings will become a contributory factor of World Mayor 2010.