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Counties need to get real on Mayors

The group chair and chief executive of Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna, has called on political and business leaders in Lancashire and Cheshire to urgently progress discussions about devolution and elected mayors – or risk being left behind in the new Labour governments dash for growth.

The group chair and chief executive of Downtown in Business, Frank McKenna, has called on political and business leaders in Lancashire and Cheshire to urgently progress discussions about devolution and elected mayors – or risk being left behind in the new Labour governments dash for growth.

The boss of the private sector lobby group said:

“I was obviously really pleased to see the prime minister prioritise a meeting with England’s metro mayors on Tuesday this week, with a clear commitment to devolve more power, responsibilities, and resources, to the regions.

“Many of the cities where the DIB network is active, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and Birmingham, were represented at that meeting – but, of course, Lancashire and Cheshire were not in the room.

“The failure of both counties to be able to come to a consensual settlement on devolution means that City Regions have raced ahead in terms of winning additional government financial support in recent times.

“It is now clear that the devolution genie is out of the bottle, and that the funding gap between those places that have mayors and Combined Authorities, and those that don’t, will continue to grow,

“Lancashire has, at least, made a start on the devolution journey. Although the deal that was struck earlier this year was not rubber stamped by the Sunak government, I hope the new administration continues to progress with that agreement, recognising that this would be only a first step on a path that would give the second largest economy In the North West a much greater say and influence over its own future.

“Cheshire isn’t even having the conversation in a genuine way at the moment. That is simply not good enough, and has to change.”

Mr McKenna concluded:

“Economic growth is the priority for Keir Starmer, Rachel reeves, and their team. They have indicated that they see big strategic bodies, with political champions in the form of mayors, as key drivers in them meeting that objective. I would strongly urge political and business leaders in Lancashire and Cheshire to acknowledge that – and get a plan in place that meets this new reality.”

Downtown in Business

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