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14th May 2015

Solace statement in response to the Chancellor’s announcement outlining city devolution plan for England

On Thursday 14th May 2015 in his first speech of the new parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne offered major cities in England power over skills, transport, housing, planning, and healthcare if they agree to be governed by a directly elected mayor. The Chancellor invited cities to follow the example of Manchester, the first city set to benefit from extra powers with plans to elect a mayor for the whole of the Greater Manchester region in 2017. Legislation to allow the devolution of power to cities will be included in the first Queen’s speech of the
parliament. This is a statement from Martin Swales, Solace Spokesperson on Economic Prosperity and Housing and Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, in response.

“If Local Authorities are to contribute fully to the UK’s success there must be greater trust in local partners to deliver economic growth. Councils and their partners have the ability to bring forward long term programmes of economic growth and development, linking complementary funding streams to create long term strategic finance models.

“Solace, therefore, welcomes the devolution plans for English major cities as outlined by the Chancellor today. We have previously called on the government for the devolution of powers to local authorities over skills, transport, planning, housing, and healthcare.

“The central issue is both the content and quality of individual devolution propositions. Devolution will only benefit areas when the improvements it supports are sustainable in the long term. Used well, this is an opportunity for true creativity, developing a network of interconnected economic powerhouses across the UK and the latest move by the government is a positive step towards this.

“However, it is crucial that this “revolution” in the way England is governed, as the Chancellor described it, reaches all areas. The devolution of powers, flexibilities and resources should be applied across the country as a whole to reengage communities and support growth. All local authorities should be allowed to work out their own solutions to how they will continue to meet demands for services and stimulate local economies.”