Mayor in call for greater devolution to UK cities

The Lord Mayor of the City of London has called for greater devolution to cities around the country, whilst signalling concern that the current Government is not as committed to the Northern Powerhouse as the previous one.

Many commentators believe that cities like Leeds should have more devolved powers Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Andrew Parmley said that he supported devolution as it was “good for people, good for jobs and good for productivity”, and said that he hoped that Yorkshire would be the next in line to elect its own mayors.

He said that “without a doubt” Leeds was second only to London when it came to financial services and that he hoped that, as Brexit approaches and occurs, there would be greater cooperation between the two cities.

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Mr Parmley, who hails from Blackpool, also said that he considered the economies of Yorkshire cities and towns to be strong but that improved transport infrastructure was crucial to taking it to the next level.

He said: “We would like to see much more local control of the economy. It is good for people, it is good for jobs and it is good for productivity.

“From our point of view as the leading financial centre in the world, if it is good for London it is good for Leeds. We see this very much as a two-way street.

“Since George Osborne’s time, the Northern Powerhouse became this sort of household catchphrase. Certainly up here it is popular. I am not sure it has got as much traction with the present administration.

“That said, it is a great expression and it encapsulates Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. I would like to see it going a little bit further and make sure Hull gets in on the act and indeed Newcastle.

“And I think when we can start talking about the Northern Powerhouse as a region then we can really go to town on infrastructure and building the economy here.”

Despite the geographical reference of his job title, Mr Parmley’s job is to advocate and promote financial services from across the country, adding that Leeds was “right up there with the very best” when it came to this sector.

Speaking from the offices of Yorkshire Building Society where he was visiting as part of a tour of northern cities and towns, Mr Parmley acknowledged the disquiet over transport spending in a week which has seen concerns that Government was backtracking on infrastructure spending plans.

He said that the debate on transport infrastructure spending should evolve from competition for individual projects to a situation in which all projects were approved simultaneously.

“What I am saying now is that we don’t wish to see ‘Crossrail 2 or HS3’ or ‘HS2 versus Transport for the North’,” he said,

“What we would like to see is all transport infrastructure projects in terms of rail starting together at the same time.

“So I would like to see Crossrail 2, HS2, HS3, TfN all undertaken at the same time and we are lobbying Government for that very thing.”

When it came to metro mayors, Mr Parmley said he hoped Yorkshire would overcome the tribal barriers holding back a devolution deal.

“I think it would be great if you do get an elected mayor in due course.

“Let’s see what we can do to present a united front on behalf of the United Kingdom, so we would like to see an extension of that. I spoke to Andy Burnham this morning and I think there is an appetite for more elected mayors.

“The regeneration of the cities is big. Leeds is looking on top form.”