William Eichler 05 May 2017

Mayors must unite behind devolution agenda, think tank says

Mayors must unite behind devolution agenda, think tank says image

England’s mayors must unite to demand more devolved powers to improve local public services and boost trade post-Brexit, a leading think tank says.

IPPR North has called on the six new metro mayors being elected today to join forces with mayor of London Sadiq Khan in a push to increase local control over education, health and employment, with strong local checks-and-balances.

The progressive think tank said the regional mayors could play an important role in attracting investment and forging trade links, as well as free up the civil service to focus on Brexit.

‘We’ve heard a lot about strong and stable leadership in this election, and we need this sort of leadership locally too, to drive inward-investment and deliver great public services,’ Ed Cox, director of IPPR North.

‘Together the London mayor and England’s new metro mayors will represent almost twenty million people, far more than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. Working together, they will be a powerful voice for England.

‘Using “soft powers”, they can act as advocates for their city-regions on the global stage, helping win investment and broker trade globally.’

However, Mr Cox also noted that while such ‘soft powers’ were important, mayors needed much more.

‘Mayors need the kind of fiscal powers enjoyed by American mayors, German federal states and French régions. Even London only controls 7% of the tax it raises, compared to 50% in New York City,’ he said.

‘With powerful local checks-and-balances, mayors can reboot the devolution revolution and free the civil service to focus on Brexit.’

Read our coverage of today's mayoral elections here.

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