Gill Morris, DevoConnect
I hope my Devo dreams will come true! With five devolution deals in the Budget, 2018 should see a corner turned, a tipping point tipped, and the start of a new chapter of national politics.
Taking back control means not only rebalancing the economy but also that devolution is the solution for post-Brexit Britain. What we will definitely see is the first Metro Mayor in South Yorkshire, a Charter for the North via the Northern Powerhouse APPG and the Government’s long-awaited framework for English devolution. With strong cross party collaboration across the North via the Northern Powerhouse APPG and the Greater Manchester APPG we can expect to see more Mayoralty and/or Combined Authority deals coming through.
My wish is to see the devolution jigsaw in the North well on its way to completion. I want to see MPs of all parties getting behind the potential devolution brings in terms of growth and social mobility. So all in all it should be a devo – as well as happy – New Year!
Houchen’s confident start gives grounds for devo-optimism in 2018
Joseph Dancey, Director, Endeavour Advisory
When then Chancellor George Osborne referred to “unstoppable momentum” as he signed the agreement for a Tees Valley metro mayor in October 2015, few would have expected the election of a Conservative to the post.
Yet seven months in to his first seven months in Cavendish House, Mayor Ben Houchen’s deft touch gives grounds for grounds for devo-optimism in 2018.
New economic activity and good jobs remains Teesside’s priority so the region is looking to see spades in the ground for new industrial and manufacturing projects to deliver the South Tees Development Corporation’s Masterplan.
The mayor’s confident start has strengthened the case for a “Tees Valley Devo Deal 2.0” to enhance local powers over skills post-16, for housing, and the Combined Authority’s support for low-carbon initiatives.
More widely for the North East, it’s time for those authorities sitting outside the Tees Valley and North of Tyne agreements to join in the devolution opportunity to enable the region as a whole to fully punch its weight.
Make 2018 the genuine devolution conversation for Yorkshire
Jane Thomas, former Director Campaign for Yorkshire, currently Director Repeal Bill Alliance
For most of 2017, devolution in Yorkshire has felt more of a ‘wish list’ issue rather than a strong possibility. Although this week significant progress has been made, the reality is that the city region deals are not devolution deals as we have witnessed in other parts of the UK. Rather, they are a way of attempting to address regional imbalances, infrastructure decisions, spending priorities and demonstrate that the centre is prepared to let go.
This is not to pour cold water on the city-region model. But city regions are a response to a different set of questions, and in part driven by politicians’ (Labour and Tory) fascination of the imported city region concept from North America. Genuine devolution would be driven by addressing the very real constitutional deficiencies we still have in the UK.
The results from a community consultation on the future of Yorkshire devolution in both Doncaster and Barnsley will be known imminently. In 2018, it would be nice to see real progress on a defined constitutional settlement for the UK that repatriates real powers away from the centre to areas that are large enough in scale to have the clout to deal with a post-Brexit world.
Rotheram’s festive Wish List
Martin Liptrot, Public Affairs Strategist, 98 Republic
In the spirit of Liverpool music legend John Peel’s Festive Fifty, I am suggesting a Festive Five for Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
At five, is the perennial favourite, Progress on Transport – secure commitment from HMG that HS3 will get the green light in 2018.
At four, a new entry, Liverpool City Region’s 6 councils and Combined Authority succeed with their local Full Fibre Network proposal to see LCR businesses wired to the fastest digital network in Britain.
Number three is a non-mover – Jobs and Skills – LCR could secure more support from the Department of Work and Pensions to help the long term unemployed, building on the success of the £29m Ways to Work programme.
Number two on this year’s wish list is the ambitious plan to harness the River Mersey tides to provide sufficient energy to power 200,000 homes across the city region and cut our carbon footprint and tackle air pollution.
And top of the wish list this year is for UK Government to back Liverpool City Region’s 2018 Industrial Strategy and support us in attracting major new employers to the region, creating jobs and supply chain opportunities.
Greater Manchester can lead the way on housing
Sam Popper, Head of Policy, DevoConnect
Devolution in England rewards the winners, and this was evident in November’s budget. While Manchester’s neighbours Liverpool and Leeds have had impasses of different sorts over the past six months, Greater Manchester has pressed on and gained its fifth deal in November.
It now has a roughly third share in a £28m Housing First pilot, rough sleeping being an area which Andy Burnham will undoubtedly be judged on come 2020. In 2018, GM will sign a Housing and Growth deal with the Government – if this could include mayoral call-in powers like Sadiq Khan’s and a refocus of the Housing Investment Fund towards social housing, the CA may be able to address the real structural issues at play.
Fiscal devolution is in the long-term a necessity but for now a fairer funding settlement for local government is the urgent need. Poor social care continues to have a knock-on effect on public services and lobbying for more cash must be a priority.
Getting Cambridgeshire and Peterborough on the map this Christmas
Ross Cathcart, Executive Manager, DevoConnect
With the Northern Powerhouse and familiar faces in West Midlands and Greater Manchester dominating ‘devo news’, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has struggled to be heard in 2017. How to ensure its on the map for 2018? Here’s my three devo wishes for James Palmer this Christmas:
Work with local MPs – the new East of England APPG provides an excellent opportunity for the Combined Authority to build relations with and ensure buy-in from parliamentarians.
Engage with the counties – The promise of Sajid Javid’s ‘devolution framework’ raises the possibility of devolution for many of the counties around C&P. A new working dynamic between CAs, urban and rural, will be key for the success of both.
Make transport a priority – With the budget confirming a new Oxford-Cambridge line and the Transforming Cities Fund, James Palmer has the tools (and political will in Westminster) to deliver on transport.