Creating places and opportunities for everyone
01 October 2018
‘Opportunity’ is the theme of this year’s Conservative Party Conference. And while discussions on Brexit continue, there’s also a sense of recognition that there is a window of opportunity to rethink our local relationships across the UK, as well as our global ones.
At Labour and Conservative Party conferences this year we supported Centre for Cities receptions, welcoming the conferences to Liverpool and Birmingham, and taking stock on the outlook for cities, towns and counties across the country.
While the world is getting increasingly interconnected and complex, when you ask people about what they value, they talk about the places they live, the community around them and the opportunities available to them and their families. These are the factors that we consider when we talk about Good Growth, with our index measuring economic performance in terms of jobs, income and skills, but also health, housing, commuting times and the environment.
Local government has a key role to play in bringing all these things together and making our towns, cities and counties successful. From my experience, it is strong leadership, locally and nationally, and a credible, shared and locally-owned plan for the future that make the difference when it comes to transforming places and delivering good growth. Cllr Ian Ward in Birmingham and Mayor Joe Anderson in Liverpool left our reception audiences in no doubt of their ambitions for their cities. Both local leaders also spoke of their collaborative relationships with their combined authorities and with neighbouring cities.
While there is much that can be done at the local or regional level, there was also recognition that support is needed from central government. The Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, celebrated the achievements of the Midlands Engine and highlighted the crucial role the region will play in the UK’s future prosperity. There was a nod towards next steps on a devolution framework coming later this autumn to kick start conversations about how government can empower local leaders, communities and people to thrive, as well as pointing towards the continuing work on Local Industrial Strategies and the development of the Shared Prosperity Fund.
With our exit from the EU and the upcoming Spending Review, places have a moment of opportunity to take back control and refocus on building an economy that works for everyone.