Four reasons why Tees Valley have secured devolution deal while bigger places have missed out.
Next May some of the biggest city-regions outside of London will be getting metro mayors, including Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool, and West of England (Bristol) – all of which were obvious contenders for a devolution deal when the previous Government launched this agenda two years ago.
Less predictable, however, was that Tees Valley would also be among that list, while larger places such as Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham would be conspicuous by their absence. This begs the question – how did the Middlesbrough city-region get a deal (including powers over skills, transport and planning) while other places have missed out?
The answer is that while Tees Valley has been somewhat under the radar compared to bigger cities, it has forged ahead by doing many of the same things Greater Manchester did to secure the first major devolution deal in 2014:
Tees Valley’s progress belies a common theme we often hear from places who have been unable to secure an agreement – that the Government’s requirements are too difficult to meet, and that Greater Manchester is an exception in having done so. The success of Tees Valley shows there is little foundation to these explanations – and that the onus is on other places to do what they can to secure a deal, before they fall further behind.
Indeed, the reward Tees Valley will enjoy in return for meeting the Government’s conditions will go beyond the initial funding and powers that the city-region will receive next May. The first devolution deal should be seen as just a starting point to implement the mayoral institutions and legal framework – all of which will enable the city-region to capitalise on future waves of devolution. For example, by the time the first metro-mayor takes office in Greater Manchester, it will be on its fourth iteration of the deal.
Similarly, Tees Valley is now well-positioned to take on more powers as the devolution agenda develops further – meaning the dark horse of devolution could forge further ahead of other bigger places in the years to come.
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Centre for Cities has aligned itself with the view that directly-elected mayors are a GOOD THING, and of course Centre for Cities has a right to that view. But it is bad tactics to imply that anybody who opposes directly elected mayors is a dunce; you don’t win arguments that way! Honest councillors don’t agree. Why not? They haven’t put their case, or maybe it just hasn’t been reported. Neither George Osborne (alone among his party?) nor Centre for Cities have put forward their case on the other side. Remember; Parliament has developed itself into an effective tool of rule under a Leader and Cabinet system.
There is obviously a political under-thread. Best shine light on it!