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While I agree with the assertion that UK cities are among the least autonomous in Europe, I find it worrisome the narrow focus on the effect on productivity and growth. Inclusion, Sustainability, the state of built environment, public health outcomes, etc., are all jeopardised by the lack of autonomy. In effect, I intuit that much of the discontent expressed towards Westminster is attributable to the sheer centralisation – and hence bluntness – of policy making in the UK.
So yes, please advance the case for autonomy; but please do so in a way that doesn’t reinforce a blunt obsession with growth and productivity.
The reason why productivity is mentioned here is to link these results to the findings of our previous report on European cities, where we found that UK cities were clearly lagging behind in terms of productivity. It is interesting to see those two finding reflecting each other, although it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a correlation.
The main point to me is that increasing local authorities’ powers and autonomy will give them the ability to step in and improve their local environment, for instance by implementing policies that are better tailored to local needs. The scope of action could definitely include those points you mention: tackling exclusion, promote sustainability (from a local government’s point-of-view I’m thinking sustainable planning and transport), and improve health outcomes – which I think are all, more broadly, drivers of growth.