The first metro mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will cover two growing economies that despite their recent successes face very different challenges.
Cambridge has seen its recent success driven by knowledge-based activities (including research and development and information technology), which has made it one of the most productive parts of the UK economy, but has also pushed up house prices and contributed to congestion problems.
Much of Peterborough’s success in recent years has been based on the expansion of lower-skilled activities. The challenge here will be to attract higher-skilled business investment, while improving the skills of the residents living in and around the city.
For the metro mayor to support economic growth, they will likely require very different approaches in these two areas, but these will need to be coordinated as part of a coherent narrative and vision for the area. This briefing sets out three priorities that address the biggest issues facing Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
A ‘quick win’ will help the mayor to set the tone for delivery right from the start. Delivering results quickly will build trust, and show what the metro mayor is able to do for the city region. The best ‘quick wins’ in these circumstances are high profile and of value to citizens.
Strategic decisions form the framework for delivering the metro mayor’s vision. As such, the metro mayor will have the power to take the decisions that will make the most of the new geography of governance. While the mayor will be keen to show progress towards their vision, strategic decisions will often take longer to show outcomes, therefore careful evaluation is needed to allow for flexibility and to demonstrate the effects.
A long term vision for the city region will be the key election platform – it is what the mayor is working towards while in office. This should be ambitious, but reflect the real needs and potential of the city region. Some aspects of the vision will be achievable within the mayor’s term in office, while others will build momentum or signal a change in direction. It is important to be clear and strike the balance of where each policy lies on this spectrum.