Centre for London has this week launched a thought provoking report – London, UK: strengthening ties between capital and country - that makes bold recommendations for changing perceptions of the capital as attitudes towards London decline in the wake of Brexit.
As its capital city, London plays a pivotal role in the UK’s economy, politics and culture, but this week’s report from Centre for London points to a number of ways in which metro cities and dispersed regions could shift the balance of power and more effectively share in the capital’s success.
The three chambers representing London, Manchester and the Bristol city regions have called for £43 billion investment identified by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for transport investment outside of the capital to be secured and aligned to the transport needs from the metro regions, discussed at a recent event with businesses and the NIC.
As the author of the Centre for London report, Jack Brown, points out “regional growth is not a ‘zero-sum’ game”. This underlines the view of the three chambers that long-term funding for transport infrastructure should be put in place for the regions to complement and enhance the capital’s success, not to compete.
Strengthening ties between capital and country suggests that cuts to public spending have ‘heightened tensions over the fair share of limited resources between regions’ and indicates that the media’s portrayal of London perpetuates the north vs. south imbalance with the Brexit referendum further emphasising the divide between London and the rest of the UK.
Leading the way with devolution, demonstrating a more altruistic outlook and better performing its civic duty - not only in its global role but its civic duty to the rest of the UK - are some of the recommendations for London made in the report. Top of the list of ideas to improve and strengthen London’s relations with the rest of the UK is to ‘change the narrative’, suggesting that central government and London’s businesses should address regional inequalities by calling for more devolved investment in critical infrastructure.
Clive Memmott, Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said: “Decentralising investment and strategic decisions for infrastructure is vital to the economic success of the UK as a whole. Decentralisation must be carefully balanced with the need to have a clear, long-term strategic plan for our national infrastructure that is fully integrated and understandable to the people of this country and its businesses
In its National Infrastructure Assessment, the NIC has made a clear recommendation that £43 billion should be allocated to regional infrastructure and we are calling on the Treasury to commit to this spending and empower metro regions to lead on the strategic planning”.