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Regions Win Billions In Devolution Deal

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It is happening ... (according to Property Week)...

The government is set to take its first major step in devolving powers from Westminster to the English regions next week, with the announcement it is handing spending powers worth billions of pounds to a swathe of new metropolitan super-authorities.

Property Week can reveal that cities minister Greg Clark will claim at next week’s MIPIM UK conference that the new deal for the regions is a potential bonanza for property firms. The first area to receive the new powers is expected to be Greater Manchester, which through the Greater Manchester City Region will benefit from a £1bn-plus agreement with the Treasury. This will enable it to retain 100% of the uplift from business rates revenue, as well as revenues gained from property development and investment.

Prime minister David Cameron is giving his full backing to Clark’s plans, and believes they will replicate in the regions what the government-backed development of London’s Docklands did for the East End in the 1980s. Cameron said: “For the first time ever, housing infrastructure and other funding is being brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to spend the way they know best.”

At least six other metropolitan authorities are currently beginning talks with the Treasury to agree their own financial settlement. Birmingham and Bristol are setting up authorities, alongside a North East group, a Sheffield-based group, a Leeds-based group and a Merseyside group. The government is also planning a raft of new city mayoral elections outside London. The changes will give cities control over billions of pounds of revenue that is currently paid into Treasury coffers, linking up with the government’s existing City Deals initiative and allowing them to retain cash for local priorities. Speaking exclusively to Property Week Clark said: “Manchester will be just the first, and this will roll out to other cities. Our cities are effectively nationalised at the moment. This new economic deal ensures we set our cities free to make their own decisions.”

During his speech to MIPIM UK Clark is also expected to announce multi-billion pound projects for 150 new roads, 150 new housing developments and 20 new rail stations across England, as well as revealing more about the latest regeneration projects connected to the development of the High Speed 2 rail project.

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Next in line ...

WEST and South Yorkshire are next in line for devolution deals, the deputy prime minister has promised. Speaking at today’s Northern Futures Summit in Leeds Nick Clegg said he wants the deals done with the Leeds and Sheffield City regions by December, and, there won’t be an obligation to introduce a mayor in order to get them. The calls follow the major devolution deal with the Government for the transfer of powers covering transport, housing, planning and policing - under the remit of a directly-elected city mayor - which Greater Manchester announced this week. The new mayor will be elected in 2017.

Earlier in the day, economist Jim O’Neill who is chairing the Cities Growth Commission which advocates devolution, said cities like Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool can secure a Manchester-style deal, but they need to show government they can deliver. Clegg was in Leeds for the one-day conference which also set out plans to invest in Northern road and rail infrastructure, and announced plans for more to be spent promoting tourism. He said: “The more of us that talk about the North in our conversations, with buoyant attitudes and smiles, the more people who want to come here. We shouldn’t present ourselves as the region with a chip on our shoulder, we are here because we’re immensely proud of what the North has to offer. The rest will follow. The great thing about Northern Futures is the degree of consensus across parties in favour. That is a very powerful thing. This government and any future government will not be able to ignore further devolution. The genie is out of the bottle – it is irreversible.”

http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/689783-yorkshire-is-next-on-the-devolution-list.html?news_section=4148

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This will be a disaster.

Westminster carryings-on are nothing compared to what goes on with local authorities.

Do we really want our councils given all this largess to play with?

Although I bet the real reason is that they will cut their grants severely in the following years. Then they can blame the LA's for the mess instead of central government.

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Interesting that the candidate needs 70% approval ... from the councillors!

FLURRY OF INTEREST IN MANCHESTER MAYOR ROLE

Celebrities, MPs, council leaders and business owners are all in the running to be Greater Manchester's first directly elected mayor. Kieran Quinn, executive leader of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, told Insider the role has attracted a large amount of interest, more than two years before nominations close.

Earlier this month Chancellor George Osborne signed a devolution agreement with AGMA's ten local authorities to create a 'Northern Powerhouse' to maximise the economic potential of the north. The move will give the city control of a £300m housing investment fund but it’s the creation of an elected mayor that grabbed the most headlines.

On Wednesday, Kieran Quinn, executive leader of Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and portfolio lead for Greater Manchester Combined Authority on investment, told a meeting at Manchester Town Hall that the role was already attracting huge amounts of interest – two-and-a-half years before nominations close! Speaking at the meeting entitled 'Unlocking Funding: Investment and Growth in Greater Manchester' he said the eventual winner may not come from the public sector. "It's exciting for the elected mayor as it's going to free the potential for Greater Manchester,” he told Insider. “It's a different type of election. It's a challenge to all parties and all businesses. We know there are some very capable people in both the public and private sector who have the ability to drive the Greater Manchester economy forward. The choice will be made by the people of Greater Manchester. I'm hearing that there are some business people and some celebrities interested in the role. I can confirm that there are also council leaders and MPs interested in the role. The closing date for nominations is April 2017. I think it will be very strong, powerful and long list."

Sir Richard Leese, current leader of Manchester City Council, is the early bookies' favourite at 4-1 with police and crime commissioner the second favourite at 6-1. Outside bets include Tom Bloxham (12-1); footballer-turned-property developer Gary Neville (50-1) and Morrissey at 100-1. However the new mayor will need to win a minimum of 70 per cent support of AGMA's cabinet - prompting speculation that the winner will be from the public sector.

Quinn said: "The new mayor has to be a consensual mayor but that's why a Greater Manchester is great. We've been embedding consensus into the fabric of the new role."

Earlier this week Scott Fletcher, founder and chairman of IT managed services and cloud provider ANS Group, refused to rule himself out of the running to become the mayor and raised question marks over how much power the role will have. He said: "The mayor will have only one vote in a body of 11 elected officials on most matters so I would question how much power to implement change the new mayor will really have. Having said that it seems that we are going to have to have one if we want real devolution. I believe it's time for Manchester to take back control of its own destiny and if having a major is what’s needed to do that, then so be it."

http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/north-west/128761-flurry-interest-manchester-mayor-role?utm_source=northwest_newsletter&utm_medium=top_story_article&utm_campaign=northwest_news_tracker

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Has anywhere done City Deal successfully?  A £500m 'Deal' has been secured in Cambridge to improve transport.  So far a rumoured £20m has been spent on a consultation exercise and the brilliant suggestion of cutting down some trees to widen roads on the outskirts of town where there aren't traffic jams to make it easier for cars to travel into the centre of town where there are traffic jams.  

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