Wholehearted devolution, addressing the needs of the West Midlands

The Financial Times recently reported that since the onset of recession in 2008, employment has grown by 2.9% in London, but in West Midlands – and most other regions – it was down by 4.5%.

On Dec 27th this blog reported that Regional development tsar’ backs a  May referendum about electing a mayor for ‘hollowed out’ Birmingham and asked: “Could an elected mayor be complementary to the regional government advocated by Localise West Midlands vice-chairman, George Morran? And how would s/he relate to the city council?” 

George replied: 

“Elected mayors alone will not produce the fundamental constitutional and economic change that people across England deserve and need, to allow them to take more control over theirs and their children’s futures. 

“We need smaller local government rather than fixing on the existing over-large authorities such as Birmingham City Council, which are the legacy of years of ‘bigger is better’ government and ever-increasing control and standardisation of public policy from London. 

“At the same time as the powers-that-be in London choose to ignore the realities of devolution and Scotland, Wales, London and Northern Ireland strengthen their ability to govern themselves, England with or without elected Mayors will still be controlled from London. 

“The reality of devolution has to be grasped for the English Regions and their Local Communities; we need new constitutional and economic settlements which downsize and refocus Westminster and Whitehall; power, resources and democratic accountability have to be transferred to local communities, and those functions needing a regional approach should be taken on by elected regional governments able to work as equals with the devolved governments which exist in the rest of the UK. 

“The Localisation of Government in England will help shift the approach to economic development from globalisation to the local, promoting civic pride and involvement. Within this approach elected mayors could play a part. 

“Across the world elected mayors and more proportional voting systems are associated with much smaller local authorities and stronger elected Regional/Provincial Governments than we have in England.“ 

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