Ministers throw down City Deal gauntlet

Thu 1 November 2012, 3:42 pm

Reading has been invited by the government to bid for additional growth-boosting powers as part of the second wave of City Deals.

It is one of 20 cities and wider regions being asked to put forward proposals designed to unlock the full growth potential of the area.

Each city and their Local Enterprise Partnership has the chance to put forward a proposal to address a significant local economic issue requiring a “transformative response” not possible through existing interventions.

In particular, the bids need to contain proposals for stronger governance across their economic area to enable quick and effective decision-making; plans to spur “significantly greater private-sector input” to the local economy; and ideas that reflect the need to drive further efficiency in the use of public-sector funding.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said the proposals needed to be ambitious, harness public and private sector resources, and demonstrate strong leadership in the local area. 

He said the cities with the strongest propositions would be invited to negotiate a deal with the government.

Clegg said that the next wave of City Deal areas would be following a trail blazed by the likes of Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, in the first wave.

“In the best English tradition we have witnessed a quiet revolution across the nation’s eight largest cities,” he said.

“From control over buses and trains and the freedom to plug skills gaps, to powers to ‘earn back’ tax and set up local investment funds to spend on local projects – the deals are unlocking the huge potential of our cities so they can go for growth.

“Now its time to free even more places from Whitehall control. I want these twenty cities and their wider areas to come up with ambitious and innovative proposals to help them make changes that will be felt by everyone across their region.”

So-called “wave two” cities are being given until 15 January to submit their proposals, with the expectation that the next wave of City Deals will be complete by November 2013.

While ministers said there was expected to be a degree of competition over the proposals, all those cities invited to submit applications could “expect” to be awarded a deal.

In addition to Reading, the other 19 wave-two deal areas are: the Black Country; Bournemouth; Brighton and Hove; Greater Cambridge; Coventry and Warwickshire; Hull and Humber; Ipswich; Leicester and Leicestershire; Milton Keynes; Greater Norwich; Oxford; Plymouth; Preston and Lancashire; Southampton and Portsmouth; Southend; Stoke and Staffordshire; Sunderland and the North East; Swindon and Wiltshire; and the Tees Valley.

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