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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber and D2N2 Comment on Devolution Proposals

Chancellor George Osborne (credit Gov.uk)Chancellor George Osborne will use his first speech of this Parliament to unveil new plans to give English cities powers over housing, transport, planning and policing.

A Cities Devolution Bill will be in the Queen's Speech later this month which will give cities the freedom to grow their local economies.

The proposed Bill will help Mr Osborne to implement the so-called northern powerhouse vision he has previously outlined as a way to rebalance the UK economy.

George Cowcher, Chief Executive of East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire), said: “The Chancellor’s announcement today shows that this Government is serious about boosting the growth prospects of England’s cities and counties.

“For a number of years the UK has been one of the most centralised modern economies, which has led to an unbalanced economy and left local people and businesses remote from the decisions which affect their lives.

“The Chamber has been pleased to contribute to the initial discussions that D2N2 and Nottingham, as a core city, have had about this. It supported a “Devolution Deal Proposal” submitted to the Rt Hon Greg Clarke MP, the Minister for Universities and Science before the election.

“Businesses in the East Midlands will support greater local decision-making if it means greater efficiency, more accountability and better results. There are many things that could be better delivered in this region.

“Business has already contributed to this dialogue and will continue to play a constructive role as discussions continue. The Chamber will want to stimulate discussion among businesses to establish what they would favour in terms of powers and responsibilities, and geography.

“There is no doubt that there is an appetite for devolving power on the back of the Scottish settlement pledged following last year’s referendum. Businesses in the East Midlands are ready to work with other partners to ensure that this region does not miss the opportunity.”

In March, Peter Richardson, the Chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership joined a delegation from the area to London to present Greg Clark MP and his then Labour Shadow, Hilary Benn, with a comprehensive Devolution Prospectus for the area. It set out a number of ambitions for the region, including the creation of:

  • A Free Trade Zone in association with East Midlands Airport, giving favourable tax treatment to maximise opportunities for trade and supply chain development in the area
  • A £1bn regional investment organisation, set-up to help businesses access finance more easily
  • A housing Investment Fund, to jump-start stalled housing projects, particularly around affordable housing
  • A rebalancing of the public transport network, through the assumption of London-style transport powers

Mr Richardson said: “Devolution would be a game changer for our area. D2N2 is 100% behind it which is why as an area, we have taken an early lead on providing government with a well thought out prospectus, setting out how we would use these new powers to boost economic growth.

“Our feeling is that we would want to see devolution benefit our whole area and we are keen to continue our dialogue with Government about the details of the legislation around these new powers.”