Peterborough’s metro mayor calls on new Prime Minister to hand him more powers over tax and schools

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been urged to formally back plans to give metro mayors greater powers over taxation, schools and housing, including in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 6:50 pm
Mayor James Palmer

In a joint letter to both Tory leadership contenders, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer joined the mayors of London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City region, the West of England and North of Tyne in saying the next Prime Minister “needs to think broader than Westminster”.

Inviting Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt to commit to implement 20 recommendations in the recently published Empowering English Cities report, the eight mayors called for “greater fiscal freedoms” to drive innovation.

The letter states: “We invite you to commit to the ‘Mayors’ Pledge’ - giving us the powers we need to make our city regions the greatest places to live and work in the world.

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“This Pledge commits you to taking the 20 recommendations in the report and tasking civil servants with implementing them as quickly as possible if you take office.

“We are clear that the new Prime Minister needs to think broader than Westminster - to the success story that is our English cities and regions.”

The letter was sent a fortnight after former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine unveiled Empowering English Cities, calling for greater regional devolution across England to empower “our great cities, the engines of our growth”.

In their letter to the Tory leadership hopefuls, the mayors added: “We all have different powers, control large budgets and have the ability to improve the lives of millions of people.

“To achieve this we should all be granted greater fiscal freedoms, control over the services we deliver and decisions on future investments, if we are to unlock local economic resources and drive innovation.”

Among 20 recommendations in Lord Heseltine’s report are calls for government to transfer day-to-day responsibility for affordable housing, school performance, skills and employment programmes to combined authorities.

A new government Department for the English Regions led by a Cabinet minister and a metro mayors’ committee chaired by the Prime Minister is

also among the proposals.

Both Tory leadership contenders have previously expressed support for regional devolution.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has committed to the idea, saying it would leave regions “empowered with much more flexibility”.

Frontrunner Boris Johnson said he is interested in more “fiscal devolution” where it is “sensible and where the tax base supports it.”