Milton Keynes invited to go for ‘independence’ on economic growth

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Milton Keynes and its ‘wider area’ has been invited to bid for new power to boost local growth.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Cities Minister Greg Clark are announcing today (Monday) that 20 areas can compete for ‘City Deals’ that would see Whitehall devolve powers in exchange for responsibility for delivering growth locally.

A first wave of City Deals among England’s eight largest cities were signed off in July. They secured powers including the ability to ‘earn back’ tax from the Treasury, devolved transport budgets and control of the skills budget for their city.

Mr Clegg said cities would have to work with their “wider areas” with their Local Enterprise Partnerships to go for more devolution of power. In Milton Keynes, the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) includes Northampton, Bedford, Luton and Aylesbury.

He said: “Now its time to free even more places from Whitehall control. I want these 20 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.”

Leaders in the second wave of cities will be asked to work together across their regions and to put forward proposals designed to unlock the full growth potential of the area.The cities with the strongest propositions will be invited to negotiate a deal with government.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Cities, Greg Clark, said: “City Deals put each city in the driving seat. Each city can seize the initiative and show what it needs to prosper and grow, even if it’s new and different. If it’s in the city’s interest and the national interest, we’ll strike a deal and make it happen.”

The next 14 largest cities and their wider areas and the next six with the highest population growth between 2001 to 2010 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, Reading, Plymouth, Preston and Lancashire, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend, Stoke and Staffordshire, Sunderland and the North East, Swindon and Wiltshirea and Tees Valley.

The cities will be asked to submit their initial proposals by January 15, 2013.

Each city and their Local Enterprise Partnership will be invited to put forward a proposal to address a significant local economic issue which requires a transformative response that is not currently possible through existing interventions. The deals could be completed by November 2013.