Region wins right to bid for freedom from government

Government ministers have given the Milton Keynes region the chance to go for freedom on a “significant” housebuilding programme.

The new city and its partners across the South East Midlands are among 20 areas allowed to go on to the discussion phase of the City Deals project.

The Milton Keynes bid is for a “significant, sustainable growth in housing” to attract and find homes for high-skilled workers to drive economic growth. The South East Midlands region also includes Bedford, Aylesbury, Luton and Northampton.

In the shorter term, the bid is aimed at providing confidence to private sector developers and create jobs in construction and industry supply chains.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Cities, Greg Clark, said: “I’m delighted to invite Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands to negotiate a city deal with the government.

“For years this area has had to put up with London laying down the law about how things should be done locally. These city deals are a revolution in that relationship. Who could be better than the people and businesses of Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands to know what the area needs to achieve all it that is capable of? The government should be there to support local ambition and that is what I will do in these negotiations.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the 20 cities in a speech yesterday (Monday) at Mansion House in London.

The 20 cities including the Milton Keynes region get the green light to negotiate plans to get the freedom, powers and tools needed to shape their economic future. All 20 cities that entered the first stage have gone through.

The deals will be reached between government and cities so that local areas can bid for new powers that will enable them to grow.

In return for cities’ strong plans for growth the government will devolve financial and planning powers to let cities take charge of their own destinies.

Mr Clegg said: “Even more places will be free from Whitehall control and have the tools to power their own growth. These deals help cities and their wider areas make once in a generation changes that will be felt by everyone across their region.”

The 20 cities are: the Black Country, Bournemouth and Poole, Brighton and Hove, Greater Cambridge, Coventry and Warwickshire, Hull and Humber, Ipswich, Leicester and Leicestershire, Milton Keynes and the South East Midlands, Greater Norwich, Oxford and Oxfordshire, Reading and Central Berkshire, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Portsmouth, Southend and Thames Gateway South Essex, Stoke and Staffordshire, Sunderland and the North East, Swindon and Wiltshire, and Tees Valley.