…as plans for unprecedented new powers for ‘core cities’ are announced
Following the announcement that Southampton is set to miss out on a series of new powers for ‘core’ cities, Labour MP John Denham has criticised the Government for snubbing Southampton residents. Powers that may be awarded to Bristol, Birmingham and six other cities include greater control and funding for public transport, development of local broadband and a consolidated pot of money to be divided up as local authorities decide.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, last week announced plans to strike deals with a number of cities in order to devolve unprecedented levels of planning, transport and labour powers to local authorities. Since then, Greg Clarke, Minister for Communities and Local Government, confirmed that these deals would be restricted to what he called the “core cities” of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield.
What Southampton is missing out on
If the proposed new powers were extended to Southampton:
- Southampton’s 4,900 local small businesses could benefit from business rate discounts.
- Southampton would have comparable levels of control over public transport as London. Currently, 59% of people drive to work in Southampton, compared to 48% in Bristol and just 35% in London. The powers would give Southampton the ability to address this 24% difference.
- 7000 more households and businesses in Southampton could have access to broadband. Currently, 10.3% of households and businesses in the City of Southampton do not have access to broadband of at least 2 Mbps, compared to just 4.5% in Bristol, where the city could be given extra funding to further develop broadband accessibility.
John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, said:
“Whilst cities from Bristol to Newcastle are set to be awarded new powers and extra funding, the Government have again ignored Southampton. With unemployment in Southampton rising by 18% from the same time last year, we need to see some positive action to create jobs and growth in the local area.
“One has to ask questions as to why the City of Southampton has not been considered for these new powers. Are there concerns about the ability of the Conservative-led City Council to deliver these proposed responsibilities?
“Under the Labour Party’s five point plan for jobs and growth, a £2billion tax on bank bonuses would fund 5,000 jobs in the South East and the 4,900 small businesses in Southampton would receive a national insurance tax break to take on extra workers. This is the kind of local action that will make a meaningful difference to businesses and households across the City of Southampton.”