Core Cities - Manchester

A need for greater infrastructure spend in the North

Sir Richard Leese

Sir Richard Leese, Leader Manchester City Council; Chair Core Cities Group

As the latest Core Cities report from Bilfinger GVA makes clear, the time has come to give our cities a greater say on what infrastructure is needed, how it is funded and when and how it will be delivered.

If we do this we can help rebalance our economy, solve the productivity puzzle and create thousands of jobs.

We estimate devolving more spending over infrastructure to places and putting in place the right financing mechanisms could help to add £66bn to our economy - significantly narrowing the productivity gap between our cities and the UK average.

Transport is a classic example - our congested road network and painfully slow rail connections means that commuting between big cities in the North of England is the exception rather than the rule.

Just 0.2 per cent of commuters from Manchester come from Leeds, despite the cities being just 44 miles apart.

And as this report makes clear, it’s not about all about roads and rail. We must not neglect digital infrastructure where we are already falling behind competing cities from across the globe.

It’s time to really use our local knowledge and expertise. To let us all implement innovative funding mechanisms like tax incremental finance, business rate growth retention and local authority bonds.

Our cities all have a proud track record of working in partnership with partners across the private sector to deliver everything from office blocks to tram extensions.

But it’s time to fully realise their potential and give cities a greater role in building the new hard and soft infrastructure our nation so badly needs.