How can London and the UK’s other cities help each other and the country more?

by Dave Hill

The tireless Centre for London is in search of new thinking about London’s often frosty relationship with the rest of the UK through a research project headed by On London contributor Jack Brown. It will examine how that relationship has changed in recent years and explore ways in which the capital can work more closely with the country’s other cities, including by doing more to spread prosperity elsewhere.

This fraught issue might be seen as a mobilising undercurrent of the referendum vote to leave the European Union – an irony, perhaps, given the dependence of the rest of the UK on London as a generator of employment beyond its own region and as an exporter of taxes, but also a sentiment that cannot be glibly dismissed.

Andrew Adonis has argued strongly that Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool and others will not become better off if London is done down and that the best way to help other cities to thrive is to connect them to each other and to London more efficiently. How, though, can more residents of those cities be persuaded that he has a point?

It will not be an easy task, as a 2014 report for another think tank, Centre for Cities, showed. It listed three main implications arising from a survey of people living in 16 UK cities outside London: one, a need for UK cities, including London, to work together better “to make the most of their relationships and capitalise on each of their strengths”; two, a need for individual cities to demand more from central government, consistent with their distinctive needs; three, a need for “local leaders to engage more with the public in order to explain how national policies translate locally”.

Since the time of that report, “metro mayors” have been elected, national government’s “austerity” programme has continued and the uncertainties of the Brexit process have begun. The UK needs its cities to pull together in the shared national interest. If you think you can contribute to Centre For London’s research, contact Jack Brown via here.

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