Chair Of Key Cities Calls For Devolution For Key Cities As Scotland Prepares For Referendum

Chair of the Key Cities Group and Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, has released a statement responding to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's call for regions to be given more power through devolution.

Cllr Watson said: “As the Key Cities group we fully support more devolution for cities and local authorities in England, regardless of the outcome of the Scottish referendum.

“Whether the result of the vote this week is Yes or No, devolution is now truly up for discussion across all parties and a public debate has been ignited.

“The Key Cities Group first set down our views on devolution in our Manifesto for Growth, launched earlier this year.”

The Key Cities Group was formed in the summer of 2013 to represent 23 city-based councils from across England with a combined population of nearly seven million people.

Devolution is one of its four key policy areas, alongside the future of city centres, skills and employment, and innovative finance.

Cllr Watson said the group wanted to see a shift of power away from Westminster to allow England’s cities to flourish.

He said: “We don’t believe the issue to be as black and white as North and South, yes or no.

“We have always been strong advocates for equitable devolution across the whole of England as, without devolution in its truest sense, we will continue to be limited in the scale of growth we can foster in our cities.”

Cllr Watson said England has become over-centralised in its distribution of power, which city leaders feel is not helping “UK plc”.

He said: “We’ve taken the rhetoric around devolution and made sense of it for 23 Key Cities covering the length and breadth of the country through our Charter and Agenda for Devolution.

“Our Charter and Agenda sets out the what, why and how devolution should look like to Key Cities and beyond.

“As Key Cities we are eager to support the next government in achieving its devolution agenda and economic growth across the country.”

The new charter document will be available from the website this week.