This is the Key Cities newsletter, ‘Our Voice’, which updates member cities and stakeholders on the activities and progress we’re making to ensure we are heard in Government and beyond.


We are delighted to be able to announce three new members of the Key Cities Group. We recognise the important role each of them plays within their respective regional economies. We look forward to working with them and we are continuing to explore opportunities for appropriately growing our membership. The new members are;

  • Medway - a conurbation and unitary authority in Kent
  • Carlisle City Council - a city and district within Cumbria County Council.
  • Gloucester City council - a city and district within Gloucester County Council

A Key Cities Event focusing on young people, ‘Changing the Future’ took place on the 25 July 2018. Over 200 young people and key cities representatives attended the event in Huddersfield to discuss important issues relating to young people in our cities. A questionnaire completed by over 1,500 people was developed to inform the content of the event. Analysis and conclusions from the event will be disseminated shortly. The Young People portfolio is led by Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader at Kirklees Council.

On behalf of the Key Cities Group, Cllr Peter Box, Chair, has been invited to take part in an 'EU Exit Local Government Delivery Board', Chaired by James Brokenshire - Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The purpose of the Board is to provide an opportunity for national and local government leaders to discuss and address issues and opportunities arising from EU Exit that impact on local government, and to oversee the required preparation and transition delivery, taking into account relevant policies and services provided by local government. Meetings are due to formally commence from September 2018.

On the 4 July, the Key Cities held our AGM and a Fringe Event at the LGA’s Annual Conference in Birmingham. The Fringe Event was a great opportunity to raise awareness of our network and of the work we are doing to ensure the voice of urban Britain is heard in Government and beyond. At the event, we heard from Roger Marsh, Chair of the Leeds City Region LEP, on the importance of mid-sized cities to their regional economies.

On the 28 June, we held the first of three regional workshops in Bradford on how we need to develop 'Skills for the Future'. Two more events in the autumn are being planned, one in Coventry, and one in Southampton. The Skills and Education portfolio is led by Cllr Imran Khan, Deputy Leader at Bradford City Council.

The Key Cities launched the first phase of our brochure 'The Key Cities, Ready to meet the UK’s Biggest Challenges' in Parliament on the 27 June - Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy attended the launch and spoke in support of the ambitions of the Key Cities Group.

At our Full Group meeting in May, the Key Cities Group received a presentation from four of our Port member cities (Plymouth, Hull, Southampton and Portsmouth) on the economic challenges and opportunities facing our Port cities. It was agreed to write a letter to the LGA (and Welsh LGA) highlighting the challenges we are facing in the context of Brexit, and a list of ‘asks’ of Government. We are currently working with relevant officers across the Key Cities to develop these. We will be working with the LGA to ensure our voice is heard and that these asks become part of the Brexit negotiations they are undertaking on behalf of the local government sector.

The Key Cities submitted a consultation response to the Government's Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper in June. The response welcomed the UK governments efforts to promote integration and cohesion, but we argued that it needs to reflect and be guided by local circumstances, should be explicitly positive in promoting the benefits of Integration and Cohesion, and cannot be divorced from wider inclusion / social mobility / inclusive growth agendas.

We launched the Key Cities All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the 27 April. The APPG creates an important forum for MPs to regularly discuss issues and concerns relating to the Key Cities, to support them to raise these issues in parliament on our behalf.

On the 31 April 2018, in partnership with the Arts Council and the Core Cities, we launched the “National Cultural Cities Enquiry” – a national series of events and call for evidence on how can cities make the most of the economic opportunities culture can provide. Look out for the results of the enquiry in the autumn. The Culture portfolio is led by Cllr Alan Waters, Leader at Norwich City Council.

In the Media

Municipal Journal, 10 July 2018. 'Mid-Sized Cities’ Common Ground' article covering the launch of our report – which highlights how the UK Government must work more closely and effectively with us in order to resolve the UK’s three biggest social and economic challenges.

The Guardian, 27 June 2017. 'Britain is full of powerful mid-sized cities. Let's unlock their potentia'. The article argues that in order to respond effectively to 21st-century post-Brexit economic and social challenges, the government must work with the UK’s mid-sized cities. This was published to coincide with the publication of our report “The Key Cities – Ready to meet the UK’s Biggest Challenges”.

Local Government Chronicle, 19 June 2018. Joint article by the Key Cities and SIGOMA (Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities) arguing that councils must play a more active role in Brexit negotiations.

Open Access Government, 19 June 2018 'Mid-Sized Cities the Key to Inclusive Growth in the UK

Article in the Local Government Chronicle, 24 April 2018. Article by the Editor of the LGC, Nick Golding of the launch of our APPG – 'Amid the obsession with big, ministers ignore mid-sized cities at their peril'.

Digital by Default News, 16 April 2018 - Online article announcing our partnership with the BSA (Business Services Association) and how we are working together to address the skills gap - as a barrier to increased productivity.

Municipal Journal, 11 May 2018 (Print) 25 May 2018 (online). Article arguing that '"n order to deliver a progressive, integrated health and care service that succeeds locally and nationally, it is vital any central review addresses local government finance”.

Local Government Chronicle, 6th June 2018 (print) 25th May (online) – Article commenting on the recent Fair Funding Review “Any new funding system must be transparent”.

Coming up

We are working to secure a ministerial meeting with James Brokenshire, the new Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

We are also working to secure a meeting between Key Cities leaders and Jake Berry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to follow on from the productive meeting we had with him in 2017.

Next Full Group meetings 12 October - will feature discussions around the following topics;

  • Guests from the National Infrastructure Commission to discuss the National Infrastructure Assessment
  • Culture – featuring ‘City of Culture’ experiences from member authorities and linking to our work engaging in the Cities Cultural Enquiry (Lead by Cllr Alan Waters, Norwich).

The next meeting of the APPG will take place on the 17th October, from 4-5.30pm in Parliament. The APPG is co-chaired by Conor Burns MP and Emma Reynolds MP. The meeting will focus on the development of the second phase of our brochure, and the Industrial Strategy.

The Brexit portfolio is now being led by Cllr Michael Mordey, Deputy Leader at Sunderland. They are working to deliver a conference ‘Beyond Brexit’ in November. Look out for further details to follow.

We are planning a Parliamentary launch for the second phase of our brochure. The second phase of the brochure will contain much more detailed analysis on the Key Cities, and more detailed asks and offers to Government across each of the Key Cities portfolios. We will be holding the launch at the beginning of November. Again, look out for further details to follow.