Public overwhelmingly back more devolution to cities

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More than eight in ten people in city-regions support some type of greater devolution according to new polling from Centre for Cities.

The polling was commissioned in front of next month’s local elections to understand the outcome of devolution and also the offices of Mayor in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater London, Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, the West Midlands, free airline of England and West Yorkshire.

On average, 83 per cent of people in city-regions visiting the polls on 6 May support some form of greater devolution, with provision of affordable housing (51 percent), supporting businesses (47 per cent) and providing access to skills and training (39 percent) the most common areas that people need to see devolved to local politicians.

Centre for Cities states that the overwhelming support to move power from Whitehall should let the government to write its delayed white paper on devolution in England and include substantial reforms to the way England is governed.

However, there remains a lack of knowledge surrounding metro mayors. In West Yorkshire, that will choose its first metro-mayor on 6 May, less than half of people (44 percent) understand the election, suggesting the government must do more try to promote better knowledge of recent reforms that introduced metro-mayors.

The poll also sought views on pandemic responses from local leaders. It discovered that, of all of the locally elected mayors, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has the highest approval rating for his handling of the pandemic, having a net approval rating of +42.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “People in England’s largest city regions overwhelmingly support shifting power from Whitehall and right down to their communities. Devolving more responsibility for providing affordable housing, supporting businesses and running adult education schemes are well-liked by the public.

“In the 2021 election, the government backed the key more devolution in England yet, more than a year later, we are still waiting to see what its plans are. As places look to recover from the pandemic, it is essential that the federal government learns demands for more devolution and provides mayors and other local leaders the powers and resources to build back better. People want Whitehall to complete less, it’s time for it to listen.”