Councils urged to 'unlock potential' of city economics

Report says authorities need ‘decisive partnership role’ promoting growth and investment


David Hutton

David Hutton


21 June 2017: A new study has urged authorities in the UK’s cities to work more closely together to promote local economic development – and provide the homes, workplaces, skills and transport that cities need to thrive.

The report by Centre for Cities ‘Delivering Change: How city partnerships make the most of city assets’ - supported by Bevan Brittan and Turner and Townsend - says there is now a critical role for authorities to play in unlocking the latent potential of cities, promoting them as places of investment and regeneration, and constructing new models of delivery and income generation to sustain front line services.

The report urges closer partnerships and collaboration between councils in metropolitan areas. It says there are challenges when identifying opportunities and making the most out of assets through partnerships:

  • Significant gaps in knowledge of local public and private assets
  • Producing an economic development vision to make the most out of these assets
  • Different organisational cultures and aims in asset-backed partnerships
  • Providing the capacity and clear project management for these partnerships
  • Creating a framework for the use of assets within a partnership that balances stability with flexibility

David Hutton, Head of Local Government said:

“Authorities face the choice of continuing to manage decline and dwindling budgets – or instead define for themselves a new strategic role in which they not only deliver essential public services, but also have wider responsibility for enabling and facilitating growth in their communities.

“With ongoing uncertainty over the direction of public policy and spending, there is an opportunity for authorities to ‘seize the moment’ – by clarifying their role and identity to create a sub-regional sense of ‘place’, employment and growth.

“Critical, is linking the need for improved housing with economic development and a local industrial strategy. With any housing growth, better economic and social infrastructure is required to support expansion and the development of homes that people want to live in – and also meet modern safety standards.”

Simon Jeffrey, at Centre for Cities, said:

“As local government budgets have been cut, cities have become more entrepreneurial, finding innovative ways to increase revenue and support local economic growth, by collaborating across local boundaries and sectors, and making the most of their assets.

“But for some places, building working relationships with different organisations, prioritising these types of projects, and developing a commercial mind set can be challenging. Cities can and should be making much more from their assets – regardless of austerity, but they need to understand and overcome those key challenges.”



If you would like to discuss this in further detail please contact David Hutton.

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