Nick Clegg to announce extra powers for cities


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Some of England's largest cities will gain greater powers over their economies and transport under a series of deals with the Government announced today.

The cities believe the agreements will create 175,000 jobs over the next 20 years and 37,000 new apprenticeships.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the deals were a "dramatic power shift", freeing cities from Whitehall control.

The powers granted to the cities vary, but examples include greater freedom to borrow and increased responsibility for regional transport links such as the rail network.

Extra powers for Liverpool and Greater Manchester were agreed earlier and plans for the remaining core cities of Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield have now been agreed.

Mr Clegg said: "These groundbreaking deals signal a dramatic power shift, freeing cities from Whitehall control. Everyone in these eight core cities will feel the benefits - from young people looking for jobs to businesses looking to expand.

"Over the coming months, we are transferring more and more power from Whitehall to these cities.

"They are the economic powerhouses of England - so it makes sense that the cities decide for themselves how to boost their local economies."

In a statement to Parliament, Cities Minister Greg Clark said: "The core cities have estimated that the first wave of deals will create 175,000 jobs over the next 20 years and 37,000 new apprenticeships.

"If achieved, this would be a significant contribution to our economy - creating opportunities where they are needed most."

Hilary Benn, shadow communities and local government secretary, said: "Labour strongly supports local communities being given more powers - indeed I have been calling for this for some time.

"These city deals represent an important victory for local people and local government.

"And many people think that local government will do a better job at looking after their local economies and boosting skills than the Tory-led Government is doing nationally.

"But, if this is the right thing to do for our core cities, then what about the rest of England? What we now need is a clear commitment that local authorities in all parts of England - including other cities, counties and districts - will be given the same opportunity to come together and take back power in the interests of the communities they represent."

Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, said: "With local businesses in the lead, this deal means that there'll be 4,000 new apprentices working in the city region by 2016, getting the skills they need for a successful career.

"There will also be 2,000 more employees with the necessary skills to help our businesses and the city region's economy grow."

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "City Deal comes at a time when Birmingham and the wider Local Enterprise Partnership area is enjoying renewed confidence and has, for the first time, all of the building blocks for success in place.

"We have a strong private and public sector partnership, a strategy for growth and, now, a deal with Government that will give us the powers to rebalance the economy."

Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council, said: ""This deal will allow us to create thousand of new apprenticeships, offering a much-needed boost to the local economy in a very difficult time and providing young people with the skills and training they need to survive in the workplace.

"It also gives us the opportunity and the means to transform our transport system so that travel to other city regions becomes easier and faster."

Peter Box, chairman of the Leeds city region partnership and leader of Wakefield Council, said: "We will now have a much bigger say in what happens in our region and can use our local knowledge to get resources to the areas which need them most.

"We can access better links to national and international business and trade, opening up opportunities for the whole Leeds city region with the potential fund of £400 million to underpin our local economy."