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London urged to spread economic prosperity to other regions

London should be doing more to spread economic wealth around the rest of the country, according to a new report.

The report by the think tank Centre for London warns that the capital is seen as inaccessible and part of the ‘Westminster bubble’ by many people.

Instead it argues that London needs to reinvent itself in the eyes of the rest of the UK and do more to strengthen relations with businesses, local government and institutions across the country.

In particular, it states London should be doing more to spread economic prosperity and devolved power across the country.

Institutions such as London & Partners and the capital’s business membership organisations should work even more closely with regional partners to bid for business together, through multi-city-region international trade delegations and joint pitches for international investment.

It also calls for a UK Alliance of Mayors to be established, building on existing collaborations.

This powerful Alliance should lobby the government for greater devolution of powers, to allow individual cities and regions to better address their specific needs, the report argues.

It would also lead cross-party advocacy on shared issues, making the case for investment across the country.

The report also recommends the creation of more regional ‘embassy’ spaces in the capital, to give UK businesses a temporary home in the capital and to take advantage of London’s position as a hub for international businesses and investment opportunities.

‘To the outsider, London may appear self-interested, resource-greedy and distant. The city has work to do to show that it takes its national role as the capital of England and the UK seriously,’ said Centre for London senior researcher, Dr Jack Brown.

‘London contributes hugely to national life, not to mention its vital economic role. But simply stating that the capital redistributes its wealth around the country is not enough. We must move beyond the figures and make the case for London’s place at the heart of its nation.’

The director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, Henri Murison said:‘The concerns expressed by many in the North about the centralisation of our political decision making, and the lack of detailed understanding in Whitehall of the UK as a whole, should not be simplified as being about London.

‘Our criticisms of what has led to lower productivity here are not directed at Londoners or their mayor, Sadiq Khan. In fact, the Greater London Authority is a good case study for what powerful mayors across the North can, and will continue, to achieve. We should not see future permanent secretaries appointed without experience of government departments in the wider public sector or industry, and placements in local government and mayors’ offices should be undertaken from the Tees Valley to Tower Hamlets.

‘That is why I am particularly pleased to see the recommendation about the alliance of mayors,’ added Murison.

‘Our metro mayors in the North work together closely on all areas affecting people in the Northern Powerhouse, including through Transport for the North. Achieving further and more meaningful devolution for the North is at the top of our priorities, to ensure collaborative working across traditional regional boundaries and realise the economic potential of the Northern Powerhouse.’

The Centre for London’s report – London, UK: Strengthening ties between capital and country – is available to read here.

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