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The Budget Will Help Growth In Manchester

John Leech, MP, on reasons to be positive

Published on March 26th 2013.

The Budget Will Help Growth In Manchester

THE BEST thing for Manchester to come out of the budget was the acceptance of the vast majority of Michael Heseltine’s report, No stone unturned in pursuit of growth.

This was published last November and argues  for more powers to be devolved to Councils and City Regions, like Manchester, and more ‘picking winners’ in business to help growth and create jobs.

Local decision making helps growth and the creation of local jobs. I am glad the government is taking his advice. 

I welcomed his report last November, because the devolution of power is something I, and the Liberal Democrats, believe in, and something that has been delivered for the city region in the past couple of years.

Under previous governments of all political affiliations, national politicians have had Manchester’s fate in their hands. Under the last government, it made no sense that ministers made the decision to put Metrolink on hold, not local politicians. Or that the government put restrictions on funding to try and force a Congestion Charge on Greater Manchester. No matter what your view on these issues, it should be local and accountable politicians making these decisions.

The process of devolution started with government supporting the setting up of a joint Greater Manchester Authority. Then, just before last year’s budget, Deputy PM Nick Clegg announced the City Deal, called by Manchester’s Chief Executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, a ‘Game-Changer for the cityr’.

The City Deal gave Manchester city region the ability to maximise economic growth through a range of agreements between the government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, based on the needs and opportunities of the region’s economy.

This included ‘Earnback’ where the government agreed in principle that money invested in infrastructure improvements by Greater Manchester will be ‘paid back’ to the combined authority as real economic growth is seen. This is the first tax-increment finance-style scheme in England outside London.
The City Deal also meant a shift to local decision-making, the establishment of a Greater Manchester Housing Investment Board, the creation of  6,000 apprenticeships via small and medium-sized businesses; the creation of  a local, low carbon funding body, potentially bringing significant extra funding to Greater Manchester. GM will commit resources and expertise to a low-carbon hub to enable it to be a ‘demonstrator’ for government programmes and pilots to reduce carbon emissions.
Another devolution of power has been the Greater Manchester Energy Plan, an agreement between the city region and government announced by Lib Dem minister  Ed Davey. This plan accepts that the region is best placed to create the growth and jobs we all want to see. It focuses not just on what we can do for the environment, but what investing in renewable energy can do for Manchester.

One of the objectives of the plan is to be on the cutting edge of innovation and research at the universities in the city, so that Manchester gets the benefit of the new jobs created for local companies such as Siemens on Princess Parkway.

Of course, some decisions still need to be made at a national level, but when they are, government should listen to local people. High Speed 2 is one scheme where I believe the government has done that. It is good for Manchester and the country.

£33bn of investment over 20 years, creating 60, 000 new jobs. 10,000 jobs during construction, 1,400 permanent operational jobs, and an estimated 49,700 jobs in the regeneration and development areas associated with station developments.

There will be two new stations in Manchester, one next to Piccadilly and the other at  Manchester Airport.

HS2 is a key part of our priority of moving towards a low-carbon economy. Once complete, HS2 will transfer approximately 9 million journeys from road to rail and 4.5 million from air to rail.

By shortening train times, HS2 will also make investment and economic interest in regions outside of London and the South-East more attractive. This is vital if we are to help rebalance the UK economy.

Other European countries, such as France, Germany and Spain, have already invested in high-speed rail, and have several rail connections which are much faster than ours. The UK is in danger of falling behind unless we make plans to meet future demand, ease capacity and cut down on train times for millions of passengers.

Once completed, HS2 will allow trains to travel at more than 200mph and reduce journey times between London and key cities in the North and in Scotland. It also means that the whole country will be better connected with the rest of Europe.

Lord Heseltine is right. Local decision making helps growth and the creation of local jobs. I am glad the government is taking his advice. 

John LeechJohn LeechJohn Leech is the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Manchester Witihington.

This covers the council wards of BurnageChorltonChorlton ParkDidsbury EastDidsbury WestOld Moat and Withington

John Leech has a majority of 1,894 and has represented the south Manchester seat since 2005. 

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Manc GuyMarch 26th 2013.

"Once complete, HS2 will transfer approximately 9 million journeys from road to rail."

That'll never happen unless HS2 offers free travel and a door to door service. I'd say the vast majority just won't change. Mind you, there's nothing I like better than to sit in a parked car on a motorway next to the RAC building.

Spend the money on the city instead.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoMarch 26th 2013.

I'm amazed you're night haging from a light fitting Manc Man, you treasure!

Manc GuyMarch 27th 2013.

In English!

AnonymousMarch 26th 2013.

Fine words but there remains enormous resistance to the devolution agenda in Westminster and Whitehall. From ministers who are reluctant to let go of their departmental budgets to civil servants who work to maintain the command and control status quo for their own selfish reasons. But perhaps the biggest blocker to this agenda is the Treasury who maintain highly onerous restrictions on local authorities' ability to raise and invest revenue locally on locally determined priorities. There are freedoms that counterpart authorities in places like Germany and most other developed countries enjoy as par for the course where, as a result, prosperity and opportunity is spread much more evenly.

Having said that, the heseltine review is a step forward but I seriously doubt the sincerity of the government's response and attitude to genuine devolution. We're talking about overturning almost a century of increasing centralism and control freakery here. We will see.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 26th 2013.

For example:


"Last week in the Lords, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Shipley, former leader of Newcastle city council, failed to persuade ministers to remove an arbitrary £2.8bn "cap" on borrowing for new housing. Town halls with housing stock would like to raise this to £7bn over five years. They say this could deliver 60,000 new homes.

Against all international evidence, the government refuses to budge, on the grounds that raising this debt ceiling would count as "national" borrowing. Not so, say councils; in other EU countries it is seen as a "trading" activity, which does not figure as government debt"


"Another is the wider issue of letting councils tap alternative sources of borrowing for both housing and infrastructure projects. In last year's budget, the chancellor, George Osborne (pictured below), promised to work with authorities in an emerging national local government agency, which would issue joint bonds on behalf of English town halls. The Local Government Association thinks it vital that ministers back the move to give the agency greater clout. The Treasury seems against the idea. So much for Osborne's promise.

Result? Others are jumping in.Local authority bond agencies from Scandanavia – where such a system has taken root – have been marketing their bonds to pension funds in London. New Zealand recently agreed to launch a bond agency and Australia might follow suit.

The issue? As one senior local government figure said, in Europe an adult relationship generally exists between governments and councils. "But over here it's an adult-child relationship."

AnonymousMarch 26th 2013.

Also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21235164

AnonymousMarch 27th 2013.

Surprised no-one's mentioned This n That yet.

DavidMarch 27th 2013.

At least we get to hear his views and have the opportunity to comment on what he has written.Contrast that with Leese.This website has promised an interview with him for months.So much for the democratic accountability of the most powerful politician in Manchester.Manchester Confidential and the MEN are an absolute joke in their political coverage,they are more on the side of the likes of Leese,than they are with the ordinary citizens of Manchester,they totally fail to ask the difficult questions.Maybe they prefer to keep receiving their invites to council events.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 27th 2013.

Zzzz change the record David

DavidMarch 27th 2013.

I have no intention of changing the record,the present situation is not acceptable,there is a huge democratic deficit in Manchester.Maybe that does not bother you,but it bothers a lot of other people.

AnonymousMarch 27th 2013.

David you're obsessed. And deluded. Barking up the wrong tree I'm afraid. If there is a democratic deficit then as this article makes clear, it exists between local and central government not between the local electorate and democratically elected officials.

It is central gov that dictates the budget, restricts local autonomy and by and large dictates what and how that budget is spent by defining what is a statutory service.

With greater local power and autonomy you might just get reinvigorated local politics, greater engagement amongst the electorate, and more robust and useful opposition. At the moment people quite rightly wonder what the point is when the levers of genuine power are so remote ..

AnonymousMarch 27th 2013.

The question you should really be asking is what has John Leech or Gerald Kaufmann or any of the other greater Manchester MPs ever done for the city?

Simon TurnerMarch 27th 2013.

David, your contention that ManCon and the MEM are "more on the side of Leese than they are the ordinary citizens of Manchester" is just plain weird. Leese is the democratically elected leader of a Council democratically and overwhelmingly voted for by "the ordinary citizens".

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidMarch 27th 2013.

Where is the democratic accountability of Leese,on numerous occasions this website has promised an interview with him.Unlike Boris Johnson he does not seem to consider it part of his job to be held accountable to us,by questioning by journalists
Also Labour were not overwhelmingly voted for.Just look at the pathetic level of voting in Manchester these days.The vast majority of Mancunians,in some ward over 80%,voted for nobodyThis is hardly a thriving democracy

AnonymousMarch 28th 2013.

So where is the interview with Leese promised for publication last Monday? Deathly silence on this ManCon...

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