The economies of medium-sized or “key” cities are comparable to the country’s biggest cities and “impossible to ignore”, a new report has claimed.
The Centre for Cities has called on the 26 cities with populations between a quarter and a half million to create a “key cities” group which could engage with ministers and Whitehall in the same way the core cities group has.
The think tank’s analysis of economic activity in 26 cities with populations between a quarter and a half million was published shortly after leaders of medium sized cities met to discuss closer working.
The meeting, held earlier this month, saw leaders agree to investigate the possibility of creating a “key cities” group along the lines of the core cities group representing the largest eight cities after London.
The think tank’s report - published in collaboration with Coventry, Preston, Derby and Sunderland City Councils - sets out economic data suggesting the 26 “key cities” were “impossible to ignore” and could be as important as the core cities in driving growth.
According to the centre’s analysis, the 26 cities are home to a larger proportion of England’s businesses than the eight core cities.
The report also found the combined population of the 26 cities was 8.9 million, larger than the combined population of the core cities and only slightly smaller than the 9.4m people in Greater London.
“There are good reasons to question the conventional view that larger cities and city-regions are the only drivers of national economic growth, to the exclusion of other places,” the report said.
“The core cities group has demonstrated how effective a group with a smaller number of cities, but with varying economic characteristics and roles, can be when they work together. Core cities have successfully highlighted their collective economic contribution and established a voice with government and Whitehall”.
The report added: “A ‘key cities’ group…could help to ensure that government recognises their collective contribution to the economy and uses them as a channel for selective policy development”.
Following the meeting of medium sized leaders, chief executives have been asked to hold a further meeting to discuss how a key cities group would work in practice and on what areas it would focus.
As previously reported by LGC, there have been some murmurings of discontent at the focus on core cities as drivers for economic growth.
Bodies such as the County Councils Network and the District Councils Network have published reports emphasising their role in growth.
As previously reported by LGC, one city leader said there was “a bit of unhappiness about what the core cities are about at the moment” because “other voices are being drowned out”.