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Key cities move to attract investment

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‘Key cities’ have taken another step in their bid to catch the eye of Whitehall policy makers and investors with a second meeting in as many months.

Chief executives of 21 medium-sized cities met on Friday [16 Aug] to discuss the next steps for the lobbying group set up because of concerns that some areas of the country could miss out on economic growth opportunities.

Sunderland City Council chief executive Dr Dave Smith, who chaired the meeting, said: “The enthusiasm and commitment of the chief executives and senior managers from the key cities group is heartening, this commitment is providing the impetus and support needed to develop our shared agenda.

“We’re very pleased with how quickly this has gathered pace and the group’s progress to date.”

The meeting, which confirmed Sunderland would manage the secretariat for the group, discussed a work programme for the group which is due to be confirmed by a meeting of city leaders in a few weeks’ time.

Group chairman and Sunderland leader Paul Watson (Lab) said: “Many of us have long recognised that mid-sized cities in England are under-powered engines of the economy and the momentum which this group has gained already is testament to that.

“The group provides the focus and unified voice we need aims to attract the attention of Whitehall and investors, and help create vibrant cities which can compete across Europe and the globe for business and growth.”

The group’s founding cities were Coventry, Derby, Preston, Sunderland and Wakefield who came together in June citing concerns that the core cities succesful lobbying of Whitehall economic policy makers had “drowned out” the voices of other areas.

At an inaugural meeting at the LGA conference last month, another 16 councils joined the group: Bath and North East Somerset, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Doncaster, Hull, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stoke on Trent, Wolverhampton and York.

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