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Strong city government key to urban revival

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How policy can be made to deliver healthy cities is the subject of a report published today.

The Policy Exchange thinktank examined city regions in five countries where urban issues similar to UK cities had been addressed, to see how they designed and delivered urban policy.

  1. Vancouver

  2. Amsterdam

  3. the Ruhr

  4. Lodz

  5. Warsaw

  6. Hong Kong

The report concluded that regeneration, and urban policy more widely, are worldwide issues. Many cities around the globe face similar issues to British cities - bringing business in, developing labour markets, addressing poverty and segregation, and encouraging people to migrate back to the city.

Flexible, effective and accountable city-led regeneration characterised by strong local leadership and innovative policy formulation was found in Hong Kong, Amsterdam and the Ruhr.

Policy Exchange chief economist and report author Oliver Marc Hartwich said: “Collectively, the message from these cities is clear: the most successful have the powers and ambition to initiate change, the freedoms to think and be innovative with policy, and the mechanisms to hold local change to account. Giving cities powers alone, however, cannot buck geography. The most successful also benefit strongly from their location, size and accessibility, and these are sometimes difficult areas to bring within the bounds of policy.

“What British cities need is the flexibility and the power to make their own decisions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to regenerating and reviving very different cities across the country. We must also be open to the fact that for some cities shrinking in size may be the best way to make them attractive again. We will explore these issues in our next report, to be published later this year.”

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