Devolution deals 'not set in stone', says Northern Powerhouse minister

The Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton has stressed that devolution deals are 'not set in stone', with the government prepared to devolve further powers once areas get 'through the door on devolution'.

James Wharton: minister says that government wants to get areas 'through the door on devolution' (picture by Julian Dodd)
James Wharton: minister says that government wants to get areas 'through the door on devolution' (picture by Julian Dodd)

Speaking at today’s Institute of Economic Development annual conference in London, Wharton pointed to the example of Greater Manchester, which he said "is on its third round of asks".

He said that the Greater Manchester city-region, which agreed a devolution deal with the government in 2014, has subsequently looked at the powers it has and identified new opportunities and "new levers that they want to be able to control to drive growth in their local economy".

"They found those opportunities and they came back to government and asked if they go further," Wharton told the conference, organised in association with Planning. "We will work with them to do that."

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is preparing a spatial framework as part of the city-region’s devolution deal.

Earlier at the conference, Jessica Bowles, head of city policy at Manchester City Council (pictured below), said that the framework would have a "statutory basis to it" and would guide investment and economic growth within the city-region.

But she cautioned: "That really does need collaboration. It is going to be challenging for all the districts and the mayor to create that.

"I think that it is really important that they do do that collectively, or we will end up with warfare within the city region, and that will not give us the best opportunities."


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