Devolved city power over buses announced

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced the new Conservative government’s plans to devolve power. The proposal was made during a speech on the Party’s building of a so-called Northern Powerhouse. In the speech, Osborne said, ‘Now we’re devolving power over policing, skills, housing. We’re giving the City control over transport, including buses.’

Osborne criticised the current London centric method of governing. He said, ‘It’s led to an unbalanced economy. It’s made people feel remote from the decisions that affect their lives. It’s not good for our prosperity or for our democracy.’

Further in the speech, Osborne said, ‘As I said when we first set out plans for a Northern Powerhouse, we need fundamental change – and this is the once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver it. And that is precisely what we intend to do, not just in the north of England but across the nation. We will deliver the devolution to Scotland and Wales we promised. But today I can tell you we will go much further and deliver radical devolution to the great cities of England. I say to these cities: it is time for you to take control of your own affairs. We will hand power from the centre to cities to give you greater control over your local transport, housing, skills and healthcare. And we’ll give the levers you need to grow your local economy and make sure local people keep the rewards.’

Osborne also mentioned that London style mayors would be created as a ‘single point of accountability’ in his vision for new powers for cities. ‘I will not impose this model on anyone. But nor will I settle for less. London has a mayor. Greater Manchester has agreed to have a mayor as part of our Northern Powerhouse – and this new law will make that happen. My door now is open to any other major city who wants to take this bold step into the future. We will transfer major powers only to those cities who choose to have a directly elected metro-wide mayor. On 27 May, the Queen’s Speech will be read. It will include a new City Devolution Bill.’

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