The Core Cities Group today welcomed the publication of a new report into the critical role of ‘second tier’ cities in delivering economic success for nations across Europe.
Second Tier Cities in Europe: Why Invest beyond the Capitals in an Age of Austerity?, finds significant evidence that countries overinvesting in capitals and underinvesting in their second tier cities under-perform economically and are less sustainably competitive over the long term.
The report comes at a critical moment for the UK as it seeks to rebalance its economy to increase growth. It demonstrates that countries which are less centralised and less economically concentrated – where second tier cities have greater powers, resources and responsibilities – perform better and contribute more to their national economies.
The report’s author, Professor Michael Parkinson of the European Institute of Urban Affairs based at Liverpool John Moore’s University, met recently with the political leaders of the Core Cities to discuss the report, who all endorsed its findings. He said:
"The UK has a highly centralised decision-making system, invests heavily in London and has second tier cities which significantly underperform many European second tier cities. But this is not about ‘killing the golden goose’ of the capital. By taking a different approach we can increase the national economic pie by giving second tier cities the tools to deliver more as well.”
Chris Murray, Director of Core Cities Group, said:
“This ground breaking report makes a compelling case for doing more to increase the productivity of our Core Cities, whose urban areas already deliver 27% of the national economy. Its robust evidence base contains some strong messages we would do well to listen to in the run-up to the next Spending Review. The key messages for me are: economic growth is not always a zero sum game; the displacement of economic activity is not always a bad thing; and the status quo has to shift radically if we want to improve national output.”
The report argues that limiting the resources and investment tools available to second tier cities is a real danger for national economies, which then see a widening in the economic and the social gaps between them and the capital.
Chris Murray continued:
“The UK’s economic system has significant under-used capacity in many of its economic centres, and we need to do more to understand where this exists and how to unlock it for the nation as a whole. We are already seeing significant shifts in the City Deals, and this report points the way to a different future economic landscape.”
The full report can be downloaded here.