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While Covid-19 tests our society and our economy like never before, cities and city regions have a huge role to play in the national effort to fight this unprecedented threat.

We must all follow the Government guidelines to prevent the spread of this deadly virus and reduce the pressure on our colleagues in the NHS.

I am so proud of the efforts local government staff from across the Core Cities and beyond are making to maintain vital services, and keep elderly and vulnerable people safe. We have listed some examples elsewhere on this website.

I am particularly proud of the response in my own city of Leeds, while from Cardiff to Glasgow, Belfast to Birmingham, our citizens are also doing their bit to help the nation in a time of unprecedented crisis.

After the virus passes we will face a massive task to rebuild our economy. Unleashing the potential of our cities, city regions and towns will play a big part in that, and as the recent report we commissioned from the OECD showed, there is a lot to gain by thinking differently about how the country is run.

Right now these conversations need to wait. Now is the time to follow the official guidance and direct all efforts towards defeating the virus by keeping safe and thereby protecting our NHS.

Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of Core Cities UK and Leader of Leeds City Council