We live in interesting and unpredictable times, but I believe 2018 is full of opportunities for the Core Cities.
Later this month I will lead a delegation of Core City leaders to Brussels where we will talk to Michel Barnier about the role of UK cities in the lead up to and after Brexit. We will be pressing home the point that our cities are friendly, diverse and open for business.
Brexit will dominate the national conversation during the year ahead, but, as we showed in 2017 – with our well-received paper Invest, Reform, Trust - that doesn't mean that the voice of cities and domestic urban policy has to be completely drowned out.
We look forward to continuing engagement with decision makers in both Whitehall and Westminster over the coming year and we will continue to be pragmatic and cross-party in our approach.
We will be reminding politicians of all parties that the way to solve the UK’s structural economic weaknesses, in particular low productivity, is to give more powers and freedoms to place.
But we aren’t sitting around waiting for Government to say yes. Core City Leaders and Mayors are already getting on with the job, pushing through major developments to benefit urban economies, tackling the issues citizens care about and protecting the vulnerable.
2018 will also see Core Cities continue to demonstrate their vibrancy and diversity. There are world class events in all ten this year, but particular examples include Newcastle hosting the Great Exhibition of the North and Glasgow playing host to the inaugural European Championships. Some of the world’s greatest triathletes will come to Leeds and Nottingham and Bristol will host the Global Parliament of Mayors.
This year also marks a decade since Policy Exchange's now infamous report Cities Unlimited that painted a picture of failing cities and declining populations. Over the last decade our places have proved that gloomy outlook wrong and have continued their urban renaissance.
Not everything in our cities is perfect. We are still struggling under austerity and we do not have the freedoms we need to make a real difference to the lives of our 20m citizens.
But I’m confident that 2018 will see us continue to make progress towards realising Core Cities’ full potential for the nation.
(This Blog first appeared as a column in The MJ).