In 2019 Core Cities commissioned global economics experts OECD to write a ground-breaking report on city region productivity. We will publish the report in March at a reception which CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn will speak. The report will argue that targeted investment in cities benefits the surrounding area, including towns. Look out for a special edition of our newsletter detailing the reports findings later this Spring.
Core Cities UK strengthened its UK-wide credentials when it welcomed Belfast to its ranks in July. Core Cities is now a group of 11 cities, which together account for a quarter of UK GDP Belfast is one of Europe’s most digitally connected cities and the second fastest growing knowledge economy in the UK. Its particular strengths are in the creative and digital sectors, financial and professional services, technology and advanced engineering and manufacturing.
Core Cities UK leaders and mayors came out strongly for HS2 in 2019 in the face of continued speculation over the network’s future. We published a robust response to the Oakervee Review which finally reported in early February and we will continue to make the case for high speed rail to all our cities. In 2020 we will continue to work with partners including Connecting Britain and Midlands Connect to stress the case for regional transport investment.
2019 saw growing awareness of the worrying effects of climate change. In response, Core Cities UK met with Government ministers and published its own statement on the Climate Emergency. In the lead up to COP 26 in Glasgow later this year we will continue to make the case for cities ability to innovate and find solutions to this urgent problem.
Core Cities UK published two major housing reports in 2019. The first one looked at the rapid growth of private rented accommodation in our cities and what Governments can do to mitigate the effects. Our second report argued that large-scale selective licensing schemes were an important tool for local authorities seeking to tackle rogue landlords.
Core Cities UK continued to work with others to implement the findings of its Cultural Cities Enquiry (CCE) published early in 2019. As of time of writing 20 places have signed Cultural Compacts, an agreement to work across agencies to make the most of cultural institutions. We also continued to work hard to encourage a national conversation around a Hotel Room Levy, another CCE finding.
Core Cities UK teamed up with councils in Scotland to publish our research into the much vaunted Shared Prosperity Fund. One key recommendation is that levels of funding under the new system should be significantly increased and the money should be devolved to city regions where it will make the biggest difference.
In a pamphlet aimed at manifesto writing teams ahead of the General Election, we argued that only big city governance offers the leadership needed to meet the UK’s future challenges. Its key recommendations were based around our 2019 work programme.