Local government group calls for devolution deals for Scotland’s city regions
The Scottish Local Government Partnership wants “Manchester-style” devolution deals for Scottish councils
Councillor Jenny Laing, leader of Aberdeen City Council and convener of the Scottish Local Government Partnership
A Scottish local government group has accused Nicola Sturgeon of "strangling” Scottish cities’ potential for investment by holding onto power in the centre instead of empowering city regions.
The Scottish Local Government Partnership (SLGP) is calling on the Scottish Government to give councils “Manchester-style” devolution deals to drive investment into their areas.
The SLGP, which is made up of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire councils, wants responsibility for growing the economies it represents, including tax-raising powers to raise money for major infrastructure projects.
The group is also asking the Scottish Government for powers over issues such as transport, education and skills.
Directly-elected metro mayors in England have been able to negotiate a variety of devolution deals with the UK Government, with different packages for different cities, the partnership points out.
In Greater Manchester this includes devolution of more powers over criminal justice and health and social care.
While the SLGP says it is not calling for directly-elected mayors, but it wants the powers that such deals bring.
Leader of Aberdeen City Council and SLGP convener Jenny Laing said: "While Nicola Sturgeon holds on to power in the centre she is strangling the huge potential Scottish cities have to drive investment into their areas.
"SLGP members want city-region devolution deals like the ones in England so we can improve the lives of the 1.3 million Scots we represent.
"Cities like Aberdeen and Glasgow need the power to raise their own money to not only bring inward investment but deliver the massive infrastructure projects we need to keep pace with our competitors all over the world."
The Devolution Bill down south is a deliberately non-prescriptive and enabling piece of legislation which allows for the devolution of almost anything - housing, health, welfare and policing - to a local level.
She added: "We only have to look at the success of Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai to see what can be achieved when cities are empowered by central government.
"In the future, cities will run the world - mainly because of their ability connect and transact freely with their counterparts around the globe.
"We are moving to an era where cities matter more than states but in order to keep Scotland at the sharp end of inward investment, start-ups, technology and global supply chains, we need the Scottish Government to recognise this fact and build proud, powerful cities instead of bossing us around and controlling everything from the centre."
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