City region (United Kingdom)
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A city region is the functional region around a city, consisting of several areas of local government and smaller than the already existing regions of England. During the 2000s there were proposals to officially designate city regions and for there to be directly elected mayors. The policy that resulted from this was the creation of combined authorities with committee-based leadership.
City region is a concept used by economists and urban planners to denote a metropolitan area and its hinterland, usually divided administratively but with shared resources and markets. It originated in a British policy context through Derek Senior's Memorandum of Dissent in the 1969 Redcliffe-Maud Report. Tightly defined areas around major cities became metropolitan counties in 1974, but the elected county governance was abolished in 1986 and replaced with indirectly elected structures such as passenger transport authorities.
The concept of city regions and their development features heavily in The Northern Way, a collaborative development plan between the three northernmost English regional development agencies. Major cities started to collaborate through the Core Cities Group.
The New Local Government Network proposed the creation of city regions as part of on-going reform efforts, while a report released by the IPPR's Centre for Cities proposed the creation of four large city-regions based on Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.
A report submitted to the Welsh Assembly recommended the creation of two city regions in South Wales, the Swansea Bay City Region centred on Swansea (region population: 685,051), and the far larger Cardiff City Region/Cardiff Capital Region centred on Cardiff (region population: 1,400,000).
In July 2007, HM Treasury published its Review of sub-national economic development and regeneration, which stated that the government would allow those city regions that wished to work together to form a statutory framework for city regional activity, including powers over transport, skills, planning and economic development.
In the April 2009 Budget, the government announced that Greater Manchester and Leeds would be the first two city regions with formal powers. While this was later discontinued as a result of the May 2010 general election, the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government did agree to the creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011.
Several of the 'city deals' agreed between the Cabinet Office/Department for Communities and Local Government in 2012 included city regional working at their core, including new combined authorities.
- Budget 2009: Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report para 4.48
- City Deals Cabinet Office website