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The Guardian view on northern metro mayors: potential gamechangers | Editorial

The Guardian view on northern metro mayors: potential gamechangers | Editorial

The Guardian view on northern metro mayors: potential gamechangers | Editorial
Mar 03, 2024 59 secs

At the fifth Convention of the North last week in Leeds, metro mayors once again joined forces to bang the drum for a better deal from central government and greater powers.

As Margaret Thatcher’s governments deindustrialised and privatised Britain’s economy at brutal, reckless speed, they also took a sledgehammer to municipal centres of political resistance in cities such as Sheffield.

According to a report published by the Institute for Public Policy Research last week, the north’s wealth gap in relation to the rest of England is still growing, notwithstanding the government’s anaemic and semi-abandoned levelling up programme.

Devolution is not a magic bullet when it comes to reducing that gap, or addressing other metrics that speak to yawning, socially corrosive divides in areas such as life expectancy.

Under Rishi Sunak, whether in the Treasury or Downing Street, the political will and the economic firepower to drive regional growth from the centre have been entirely absent.

Nevertheless, the expanding and increasingly assertive alliance of northern metro mayors – and the popularity of experiments such as taking bus services back under public control in Greater Manchester – marks potentially the biggest sea change in local politics since the 1980s.

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