Mayors gleeful on big day out – welcome step change in relationship with government

Mayors pose for Hollywood style selfie

A new Council of the Nations and Regions is to be formed under the new government, which Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has hailed as “a welcome change”.

In a breakfast meeting around the Cabinet table at No 10 Downing Street this morning Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer, his deputy Angela Rayner and Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden met with 11 of the 12 directly elected Metro Mayors to discuss closer working together.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which Rayner, heads said in a social media post: “Working with local leaders is vital to our mission, supporting them to deliver local economic growth with better housing, education and jobs for local people.”

Starmer, Rayner, Houchen and Rotheram

The seating arrangements were designed to promote cross-party working, with Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen sat directly next to deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner, with Liverpool City Region’s Steve Rotheram to his left. 

Burnham said he had made the case for building more council housing, addressing railway problems and advocating for his plans for technical education: “To have a council of the regions and nations, meeting regularly, just means we can be sure that the voice of Greater Manchester, of the north of England, is heard at the heart of Whitehall on an ongoing basis. It’s a big change to the way this country is run, and it’s a very welcome change, a very positive change.”

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: Today’s meeting … marked a welcome step change in the relationship between Mayors and government, and a recognition of the role we play in driving change across the country.

“We had a productive discussion about how we will grow our economies and put money back into people’s pockets, build new homes and improve local transport.

“We stand ready to deliver alongside government as we build a brighter future for all.”

Following the meeting, Steve Rotheram said: “After just a few days in office, this government is already shaping up to be one of the most pro-devolution administrations in history.

“That’s because Keir, Angela, Rachel and their teams recognise that Mayors can act as the delivery arms of national government and it was great to discuss how we can help them to hit the ground running.

“Whether it is driving growth, building homes, fostering innovation or equipping people with the skills they need to succeed, Mayors have already got a strong track record of turning hope into reality.

“I want to make the Liverpool City Region the best place to grow up, grow a business and grow a family. I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made so far, creating 60,000 jobs and building 30,000 homes for people to put down roots. Working hand in hand with the government, I know we can help take things up several notches.”

Regional think tanker Luke Raikes, research director at the Fabians and a Labour councillor in Manchester said: “The northern powerhouse was a pan-regional branding, that mostly focused just on the north’s cities. The levelling up agenda promised a focus on towns, but the serious money still went to city regions. Both worked with only a partial understanding of economic geography. And neither delivered for people in the end.

“A better way is possible. Regional policy needs to be evidence-based, not gimmick-led. This means drawing on well-established concepts and evidence.”