Ann Coffey


Stockport Express Column – April 2014

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Great Northern towns and cities like Stockport and Manchester were at the heart of Britain’s industrial revolution.

Indeed, looking at the skyline we can still see the tall chimneys of the mills that were the foundation of Victorian prosperity.

But times have moved on and much of the power and prosperity of the country is now centralised in the capital city of London. But we need that economic success to be replicated in the cities and towns outside London. Of course the basis of that prosperity has to be based on sound national economic policy   However,  I do think there is scope for a greater role for the towns and cities outside of London to make more of their own decisions on transport, housing , training, apprenticeships and job creation, rather than  Whitehall making all the decisions.

That is why I support the proposals from Labour for devolving power to our towns and cities. Indeed this idea was first put forward by Lord Heseltine, the former deputy  Prime Minister.

In Greater Manchester, the leaders of the ten councils already sit down together to work out a strategy for the whole conurbation not just their own particular town.

Stockport benefits from this approach and is leading on a plan to work with BT to bring high speed broadband to a further 39,000 homes and businesses, which could create around 500 jobs and help Greater Manchester to become one of the world’s top digital cities by 2020.Thats a very attractive offer for businesses thinking about making new investment.

Much more could be done in driving economic growth locally if, for example,Greater Manchester had more control over transport projects and training.We are facing a revolution driven by technological innovation which will transform every aspect of our lives, We need to use the creative energy of our great northern conurbations to drive forward that innovation and to do that we need to loosen the grip of Whitehall ‘s departments.