A new alliance of 21 English cities aiming to achieve more economic growth across more of the country has been formed – with Derby as one of its founder members.
The Key Cities group, made up of cities with a population of between 250,000 and 500,000 people, has been launched to make sure that important mid-sized cities such as Derby are able to influence the government’s agenda for rebalancing the economy and increasing prosperity and to give its member cities more economic opportunities.
The group was founded by Coventry, Derby, Preston, Sunderland and Wakefield and now boasts another 16 members: Bath and North East Somerset, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Doncaster, Hull, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stoke on Trent, Wolverhampton and York. Together, these and the other five mid-sized cities in England have a combined population of 8.9 million, including some of the fastest growing cities in the country, and the business stock of these cities is larger than England’s Core Cities. In 2011, the combined Gross Value Added of England’s 26 mid-sized cities amounted to 14% of England’s total and between 2001 and 2011 their total populations grew by more than half a million people.
A recent report by Centre for Cities shows that mid-sized cities have 11% of their jobs in manufacturing, compared to 9% in the Core Cities and 3% in London. Mid-sized cities also have a greater proportion of retail employment (11%) than either the Core Cities (10%) or London (9%).
The Key Cities group now meets on a regular basis, chaired by the Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, and has identified four workstreams to help boost economic growth:
Councillor Paul Watson of Sunderland City Council said:
“We see ourselves as very much part of the government’s agenda for promoting economic growth nationwide. The Key Cities group is about raising economic prosperity and providing our cities with more opportunities.
“We all sometimes feel our cities can get overlooked, that we have a lot of unrealised potential, yet we too can play and are playing a part in a re-balancing of the national economy.
“The group is for providing a focus, a unified voice for attracting the attention of Whitehall and investors, and helping create more vibrant cities which compete across Europe and the globe for business and growth. Mid-sized cities are and can also be as dynamic as capitals and core cities.”
Councillor Paul Bayliss, Leader of Derby City Council, said:
“We are very pleased to have helped form the Key Cities group, because we know from our own experience that it isn’t just the largest cities and city-regions that drive national economic growth. Derby already employs over 53,000 workers in high-tech industries, with 46,000 people employed in advanced engineering or manufacturing alone – our output is already one quarter of the City of London. With Infinity Park likely to bring thousands more new high-tech jobs to the city and to increase our output and boost UK productivity still further, our position as a key driver of growth looks set to continue for some time to come.
“I’m confident that the Key Cities group will be very effective in allowing mid-sized cities of varying economic characteristics and roles to work together and learn from each other. It will also play a significant role in highlighting to the government our collective economic contribution and in establishing a voice for mid-sized cities within Whitehall.”
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