The hitherto low-key Cities Taskforce chaired by Lord Heseltine has revealed it is going in a very localist direction, recommending the party builds on Labour’s introduction of directly-elected mayors and town hall cabinets by establishing American-style mayors in all cities (something he advocated after resigning in the 80s). They would have power over government services such as transport, the emergency services and welfare.

In what they’ve dubbed a transfer of power from "quangocrats to democrats", the mayors would be accountable to local councillors and voters. Funding for "government puppets" like RDAs and LSCs would be diverted to city government. One of the main reasons for having a mayor’s office is that it can pull
together the multitude of different regeneration funding streams. Heseltine said:

"These radical proposals build on the hard
experience of the 1980s and 90s and meet many of the criticisms made of
present government policy by their own advisors. I hope they will
commend themselves to a future Conservative government. I believe they
could herald a broad renaissance on English city governance.

10am update: The report can be downloaded here. It also includes the idea of giving city governments the power and their own credit rating to issue bonds and borrow on the open market.

Deputy Editor

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