THEME: Core Cities in England

Will London become more trouble than it is worth?

BY DEBATE | June 2013

Is unequal investment in our core cities undermining the national economy?

Earlier this month we hosted a debate interrogating the value of investing in England’s cities outside London. Videos of the arguments and discussion are hosted below, and we would like to widen this discussion out around the country and interrogate some of the issues further.

In 2013 we would like to invite contributions – as written think pieces – on the issue, especially from residents of our core cities outside the capital. If you are interested in participating, please email

Issues provoking the debate:

Earlier this year, the core cities in England were unanimous in rejecting the idea of having a Mayor. It has been suggested that by shunning an opportunity to close the gap politically, England’s provincial cities have conceded the chance to close the gap economically between themselves and the nation’s capital. Whilst the last decade of urban renaissance has certainly improved the fortunes of our post-industrial urban areas outside the south east, there is still a massive disparity. In 2011 it was revealed that the Government spends £2,700 per person on public transport in London compared to £5 per head in the north-east of England. Both the Olympics and the ambitious Crossrail project provide stark reminders – amidst a global financial crisis – of where the priorities lie for public investment in the UK, and London also has Mayor Boris Johnson constantly fighting its corner in both Westminster and Fleet Street; arguing that even more investment would not only be good for London, but good for Britain. Is London really the key to the health of the nation’s economy? Or are we missing a trick? There are around 8 million people in London, but nearly 60 million across the UK, so are we seriously overlooking the potential of other core cities in our economic, political and social future? Must we start to re-think the role they need to play, before London sucks the life out of our urban futures? Does the UK need another global city, or even a separation of political and economic hearts; to unite, coordinate and develop the fortunes of UK plc?

Chair\’s Introduction:

Andrew Carter

Deputy Chief Executive / Director of Policy & Research, \Centre for Cities\

Proposing the motion:

Michael Parkinson CBE

Director, European Institute for Urban Affairs, Liverpool John Moores University

Michael refers to his recent report on \Second Tier Cities\

Irena Bauman

Bauman Lyons Architects

Opposing the motion:

Tony Travers

London School of Economics

Deborah Saunt