Friday, 11 March 2016

This is it? Seriously? Devolution should be about a whole lot more than buses and new taxes


Some chap from IPPR North has bunged his challenge to 'metro mayors', you know the powerful folk who'll be elected once all these devolution deals are done. And Luke tells us these mayors should "shake up" their cities.

So what exactly does this shaking up involve for our Luke? Well firstly there's buses - yes folks, buses:

Mayors could connect their more deprived citizens with the jobs they need with new bus routes;

That's right, this IPPR chap puts creating new bus routes (something that existing public transport authorities can already do) as a great win for our new elected mega-mayors.

Next Luke says mayors can raise lots of new taxes - that's right, the economic underperformance of Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Bradford is because the citizens of those cities don't pay enough tax;

To do so they will need to invest, and that means raising revenue from the right sources. Each city is different and will require a different approach. But the candidates should first look at the powers they're already set to have: workplace parking levies, congestion charges and the 2p business rate premium.

But central government should enable them to go further. Whitehall should make implementing these charges far easier, and lift the cap on the business rate premium. It should allow mayors to spend this money on whatever mix of transport investments their city needs.

Forgive me for being completely underwhelmed here and frankly a bit concerned that, given all the things that could be done, this clever bloke can only come up with more buses and more taxes.


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