Carlisle, Gloucester, Medway and Swansea have all officially joined the collective, which launched in 2013 and now encompasses 24 diverse cities across the UK, with immediate effect.
Each of the new member cities brings valuable contributions to the group’s growing network, which seeks to generate awareness of the economic contributions of its member cities and to develop solutions to the constraints preventing growth and further prosperity for the UK.
In this vein, Key Cities hosted the Beyond Brexit Conference on 20th November, exploring the challenges and opportunities of Brexit through speakers from within the Key Cities and leading representatives from prominent industrial sectors. This has allowed Key Cities to develop policy asks to take to Government with the aim of delivering an inclusive growth agenda so that its cities can share in the economic success of the country.
By combining their unique strengths – such as greater agility and capacity to focus on very specific areas of competitive advantage – with those of the existing membership, Key Cities is enhancing its ability to address significant issues such as the rollout of the Industrial Strategy, housing supply, and addressing the skills gap across the UK. These enhanced insights and experience of local conditions can help the group to work more closely with government to ensure policy and investment is channelled where and how it needs to be.
Collectively, the new members cover a population of 723,000, expanding Key Cities’ reach into new corners of the UK, adding another £15.6bn to the size of its collective economies, and taking the group’s current UK economic contribution to over £126bn per year.
Cllr Peter Box, Chair of Key Cities, commented:
“We’re pleased to welcome our new members into Key Cities as we look to expand our network of mid-sized cities right across the UK. These cities enhance the diverse geographic and economic spread of our membership, which is vital in ensuring we remain an authoritative and authentic voice for Britain. Their influence and input will help us to further advance the priorities of our member cities with policymakers and domestic and international business audiences. Beyond this welcome expansion, we are also continuing to explore opportunities for strategically growing our membership.”
Cllr Colin Glover, Leader of Carlisle City Council, said:
“We’re delighted that our application to be part of the Key Cities Group has been successful. For several years, we have recognised the importance of the group and as our city grows, we were keen to be part of it. Carlisle has a lot to be proud of. We’re the beating heart of the Borderlands and ambitious plans are in place to grow the city, including St Cuthbert’s Garden Village and other economic regeneration proposals. We want to do everything we can to support local businesses and by being part of Key Cities, we will do everything we can to boost the local economy.”
Cllr Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council, said:
“We’re delighted to be joining the key cities group and look forward to being able to share knowledge and experience with our new partners. We have great ambitions for our fantastic city and this will help support these in terms of raising our profile nationally, attracting investment and growing our economy.”
Cllr Alan Jarrett, Leader of Medway Council, said:
“I am delighted that Medway Council has recently become a Member of the Key Cities Group. This presents a fantastic opportunity for Medway to work with like-minded partners in order to share knowledge of our collective strengths and challenges, as well as to participate in valuable current and future Key Cities projects. I look forward to exploring how membership can not only assist Medway in raising our profile on a national platform, but also how Medway can contribute to the continued success of the Group.”
Cllr Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said:
“Key Cities can help play a vital role in helping us realise our ambition to become a leading destination for business, retail and tourism in the coming years. The Key Cities have much in common because we are all determined to take control of our futures, developing new ways of doing things and showing that together we are stronger.
“Swansea and its economy is transforming with unprecedented pace. Investment and change taking place in the next five years will change the skyline for the better and for good. Our former industrial heartlands are becoming modern business centres and visitor attractions. Being part of the Key Cities Group will give us a louder voice to talk to Government and a stronger platform to attract potential investors from across the world.”
Key Cities also held its second All Parliamentary Party Group meeting in Westminster on 17th October, providing a forum for Parliamentarians to discuss matters of mutual interest and ensure that all of the UK’s cities are placed on a sustainable footing to deliver continued, inclusive economic growth.
The latest meeting centred on findings from the Arts Council on its cultural cities inquiry and the importance of cultural wellbeing and investment for the UK’s mid-sized cities. The recent Grimsey Review and its implications for town and city centres within the Key Cities was also discussed, as well as the New Local Government Network’s (NGLN) latest manifesto and new policy asks that Key Cities will be taking to government in the coming months.
To this effect, Key Cities will host The Future of our City and Town Centres conference in London on 29th January, with speakers including Bill Grimsey, author of the first and second Grimsey Review, discussing the approaches the Key Cities should be taking to reshaping their centres. Further details will be announced in due course.