Two additional cities have joined Key Cities, the national network that represents urban living in the UK, strengthening the network’s ability to shape national policy, disseminate and scale fresh concepts, and promote economic and social development.
Cumberland and Stoke-on-Trent will be joining the growing network of cities that represent a broad political and geographical spread across the UK, bringing up the total members to 28.
In total, Key Cities now represents over six million people, around 10% of the UK’s population.
Since its establishment in 2013 with five members, Key Cities has been working with cities, towns and organisations across local government and beyond to deliver prosperity, protect the environment and raise standards of living in the UK. The network advocates for the future of the UK’s urban centres through research, consultation responses and political engagement via Key Cities APPG and Innovation Network.
With the future of cities taking centre stage in UK policy in recent years, Key Cities has highlighted its members’ significant role in promoting the country’s economic and social resilience, notably in relation to climate, skills, housing, transport, community wealth, levelling up, and devolution.
Recent reports include Culture and Place in Britain report which partnered with Arts Council England to demonstrate the role culture can play in boosting places and supporting communities, and Skills for Cities, Skills for Life report which calls for greater devolution of skills powers and funding as a pivotal long-term measure to support local economies and boost national productivity.
Cllr John Merry, Chair of Key Cities and Deputy Mayor of Salford, said:
“It’s fantastic to have such significant, prosperous and influential places join our network. This is a real testament to the difference that Key Cities is making, and it will further empower our network to provide the range, expertise and agility to showcase opportunities and challenges our cities face. We are very much looking forward to working with Cumberland and Stoke-on-Trent as part of the growing Key Cities network.”
Cllr Mark Fryer, Leader of Cumberland Council, said:
“Key Cities is about working together – we look forward to being part of the growing network. Collectively we can contribute to the UK economy and support our communities by being a voice for the area.
“We look forward to being a part of the network. Cumberland has lots to offer and we aim to showcase the area to partners and visitors alike.”
Cllr Jane Ashworth, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said:
“Key Cities is a highly influential partnership consisting of some of the most innovative and successful urban centres in the UK, and it’s essential Stoke-on-Trent should be collaborating with our peer cities at this level. Aside from population size, Stoke-on-Trent has also proven itself to be one of the UK’s most influential and innovative places in recent years. We have a unique and vibrant cultural offer, our economy is among the fastest-growing nationally, and initiatives such as the District Heat Network have positioned our city at the forefront of innovation around energy and climate change.
“Joining Key Cities also allows us to share our knowledge, experience and evidence of best practice with 27 other places with similar priorities and challenges to our own, and having access to this breadth of expertise and research data will be hugely beneficial as we focus on tackling inequality and making our local economy work for the benefit of our residents and communities over the next four years.”