March 6 2015 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Smaller cities like Norwich could benefit from having an elected mayor, the minister for Cities has said as he also indicated that having a clear figurehead could play a role in bringing business to the area.
Greg Clark, who is the minister in charge of the Norwich and Ipswich City Deals, said that when competing for business investment with other cities, having a mayor helped to command attention.
He said that while Norwich did not miss out domestically from not having an elected mayor, with MPs taking on the role of campaigning and “badgering” central government, smaller cities and towns like Middlesborough had benefited from electing a mayor.
He said that Joe Anderson, the first directly elected mayor of Liverpool, had been convinced after visiting Shanghai before he was appointed that it was important, after being seated down the pecking order because he was not listed as a major.
Mr Clark said: “It convinced him that it was quite important, the ability to command the attention, It is increasingly the case that cities compete with other cities. “You need a spokesman. It applies to the bigger cities, but I think all smaller cities and towns would benefit from having a mayor. Middlesborough has benefitted from having a mayor.”
He also hailed the Norwich and Ipswich City Deals which he said would also benefit the rural areas surrounding the urban centres.
He said that while there was a recognition that Norwich and Ipswich were the bigger centres, a lot of people across Suffolk had connections with Ipswich.
“They might live outside but work in Ipswich and do business there. The training investment. Matching young people without skills to training opportunities linked to employers, is available across Suffolk. “There is support for small businesses. The support and advice services have been very fragmented. They have been brought together.”