Birmingham and Manchester have set aside decades of rivalry and unveiled a new era of cooperation to secure a better deal for Britain’s major cities.

Sir Albert Bore and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese have agreed to strengthen ties and co-operate on economic investment and demanding powers and funding from Whitehall.

It marks a change in relations between the two cities which have frequently clashed over their claim to be England’s Second City.

In the past the cities would compete for government funding and bid against each other for events such as athletics championships, key football fixtures such as cup semi-finals, political party conferences, business conferences and cultural events.

There are also the unofficial claims to be the second city, which has been Birmingham’s on size and population, but which Manchester has also laid claimed to through its global reputation, boosted by the success of football teams United and City and the vibrancy of its music and cultural scenes.

Sir Albert said: “Manchester is sometimes a competitor of ours. But they are not the enemy. We share vital strategic interests and we should work closely with all the core cities to make sure our collective voice is heard.

“This marks a clean break from the old approach of competing with the other cities for attention.”

Sir Richard added: “This is not just a city issue. Every part of the UK needs our major cities to be delivering strong and sustainable growth.

‘‘Manchester very much looks forward to working with Birmingham to ensure that growth is maximised across the UK in the coming years.”

Council officials in both cities will now talk about ways to share resources and develop a joint work programme.

A first sign of the new working will be seen when Sir Albert leads a Birmingham delegation to meet Prime Minister David Cameron later this year to demand more autonomy and a fairer deal for Birmingham and all major cities.