Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore has called for government to hand more power to cities at a major international conference.
The council chief was speaking at the BT Global City Leaders Summit in Liverpool alongside his counterparts from as far afield as Shanghai, Istanbul, Mexico City, Santiago and New Delhi.
The summit, hosted by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, heard that while international cities like Paris, Barcelona and Berlin have boomed as a result of policy and tax freedoms, Britain’s major cities are hampered by tight central government control.
Also attending the summit was Lord Heseltine whose report No Stone Unturned, calling for Whitehall to release power and funding to the cities, was only partially adopted.
Even Birmingham, Alabama, which is represented at the summit, enjoys more financial freedom than Birmingham UK.
The English council leaders are calling for freedom to keep council tax, business rates and other property taxes to plough into growing their local economies.
Sir Albert said: “The future of our global economy will be played out in our cities and they are the key to growth.
“For this reason, city leaders around the world are increasingly prominent in economic policy.
“But some countries like Britain need to devolve more power to their cities to support this renaissance. This summit is an important opportunity to take forward this international movement.”
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese added: “You only have to look at the success a city like Barcelona has achieved by being given the freedom to make decisions based on local need and circumstance.
“England’s cities need to be given the powers they need to compete or we will fall behind the international cities visiting today.”
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the level of taxes managed at the local or regional level is about 10 times greater in Canada, 7.5 in the US, seven in Sweden, almost six in Germany, and more than five times greater across the OECD on average.
Jacqueline Moustache-Belle, United Cities and Local Government President and Mayor of Victoria, Seychelles, said: “Towns and regions must have a strong presence and role in the new global governance.”