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News Release

LEEDS, Bristol & Birmingham

JLL responds to Chancellor's city devolution plan for England

Cities are and will always be principal contributors to UK economy

LEEDS, Bristol and Birmingham May 14, 2015 - Responding to George Osborne's expected announcement today of his devolution plan for England's big cities, Jeff Pearey, Lead Director of JLL's Leeds office, says:

"UK cities have periodically had various forms of devolution over the past 100-150 years or so, but within the most recent incarnation Greater Manchester is leading the way.  Business leaders in West Yorkshire perpetually look over the Pennines to make comparisons with Manchester. To my mind, Leeds should follow suit - if it means we have to elect a Mayor then so be it.  Leeds has to take full advantage of this current impetus – we have to be better placed locally to make the appropriate decision for the wider region rather than contend with various levels of bureaucracy in Whitehall. "

Jeremy Richards, Lead Director of JLL's Bristol office, adds: "With an elected mayoral model already in place, Bristol is in a strong position to move towards greater autonomy. Cities are and will always be the principal contributors to the UK economy and currently account for 58% of the jobs, 60% of the economy and 72% of highly skilled workers. This is likely to become more intense as the sectors that will drive the economic recovery are particularly likely to congregate in city centres; Bristol, for example, is already home to a thriving tech cluster and strong professional services base. The opportunities presented by devolution will offer cities the ability to focus on local infrastructure and recognise those areas that need investment to generate economic growth. Bristol has already proved itself to be a city punching above its weight and increased powers would help propel it towards greater prosperity."

Ian Cornock, lead director for the Midlands region at JLL, concluded: "George Osborne is clearly committed to devolving more powers to the regions and its good news to hear from Sir Albert Bore today that Birmingham is only weeks away from progress on a combined authority. This can't happen soon enough. Investors don't see boundaries, individual cities or authorities. They look at a region and key indicators for growth such as an integrated transport system, investment in infrastructure and a strong skill base. A West Midlands wide authority would enable us to direct money to these areas with greater clarity and support key business clusters which can bring about innovation and growth.

"Midlands Connect, bringing together the West and East Midlands is example of the work that is already going on behind the scenes to achieve the bigger picture of regional growth. Having a connected Midlands would spur huge economic returns from HS2. This is our window of opportunity to drive real change and continue to secure our future as a major economic hub. Common sense has to prevail. There simply isn't an alternative if we are to compete for inward investment and not be left behind."