Mayor's Series - Freeing Cities - George Ferguson

Mayor's Series - Freeing Cities

Autumn Festival of Ideas 2014


Please note: This event took place in Oct 2014

Cities are critical for economies and countries. They are where most people live and work, learn and play. But have we got it badly wrong in the UK? Is London an over-dominant capital city with a runaway economy?

With a relatively successful economy, Bristol contributes more to the Government through taxation than it gets back in grants or funding for public services. If Bristol was financially self-sufficient, could it become an independent, self-governing city-state - setting its own taxes and spending money on local priorities rather than national ones?

Cities like Bristol also rely on London. What potential is there of greater devolution to cities - even regional parliaments - following the Scottish independence vote and the plans announced by both the coalition government and the Labour Party? Can cities be made free of central government? What would an ideal relationship with London mean? What can we learn from Manchester and Liverpool and the Great Northern Powerhouse? This series will explore how this relationship works and how things could be made better. It looks at recent government initiatives, what works and what does not; examines arts and media as a case study; and assesses the potential for local economies.

Freeing Cities

What would it mean if cities were free of London - or at least had stronger powers and retained more funding? What can Bristol learn from recent initiatives in Manchester and Liverpool? With Nicola Headlam, Heseltine Institute, University of Liverpool; Jonathan Derbyshire, Prospect magazine; John Harris, The Guardian; George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol.

Speaker biographies:

John Harris is a journalist and author, who writes regularly for The Guardian about a range of subjects built around politics, popular culture and music. Read his latest articles here.

Dr Nicola Headlam is working on a transnational project funded by the Netherlands Research Council exploring sustainable development in peripheral urban areas. Nicola has established research expertise in Social Network Analysis, an innovative quantitative method used to visualise data and assess connections between people in complex systems. Her work explores network structures and analyses centrality, peripherality, brokerage and in- and out-degrees of connection. She has applied this to governance networks in cities and economic development studies on the systemic resilience of local economies.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

George Ferguson, past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, was co-founder of Ferguson Mann Architects in 1979 and founded the national UK-wide network of practices, Acanthus, in 1986. He has a wide variety of experience in architectural, master-planning and regeneration projects, including his own mould-breaking Tobacco Factory mixed-use project and nationally acclaimed theatre. A co-founder of the Academy of Urbanism, he writes, broadcasts and lectures extensively on the environment, planning and architectural matters at home and abroad. He declared his intention to stand as an independent candidate in the Bristol mayoral election prior to the city-wide referendum held on 3 May 2012. He subsequently became the first independent mayor to lead a major city in Britain and was officially sworn in on 19 November 2012.

This event is free: book tickets via Eventbrite and bring your confirmation on the day.

There are four events in this series, all are free but booking is required. The other events are London and the Cities (Thu 9 Oct, 19:30), Art and Media in London and the Cities (Thu 13 Nov, 18:00) and Interview with Sir Peter Bazalgette (Thu 13 Nov, 20:00).

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