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Importing the Metropolitan Revolution

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 04 November 2013

In America, there is talk of a "metropolitan revolution" as big cities reinvent themselves. Matthew Taylor asks if Britain too can transform its economy by setting city halls free.

In America, there's a growing realisation that the old economic model, based on every city aiming for "a Starbucks, stadia and stealing business," has failed to revive urban economies. But now cities such as Denver, Colorado -- once famous for the oil money that inspired the soap opera Dynasty -- have turned a corner. This "Metropolitan Revolution" was led by local mayors who ripped up the old administrative boundaries and did creative things to diversify the economy and create jobs, such as building a vast new airports and offering incentives to hi-tech start-ups.

For this week's edition of Analysis, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA and a former insider in Downing Street under Tony Blair, sets out to see if these new ideas could hold answers for Britain's long term economic future. Cities are where the modern global economy happens, but ever since the decline of heavy industry, Britain's northern cities have performed below the national average. Now, key national and local figures, from Lord Michael Heseltine to Bristol's new Mayor George Ferguson, famous for his red trousers, are pinning their hopes for an economic revival on giving greater economic powers to city halls.
Speaking to a wide range of voices from both sides of the Atlantic, and combining wit with insights from urban geography, history and economics, Matthew asks: could Britain's great cities be the key to us all turning the economic corner?

Producer: Mukul Devichand.

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