Learning from Chicago

By Blair McPherson | 16 October 2015

Devolution for England's big cities provided they have a directly elected mayor is the offer. It's the U.S. Model. Will Birmingham or Leeds be the next Chicago? What have we to look forward to? Chicago's City Hall politics are notorious.

There is no doubt the mayor of Chicago is a very powerful position. The city is responsible for housing, education, police, transport infrastructure and economic development. The city also grants or withholds planning permission and can change the zoning regulations to benefit local communities or big business. The city is a major employer but most significantly it places very large contracts in the private sector and has considerable funds to make grants to community groups. This is how the mayor wheels political power or as people in Chicago rather pragmatically put it ‘gets things done’.

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