UK must embrace city mayors as key to sustainable growth says former Stuttgart leader.

Directly elected mayors provide the leadership needed to effect change in communities, says Wolfgang Schuster.

Better Cities

Directly elected city mayors are the key to creating better sustainable cities that meet the needs of citizens and businesses, according to the former Lord Mayor of Stuttgart. 

Speaking this week at the launch of a new book “Better Cities Better Life” which he co-edited, Wolfgang Schuster highlighted that “clear strong competencies on a local level” from a central, independent and identifiable figure was crucial to the development of future cites.

"I am convinced you need a person that is directly elected, independent of parties as the mayor of all citizens which changes the political culture” Wolfgang Schuster

“I am convinced you need a person that is directly elected, independent of parties as the mayor of all citizens which changes the political culture,” he said. 

“You can do so much more with clear strong competencies on a local level,” he added. “You can motivate companies to invest and win over citizens for partnerships.”

Schuster urged the UK to embrace devolved power through directly elected mayors and said that ..

“I do hope that great Britain which has started this will now continue because I am sure that all British citizens will profit and above all the United Kingdom will be stronger,” he added. “I hope that this political start in Great Britaon will continue.”

The new book, published by the Siemens’ Sustainable Cities Initiative, highlights the “unprecedented set of pressures to deliver infrastructure that meets the needs of their growing populations” and, through a series of case studies though leading editorial, aims to guide future city designers towards more sustainable outcomes.

Five global megatrends are identified and described as:

  • Urbanisation
  • Globalisation
  • Demographic change
  • Climate change 
  • Digitisation

“Urbanization, changing demographics and the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change underline the critical importance of investing in the right infrastructure in our cities,” explains the book.

A new book “Better Cities, Better Life” addresses how cities across the world are tackling 21st century megatrends and the challenges of sustainable urban growth.

“A city needs to be safe, secure and enjoyable to live and work in,” it adds. “The megatrends set a range of challenges for our cities such as keeping people moving, reducing our energy use, ensuring the air we all breathe is clean, using resources wisely and providing sanitation and clean water to everyone.”

Schuster’s comments come as the Institution of Civil Engineers published a report urging the next UK government to embrace greater devolved power and funding for transport as a means to “seize the opportunity to unlock the potential of our city regions”.

The ICE report “Transport for Growth: Unlocking the Potential in City Regions” said that locating transport power closer to those it affects can lead to greater focus, investment and better decision making. 

It recommends the creation of “fully integrated city region transport authorities with much greater responsibility for road infrastructure, all local public transport” and calls for funding from central Government to be more flexible with minimum three year funding settlements, allocated to bespoke city region strategies once developed.

As we move towards the General Election, policy makers of all parties are seeking ways to get the best economic, social and environmental return on public money investments, and the devolution of transport powers to stimulate more balanced growth across the UK, is an opportunity at forefront of the debate,’ said Jonathan Spruce of the ICE’s Transport expert panel.

“The question has now shifted from whether this should happen, to how it should happen and it is time for all political parties to look more seriously at how to pave the way forward and seize this opportunity.”

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