Kim McGuinness says Labour 'feels serious' about delivering after Downing Street mayors' summit

Prime Minister Keir Starmer hosts Metro Mayors from across the United Kingdom in 10 Downing Street, including North East mayor Kim McGuinness
-Credit: (Image: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street)

North East mayor Kim McGuinness has backed the new Labour government to deliver for England’s regions after meeting in 10 Downing Street.

Kim McGuinness and other elected mayors from across the country met with Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner on Tuesday morning, less than a week after Labour’s landslide election win. On Monday, Ms McGuinness had written to Sir Keir with a set of five commitments she wants the new administration to make for the North East – including the saving of the Hitachi train factory in Newton Aycliffe and the fast-tracking of her plans to take control over bus services.

After Tuesday’s summit, the first of its kind held in Downing Street, she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the new government’s move to engage with regional leaders was “not a one off”. Meanwhile, Labour has also brought the era of “levelling up” to a close – dropping Boris Johnson’s flagship phrase from the title of the now-renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Ms McGuinness, a Labour mayor who was elected in May, said: “It was a very, very positive meeting and I think it was great that with only four days in government we had all the mayors round the table with the PM and deputy PM talking about delivery – what happens next, how we create that infrastructure of delivery right across the country, and start to get things done. After such a long period of time where it feels like all of that has stalled, it is very much the case that this government feels serious about delivering.”

Sir Keir said he wanted to “reset” the government’s relationship with England’s mayors and was determined to give local leaders “the support they need to play their part in delivering economic growth in every part of the country”. Labour holds 11 of the 12 mayoralties across the country, with the Tees Valley’s Ben Houchen being the only Conservative face at Tuesday’s meeting at Number 10.

Ms McGuinness said that the hour-long meeting had been a “broad” and “down to business” discussion that included talks on issues such as transport, while the new government is planning to set up a new Council of Nations and Regions. She called for “further and faster devolution” of powers and funding around the country and called for more control over areas such as housing and culture funding to be taken away from Whitehall.

She added: “It feels like everyone is very much on the same page at the minute and that is about bringing more power closer to where people are. Devolving it out of Whitehall and Westminster and giving people with skin in the game a say in their own future. Everyone can unite around that. Where we have had devolved mayors we have seen more things get done and we have seen that this government recognises that.”

The former Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner also welcomed the move to drop the “levelling up” slogan, saying it had become “something that everybody cringes at”. Ms McGuinness told the LDRS: “It is so very clear that it never happened and in fact statistics show us that the gap between us and London has grown and not shrunk. I am glad to see the back of it.

“I stood on a manifesto that promised to create real opportunity for everyone and I see that sentiment reflected back at me in this government. That is the approach that will help us deliver for people in our region, to put our region out there and get the growth we really want, and I can see it working right across the country.”