It is easy to be critical. We are critical of the way our city and regional leaders have generally tackled the difficult problem of economic, social and environmental viability. We see their approach as based on a fundamentally flawed model that puts the economy first and attempts to restore economic growth to our post-industrial city region in the context of a competitive global order. No doubt this is motivated by concern for the people of the city region, their livelihoods and the future of them and their children, but we question whether the strategies will lead to improvements in overall social, economic and environmental well-being.
“So what would you do? What options would you back? What priorities would you set?”. These are fair questions. Previously we have set out ideas but we must admit that it is not easy to produce an alternative analysis and strategy that is coherent, convincing, realistic and practical. Well, someone has to do it, and this SSM Working Paper from Mark Burton tries to do just that.
First it defines the problem, because the way the problem is defined sets the path for any solutions – get that wrong and it is hard to turn off and find the right direction. Then it looks at some of the approaches on offer: the official Treasury/Greater Manchester Combined Authority model, the same model with some tweaks for inclusion and environmental benefit, and the radical reformist approaches of CRESC and CLES. Finally, it makes a selection from those ideas and adds other themes and proposals that those frameworks are missing. The idea is to sketch out the basis for a more convincing alternative strategic approach to economy, society and environment, a deepening of our work on The Viable Economy. Download the Working Paper here.
This paper is about Greater Manchester (and is relevant to GMCA’s “strategy refresh” and to the Greater Manchester People’s Plan initiative), but the thinking should also be relevant to many other city regions.
As a Working Paper this does not represent the fully considered position of Steady State Manchester but we will draw on it in writing a policy pamphlet in the weeks to come. We really would like your reactions, suggestions, counter-arguments and refinements. You can use this link or email the address on our contact page.