The most recent English attempts at decentralisation take the shape of the city region devolution policy agenda. Decentralisation claims to empower localities and address regional growth imbalances, while creating a variety of new temporary and selective fiscal and geographic arrangements in policy-making that have the potential to create the opposite effect. This paper focuses on the relationship between decentralisation and territorial inequalities through the analysis of strategic discourse of six ‘devolved authorities’. A quantitative, qualitative, and comparative approach to this question complements the traditional insights obtained from in-depth case study analysis using actors’ interviews. It focuses on city regions’ official discourse of self-conceptualisation and marketization, and thereby highlights the wider policy and regional theory context of their production to frame the structural factors impacting the rewriting of city regional space. By doing so, we find a number of issues with the current decentralisation approach in competing priorities between localities, an over-reliance on agglomeration economies and urban competition, potential mismatches in scales of policy decision-making and delivery, and challenges regarding inequalities in a post-Brexit England.
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