Manchester's successful regeneration was put into stark international perspective by Professor Michael Parkinson, the author of a report for the ODPM on 'Core Cities', which compares the success of eight English provincial cities. His findings hardly bore out the optimistic vision presented by Manchester's buzzing streets and gleaming conference centres. On almost every chart the core cities scored way behind Helsinki, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart. In relation to wealth, dependent populations, unemployment and broadband access, English cities are bottom of the league. They are also small, and in cities size matters - bigger cities are more successful. As a result of his study, the concept of the Northern Way, an alliance of major cities across the country, is gaining momentum. 'If you want successful regions, you have to have successful cities.'