Elected Mayor for Greater Manchester
For the first time, the leaders of Greater Manchester in England have agreed to have an elected mayor. The first election is expected to take place in 2017 and the successful candidate’s role will be to preside over regional policies, such as transport and housing.
Greater Manchester is made up of Wigan, Trafford, Tameside, Stockport, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, Bury, Bolton, and, of course, Manchester. These 10 councils were formed as the metropolitan area of Greater Manchester in 1974, and when the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) was established in 2011, the area was designated a City Region.
At the moment, the councils in Greater Manchester control £5 billion of public money every year. But the deal is intended to allow the local politicians more power over the region’s public spending, and so would give them control of a further £2 billion.
This spending includes £300 million for the building of more houses, a Trafford Park tram extension of £450 million, and the £500 skills budget. The deal also includes the power to combine the funds of health and social care together, as well as overseeing back-to-work schemes. The elected mayor will also lead the GMCA by chairing its meetings and allocating responsibilities.
The announcement was made by Chancellor George Osborne, who declared that the elected mayor would become the first of a metropolitan area outside London.
“This is a massive moment for the north of England and our plan to build the Northern Powerhouse,” Mr Osborne said. “This will give Mancunians a powerful voice and bring practical improvements for local people.”
Mr Osborne added that one part of the long-term economic plan involves giving cities more power to reduce the “decades-old gap” between the north and the south. To do this, he will be talking to other city leaders to see which ones will want to follow a similar path as Manchester. But, “every city is different and no model of local power will be the same”.
GMCA Vice Chairman Sir Richard Leese explained that Greater Manchester has been leading the way in the national debate about devolution of governmental power.
“It was clear that an over-centralised national system was not delivering the best results for our people or our economy,” Sir Richard said. “We are extremely pleased that we can now demonstrate what a city region with greater freedoms can achieve and contribute further to the growth of the UK.”