Plans for Northern Devolution see Manchester get directly elected Mayor

As part of recent radical plans to further devolve power and control from Westminster to regional authorities, Manchester is to get its own directly elected mayor.

This means that Manchester will have greater responsibility for things like transport, housing, planning and policing.

The measure is the latest move from the UK government to create a “Northern Powerhouse” and maximise the economic potential of northern regions.

Proposals also include further devolution of powers to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), with support for business growth, skill and more help to join up health and social care budgets.

These plans represent combined powers for the region, which the government believes will create:

“a powerful devolved administration with strong political leadership that can drive through policy to stimulate economic growth and plan strategically across the city, as well as nationally and internationally.”

The government hopes that Manchester will be the first of many cities to be offered the chance for greater devolution of government powers.

Chancellor George Osbourne said:

“This is a massive moment for the north of England and our plan to build the Northern Powerhouse. After several months of private discussions with local representatives from all three parties, I have reached agreement with the civic leaders of Greater Manchester to create the first metro-wide elected mayor outside of London. This will give Mancunians a powerful voice and bring practical improvements for local people, with better transport links, an Oyster-style travelcard, and more investment in skills and the city’s economy.

“I want to talk to other cities who are keen to follow Manchester’s lead – every city is different, and no model of local power will be the same.

“The Northern Powerhouse is becoming a reality. We plan to make major investments in northern transport and science, now we have agreement on the first metro area Mayor. This is what we’ve achieved in just a few months. Giving cities power is part of our long term economic plan to reduce the decades-old gap between north and south, London and the rest.”

Lord Peter Smith, chair of GMCA, said:

“Make no mistake, this devolution settlement is a momentous moment for Greater Manchester. It gives us greater control over own destiny in several key areas and the ability to base decisions on local priorities and needs rather than on ‘one size fits all’ dictates from Westminster.

“This isn’t about taking powers from individual Greater Manchester authorities. It’s about powers coming down from central government to a more localised level.”

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Words: Peter Cribley

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