by GK Strategy 21st April, 2015
3 min read

Manchester Devolution: One step closer

It can’t really be described as one of the most popular policies of recent times with turnout at 24% in May 2012 for the referendum on an elected Mayor in Manchester, but it nonetheless sparked a political appetite for directly elected leaders and cities stepping up to the legislative plate. Now, just 2 years away from what has been described as a historic deal for Greater Manchester, two names have officially been thrown into the hat to become the interim Manchester Mayor, due to take effect from June.

The announcement hasn’t quite received the press Hillary enjoyed the other week, but for the two hopefuls, it’s a coveted position in what is shaping up to be quite the deal for Manchester. With control of over £1bn-worth of powers in transport, housing and planning, skills and policing including existing health and care resources of around £6bn in 2015/16, it’s quite a responsibility for whomsoever wears the ceremonial chains. Not only will devolution fundamentally change Manchester’s role and power within the UK in a move towards more independence and de-centralised regionalism, but it is an opportunity for Manchester to once again assert its predominance as a northern powerhouse of innovation, business and capability.

One of the hopefuls is Greater Manchester’s very own Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd. You can hardly blame him, the role of Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner will be scrapped in the devolution and Mr Lloyd has only been in the job since 2012, it’s understandable he wants to continue the work he’s done. The second hopeful and the current chair of the region’s combined authority is Wigan’s Council leader, Lord Peter Smith. Arguably, Lord Smith has the greater experience, being chair of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities which is due to morph into the Greater Manchester Combined Authority upon the arrival of devolution.

Whichever one of the two gentlemen win the nomination and go on to work with the GMCA, they may find their first obstacle in working alongside the 10 local authority leaders charged with appointing the position who reportedly remain deeply divided. Mr Lloyd has commented, “They are so split over it is even possible there will be a total deadlock at five votes all. It is unclear how that eventuality will be resolved.” But resolved it must be. Devolution is a done deal with both main parties committing to seeing through the package so fondly named, ‘DevoManc’. A further election for a Mayor with full powers will take place in 2017, so whether it’s Mayor Smith or Mayor Lloyd in office after the quasi-elections in June, they’re going to have to work quickly and efficiently to thrash out just how devolution will really work.

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