Greater Manchester is to get its own directly elected city-wide mayor with powers over housing, planning, transport and policing. The move was announced by Chancellor George Osborne under the plan to create a ‘Northern powerhouse’.
The new mayor will have control over:
- A £300m housing investment fund, which will deliver an additional 15,000 homes across Greater Manchester over a 10-year period
- Strategic planning, including the power to create a statutory spatial framework for Greater Manchester, in line with the framework already being developed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). This will need guide investment and development across the area
- A devolved and consolidated transport budget, with a multi-year settlement to be agreed at the next spending review
- Control of a revamped earn back deal, which allows GMCA to be paid by results as investment in infrastructure improvements results in economic growth. This allows Greater Manchester to be ‘paid back’ up to £30m a year over a 30 year period. The deal will enable the Metrolink extension to Trafford Park to go ahead.
Greater Manchester already has a combined authority, established four years ago, whose achievements have included:
- Permission for up to 7,000 homes to be built by 2017
- A revolving infrastructure fund worth £30m a year
- Refurbishment of Bolton and Rochdale rail stations in a city region transport investment programme
- A programme of carbon reduction measures
The first Greater Manchester mayoral elections are expected to take place in 2017. New legislation is needed to allow transport and planning powers to be transferred.
What they said?
Chancellor George Osborne said: “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”.
Sir Richard Leese, vice chair of GMCA, said: “Our ultimate ambition is for full devolution of all public spending in Greater Manchester, currently around £22bn a year, so that we either influence or control the whole amount”.
Andrew Carter, acting chief executive of think tank Centre for Cities, said: “Enabling Manchester to target and deliver the jobs, housing, skills and infrastructure its local community needs is a critical first step to enabling the city to fulfil its potential. But these powers should not end with Manchester, or even just with cities in the North. The government must work to support other cities, throughout the UK, to establish appropriate governance and administrative structures and scale, and then empower them to unleash their capacity to drive local and national economic growth”.