4th November 2014

Welcome to Mayorchester

Earlier this week it was announced by Chancellor George Osborne that Greater Manchester is to get its own directly elected mayor.

Whoever is voted in will control the skills and transport budgets, which will feature a new tram extension to Trafford Park.

The new mayor will also be in control of the region’s buses, the power to combine health and social funds and take over the duties of police commissioner.

It sounds a fairly simple process but this has taken months, if not years, of behind-the-scenes wrangling to pull off.

Councillors at grass-roots level were concerned an elected figurehead would see them lose power at a local level.

However, the Chancellor was adamant that, to ensure devolution worked, the region must have somebody directly accountable to the public and if the right person is chosen, it could raise Manchester’s profile across the world – a ‘Manc’ Boris.

Bookies were quick to release odds of their candidates although Morrissey might be a little miserable to know at 100-1 he was lagging behind Danger Mouse at 90-1.

Current serving ceremonial mayors will not be affected by the change as they are just that – ceremonial.

The big challenge, it would appear to me, is for the ten current councils to work in harmony with each other to make the project work.

Each council leader will take a place in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) ‘cabinet’ and work directly with the Mayor.

If, for example, Wigan councillors feel they are being ignored at the expense of Salford then problems will arise.

The opportunity is too big to allow that to happen which is why an accountable figurehead is a must.

Politicians hope the move will be the first step in creating a northern powerhouse to rival London and the news was heavily reported in the national media.

It only remains to be seen who Manchester votes for when the process begins, three years from now, in 2017.

By Dave Goddard, Head of Media