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Archive for May, 2015

Interim Greater Manchester Mayor

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

With the announcement that Tony Lloyd, the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, has been appointed as the Interim Mayor for Greater Manchester, another milestone has been reached on the road to devolution in our city region.

The decision was taken at a meeting in Wigan, where I and the other nine council Leaders from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) had a very difficult final choice to make between two excellent candidates. Both of whom have illustrious and distinguished careers fighting for better outcomes for Greater Manchester sharing a real passion for the people who make it such an exciting and vibrant place in which to live.

Now, there will be those who say why all this fuss over devolution, what difference is it going to make in ordinary people’s day to day lives. To them I would point out that the annual budget for public expenditure in Greater Manchester is currently in excess of £22 billion and that up until now every penny of that money is controlled and directed by central government.

In the GMCA we’ve made no secret of the fact that we want as much of that expenditure as possible to be devolved to a local, more democratically accountable level, where those responsible for its use have real local experience as to what works best in the interests of our city region and what will bring genuine long-term economic growth to all of the region’s 10 authorities. The devolution agreement signed by the ten Leaders and the Chancellor back in November 2014 means that over £1 billion of that spending will now be controlled by us, here in Greater Manchester. So this is a step in the right direction but we will continue to work for more.

In practical terms the Devolution Agreement means a new housing investment fund, worth up to £300million, with the aim of building 15,000 more homes over 10 years. It also means greater responsibility for franchised bus services, the opportunity to introduce SMART ticketing and a say in the development of rail stations. These and the other aspects of the agreement will be of great benefit to Tameside.

To secure the additional powers and control over public spending, Greater Manchester was required to strengthen governance and leadership at the city region level and provide additional capacity to work side by side with the 10 Greater Manchester Authority Leaders through the support of an Interim Mayor to be followed by a directly elected Mayor in 2017.

I congratulate Tony Lloyd on his appointment as Interim Greater Manchester Mayor. Tony, will bring great leadership and a collaborative working style to the role, the first of its kind outside London. I for one very much look forward to working with him to ensure Tameside gets the best out of the devolution deal.

A New Era for Tameside

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Last night I attended my first full council since the local and general elections at the start of the month. After the hustle and bustle of campaigning and electioneering we have now been given the opportunity to take a step back and think about what we have achieved and what we want to do for Tameside in the future.

Back in December I laid out our pledges, the 15 for 15, that would guide our course for 2015. I’m happy to declare today that we have made significant progress on fulfilling those pledges. Today residents of Tameside enjoy the cheapest council car parking in Greater Manchester, a multi-award winning market, reduced rates at local businesses through our loyalty card scheme, increased employment opportunities thanks to our jobs pledges and business summit, family activities and environmentally-friendly policies such as bin swap. For the next six months and into the future we intend to build on this success and deliver in full the rest of our pledges.

But we’re also thinking longer term as well, and nothing highlights this better than the continuing work on the Vision Tameside project and our commitment to further devolution.

Already the building of the Advanced Learning Centre is changing the face of Ashton town centre, and the council employees have been decanted into town halls and service hubs throughout the borough to make way for the construction of the new administration centre. When complete, Vision Tameside will bring £300 million of growth into the borough through the creation of jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for local businesses. The move to modern, smaller, more efficient council offices will also save £1.5 million a year in running costs, money that can and will be put to better use elsewhere.

In the next few months an interim Mayor will also take the reins to begin the work to devolve the powers promised by George Osborne in November. For the first time decisions about Greater Manchester about issues such as health, social care, transport and policing will be made in Greater Manchester. Just as important, the Mayor will provide us with a prominent public figurehead to make the views and priorities of Greater Manchester known on a national stage. No more will Manchester be just one city among many. It will have a voice befitting a region with a greater economic clout than Wales and Northern Ireland.

The next six months are sure to be an exciting time for Tameside. By working hard and working together we will be able to make the most of the long-term plans that are now coming into fruition. Let us look to the future and go ever forward.

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