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.