A decision on who will be the interim mayor of Greater Manchester is expected tomorrow, with the winning candidate set to put wheels in motion behind the city region’s historic devolution deal.
Greater Manchester has agreed to take on an elected mayor in return for major transport powers including control of local bus services and a £6bn health and social care fund. The Queen’s Speech confirmed that these changes would be put in place under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill.
An elected mayor for the city will come in 2017 and until then two candidates have put themselves forward for the interim position, which does not hold executive powers and is appointed by a majority vote between the region’s 10 council leaders.
In the running are Labour veterans Lord Peter Smith, chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Tony Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: ‘From 2017, subject to legislation, Greater Manchester will have an eleventh member of the Combined Authority, a directly-elected mayor, bringing with them a range of new powers. Who gets this post will be decided in a Greater Manchester-wide public election.
‘But what is happening now is an appointment process for an interim mayor. The interim mayor has no executive powers or independent mandate and will work alongside the other GM local authority leaders to lay the groundwork for the directly-elected mayor in the transition period up to 2017.
‘This is an appointment not an election with the appointment panel judging candidates against the job description and person specification and, as is normally the case for such appointments, candidates are precluded from lobbying or campaigning. However, as part of the appointment process, all elected Councillors will have an opportunity to question the two shortlisted candidates and these sessions will be live streamed for the wider public.’
Director of the New Local Government Network, Simon Parker, told Transport Network: ‘From what I know of Greater Manchester there is a very collegiate atmosphere there and it makes sense to appoint the interim mayor in this way as it is a technocratic position.
‘Manchester has secured a very ambitious devolution deal and wants to get going putting in the groundwork and the policies right now. A long election campaign process would distract from all that.’
He added that transport was ‘core to all this’ suggesting that extra control of transport planning powers to allow more strategic infrastructure investment around growth plans was a major draw for councils looking to follow Manchester’s devolution lead.