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Government / Local politics

Osborne pledges devolution to Greater Manchester – so long as it elects a mayor

We’ve had reports, thinkpieces, and endless speculation on the devolution of powers to UK cities. But now, finally, it seems like something might actually be happening: George Osborne appears to have offered a multibillion pound devolution deal to Greater Manchester.

From the Manchester Evening News:

Months of crunch talks between the Treasury and the most senior council figures in the region has come to fruition.

It is understood the majority of the devolution demands on their wishlist – including complete control over skills funding and a £450m Trafford Park tram extension – have now been agreed by George Osborne.

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There is, of course, a caveat. Osborne’s offer is apparently contingent on the council introducing an elected mayor  –  a move which would require new legislation and could therefore take up to two years to carry out. It could also go down badly with local councillors, who could feel threatened by a new, mayor-led “super council”.

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband is in Manchester today to unveil Labour’s proposals for regional devolution. They include control over bus regulation, which would allow Greater Manchester to introduce a single, Oyster-style pass for all public transport. Labour’s also pushing for a law granting greater powers to groups of councils across the UK.

The News reports that Greater Manchester’s combined authority will meet today to decide on a response to Osborne’s offer. May the best devolution win. 


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