Manchester City Council

Rolling Stock

A last word on devolution and Mayors, at least for the time being, not least to respond to a couple of questions that have been asked. The words elected Mayor have taken on a negative connotation in much of the local government world, largely I think because of successive governments attempts to foist them on us with no additional powers or resources.

Outside the local government world the evidence we have is that nobody much cares. Much of the devolution deal for Greater Manchester is about boosting job-creating growth and that in a global economy. In that context the term Mayor is a generic term used around the world for the leader of a municipality whatever they are called in their own system or language. Often when I have been in other countries representing Manchester I have been described as Mayor, and elsewhere in the world, as many places elect their council leader indirectly, as we do, as elect them directly. Does it really matter what they're called, and isn't it what they do and how they are held to account that matters.

A few people have raised the issue of Manchester's mayoral referendum. That was an imposed referendum for a Mayor for the City of Manchester with the incumbent having no more powers or resources than I do as Leader of the Council. The proposal currently on the table is fundamentally different. Firstly it's for Greater Manchester, not just the bit in the middle. Secondly, it's been negotiated, not imposed. Thirdly, adoption of a mayor for Greater Manchester will move very significant decision making from Whitehall to here. Fourthly, a GM Mayor will not be freestanding and will be a member of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and in between elections will be accountable to the GMCA and the Greater Manchester Scrutiny panel of Councillors. In particular we have protection from a maverick mayor in that the GMCA can, by a two thirds majority, amend the Mayor's proposals and spending plans. This is not an extra tier of government, and as the Mayor will replace the Police and Crime Commissioner, it isn't an extra politician either.

Much of today will be spent on infrastructure. Later this morning I will be meeting with colleagues for our monthly review of progress on the massive amount of work that is taking place in the city centre, seeking to ensure that the inevitable disruption is kept to a minimum and that the city remains 100% open for business. Christmas markets get underway this week so there will be even more to come into town for.

Later in the afternoon I will be meeting with council leaders from across the North to look at progress with Rail North, the North's vehicle for being involved in the retendering and subsequent management of the two northern rail franchises. Can't talk about the detail as it is commercially sensitive but will say that so far it's going remarkably well and we will be discussing rolling stock.

First Remembrance Sunday with the Cenotaph in its new location yesterday and general agreement that it is a vast improvement. A change for the better!

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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