Greater Manchester Council could be reality in 2011

The ten local authorities in Greater Manchester voted unanimously to submit a proposal to Government for the creation of a new authority.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority would be established to co-ordinate transport, regeneration and economic development functions and to oversee the performance of the new devolved powers in the Pilot City Region agreement, which was signed last December by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities leaders and the regional minister.

A Joint Committee would be established to assume responsibility for delivering transport across the Manchester city region.

Lord Peter Smith, chairman of AGMA and leader of Wigan, said: "The establishment of the new combined authority would give a strong voice to the Manchester city region where we can work together for the economic benefit of everyone across Greater Manchester when it is in all our interests to do so.

"This is about growth, it is about jobs, it is about investment and it is about our city region speaking with a strong, united voice.

"Today's agreement marks the end of a process which has been rightfully subjected to rigorous scrutiny by all 10 Greater Manchester authorities. It demonstrates the commitment of all of us – whatever our political hue – to put the common interests of our communities first."

The submission for the creation of the combined authority will now go to the Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for Transport and, if approved by Ministers, will then together with a draft order be subject to a 12-week consultation. AGMA has requested that the new authority should be created as from 1 April 2011.

Cllr Howard Sykes, vice chairman of AGMA and loeader of Oldham Council, added: "This deal gives Greater Manchester a bigger say in its own destiny and places it at the forefront nationally of tackling a whole raft of issues such as skills development, worklessness and deprivation. These new freedoms will be particularly important as we work in partnership to speed up the pace of the region's economic recovery.

The Pilot City Region includes a number of reforms relating to transport, skills, post-16 education, economic development, low carbon and early years development giving the Manchester City Region more of a say in its own destiny. Sir Richard Leese, vice chairman of AGMA and leader of Manchester City Council called today's proposal "probably the most significant opportunity we have had to create a platform for genuine devolution."

The creation of the combined authority would see a 'real and significant transfer of powers' from central government to the city region. Transport powers, for example, would be similar to those wielded by Transport for London.

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Developing a low carbon society and realising the benefits gained from sustainable development demand joined up thinking and cooperation. This move to unite the interests of greater manchester can only benefit the region in the securing of central government funds for north west investment in the forthcoming years.

By Brian Holden

Apart from common other issues, is this just another way of implementing the congestion charge that Sir Richard was so keen to introduce for the ‘greater good’ of the region?

By Not Convinced

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