Questions for the Greater Manchester Mayor

City leaders have begun to take a look at how the interim, appointed mayor, who will lead the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) until a future mayoral election, should be selected. As the system beds in, the appointed mayor will be the figurehead for the GMCA and will supervise the use of the first new powers, including on public service reform and control of some extra funding. Transport, planning and policing powers will not be transferred to the office of the Greater Manchester Mayor until an elected mayor is in place.

A person specification has been drawn up for the role, and if you were thinking of throwing your hat in the ring, you may be disappointed: the criteria make the shortlist a short one indeed. The draft plan says the appointee has to be a current Greater Manchester MP, Police Commissioner or council leader, in post for at least twelve months, with a record of leading 'transformational change', national negotiating experience and 'advanced' public speaking and media skills. It shouldn't be too hard to figure out the probable candidates (you're unlikely to need the fingers of more than one hand).

In the end, the Mayor will be selected by the ten GMCA leaders. In order to add some transparency to the process, there are plans for interested candidates to take part in two public Q&As: one with councillors, and one with representatives from education, health and the Local Enterprise Partnership. To that end, we thought it might be useful to draw up a list of questions worth asking:

  • The GMCA will be receiving extensive public service powers – where should it start?
    Skills, dependency, older people, health and social care, early years: it's a lot to be getting on with.
  • What should Greater Manchester's priorities be for the next five years?
    Housing? Policing? A brand new spatial framework?
  • What lessons could you learn from elected mayors elsewhere?
    The Manchester model is unique, but there are enough examples of elected mayors elsewhere to be useful.
  • How would you see your relationship with Greater Manchester Combined Authority?
    A neutral chair, or a hands-on leader?
  • Could you work comfortably with Governments and Councils of all political parties?
    The three main national parties are each in charge in parts of Greater Manchester, and the political leaning and duration of the next Government are harder to predict than ever.
  • How will you sustain momentum towards devolution after the General Election?
    Can the appetite for devolution be sustained when there no imminent votes to be won?
  • The Housing Investment Fund for Manchester is meant to finance 10,000-15,000 new homes in the next decade. Where should they go?
    This will be one of the more contentious issues that the city-region's new leadership structure will face. Candidates' answers will be telling.

What else would you ask our aspiring leader? Answers on a postcard…

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