Interim mayor selection begins

Details of the appointment process for Greater Manchester's interim mayor have been confirmed as the two candidates, Lord Peter Smith, chairman of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and leader of Wigan Council, and police commissioner Tony Lloyd vie for the role.

Under the historic devolution settlement agreed with central government last November, a directly elected Mayor for Greater Manchester will be created who will act as the 11th member of the Combined Authority, alongside 10 local council leaders.

Until the appointment of the directly elected Mayor in 2017, an interim mayor will provide leadership for Greater Manchester during the transitional period. The role will merge with the existing police and crime commissioner's position.

Four councillor engagement sessions will take place to give councillors from across Greater Manchester the chance to hear directly from the interim mayor candidates and put questions to them.

They will be held in Manchester, on Monday 11 May; in Salford on Wednesday 13 May; Bury on Friday 15 May and Trafford on Monday 18 May. Although only elected councillors will be able to attend these events, the Manchester session will be live streamed so the public can follow proceedings and councillors' feedback will be passed to the selection panel to take into consideration.

A stakeholder panel session, giving invited representatives of private and public sector partners, the opportunity to meet and question the candidates will be held on Wednesday 20 May.

The panel choosing the interim mayor will consist of representatives of the 10 Greater Manchester authorities: the leaders of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford, the Mayor of Salford and the deputy leader of Wigan.

The two candidates will be interviewed on Friday 29 May, with the interim mayor chosen by a simple majority vote.

As Lord Peter Smith is standing he does not get a vote and the chair of the GMCA does not have a casting vote in the event of a tie.

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I am dismayed by this development in which the Conservatives and their coalition partners are preemting due democratic processes without a referendum. In effect the Conservatives who abolished the Greater Manchester Metropolitan Council are now reinventing their own replacement which will set each Metropolitan Distict against another and turn all their councillors into placemen/women drooling over the cash on offer. Local Government has always been the creature of Parliament but this arrangememt which has been made without proper consultation with the electorate is grotesque.

By Christopher John Green

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