Blears confirms Greater Manchester city region powers

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears this afternoon confirmed Greater Manchester as one of seven groups of councils in England that will benefit from new multi-area agreements.

The area will get more freedoms from Whitehall in return for pledging a local, partnership approach to boost economic growth and tackle deprivation and financial inequalities.

Freedoms include more flexible resources on housing, pilot transport schemes, employment and skills schemes and choice to refocus national targets to increase support to businesses.

The ambition is to close the gap with the top performing areas in the country through partnerships that cross local authority boundaries.

Cllr Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and vice chairman of the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, said: "The MAA is a clear illustration of the maturity of the relationships between the ten Greater Manchester Authorities. It sets out a series of very practical measures that are fundamental to the long term and sustainable development of the Manchester city region."

Barbara Spicer, chief executive of Salford City Council and responsible for economic development, employment and skills at AGMA, said: "The whole premise of collaborative city region working is based on using the leadership and capacity of all ten local authorities to best effect. A huge amount of trust and confidence has been built at both political and officer level to enable us to work successfully in this way. I believe this is one of the reasons that our colleagues in central government have been so supportive of us in our MAA negotiations."

The seven areas whose MAAs were signed today are: Tees Valley, Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Leeds city region, Partnership for Urban South Hampshire, Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.

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