Devo dawn: After the campaigns, time for action

Laura Storey

An at-a-glance recap on the powers and governance structures that come into force today as Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram take up their new offices.


From Monday 8 May 2017, Andy Burnham will become the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s 11th member and chairman, replacing interim mayor Tony Lloyd. The GMCA, established in 2011, consists of the councils of Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. The GMCA includes the leader of Trafford Council, Burnham’s rival Sean Anstee. Burnham and the GMCA will have their headquarters at Churchgate & Lee House on Oxford Road.

Steve Rotheram will chair the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and become its seventh member along with the council leaders of Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral.

Metro mayors were created as part of the devolution deal with government; city regions get extra powers and money for transport, planning, housing and skills in return for additional political representation.

The mayors will be able to make some decisions independently. Others will require consultation with, and the approval of, the combined authorities.

Over the weekend Burnham named Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese as his deputy mayor.


Mayors will be responsible for the transport budgets devolved by central government and the creation of a Local Transport Plan.

Burnham has promised to publish a new plan to tackle congestion, but will need approval from two-thirds of the GMCA to implement the plan. He said he wants to make public transport cheaper and more accessible. A free bus pass for young people has been a repeated slogan of his campaign.

Rotheram similarly promised to use devolved powers to re-regulate the buses and build a properly integrated transport network, as well as supporting the expansion of the port.


Burnham said he wants to refocus the £300m Greater Manchester Housing Investment Fund towards provision for all and not a perceived focus on apartments. He pledged to rewrite the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework for the whole city region, emphasising social housing, town centres first, and targeting no net loss of green belt. The GMSF, which has already been drafted and heavily consulted on, requires a unanimous 11 out of 11 vote to be passed.

The mayor’s planning powers do not override those of local councils on individual applications.

Rotheram will be responsible for drawing up a Single Statutory City Region Framework supporting the delivery of strategic employment and housing sites throughout the City Region. The Framework would require approval by the councils in the Combined Authority. In creating the framework, Rotheram will launch a Metro Mayor’s Housing Challenge Competition to identify new ways to meet housing needs.


The responsibilities of the Greater Manchester Police & Crime Commissioner will be merged with those of the Mayor and the former position will cease to exist. Burnham will set the budget and decide priorities for Greater Manchester Police.

The role of Police & Crime Commissioner has not been devolved in Liverpool and the role will remain separate from the Metro Mayor.


Turnout, although better than it might have been if doom-mongers predicting sub-15% were right, it was still less than one in three of the electorate who voted; not exactly mass public engagement.

In office, will the mayors capture the passions of the people they serve and establish the mayors as new leaders here to last for many elections to come? Or will they dwindle into obscurity and be replaced after their first three years is up?

Given the shortness of the term, delivering on grand promises such as Burnham’s to end homelessness in Greater Manchester will be easier said than done.

If opinion polls for the general election are correct and Conservatives win a massive majority in government, could Labour mayors find it hard to be heard in Westminster?

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Very good. Being taken seriously is going to be the biggest and most important challenge for them all. The election of Tory Mayors in West Midlands, West of England and Tees Valley is probably quite good news for Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram.
Here’s my take from Friday…

By Michael Taylor