What to expect from the interim Mayor

Tony LloydGreater Manchester’s ten council leaders have picked the Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, to be the interim Mayor of Greater Manchester. The decision took a few hours, as the ten were initially evenly split between Mr Lloyd and the Leader of Wigan Council, Lord Peter Smith. Mr Lloyd will do the job for the next two years, until the first Mayor is elected. The interim role would be a good platform for a mayoral candidacy, something he may well be considering, since there will be no Police and Crime Commissioner once the mayor assumes those functions.

Mr Lloyd’s first political position was as a member of Trafford Council, and he served as MP for first Stretford and then Manchester Central from 1983 to 2012, when he stood down to contest the election for Police and Crime Commissioner. During his time in Parliament, he was a Minister of State at the Foreign Office in the late 1990s, and served as chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party from 2006 until 2012.

The job description makes it clear that the interim role is about keeping council leaders and other partners focused on the process of devolution, as well as acting as a spokesperson for the region. Last year’s devolution agreement lays out several areas – including public service reform and control of the Housing Investment Fund – where powers will be devolved during the interim. In a BBC Radio Manchester interview, Mr Lloyd cited “the capacity to build on health care and social care” and “building our economy” as priorities for the region, suggesting he intends to take an active lead on these.

While the job and selection criteria were publicly advertised, and there were a number of question-and-answer sessions for councillors (which you can still view online), many will still be surprised to learn that there is now a Mayor of Greater Manchester. Mr Lloyd, the GMCA and the Government have some work to do to reassure those who feel excluded from the process, as well as to inform those who know nothing about the position. As yet, it’s unclear where our interim Mayor will be based, or whether he will have staff to support him. Time will tell whether he can mould the office into one with real influence.

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