As part of the Government’s devolution agenda, Greater Manchester will be electing its first metro mayor on the 4th of May. In addition, six other combined-authority areas across England will also be holding mayoral elections this May.
The appointees will be responsible for growing the economy and managing things such as housing, transport and skills across the region. A lot of the powers that the new mayors will have are currently held by local authorities. Going forwards, the coordination of cross-boundary plans, such as new transport links and housing construction, will depend on agreements between the new office and the local authorities within the area.
The BBC recently reported that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority has estimated that the creation of the office could cost up to £5.4m, with an annual expenditure of around £2m. But a council spokesman told the BBC that the costs will be covered by “existing reserves and additional business rates income”.
The Centre for Cities is an “independent, non-partisan think tank” that produces research on economic growth and change for “cities, business and Whitehall”. They found that 34 per cent of adults in Greater Manchester think that “health care provision should be the most important priority for local politicians” and 12 per cent think emergency services and housing should be the next two priorities.
Drawing on their research, the Centre lists their top three policy priorities for the new metro mayor as; building new offices and housing (a quick-win policy), making a case for a new congestion charge in the city centre (a strategic policy) and developing a sustainable social care budget (a long-term policy).
Manchester is traditionally seen as a Labour stronghold so the Centre for Cities is predicting a Labour win for Andy Burnham. Continuing in the order of party vote-share in the region from the 2015 General Election, also standing are; Sean Anstee (Conservative), Shneur Odze (UKIP), Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrat) and Will Patterson (Green Party). Will Patterson is representing the Green Party after the tragic and unexpected death of Hulme-based candidate Deyika Nzeribe earlier this year.
Former party leader Natalie Bennett told the BBC in January that “Deyika’s death is a huge loss for the Green Party, but also for the city of Manchester.” In addition to the more well-known parties, Peter Clifford will be standing for the Communist League and Stephen Morris for the right-wing English Democrats.
The BBC has called the upcoming mayoral elections the “biggest change to our local political landscape for 40 years”. Ushered in as part of the government’s Devolution Deal, the new metro mayors are expected to have a swift and direct effect, as well as a lasting one.