SHADOW Home Secretary Andy Burnham has backed Greater Manchester newspapers’ campaign for a fairer devolution deal for the region.
This week, the Wigan Evening Post, the M.E.N and other titles in Greater Manchester launched the campaign, calling on chancellor George Osborne to provide the proper financial settlement to ensure the Devo Manc project is a success.
We called on ministers for the cash we need to get devolution off the ground - including fair funding.
But we also called for the ‘super-council’ - made up of the region’s 10 town halls - itself to be more transparent.
Every single council leader across the region has backed the campaign - as well as Greater Manchester’s interim mayor Tony Lloyd.
Leigh MP Andy Burnham - who has taken on a key role in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet - has now thrown his weight behind our fight after urging Mr Osborne to ‘put his money where his mouth is’.
He said: “I absolutely back the Fair Deal Devo campaign. We have heard a lot of talk from Mr Osborne but the time has come for him to put his money where his mouth is.
“The risk is now that they don’t devolve enough money and then if things go wrong, Westminster can turn around and say its failed and blame it on the local leaders.
“The Tories have raised expectations and now they have got to deliver on them — my job will be to relentlessly hold them to account on that.
“If they don’t deliver — we will expose that.”
Mr Burnham, like many council leaders and MPs in our region, has raised concerns that new powers - which will give the region more responsibility for budgets including health, transport and planning - could arrive without the money to make them work.
In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Mr Osborne said he was ‘throwing everything he has’ at creating a Northern Powerhouse - but Mr Burnham said the slogan is in danger of becoming ‘a bit thin’.
Mr Burnham said: “I don’t think people living around here would say they feel like they are living in a Northern Powerhouse,
“Talk is fine, but there isn’t much substance and I haven’t seen any evidence of it — there is actually a danger of the north-south divide getting even bigger.”