Starting date set for GM mayor role

Lord Peter Smith
Lord Peter Smith

WIGAN Council could be starting a search for a new leader from June 26 with the interim mayor of Greater Manchester starting that day.

The borough’s Lord Smith is a frontrunner for the role created as part of the Devo Manc agreement.

And with an application process already underway, the chosen candidate will start after confirmation at the combined authority’s scheduled meeting at the end of June.

Lord Smith has so far played any speculation linking him to the role with a straight bat but has also not ruled himself out.

It was revealed last week that a restructure of the region’s combined authority body would be needed to help it implement the devolution agreement.

GMCA – which incorporate’s Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities – is set to have a dedicated chief executive and staff for the first time, working under the mayor.

And 13.8m has been put aside to fund the changeover.

Lord Smith – who is the chair of GMCA – and current Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd are thought to be favourites for the interim role.

A directly elected mayor will take control in 2017 with Manchester Council leader Sir Richard Leese a leading candidate.

The interim role is only open to elected councillors, mayors across, MPs, MEPs or police commissioners covering GM’s 10 authorities, regulations state.

A person specification for the role has asked for candidates to show how they will be a champion for Greater Manchester.

The devolution package handed out by chancellor George Osborne in November was hailed a pioneering agreement, giving the region control over budgets.

But it has been criticised for bypassing public consultation in installing a directly elected mayor.

Protest groups calling for a referendum have been set up in the borough and across GM .

Wigan campaigner Stephen Hall said: “(Devo Manc will mean) a reformed governance system and new powers, which will be imposed on all of us, without any of us having any say in it whatsoever and the enshrining of further cuts.

“Together, we must reject outright such outrageously dodgy democracy and any dodgy deal cooked up behind closed doors, without any reference to the views of the people of Greater Manchester.”

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has criticised the GMCA multi-million pound restructure, arguing it will add another level of bureaucracy.