Chris Green MP: How is the mayor's performance judged?

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Lancashire has seen more than her fair share of political tinkering over the years.

Edward Heath created the administrative areas of Merseyside and Greater Manchester, which spill over Lancashire’s borders but never actually changed the historic country.

George Osborne then set up a couple of mayoral authorities which have struggled to really amount to much in the public eye.

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Manchester and Bury both rejected the directly elected mayor in their referendums in 2012, whilst Salford voted for it.

Bolton West MP Chris Green Bolton West MP Chris Green
Bolton West MP Chris Green

Liverpool city council voted to have one but then had an additional Liverpool city region mayoral position imposed on top.

Devolution seems to be quite a mess and Liverpool is set for a referendum to see whether or not they want to keep the mayor of Liverpool but not the mayor of the Liverpool city region. This democratic complication may lead to a democratic simplification though it is still a confusing situation.

Not everyone bought into the idea of George Osborne’s vision of devolution and it is different all over the place.

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The mayor of Greater London has responsibility for policing but is not a Police and Crime Commissioner. The West Yorkshire mayor is a Police and Crime Commissioner but the Liverpool city region mayor is not. The mayor for Greater Manchester Andy Burnham had health devolution given to him but the West Midlands mayor did not.

Greater London has a directly elected assembly to hold the mayor to account but none of the others do. Lancashire may get devolution but without a mayor.

Who wanted these extra tiers of government anyway? Would they have ever been created if we had a referendum? How do we judge the performance of the mayor if there is no scrutiny equivalent to that in our local councils or to that in Parliament?

Mayors want to pick and choose what they do and what they get held to account for.

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In Greater Manchester, the initial vote was for Tony Lloyd to be Police and Crime Commissioner who then became mayor after the election.

Andy Burnham was his successor and each have moved to define what they what the mayoral position to mean – for right or wrong, this means that the mayor often has a different focus on responsibilities compared to Westminster and this focus is shifting with time.

Mr Burnham wants to have more control over training and education but never really accepted health devolution as a mayoral responsibility. What if his successor reversed this position in a few years?

Policing in Greater Manchester is the single biggest mayoral responsibility but the political accountability is given to the mayor’s unelected deputy.

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Devolution was supposed to bring closer democratic accountability and therefore better performance and delivery of vital services.

With such a hodgepodge of evolving forms, it is going to take a while for this to settle down.

In the near term, Andy Burnham has set out his changes to our bus services and I look forward to seeing the improvements in our public transport network.