Chris Green MP: ​Too much power given to mayors?

Devolution was one of the more controversial aspects of the Chancellor’s budget.
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The mayor for Manchester and the one for the West Midlands were both given a “trail blazer” deal.

The most significant aspect seems to be that the mayors will have the ringfence taken off much of their spending so that they can determine where the money will now go.

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We can see where most of the money in Greater Manchester has been going in recent years as the tall office blocks get built all over the centre of Manchester but there is negligible investment across the other GM boroughs.

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

This is why I often refer to the Greater Manchester mayor as ‘the mayor for Manchester’.

The mayor, Andy Burnham, already has responsibility for housing, transport and the buses but there is always a desire for more power.

Jeremy Hunt has given Mr Burnham more powers over technical education, skills and brownfield investment but the biggest move is over the ringfencing ofbudgets.

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The new rules will mean that the mayor has far more ability to direct money according to his priorities but we will have to wait and see what changes will bemade.

It seems like the devolution agenda, being led by Michael Gove MP is being accelerated and looks set to being further turbo charged in the future.

The mayor wanted more powers so that he can really press the accelerator on the changes he wants to make.

It does seem to be getting faster and faster but I fear that Andy Burnham is now going too fast and he needs more restrictions on his speed.

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The new powers can be a bit much to handle when he should be focused on the day job.

I have always believed that the mayoral responsibility for law and order is by far the most important.

The original position was as Police and Crime Commissioner and the other powers were added to the position later on – initially, under the first GM mayor Tony Lloyd and now Andy Burnham.

The new Chief of police, rather than the mayor, is leading the way on law and order with the reopening of custody suites because, unlike his predecessor, he actually wants the police to arrest criminals.

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He is also increasing the resources to the traffic team because that is an effective mechanism for putting more pressure on other offenders.

Speeding is serious but effective traffic policing is a big deterrent to other crime no matter how important the offender.

Boris Johnson has been in the Parliamentary dock over the ‘Partygate’ events and Andy Burnham said, following Johnson’s £50 fine, that he should step down as Prime Minister so let us see how current events pan out.

A feature of the new devolution deal is that they want a panel of MPs to scrutinise the mayor in Parliament.

We have not yet seen the details but I think that this would feel like a trial for all concerned – especially the mayor.