David Ottewell, of Manchester Evening News fame, has posted an interesting piece about a new consulatation paper released by The Department for Communities and Local Government. It seems amongst the noble ideas of devolving more powers to individual councils (something I am always in favour of), there is a suggestion that a directly elected mayor for Greater Manchester might be a good idea.
The 58-page document – which can be read here – is currently going out for consultation.
The report asks questions, such as whether city-regions could establish a single leader and if those wielding power are ‘sufficiently visible and accountable to citizens’.
I am happy to argue the case that here, IN Salford, the answer to the latter is clearly a “NO”. Salford’s Labour Council does everything in it’s power to appear to be visible, but there is no actual direct accountability to it’s citizens. Our Council has proved this time and time again, when residents views are ignored and overview & scrutiny a mere thorn in the side of the Labour party whip. Case in point, the Youth Offender Service move to Blackfriars.
The report says a mayor would ‘provide strong accountability’ provided there were ‘clear division of responsibilities’. The powers of individual councils would be lessened, although they could still ‘scrutinise the activity of the mayor’.
This sounds so dangerously disastrous that I hope we, as a region, reject the idea of a Greater Manchester mayor, after all – one Boris is enough for an entire country.