So, now we know.
After months of speculation following the Chancellor's Northern Powerhouse speech in June when, after outlining major improvements that the north needs, he dropped the Mayor "bombshell" right at the end and which went largely unnoticed as everyone focussed on his proposals for HS3. I remember sitting there at the time thinking "that's interesting" and wondering what this would end up looking like in Greater Manchester and when the question of an elected mayor for Greater Manchester would crop up again. It seems I didn't have long to wait.
Anyone that has been closely following this, and we certainly have at the Chamber, will know there have been all manner of discussions, debates and models put forward as to what this could look like . It's safe to say the one put forward in the deal made today certainly wasn't one of them. And whilst many people "Think Boris" when city mayors are on the agenda this is definitely not a carbon copy of the London model. Once again Manchester has developed its own model for taking things forward. We have to make sure though that it works for everyone and that includes business who will have a key role to play in this starting from now.
For too long many businesses have been frustrated with decisions that impacted on them either being made remotely in Whitehall or locally, but with little if any input that reflected their views. Through work that the Chamber has pioneered with elements of the local skills budget, we have shown that by having the ability to respond to local conditions quickly and with minimal fuss real progress can be made.
Following the Scottish referendum result and the debate started in its aftermath businesses have been very engaged with looking at what future form of local governance would work best in Greater Manchester. This is an issue that sits at the heart of the Chamber’s Campaign for Business which states the major issues that businesses want to see addressed before the next election. The initial announcement today and outline of how the Manchester mayoral model would work seems to have gone some way in addressing this.
We obviously need to see the finer details to make sure there is a recognised role for business to play in this as well as look at how more of the allocated local budget, including a reformed model for business rates, could be transferred to local control, but it is obvious from the pace and scope of the announcement that this is not only a major change in policy and local governance, but also a major opportunity for Greater Manchester . We have to make sure that business responds and reacts to take advantage of this. We will undoubtedly return to this in the not too distant future.