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Old November 17th, 2012, 03:47 PM   #1641
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I'm more certain than before that we won't be seeing a county wide mayor anytime soon.

Look at how negative the media reaction has been towards the government for implementing a policy that led to such a low turnout.

Why bother with Mayors and risk a repeat? There is no huge public demand for them.

In fact, my preference for a cabinet, representing different parties across the ten boroughs has increased, essentially what we have today.

More powers are what are called for in my opinion, not a mayor.
The profile of a singular Mayor such as Boris does a lot for London, I think. Every time he opens his mouth he's in the national news. He's been a real asset to them, in terms of getting central government to work for London.

A GM Mayor would never be able to attract the same publicity because we're not London, but I do think we would still benefit from a strong voice that could help counterbalance the Boris effect.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 08:10 PM   #1642
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Strong voice yes, but don't equate that with a Mayor Retro.

I am sure you'd agree the priority is the powers available, the cohesiveness and accountability of the mechanisms of power and then the actual players tasked with civil responsibility.

I am favourable to a division of powers for the imagined future City Region authority. An executive council directly elected that would in turn elect it's own leader. (for old style local authenticity called it the Chancellor) and a separate directly elected legislative council to oversee the former.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 09:46 PM   #1643
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LNGCats View Post
I'm more certain than before that we won't be seeing a county wide mayor anytime soon.
As much as I disagree with the concept of an elected PCC, if anything I think its existence makes it more likely that we'd have a GM Mayor in future.

It makes it an awful lot easier to sell the idea of a Mayor if the public know that another politician (ie. the PCC) will be scrapped at the same time. So in other words, no increase in the number of politicians, just a different role.

I think people would warm to the idea of a Mayor far more than a PCC anyway. And they'd certainly have a better understanding of what a Mayor actually does, than what a PCC does!

Add this to the growing positive noises coming out from Whitehall for 'city region' Mayors, after the disaster of the May referendums on city Mayors based on local govt boundaries.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 10:39 PM   #1644
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Thinking around and back, what is needed is for me and you and not Westminster career politicians to decide on the structures.

And if that ever happens make sure it's on election day in May, not in the deep dark days of winter when no one votes.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 10:24 PM   #1645
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Greater Manchester's £20m deal with Japan could cut domestic fuel bills
Deborah Linton
December 01,

Town hall chiefs are to push ahead with two major projects aimed at bringing down fuel bills for Greater Manchester residents.

Leaders across the region will sign a £20m deal with the Japanese government next week which will allow houses to generate their own electricity.

It could lead to heat pumps and smart grid technology – which converts excess heat into fuel and allows households to pump leftover energy back into the grid – installed in thousands of homes.

An initial trial of 300 council houses in an unspecified area, which has the backing of the UK government, is likely to launch in 2014. It is the first time the project – backed by Japanese government agency, Nedo - has been trialled in domestic properties in Britain.

And the Greater Manchester Combined Authority - which represents the region's town halls – has also agreed plans to offer ‘green’ home improvement loans to residents under a government eco-scheme.

Under the coalition’s Green Deal, householders can access loans which will paid back through savings made on their energy bills.

Council bosses in Greater Manchester say it could help 15,000 of the region’s poorest households make their homes warmer over the next three years.

The loans could also generate jobs for local workers and generate £100m for the local economy.
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 02:09 PM   #1646
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I don't see how a joint procurement process can be anti competitive? If the legislation means you can't buy more for less jointly surely that is anti competitive in itself? The fact they are looking at it now would suggest that is not the case. In my opinion they have picked up on the joint purchasing power clubs operating in countries like Belgium where thousands of consumers are getting together online to do mass joint deals, saving in many cases about 50% on electricity prices. I've worked in purchasing for many years and I know through people in the business that Central and Local Government procurement is shambolically wasteful, I even know somebody who is retired at 44 because of the millions he made out of LA contracts, he said he couldn't believe his luck!
See in todays MEN the 'People Power headline' about a joint procurement club operating in Oldham. This is what I was referring to in my post from a month ago. Why can't our councils in GM do the same, it could save millions. of course complete amalgamation would save even more!
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 05:19 PM   #1647
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They can, the Oldham scheme while run by Oldham is open to everyone in GM, they are the lead authority.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 04:43 PM   #1648
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They can, the Oldham scheme while run by Oldham is open to everyone in GM, they are the lead authority.
There are actually two separate issues here that I was referring to, the first one was Joint LA procurement should save millions IF it's done professionally, The joint procurement clubs are a simple example of how volume saves cash, of course as in Belgium and other countries these schemes are nothing to do with LA's but developed using the Internet as a means of mass local communication.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:18 PM   #1649
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AGMA has been working on that council joint procurement for a couple of years, more than a dozen different strands of procurement been set up with a couple of councils taking the lead in programs designed that the other councils can join once established for example in schools administration (Wigan/Salford), legal services, maintenence, accounting, stationery and office equipment procurement, etc... Theyve also set up a system to allow for centralised contract tenders listing.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:38 PM   #1650
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Quote:
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See in todays MEN the 'People Power headline' about a joint procurement club operating in Oldham. This is what I was referring to in my post from a month ago. Why can't our councils in GM do the same, it could save millions. of course complete amalgamation would save even more!
Yes I signed up for this after your post and I am in Stockport area (Marple), got an email today, suppliers have been selected, I have until 19th December to accept. I will switching mostly as a vote of support.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 09:44 PM   #1651
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@MichaelLCrick:

Political Studies Association (PSA) Lifetime Achievement in Politics Award to Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council

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Old December 5th, 2012, 02:18 PM   #1652
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@Peston:

Obsborne backs basics of Heseltine's plan to devolve much spending on biz, transport, skills etc to regions

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Old December 6th, 2012, 03:34 PM   #1653
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The Telegraph


London is the world's greatest city: now the rest of the country must emulate its success

The success of London, not just with the Olympics and Paralympics but as a vibrant world city, must be a lesson to the rest of Britain, write Greg Clark and Michael Heseltine.


As the Paralympics begin, London’s status as the world’s greatest city is now burnished with the golden glow of a fantastically successful Olympic Games. The best that our capital has to offer – from the historic grandeur of Horseguards and Tower Bridge to the thrilling modernity of the Olympic stadium and the Shard – has been beamed to every nation across the globe.
Even better, visitors from every nation – whether competitors, spectators, tourists or business people – are coming to London to see for themselves. The warmest of welcomes has been extended by a confident, multicultural city – with the meticulously organised and brilliantly delivered contribution of paid Olympic staff, the armed forces and volunteers alike winning international admiration.
London’s triumph should be a clarion call to the other great cities of our country. London must not be to the rest of Britain what Hong Kong was (and in some respects still is) to China – an exotic exception to the way things are done on the mainland. Rather, we should extend what has worked in London to the rest of the country. Our aim must be for us to be a nation of cities possessed of London’s confidence and élan. There is no reason why this should be beyond us.
Unlike many of their global competitors, our other great cities are already household names around the world thanks to their historical, industrial, cultural and sporting achievement. To take this inheritance forward into an even greater future, the following will be required:
First, leadership. London would never have been awarded the Olympics without the whole city, led by the Mayor, looking outwards to seize opportunities. If they are to prosper, our great cities need to elect leaders whose ambitions aren’t limited to running the local council, but who are willing to take a commanding role on the national and international stage, personally pursuing investment in their cities and marshalling the local change needed to secure that investment.
Second, unity. London works because on the most important matters it can speak with a single voice, from the outer suburbs to the inner core. Many, if not most, of our principal cities are balkanised by boundaries which carve up the true city into smaller municipalities. The result is too often a loss of city-wide perspective. London, through its mayoralty, and Greater Manchester, by boldly forming a combined authority, are able to command the attention due to a great city.
Third, infrastructure. A modern city of international appeal has to be an attractive place to live and work. Critical to that is being able to get to and around the city easily. While everyone likes to grumble about London transport, the fact is that the capital has experienced a steady improvement in infrastructure in recent years. For instance, it’s hard to see how the Olympics could have been won without the Jubilee Line extension that made Stratford so much more accessible. Then there’s the Channel Tunnel rail link, which has made London about as close in travel time to Paris and Brussels as it is to Leeds and Liverpool. Together with Oyster cards, Boris bikes, new buses, the East London Line extension and the Croydon Tramlink it is now easier to get into and around London than it has been for decades – Crossrail and the Thameslink upgrade will make it easier still.
Fourth, pace. London gets things done. In less than seven years the Olympic Park – practically a new borough – went from idea to completion. The congestion charge was proposed and implemented in less than three years. Now Boris is proposing cycle ways in the sky – a network of raised paths criss-crossing the city. Don’t bet against them being up and running before the sceptics have drawn breath. Yet how many straightforward enhancements to motorway junctions or other highway improvements drag on for years in the rest of the country? Often it is the dead hand of Whitehall and its agencies that slow things to a painful crawl. Let the cities themselves drive the pace, working with the government to plan their own destinies, short-circuiting the usual bureaucracy.
Which leads to the fifth lesson: active and empowering government. When he was a minister, one of the authors of this article promised to intervene “before breakfast, before lunch, before tea and before dinner”. We need to do so again. Sometimes only the government can tear away a barrier to local initiative or bang the relevant heads together. For the Olympics, a range of ministers including the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Transport Secretary as well as the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary were active in person, working with Sebastian Coe and Boris Johnson to make things happen. We are determined to make this the permanent way of working across the country. There’s no excuse for ministers not to roll up their sleeves and take personal responsibility for getting significant things done in particular places. Issuing general policy is not enough.
Finally, a long term view. No city can have a confident future if future generations are not able to be part of its success. Successful global cities are associated with educational excellence. For years London was synonymous with dire state schools, prompting those who could to flee beyond the city limits. But that picture is being transformed. As a hotbed of innovation in education – requiring most of the qualities set out above – London’s schools now outstrip the rest of the country. It is our other big cities, where the schools revolution has often yet to be ignited with the same enthusiasm, that risk being left behind.
When Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese in 1997, it was agreed that it would be different to every other city in China. In practice, China had already determined that its largest cities were – economically at least - going to catch up with Hong Kong rather than look respectfully on. In Britain today, it is time for us to become a nation defined by many great cities not just one.
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP
Rt Hon Lord Heseltine CH
Greg Clark is Minister for Decentralisation and Cities; Lord Heseltine is a former deputy prime minister
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Old December 6th, 2012, 05:14 PM   #1654
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Give us the money and we'll do it.

Surely now that London is a great city and all that (still prefer New York, but whatevs), the government can start sharing some wealth across the country?

Tush, don't be daft VDB!
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Old December 6th, 2012, 10:42 PM   #1655
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http://www.agma.gov.uk/cms_media/fil...es_pooling.pdf

GMCA 9 districts excluding Wigan look to be moving forward with a plan to pool business rates. Under the system proportional business rates are handed over to Government and they either top up or take more from Councils which have a disproportinate amount of rate income, in GM thats mainly Trafford (low population, lots of business based there) and to a much lesser degree Stockport, all the other councils recieve top up to their business rates from central Government. The scheme to allow councils to pool rates set up by Government means that the balance for the participating councils as a group rather than individually is used which would mean where there was a surplus in one council they wouldnt have to hand it over to Government if by pooling it there wasnt a net surplus, the area recieves the top up grant calculated for the whole area if below the business rates cap and of course if the area as a whole was above then that amount has to be handed to central Government for redistribution to other councils. The limitation on the scheme is it caps the grants to authorities with low business rate reciepts at 7.5% and Wigan (high population, low business) will be recieving more than that so it doesnt make sense to take part as that money from Government would be lost if it joined the pool.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 08:47 PM   #1656
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From the Economist:

English cities
Freedom at last

England’s big cities are getting a surprising taste of autonomy
Feb 2nd 2013 |From the print edition


LAST April David Cameron made a final plea to voters, who were then about to decide whether their cities should have elected mayors. “Britain stands on the brink of exciting democratic change,” cajoled the prime minister. “This is a once-in-a-generation chance to change the way we run our country.”

Voters firmly rejected excitement. Of the ten big cities holding referendums last May only one, Bristol, plumped for an elected mayor. That crushing defeat seemed to stop the government’s drive to devolve power from Britain’s overmighty central state. In some ways Westminster seems to have slipped back into centralism. Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, issues diktats about rubbish collection. Nick Boles, the planning minister, harries local authorities to open up more land for building. But change is coming nonetheless. The governance of Britain’s cities is quietly being transformed, in a process that may amount to something more radical than was boldly promised last year.

The first change is that Whitehall is granting local authorities greater power over borrowing and spending. The “city deals” that do so were originally connected to elected mayors, but they are going ahead anyway. The first wave of deals, involving the eight biggest English cities after London, was announced last summer. Agreements with a further 20 smaller cities will be signed this month.

Even modest investments in local infrastructure, such as tram routes and suburban railways, are currently approved in London and paid for out of central taxation. Business rates (property taxes levied on firms) are put into a central pot and redistributed according to need. Under the city deals, Greg Clark, the cities minister, wants local authorities to keep any growth in their business-rates revenue. They can borrow against this “uplift” to build critical infrastructure, which, in theory at least, ought to provide enough revenue over time to repay the loan. This funding method, known as tax-increment financing, is common in America but has never been tried in British cities.

It could transform how they operate. “At the moment, £10 spent on boosting the economy is £10 less to spend on essential services,” says Alexandra Jones, director of the Centre for Cities, a think-tank. Guaranteed a share of the proceeds, councils should favour projects that create jobs and tax revenue. They may even become more willing to loosen planning restrictions, which keep land prices in most British cities extremely high. As part of their deals, most cities have created “enterprise zones”, which feature radically simpler planning rules.

Mr Clark describes this as a “policy of subversion”. By devolving power gradually, city by city, the government has overcome the objections of civil servants that local councils cannot be trusted with freedom. Decent city governments can be liberated to do their own thing, even as Whitehall tightens its grip over weaker ones. Hence Manchester, which has the best leadership of any big city outside of London, has the most comprehensive deal whereas Liverpool’s is fairly modest.

In Birmingham money raised against future business rates is already being put towards the redevelopment of Paradise Circus. This large area near the city’s grandiose Victorian council building is currently home to a grubby shopping plaza featuring a discount pub, a mobile-phone accessories stand and the city’s widely loathed brutalist central library. By redeveloping the library and the area around it, the council has convinced several private businesses to invest too. This, it hopes, will eventually bring in enough extra tax revenue to cover its costs.

To pay for the redevelopment under the terms of the city deal, Birmingham’s city council has had to work with its neighbours. The next project it has planned is near the city’s airport, in the nearby borough of Solihull. This is the second big change in city government. As they seek to gain more responsibility over their finances, Britain’s local authorities–all individually too small to cover a whole metropolitan area–are finally linking together to provide stronger leadership.

Londons in the provinces

The emergence of truly metropolitan government is clearest in Greater Manchester. There, ten local governments have formed a combined entity covering the urban and suburban sprawl. This authority now controls the entire transport budget—rather like the Greater London Authority—and is run by a cabinet appointed by its members. It has borrowed £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) to invest in transport infrastructure, to be repaid with taxes “earned back” from the Treasury: the amount remitted will depend on how much the local economy grows. Several other large cities, including Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield, are considering a similar arrangement.

This revolution could go further. Lord Adonis, a prolific Labour Party thinker, argues that the next step on from combined authorities should be the creation of “metro mayors”, with cities getting a London-style leader in charge of several local authorities. More powers could be devolved, too. Lord Heseltine, a Tory grandee, proposes putting fewer conditions on central- government funding. Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham’s leader, would like a system whereby the city council would share the savings from lower welfare bills.

Anything that boosts the economic performance of British cities is welcome. Thanks to the government’s fiscal squeeze, most urban local authorities are extremely short of cash. More freedom would help them respond. In the 19th century, when depression hit Manchester, its leaders opted to build the world’s largest ship canal to attract more trade. Birmingham built an aqueduct from Wales that still serves the city. Central control since has done British cities no good: a dose of Victorian ambition might be their saviour.
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Old February 5th, 2013, 08:28 AM   #1657
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Thanks for posting Neil
I read the Economist most weeks....a newspaper that is remarkably Manchester friendly....and one that is read globally and in all the right places.
You might have noticed that the picture in that article is actually the framework of our own Co-Op HQ.

Prize for the spotting the other positive Manchester reference this week .....alongside Chicago
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Old February 5th, 2013, 04:14 PM   #1658
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Wigan and Bolton have signed the merging of their IT procurement.
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Old February 6th, 2013, 12:39 AM   #1659
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Prize for the spotting the other positive Manchester reference this week .....alongside Chicago
World's most expensive cities. Weren't we in the top 50?
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Old February 6th, 2013, 12:56 AM   #1660
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World's most expensive cities. Weren't we in the top 50?
I believe Manchester was 28th only a few years ago so its not a one-off.
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