But that is exactly where we are, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announcing the Government’s plan for a new City Devolution Bill in a speech delivered in Manchester.

In his speech the Chancellor said a lot of things, including:

“This law will pave the way for Greater Manchester – and, importantly, other cities as well, to take greater control and responsibility over all the key things that make a city work, from transport and housing to skills, and key public services like health and social care.

It means by the end of this year the legal framework will be set so that any city can proceed to implement a Mayoral devolution deal.”

“Greater Manchester has agreed to have a mayor as part of our Northern Powerhouse - and this new law will make that happen.

My door now is open to any other major city who‎ wants to take this bold step into the future.

This is a revolution in the way we govern England.”

But will we have the revolution, and how far will it extend?

The Chancellor’s deal is simple: cities can have more power and greater budgets so long as they agree to a single elected executive mayor to exercise the new powers and spend the new budget. The powers and remit of the participating councils themselves will not be changed, but they will have to work with each other and the mayor to deliver the new resources.

So what will be the keys to a city region gaining the new powers? I suggest the following will be in the mix:

  • Desire: there has to be the determination to make the difference in new ways, and not simply do more of the same;
  • Competence: the long track record of the councils and other public bodies in the Greater Manchester area working together has instilled the confidence for them to be allowed to blaze the trail;
  • Creativity: the Government really does want city and regional leaders to harness the ideas and solutions offered by local businesses, whether large or small, listed or social, grassroots or international;
  • Collaboration: doing with and not doing to, being relational, reciprocal and responsible;
  • Delivery: it’s not just the powers currently exercised by the Mayor of London that are on offer, but as Greater  Manchester is showing, more besides – if NHS budget devolution can happen in the North West, what else could be possible?
  • Engagement: if the Government is willing to let go and permit the devolution of its powers, what could councils do more with their communities to allow participative services for the public?

With more devolution to Scotland and Wales as well, it will not be just city region government that will be close to local authorities, communities and other local stakeholders. It will have the effect that government from London will be smaller, but also possibly less remote. Its conversation with the English regions should be more expansive as a consequence.

There is the issue of an elected mayor, leading to presidential government on a city region level, and this is risky. That’s the point! The election of the mayor should create a focus for what really matters; failure does have a higher premium. Risk can bring rewards. Defining and understanding the rewards at the outset clearly and not just following the latest trend will be vital if this is to be more than an expedient experiment.

For more information

Please contact Mark Cook.

The spread of necrotising fasciitis
The spread of necrotising fasciitis

Necrotising Fasciitis, more commonly known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’, is a significant medical condition that requires urgent treatment.

Richard Handley Inquest
Richard Handley Inquest

Many of us who have been following the unfolding Inquest, are not surprised that the Coroner found gross and significant failures on the part of those caring for him.

Recovery of fire safety costs from leaseholders
Recovery of fire safety costs from leaseholders

In all the action to remove defective cladding, leaseholders have been the elephant in the room. Whilst social landlords might have adopted a wait and see approach private landlords do not have that luxury.

Transforming Business
Transforming Business

We welcome the Labour Party’s commitment to doubling the size of the co-operative economy. We wholeheartedly support the ambition to grow this vitally important part of the economy.

Converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation
Converting to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

It was first referred to in the Charities Act 2006 (which was subsequently replaced by the Charities Act 2011) but it has finally been announced that charitable companies are able to convert to a charitable incorporated organisation (“CIO”).

Impact of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill
Impact of Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill

The Private Members Bill Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 now has Government support and was debated at second reading on Friday 19 January 2018.