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The following report by the Guardian fails to mention some rather important information, whilst it is true that the City of Manchester voted against an elected Mayor, the City of Salford did vote for one. Bury Council voted against having one in 2008 however the remaining 7 Councils which also make up the Greater Manchester area have not had a vote.
Andy Burnham’s statement “the biggest betrayal of people and communities who already showed in the EU referendum how abandoned they feel by Westminster” is also way off the mark.
An elected Mayor for Greater Manchester was not decided by the people of Greater Manchester, in fact Labour opposed an Elected Mayor for City of Manchester, City of Salford and Bury yet decided to impose one on Greater Manchester without consulting its people.
The City of Manchester which voted against an Elected Mayor also voted to ‘Remain’ in the EU, along with Stockport and Trafford who haven’t had a referendum on an elected Mayor, 7 of the 10 Councils voted to ‘Leave’ the EU.
North West Chairman
Burnham calls on PM to reaffirm commitment to English devolution
Labour candidate for Greater Manchester mayor says a U-turn by Theresa May would be ‘betrayal of people and communities’
Andy Burnham’s remarks follow reports that May might go back on a commitment to directly elected mayors for city regions.
Frances Perraudin North of England reporter
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, has called on Theresa May to reaffirm her commitment to English devolution after reports that she will abandon the policy of creating directly elected mayors for city regions.
The prime minister plans to ditch the policy, championed by the former chancellor George Osborne, in part to avoid Labour using the roles to strengthen its position in the party’s heartlands, according to a report.
The creation of elected mayors is the most controversial condition of a series of devolution arrangements agreed by Osborne and a number of “metro” regions, including the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the Liverpool and Sheffield city regions, the Tees Valley, the north-east and Greater Lincolnshire.
While the Manchester and Liverpool mayoral elections were likely to go ahead, May could let the next phase of devolution in other regions proceed without directly elected mayors, the Times reported. Labour’s dominance in the biggest devolved regions makes it likely that the party would win many of the metro mayor races.
Burnham, who is Labour’s candidate for next year’s Greater Manchester mayoral race, said going back on the commitment to English devolution would be “the biggest betrayal of people and communities who already showed in the EU referendum how abandoned they feel by Westminster”.
He added: “These rumours are another sign that, since the [EU referendum] vote, Westminster has reverted to business as usual. Theresa May came into office promising to close the north/south divide. Within a matter of weeks, she seems to have changed her tune.
“She must clear up this confusion and confirm whether the many promises still stand. This whole business will only remind people why they are fed up with Westminster politics.”
Steve Rotheram, MP for Liverpool Walton and Labour’s mayoral candidate in the Liverpool city region, said May was giving the impression that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”.
“In October 2015, [May] voted in favour of devolving powers where electing regional mayors were part of the agreement,” said Rotheram, who serves as Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary private secretary. “However, it now appears she is trying to row back the former chancellor’s flagship policy by indicating she is not comfortable relinquishing decision-making from the Westminster elite.
“The thinking inside No 10 is undoubtedly a fear of the Labour party performing strongly in major areas across the UK and I look forward to the metro mayor elections in 2017 where voters in the Liverpool city region will have the first opportunity to send Theresa May a message that they want a fair share of funding from a Tory government who has consistently hit our area the hardest.”
Labour has previously been opposed to the last government’s decision to impose metro mayors on local areas and combined authorities as a precondition of devolution, and in May 2012 nine cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, voted against having directly elected mayors.
The prime minister’s spokeswoman said the government’s position on devolution had not changed. “We are going to continue to work closely with local areas and be open to discussions on any devolution proposals that include strong accountable governance and clear accountability,” she said.
Asked if regions in the process of negotiating a devolution deal would be able to opt for elected mayors, she said she was not going to speculate on the outcome of such discussions.