Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A Region big enough for a Mayor

It seems that GM has decided the way to go is a Metro Mayor, I happen to think they a right, and I think it would be right for a greater Merseyside
One reason an elected metro mayor would be good, is that it would attract someone with higher ambition and more ability. It would be on a level with a job in as a junior minister, at the moment mayor is the height of a lacklustre career and the PCC is reserved as a sinecure for someone with a safe pair of hands on the way down.
Yes, it requires more scrutiny than the current mayor has and should be modelled on the London mayor with the same sort of powers.
The question is should it just be the current Met County, the LCR or something bigger? My personal opinion is we should look to the original proposal for Merseyside, from the 60s. This included West Lancs, Halton and Chester and West Cheshire, it is a unit which still has attractions. I'd also add Warrington so basically using the M6 as the divide between Liverpool and Manchester. It would have a population of nearly 2 million and would cover a diverse area from rural to metropolitan. Any one area would be unable to dominate because of the greater diversity.
The arrangement with the borough still existing and providing local control would ensure that each area maintained its identity and voice while the expanded region would command more resources nationally and benefit from efficiency savings.
If it goes to a vote it more than likely will not happen, for the same reasons the original Merseyside plan didn't happen.
Selling it is going to have to be done very carefully as the devolution of national powers rather than the aggregation of local powers. A chance to escape from Westminster and the South Easts stranglehold. I'm not sure the politicians of the area are up to grabbing the opportunity, preferring instead to squabble amongst themselves. I'm equally sure that the people will do the same.
If it was me, I'd enforce it, HMG was elected with the power to do this, it should simply use that power and actually lead. The change in the democratic balance is fairly minimal no great powers are being removed and no great responsibilities added. This is too trivial a move to warrant a referendum.

Update 1st October 2016