Greater Manchester Mayor

(Please note that this was written before I was diagnosed with a tumour in my head, so eventually was unable to put my name forward as UKIP Greater Manchester Mayoral contest candidate).

20/03/2016 updated 02/04/2016

 

This article is likely to take a long time and be split into a number of pages.

 

The NHS Budget for Greater Manchester was passed to Greater Manchester Mayor's Office on 1 April 2016[13].  It is a £6 billion NHS Budget.  It must cut £2 billion from the NHS budget but is already £2 billion short of what it needs[14].  In 2020 Conservatives will point at the predominantly Labour Mayor's office and say that  their failure (because it will fail) over the NHS budget is evidence of Labour's financial control failures. The local Labour politicians jumped at the chance of having real power and it will backfire on them.  The Mental health budget was cut, cut and then cut more[15].  There is now pretty much no NHS help for anyone with mental health problems unless they have severe problems.  Those of us with less dangerous mental health problems will get no help - it has already led to suicides and this will increase massively as more cuts are made[16].  Labour will regret this.

 

This is what a Labour MP said in a recent debate (at 8:10)[14]:

8.10 pm Mr Ivan Lewis (Bury South) (Lab)

 

"However, we have a £2 billion NHS funding gap in Greater Manchester. Cuts to council budgets are severely restricting access to social care, and community mental health services are in crisis. In many areas, preventive services, often provided by voluntary organisations, are being cut to the bone. On top of that, we have no guarantee that the Treasury will not cut our funding further in the future. A fair deal would mean NHS England more than doubling the transformation fund established to support those changes in Greater Manchester, from the current £450 million to £1 billion. Any deal must also make it clear that in Greater Manchester we vehemently oppose the privatisation of the NHS."

 

This is a quote from a recent article about the state of Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust[16]:

 

"But one mental health worker has also told the M.E.N. that people with very severe mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, are being discharged from the service ‘left, right and centre’ in order to get them off its books."

 

The Greater Manchester Mayor and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority will be a disaster.  It should have been set up the same as the Mayor of London office.  It was not.  I will be putting my name forward to stand for UKIP for this office and I will be doing so fight to have it changed to be the same as London and to make it fair.

 

The Law & Background To the Greater Manchester Mayor

 

When the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 one of the issues raised was the Northern Powerhouse (which will eventually have its own page on here).  One of the major issues was travel, resulting in the "The Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda, One Economy, One North" report (A report on the Northern Transport Strategy) issued in March 2015[1].

 

The Conservatives won the 2015 General Election.  Following this the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 ("the 2016 Act") was enacted, receiving Royal Assent on 28th January 2016[2].  It's summary is:

 

"A Bill to make provision for the election of mayors for the areas of, and for conferring additional functions on, combined authorities established under Part 6 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009; to make other provision in relation to bodies established under that Part; to make provision about local authority governance and functions; to confer power to establish, and to make provision about, sub-national transport bodies; and for connected purposes."

 

Part 6 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 ("the 2009 Act") is for the Economic prosperity boards and combined authorities[2].

 

Section 2 of the 2016 Act adds a Section 107A and 107B in the 2009 Act.  Section 2, creating s. 107A says at subsection (1):

 

"The Secretary of State may by order provide for there to be a mayor for the area of a combined authority."

 

S. 107B(3) says:

 

"(3) An order under section 107A may also be made without any such proposal having been made if—

 

(a) the appropriate authorities consent, or

 

(b) in the case of an existing combined authority, there are one or more non-consenting constituent councils but the combined authority and at least two constituent councils consent."

 

Part 6 of the 2009 Act created the power to create a combined authority.  This authority is Greater Manchester.  This created the Mayoral office with 10 Council leaders as the "Cabinet" for the Greater Manchester Mayor, each of which has a veto over the Mayor's budgets.  It was first announced in November 2014 and as at today this Cabinet is made up as follows:

 

The Greater Manchester Mayor & His Cabinet

 

 

All bar two names above (Sue Derbyshire and Sean Anstee) are Labour.  When the Chancellor wanted his Greater Manchester Mayor he went to the leaders and sold them this idea.  Those Labour leaders all saw power, so said yes.

 

What do you think will happen if a Conservative is elected?  Or a UKIP candidate is elected as Greater Manchester Mayor?  I can tell you now, I am putting my name forward.  What will happen is a total breakdown of the system, and I will set out below why.

 

The saddest part of this whole sorry saga is that the people of Greater Manchester had no say in this.  Tony Lloyd, former Manchester Central Labour MP, currently the Manchester Police Commissioner, was shuffled into the role because he is Labour.

 

What Is Wrong?

 

The biggest objection is actually two fold, aside from the people of Greater Manchester previously rejecting an elected mayor - I will cover that another time.  The first is that the Greater Manchester mayor's office will take the Greater Manchester NHS and mental health NHS budgets for whole of the Greater Manchester area.  Those budgets are already bankrupt.  Secondly, the Greater Manchester Mayor must take the Council Leaders as his Cabinet.  Of course a Labour Party would jump at this, because the leaders get more power and the Labour Party gets a choke hold on the office.  I would say both points are equally as significant.

 

s. 107G(6) of the 2009 Act (as amended by the 2016 Act)[4] means that the Cabinet of Local Council Leaders may scrutinise the budget.  Given the Cabinet is a Labour Party stronghold how do you think a [non-Labour] Mayor will push through unpopular but needed economic policy?  Answer is, s/he cannot.  Every time they will be stopped by their Labour Party cabinet, who each hold a veto.  That means that the only local budget under the Mayor's office passed will be one sanctioned by (and probably imposed from) the Labour Party.  You have just said goodbye to democracy in the North West.

 

Imagine, if you will, that a UKIP candidate (let's say me, because I am rather vain in this regard) is elected in May 2017.  Mayor Kalvin would go into office based upon a right-of-centre political manifesto.  Mayor Kalvin  would have local politics at the heart of any policy.  For instance, UKIP objects to the HS2 and HS3 rail links and believes that the rail links to the North of England and Scotland can be constructed for much less money than the tens of billions being pushed by the Coalition Government and the present Conservative Government.  We believe it should be something akin to fixing what we already have and using the remaining tens of billions to build a stronger Northern Powerhouse.

 

Now imagine Mayor Kalvin trying to pass anything to do with this in his first month in office.  Do you think Mayor Kalvin  would succeed, or do you think that despite what Mayor Kalvin's manifesto said the Labour Party leadership within Mayor Kalvin's Cabinet would want to scupper any chance of him doing anything for his term in office with the express intention of driving him out of office?  Labour would not give a damn about what people voted for, they would scupper every decision attempted to be made in order to force Mayor Kalvin out.

 

That means that Mayor Kalvin would lose every "inspection" by the Cabinet and it means that Mayor Kalvin would be unable to put into practice what he was elected to do because the Labour Party would only allow a Labour Party Greater Manchester Mayor coupled with a Labour Party policy attached to it.

 

Is that just UKIP bitching?  No.

 

in June 2015 this is what Prof Francesca Gains of the Professor of Public Policy unit at Manchester University said[5]:

 

"However, this kind of arrangement could serve to further entrench the lack of diversity in the Greater Manchester cabinet. Only one of the ten local authority leaders in Greater Manchester is female. The mayor’s cabinet already looks very old fashioned compared to other executive bodies, such as the UK Cabinet. Allowing the election of a deputy mayor on a joint ticket would allow the political parties to offer a gender balanced ticket and this could go some way towards countering the ‘male and pale’ aspect of the Greater Manchester arrangements."

 

Open Democracy said this[6]:

 

"Much has been made of backroom deals between the Chancellor George Osborne and Manchester City Council’s chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein to deliver the most significant devolutionary settlement of Whitehall budgets in England. ... For some attending a cities@manchester debate earlier this week, the imposition of an elected mayor is seen as an unwelcome and undemocratic step."

 

 

With Professor Colin Talbot Professor of Manchester University setting out his reasons for objecting in a wonderful blog.  He does not believe it likely that anyone but Labour could be elected as Mayor - but look at London.  Massive landslide for Labour under Ken Livingston and then a massive Landslide for Conservative under Boris Johnson.  You just never know who might stand and what the result will be.  Mayor Kalvin is as likely as UKIP dominating the North West EU election in 2014.

 

The Manchester University report on it says this [Page 7][7]:

 

"In the creation of the Greater Manchester mayor attention must be paid to making the democratic case alongside the economic and social case, and it is essential to engage the public in this devolutionary experiment. There are tremendous opportunities to have conversations with communities, local councillors and stakeholders in how to be creative and bold in designing the checks and balances. The next stages will require a  spirit of co-operation and innovation that the region has long demonstrated."

 

This is what Labour's Emma Lewell-Buck said on 3 March 2016 in Parliament[8]:

 

"The significant and worrying lack of public consultation and engagement at all stages of the process, including with today’s order, is well recorded. The Centre for Public Scrutiny and the Communities and Local Government Committee have criticised the fact that far too many deals have been rushed and reached behind closed doors, without a proper assessment of how ​devolution will improve powers. Not to allow the people of Greater Manchester to assert their democratic right to be involved in a process that will radically change how their region is governed is troubling to say the least. In his response, will the Minister talk about the lack of public consultation?

 

The present Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner was appointed as an interim Mayor by the combined authority leaders. His tenure was extended to five years. Whatever his merits are, neither that appointment nor the extension were democratic decisions. Turnout in Greater Manchester for the election of the new police and crime commissioner in 2012 stood at just 14%. That shows that the public either did not want a police and crime commissioner or that they were not given enough information to be politically engaged. It is therefore even more important for the Government to ensure that the public are properly included in and informed about the plans we are debating. Will the Minister further explain the basis on which the electoral term was extended from four years to five?"

 

 

NHS Budget

 

The Greater Manchester Mayor will be the head of the budget for the Greater Manchester NHS[9].  That budget is circa £6 billion.  This was contained in the Government's report (undated - but I believe November 2015) to pass more devolution to Greater Manchester[10].  The report says this:

 

"2. Following the initial deal, Greater Manchester and NHS England signed up to arrangements to bring together £6 billion of NHS and social care budgets so that joint planning of these services can deliver better care for patients. In addition, the March 2015 Budget announced a pilot scheme in Greater Manchester and Cheshire East to enable the retention of 100% of any additional business rate growth."

 

 

The NHS budget is bad enough, but the Mayor's office will look after the NHS Mental Health budget, which the King's Fund described as being in trouble in November 2015[11].  40% of mental health trusts have seen reductions of income since 2013[12].

 

"Funding for mental health services has been cut in recent years. Our analysis shows that around 40 per cent of mental health trusts experienced reductions in income in 2013/14 and 2014/15."

 

UKIP Stretford & Urmston's Andrew Beaumont's partner works for an NHS hospital and confirms that the mental health services have been cut to the bone, and then cut and cut further.  We are proposing to now pass that under-funded budget along with the underfunded NHS budget to be given in full to the the Mayor's office.

 

That means that the whole area will be subject to massive underfunding as money is diverted to try and keep hospitals open.  The Conservative Government can then point at the Labour Greater Manchester Mayor and his Labour Cabinet and say that once again Labour has failed on budgets.

 

Whilst I loath citing the heavily biased Manchester Evening News, their article of 20 December 2015[13] was a rare case of actual journalism.  It confirmed that the Mental Health NHS budget is in crisis.  It says this:

 

"Manchester's mental health professionals talk of a time 25 years ago, when the city had internationally renowned care. If you needed to ring someone who understood and who knew you and your problems, they were at the end of the phone, even if it was the middle of the night.

 

Yet patients and professionals increasingly talk of a system flipping into reverse gear, one that is headed back to an era before the 1980s. Years upon years of cuts - compounded by expensive privately-built beds - have taken their toll.

 

And now the city's mental health trust is cutting back even further after the council withdrew a vast chunk of funding last April. The very kind of services that used to make it so strong - community workshops where patients could meet each other, gain confidence and keep out of hospital - are now facing the axe."

 

And we are to expect the Greater Manchester Mayor’s office under a Labour administration to be able to juggle this budget without the resources that the Department for Health has, which itself has been unable to balance the books since Margaret Thatcher's Government started experimenting with NHS cuts in the 1980s?

 

[I note here that Jennifer Williams, the M.E.N. journalist, wrote this.  She betrays her inability to cover politics properly.  She is the M.E.N.'s political journalist and resolutely refuses to allow anything to be published that is not pro her personal politics - which is Labour.  She recently did an entire page setting who might stand for Gt Manchester Mayor - everyone was Labour - and included a big article on the same page to who had been selected for Salford Mayor but  notably refused to mention the UKIP Candidate for Salford Mayor Owen Hammond despite having his details and rarely if ever mentions Conservative, Lib Dem or Green.  In line with bad journalism portraying just the writer's personal politics this article fails to mention that the Greater Manchester Mayor and his Labour Party Cabinet will get the Mental Health NHS Budget and will not be able to balance the books (No one could, regardless of party, without more money).  That would not have been a pro Labour thing to say, so it was omitted, betraying her distinct lack of ability to be unbiased in her journalistic efforts.  See here for the Electoral Commission's comments that the M.E.N. was the most heavily biased local paper in the 2010 election on page 31).

 

The NHS Budget will kill off any sustainability or enterprising initiatives that the Mayor's office can hope to bring because the NHS budget will dominate everything and suck cash out of every project as the Mayor tries to keep hospitals open.  Who would want to be the politician that over-saw hospital closures?  In addition to this, the office will be a Labour dominated office, and we know how atrocious Labour are with budgets.

 

Summary

 

The Greater Manchester Mayoral office cannot work if anyone but a Labour Party candidate is elected.  We know the area is heavily Labour, so it is likely to be a Labour candidate that wins.  However, it is possible for another party to win, just look at the London Mayor - conservative Boris Johnson - despite that London is heavily Labour.  The failure to make the Greater Manchester Mayor's office the same as the London Mayor's office was simply to ensure this went through without opposition when George Osborne needed to push it through.  If the London mayor had the local council leaders as his/her cabinet there would be total disarray - so why has Greater Manchester been saddled with the unfair cabinet system we have got? Why does London get a democratic version and we do not?

 

That would have been bad enough, but pushing the NHS budget, including the Mental Health trust budgets means that the Greater Manchester Mayor's office cannot work.  The NHS budget will dominate everything.  The NHS in Greater Manchester is bankrupt.  Will the Mayor have to start taking from other budgets just to make them balance?  Will we see local taxes being increased just to try and keep the hospitals open?  We already know that the hospitals are in trouble, but the special hospitals and every single mental health service is already straining and ready to break.

 

UKIP is concerned right now with the Council elections in May 2016 and the EU Referendum in June 2016.  The May 2017 Mayor election will then be up for debate.  I will put my name forward for it and I will do so on a ticket of changing the Mayor's office to a) move the NHS budgets back to central Government and b) making the Cabinet a cabinet selected and imposed by the Mayor, the same as happens in London.

 

UKIP is likely to have a large selection of candidates to choose from and the possibility of winning may seem remote - but if you look at the 2014 EU vote you will see that it is not impossible.

 

As such, I have no doubts that we will have some amazing candidates putting their names forward and as such the selection would by no means be limited to just little old me.  But I am here and I have already started looking at the issues, live & work in Manchester and I have a huge passion for the politics of the region (I stood as the UKIP Parliamentary Candidate in May 2015 General election for Stretford & Urmston in Trafford).  I intend to fight, and I intend to so with the full facts behind me.  This website will constantly be updated to add the necessary factual matrix that will make up the Mayor's Office in May 2017.

 

The atrocious reporting and journalism by the Manchester Evening News will mean that we would get no positive publicity in the local newspaper for Manchester, but the MEN does not cover the whole of the Greater Manchester region, so their bad journalism will not necessarily cause wider harm, despite their desire to do so.

 

I think the Greater Manchester Mayoral race will be a good one.  I think the position could do a lot for this area, especially if we have non-Labour candidates pushing for the role.  We are the #2 city in the UK and many businesses are now relocation up here because of how amazing Manchester is.  The areas in Greater Manchester have been ignored by central Government since before the two world wars, so this will be an ideal time to start transforming the whole of the region.  I do not think Labour can do that.  They have dominated the Councils and MP seats here for the last 60 years and have done precious little.  Greater Manchester cities like Bury and Oldham are worse now than they were 50 years ago.  This region needs a better system, and I personally believe that a UKIP Mayor for Greater Manchester will deliver that.

 

But we need to do it in a way that is not cut off at the knees by Labour and Conservative machinations.

 

I strongly suspect the NHS Budget was George Osborne's way of being able to blame Labour for failing - when in fact no one would be able to keep the NHS budgets afloat, and I think that decision was a very bad one.

 

 

Resources

 

[1] HM Government March 2015 "The Northern Powerhouse: One Agenda, One Economy, One North - A report on the Northern Transport Strategy"

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/427339/the-northern-powerhouse-tagged.pdf

 

[2] Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/1/contents/enacted/data.htm

 

[3] Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/20/part/6

 

[4] Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016 section 5

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/1/section/5/enacted

 

[5] Prof Francesca Gains of the Professor of Public Policy unit at Manchester University Blog

http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/posts/2015/06/the-future-of-metro-mayors-all-eyes-on-greater-manchester/

 

[6] Open Democracy UK 10 march 2015 "he making of the Greater Manchester mayor - what next?"

https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/francesca-gains/making-of-greater-manchester-mayor-what-next

 

[7] Manchester University Report, undated, "On Devo"

http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=24416

 

[8] Hansard  Delegated Legislation Committee  3 March 2016 "draft Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Election of Mayor with police and crime commissioner functions) order 2016"

https://hansard.digiminster.com/commons/2016-03-03/debates/265a2445-b9b8-44ec-959d-f5b0cae84531/DraftGreaterManchesterCombinedAuthority(ElectionOfMayorWithPoliceAndCrimeCommissionerFunctions)Order2016

 

[9] BBC February 2015

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-31656313

 

[10] HM Treasury 27 Nov 2015 "Further devolution to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and directly-elected Mayor"

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/443087/Greater_Manchester_Further_Devolution.pdf

 

[11] King's Fund 12 November 2016 "Mental Health Under Pressure"

http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/mental-health-under-pressure

 

[12] King's Fund leaflet 12 November 2015 "Kings Fund Briefing"

http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/field/field_publication_file/mental-health-under-pressure-nov15_0.pdf

 

[13] 1 April 2016 BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35933922

 

See also GMCA's website:]

https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/homepage/59/devolution

 

[14] See debate in Parliament 31 March 2016

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160321/debtext/160321-0003.htm

 

[15] Manchester Evening News 30 March 2016 "Manchester's mental health bosses push through savage cuts despite public rage"

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchesters-mental-health-bosses-push-11116054

 

[16]  Manchester Evening News 30 March 2016 "Depressed mental health campaigner abruptly discharged from care after being told nothing can be done for him"

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/depressed-mental-health-campaigner-abruptly-11115440

 

 

 

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