Chancellor George Osborne will give cities in England the chance to take control of their own affairs – by giving them devolved powers – but only if they accept an elected mayor.
The chancellor used his first speech of the new parliament to extend his northern powerhouse vision, calling on other urban areas to follow the example of Greater Manchester. Manchester will be the first city to be offered devolved powers when it elects its first “metro mayor” in 2017.
Mr Osborne said: “Here’s the deal: we will hand power from the centre to cities to give you greater control over your local transport, your housing, your skills, your healthcare and we will give you the levers you need to grow your local economy and make sure that local people keep the rewards.
“But it’s right that people have a single point of accountability, someone they elect, who takes the decisions and who carries the can. So with these new powers for cities must come new city-wide elected mayors who work with local councils.
“I will not impose a mayor on anyone but nor will I settle for less. My door is open to any other major city who wants to take this bold step into the future.”
The chancellor said there was a widespread appetite for devolution, telling his audience that during the election campaign people all over the country had asked him why their region was not in line for a similar deal.
Leaders of Greater Manchester’s 10 councils have agreed to the area’s first mayoral election – with elections to take place in 2017.
Under the devolution plans, the mayor would lead Greater Manchester Combined Authority, chair its meetings and allocate responsibilities to a cabinet made up of the leaders of each of the 10 councils.
The new mayor will take control of a devolved transport budget, strategic planning, public health, a new housing investment fund as well as the functions of the police and crime commissioner.
West Yorkshire Combined Authority could be next in line to gain devolved powers. However there has been some opposition for an elected mayor – especially in Bradford and York. The Sheffield Combined Authority has also resisted calls for an elected mayor.
As Merseyside councils remain divided over having an elected mayor, a referendum has been suggested to let voters decide.
Some council leaders in the north east also believe a single politician would struggle to represent all the diverse communities.
Glasgow agreed a significant deal just before the Scottish Independence Referendum, but at the moment lacks the robust governance structures to make decisions at the city-region level.
Both Bristol and Birmingham, despite good progress, have been unable to form strong combined authorities and are unlikelty to gain devolved powers at this stage.