Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Never mind the election - come and meet the Mayor

The Mayor speaks at Parklife 2017


As Andy Burnham approaches the end of his first term in office, and the public contempt for the Westminster he left behind is laid bare, I'm delighted that my old client, accountancy institute the ICAEW, have asked me to host an event with the Greater Manchester Mayor.

It's come at a critical time in our politics nationally, but also in our city region. London has long been synonymous with “Big Business”, but what can we expect from the Manchester of the future under Andy Burnham’s steer? The Manchester skyline may be crowded with more cranes than any other UK city, but how do we address true regional imbalances?

So far he's built alliances beyond the political realm in order to achieve his manifesto goals of eradicating street homelessness and sorting out transport. Obviously I spend a lot of my day job making sure the university I work at is in tune with these regional strategies and priorities and acts accordingly. One example is the ‘UK 2070’ report, published recently by Lord Bob Kerslake’s Commission, which clearly demonstrates the “huge gulf” that exists between the UK’s best and worst performing towns and cities. How do we ensure that Greater Manchester’s towns benefit from the city’s boom and that they are not left behind?

The question I keep coming back to is whether Greater Manchester has the means to drive its own destiny. Even though the city region has the most advanced devolution deal of any of the UK’s cities, how do we use this to deliver a fundamental shift in decision making outside of London and pass these devolved powers and self-determination to people across the North? What are the levers that the Mayor can pull? And what are the limits?

Going all the way back to 2000 when I moved back North, I've worked closely with the region's extensive professional services sector, which I believe has consistently been underappreciated and misunderstood. Is it truly a participant in the local industrial strategy? Or does the emphasis on health innovation, advanced manufacturing, digital, and working towards becoming carbon neutral, drown out the innovation that financial and professional sectors are contributing? And what complementary skills does the region need from the professions in order to bring the strategy to life? That's before we've even started asking questions to those of us working in the local educational sector about what we need to do to make all of this happen?

Register here to join us on the 7 November to hear more from Andy Burnham on his vision for the city and take the opportunity to ask your burning questions on the future of Greater Manchester.

And if you can't make it, put your question to Andy via Twitter using #InConvoGM

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