Campaign for the North (CFTN) are lobbying for maximum powers of devolution so that Manchester can be run ‘by the people and for the people’.
The campaign group believe that a northern economy could address many regional problems using a solid financial system and tax-raising powers.
The ten council leaders of Greater Manchester agreed to a mayor in return for devolved power and responsibility on November 3.
Michael Dawson, campaigns director for CFTN, told MM: “Britain’s present centralised system is the enemy of growth in the North and England’s other regions. It sucks investment, talent and enterprise out of the North and concentrates wealth in London and the south-east.
“Devo-max simply puts power back into our hands. It makes sure that cities such as Manchester are run by the people and for the people.
“The North is a region of 15million people and has the eighth largest economy in the EU. Yet Northerners see so little of the wealth that is rightfully ours.”
While Manchester voted ‘no’ to a mayor in a 2012 referendum, CFTN believe that the people of the wider area of Greater Manchester should have the option to decide.
“It seems awfully undemocratic to me and questions have to be asked as to why there wasn’t another referendum,” Dawson said.
“If the people of Manchester want an elected mayor, then that’s what they should have.”
The campaign is unimpressed with the government in regard to the deficit, which involved a further £30billion of public spending cuts in the Autumn Statement.
“With respect to the UK economy as a whole, the coalition government has proven disastrous. Record levels of borrowing (despite ordinary people having to tighten our belts), poor growth forecasts and low wages indicate unsustainable economic policies,” he said.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne gave a speech at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry in June about his vision for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
After the devolution agreement was signed Mr Osbourne emphasised the potential benefits of the agreement for Northern people:
“This will give Mancunians a powerful voice and bring practical improvements for local people, with better transport links, an Oyster-style travelcard, and more investment in skills and the city’s economy.”
But the Campaign believes that more needs to be done for people in the North.
“The Chancellor’s plans for the North don’t go far enough and, most worryingly, show a real lack of understanding for the problems that affect Northerners,” Dawson said.
Sir Richard Leese the Vice Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority defended their approach to devolution.
“We recognise that this cannot happen overnight and there needs to be a staged approach based on evidence that devolution delivers increased economic growth and better public services,” he said.
The Campaign was founded by Dr Harold Elletson who brought together leading academics, doctors, journalists and other professionals.
Together, they created their flagship policy document the ‘Case for the North‘ about devo-max and how this can realistically be achieved.
Mr Dawson said that they had received a lot of support from Northern people as well as interest from the BBC, Pulse Radio, the Mirror, the Independent, the University of Manchester, LSE and the University of East Anglia.
Image courtesy of Raver Mikey, with thanks.