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Chancellor sets out plans for northern devolution

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The chancellor has outlined his plans to transfer power and cash to English cities as part of plans to ‘build a northern powerhouse’

In a speech in Manchester yesterday (14 May), George Obsorne said the ‘old model’ of running public services from Whitehall was ‘broken’ and had unbalanced the economy.

He said to close the gap the government needed to ‘take further radical action’.

This ‘radical action’ comes in the form of the devolution plan – which was widely trailed before the election.

Under the plans cities that agree to elect mayors would gain control of local transport, housing, skills and healthcare.

‘I will not impose this model on anyone,’ Osborne said. ‘But nor will I settle for less.

‘London has a mayor. Greater Manchester has agreed to have a mayor as part of our Northern Powerhouse - and this new law will make that happen.’

He continued: ‘My door is now open to any other major city who‎ wants to take this bold step into the future.

‘This is a revolution in the way we govern England.’

The new legislation allows Manchester to appoint an interim mayor and the city is expected to hold an election for a fully elected mayor in 2017.

By the end of the year the legal framework should be in place for other cities to follow the lead of Manchester and implement mayoral devolution.  

Cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle are expected to sign up for the devolution deal.

The devolution of powers to cities across England was a major theme in the run-up to the election, both nationally and locally.

The appointment of former cities and treasury minister Greg Clark as communities secretary has also been seen as a sign of the Conservative government’s commitment to the devolution agenda.

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