A GOVERNANCE MAP FOR GREATER MANCHESTER REPORT
OF THE ASSOCIATION OF GREATER MANCHESTER AUTHORITIES
1. One of the key issues which is likely
to have an increasing profile over the coming months is City Regions
and their governance arrangements. A Government White paper is
promised later this year, and the intention behind this analysis
by AGMA is to position Greater Manchester on this important debate,
and create a framework for the potential development of a common
2. AGMA has identified the following key
issues which it believes should inform Greater Manchester's overall
approach to the issue of governance:
The significance of City Regions,
and the Manchester City Region in particular, to future national,
regional and local policies.
The key functional/programme areas
which are considered to be essential to us achieving our full
What are seen as the major constraints
to effective governance, and what we see as the components of
successful and effective change in the future, and
An analysis framework for the main
options and a suggested way forward.
Each of these matters is covered in the following
4. City Regions are increasingly acknowledged
nationally as the driving force of economic achievement, and the
key to the delivery of national competitiveness and inclusion
strategies. This has been a policy change which has been hard
won, and is manifesting itself in a range of policies and new
initiatives, most notably the Northern Way strategy which has
the potential to challenge the conventional approach to strategic
planning and provide new opportunities for inter-agency and intra-regional
working and collaboration.
5. For AGMA and its constituent authorities,
the potential gains are the greatest of all. The Manchester City
Region, with its concentration of key economic assets and its
proven growth and development profile over the last few years
in particular, is more important than most. We account for over
50% of the GVA for the whole of the North West of England. If
we fail to achieve our full potential, there is no prospect of
achieving regional or national job/wealth creation targets; and
just as crucially, there is no serious and sustainable counter-balance
in the UK to London and the South East.
It is equally clear that many national Public
Service Agreements (PSA) targets, including key floor targets,
will only be achieved if they are achieved in City Regions. It
is in City Regions that gaps in outcomes are widest. Many of the
outcomes that need to be improved to secure sustainable communities
such as skills, crime and health require City-Regional analysis
6. AGMA has made clear its view that building
upon City Regions is not inconsistent with the wider regional
agenda. Indeed, it sees City Regions providing urgent and much
needed focus to this agenda. This perspective is gaining increasing
support amongst other stakeholders as evidence grows about the
need to address dispassionately the future strategic direction
of the Assembly.
7. There are three drivers for the development
of successful and dynamic City Regions: driving economic competitiveness
and skills development; supporting and facilitating investment
in transport infrastructure; and building sustainable communities,
ie places where people choose to live. These are all functional
areas where local authorities, and other public sector partners,
need to align spending programmes within a coherent policy framework.
The particular additional role of local authorities as democratic
and accountable institutions, is to provide the essential leadership
and therefore the capacity to drive this process of economic and
8. The policy framework which is required
must be long-term in nature, so that it provides certainty and
stability to a range of stakeholdersprivate as well as
publicwhose investment is essential to future growth.
9. Achieving growth and change also requires
co-ordination of policies across the public sector, and harnessing
their investment programmes to meet long-term policy objectives
that define and deliver robust investment frameworks which sequence
developments, both hard and soft. This is the key to providing
a focus for the public and private sectors to work in partnership
and ensure the effective deployment of resources, reduce duplication
and, in practice, fill in the gaps in the provision of resources.
The present situation within the City Region on a number of key
issuesskills is one obvious examplepoint clearly
towards a lack of integration. There exists, through the emerging
relationship between AGMA, Manchester Enterprises (ME) and the
Greater Manchester Local Learning & Skills Council (LSC) the
potential to address this fragmentation but this needs to be developed
and embedded in a way that locks in key commissioners, funders
Government policy to increase diversity in public
service provision is leading to more autonomy for providers eg
schools, hospitals and housing management. The need within City
Regions to understand the combined impact of services on competitiveness
and sustainability of communities suggests that there is a strong
case for Whitehall to have a different, or at least a more sophisticated,
relationship with public services in City Regions. The degree
of complexity and challenge in City Regions presents a compelling
case for a level of governance between Whitehall and front-line
delivery units which can hold providers to account for prioritised
outcomes whilst freeing them from input and process controls.
10. There are a number of problems with
existing governance arrangements for the full range of public
functions, both on a regional and sub-regional basis. The main
ones are as follows:
Structures lack of legibility, portray
a lack of focus and flexibility, and generate disproportionate
costs There is an absence of an effective scrutiny process even
for organisations like the North West Development Agency (NWDA)
which perform a crucial role in promoting economic performance.
Structures are not able, at least
consistently, to prioritise the needs of the Manchester City Region,
a fatal flaw, given we are the most important influence on the
future success of the North West.
The interface between key public
services configured at a regional (eg Arts Council) or sub regional
level (eg Police, Strategic Health Authority and Local LSC) and
local priorities is, at best, inconsistent.
There is an inability to secure consistent
policy and programme integration, and
There is a lack of consistent engagement
with key partners, particularly the private sector.
Put simply, there is no single or integrated
focus for co-ordination and action which brings together all those
key players which possess the resources and power to make a difference.
11. It is considered that new arrangements
must display a number of characteristics, as follows:
Effective leadership, the capacity
to vision and drive the process of change,
Strong accountability and scrutiny,
to hold to account key partners for performance, and their capacity
to align programmes,
Improved capacity and capability
of services arranged at sub-regional or regional level to focus
their modernisation and improvement programmes on shared objectives
and priority places within the City Region,
Consistent and effective engagement
with partners, particularly with the private sector,
Flexibility. We need the capacity
to work within and outside established administrative boundaries,
eg in East Lancs, North Cheshire and across the Pennines particularly
on transport and economic issues,
Transparency of the process of engagement
in order to secure greater public credibility than existing regional
Legibility and visibility of the
new arrangement to ensure that there is clear recognition of the
existence of the Executive and its role in the eyes both of key
partners and the public.
We believe the essential requirement is to place
democratically accountable institutions at the heart of a new
governance structure for the area.
12. AGMA has led the initiative this year
for a fundamental review of regional structures and functions
and has received very encouraging support within the region on
this issue. Significant progress is now being made to streamline
arrangements within the North West Regional Assembly (NWRA), which
should result in a stronger and more consistent representational
base built around sub-regions. This should take us forward, and
at the very least eliminate some of the potentially damaging outcomes
of policy development in key priority areas which characterised
the NWRA activities recently.
Whether regional structures per se are here
to stay for the medium term is of course another matter but what
is becoming increasingly clear is that the present arrangements,
and potentially any fundamental change in the future, underline
the absolute requirement for each sub-region to develop a robust
framework for the development and leadership of policy and strategy.
The challenge is all the greater for the Manchester City Region
given its economic contribution to the wider region, and the leadership
role it is increasingly expected to display.
13. There are two broad optional approaches
which require analysis:
One which is akin to a Greater
London Authority (GLA) model (also similar to pre 1986 Metropolitan
Counties) with direct elections, with or without a Mayor.
The other is a federalist model
building upon AGMA, and possibly streamlining existing arrangements
as they relate to Police, Fire, Transport etc.
Whether or not preferences within some Ministerial
circles for a GLA model will become more visible over the coming
months, it is the case that if we are to make a serious input
to the future debate, we will need to have demonstrated that options
have been considered and evaluated dispassionately, and that a
persuasive case has been presented to underpin a preferred approach.
We will, therefore, need to show how a preferred model will in
practice work in a City Region context. There is a case to commission
an independent agent to support this process.
14. The sort of analysis which will be required
would bring a number of issues into a sharp focus:
Accountability: how we secure maximum
efficiency for the costs of governance itself, and whether in
practice it is possible to increase accountability by the addition
of another layer of bureaucracy.
Leadership: whether the issues within
the sub-region are fundamentally about a lack of leadership, or,
as is likely, more to do with how we secure within a single focus
the active engagement of public and private sector partners with
the resources and power to make a difference at the city-regional
Constitution: whether the development
of local PSAs or "City Region Area Agreements" can add
strength to the process and increase accountability for agreed
outcomes leading to new innovations and freedoms, and whether
a new statutory power to co-operate is necessary to underpin any
principle of change.
Engagement: there is a clear will
to collaborate across the Local Government partners and in some
key public agencies in Greater Manchester. We need to explore
whether there is a need to press for the introduction of a new
duty to collaborate, across the public sector, in order to deliver
key agreed city-region outcomes. Such a duty would need to be
underpinned by new frameworks for inspection and regulation.
Capacity: how through a single focus
we need to deliver a stronger capacity to support integration
Flexibility: how structured models
can embrace the dynamics of change and the various types of collaborative
arrangements, particularly with agencies outside Greater Manchester.
There is also the debate taking place within
Government about the structures of Police Authorities and the
configuration of Police Forces, Fire as well as Transport. The
analysis which is required should embrace these matters, and in
principle provide an outcome which enables AGMA and its partners
in Greater Manchester to position themselves on these emerging
15. While there is no substitute for a more
dispassionate and thorough analysis, it is clear that a federalist
approach involving say a "Manchester City Region Strategic
Board" has, in principle, a lot to commend it.
There could be an Executive Board
made up of leaders broadly in line with the present AGMA Executive
with clearer responsibilities, thus underpinning accountability.
The Board would secure coherence, synergy and leadership of the
It would build upon the comparative
success of AGMA and other partners in developing an integrated
approach to the development of key strategies (economic development
etc), and which has already started to encourage key public sector
agencies aligning their delivery arrangements to those of AGMA
and its constituent authorities.
The work of the Executive could be
underpinned by LPSAs (and possibly a new statutory framework creating
the power and the duty to collaborate) between local authorities,
other public sector partners and the voluntary sector etc, which
regulate working relationships with clear outcomes which can be
performance managed. This would strengthen the role of the Greater
We could also promote the notion
of a "City Region Business Leadership Forum" to work
with an Executive Board to provide significant and effective private
sector input to policy and strategic development. The new private
sector focus would recognise that most of the region's leading
players are located in the City Region.
The structure provides maximum flexibility
to accommodate potentially different working and reporting relationships
between the Executive and public sector and other partners inside
and outside Greater Manchester. These could take the form of "compacts"
which develop particular partnerships for particular functions
or work areas.
The model has the capacity to be
progressed, albeit incrementally, on a voluntary basis given the
support of AGMA authorities and other public partners. The creation
of the Executive would reinforce the existing thrust of AGMA's
work to develop a shared strategic framework for the conurbation
and will serve to strengthen the existing AGMA Federation.
All of these potential advantages would need
to be reviewed in the light of the alternative Mayoral model which,
in leadership terms, has the advantage of greater legibility.
16. This paper is designed to facilitate
the input of partners across Greater Manchester into a debate
which is likely to gain an increasing profile and intensity over
the coming months.
It is clear that the Secretary of State for
Communities and Local Government is keen to promote an early debate
on the issues of city-region governance. He is embarking on a
series of "city summits" over the Autumn with a view
to establishing a clear and distinct framework for each of the
The Manchester "City Summit" is scheduled
for 3 October and this will provide an ideal opportunity to set
out our emerging views as to how an effective strategic federation
might operate in the Greater Manchester area. It is therefore
intended to include this proposal in the draft itinerary for the
City Summit on that day with an initial view of the thoughts of
other partners from across Greater Manchester.