Thursday 22, March 2012
Manchester to become London of the North
GREATER Manchester has signed a deal paving the way for it to become the 'London of the North' - creating more than 6,000 jobs, writes Kate Meighan and Alex Hibbert.
The City Deal announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his budget, will see £1.2 billion invested to boost the area’s economy.
Greater Manchester Combined Authority – which represents the 10 councils based in the region - has said the deal will “accelerate growth, boost skills and encourage local decision-making and increased self sufficiency”.
Labour councillors in the area have even backed the Tory's plans for Manchester’s future.
The City Deal initiative allows cities to bid for powers to free them from Whitehall control in order to boost local growth.
The investment will mean the city can borrow from central government to fund big infrastructure projects – including better transport links and affordable housing.
Manchester will then be able to keep the additional funds this generates – earning money back – and recycle them to invest in further growth.
This ‘Earnback Model,’ never before seen outside London, will give greater powers of independence to the area.
It will begin with the completion of the Greater Manchester Transport Fund programme, whose schemes include the extension of the Metrolink to Trafford Park.
The city has calculated this will lead to around 3,800 new jobs for local people and protect 2,300 existing jobs.
The council also wants to add to overseas investments coming from Manchester by developing markets in China and India.
Sir Richard Leese, vice chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, has said the plan means exciting times for Manchester’s trade.
He said: “Greater Manchester has a strong track record of working together towards a greater good and we are confident that this City Deal will be a significant step forward in realising our ambitions and the potential of the region”.
Manchester’s devolved governance has already agreed a three per cent duty on council tax to fund more projects, and its combined authorities govern much of its day-to-day business.
The combination means Manchester is likely to be willing to bet its own money that it will be able to generate crucial extra financial growth.
Councillor Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "Manchester is at the forefront of new initiatives and schemes designed to make our city better.
“What is occurring in Manchester now would not be happening were it not for the hard work of everybody in the city”.
The City Deal has been feted as a big success by city analysts as a bespoke and innovative means of kick-starting the local economy.
City Deals are also being negotiated with eight other cities, including Manchester's neighbours Liverpool and Leeds.
Each city is able to specify the particular powers they need and want to boost local growth.
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