Osborne backs cities with metro mayors

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne
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THE Chancellor is to announce the first in a new wave of “metro mayors” as he aims to revitalise the north in his upcoming Autumn Statement.

George Osborne has revealed the Greater Manchester area will be the first to benefit from new powers for metropolitan areas, with more say over science, schools and housing as well as roads and possibly rail franchises.

Manchester has seen its combined councils working together repeatedly hailed as the key example of what the Government wants to devolve power down to.

Attention though is expected to shift to Leeds and Sheffield when the Chancellor conforms the latest devolution plans next week.

Manchester’s powers and mayor funding offers are dependent upon it accepting a mayor covering several council areas,similar to the system in place in London.

In 2012 voters in Yorkshire rejected a Government proposal to have the council led by one elected mayor, by 67% to 33%.

The new metro mayors are unlikely to go before the public, with council leaders instead having the final say.

A series of metro mayors is likely to feature in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, in which Mr Osborne is expected to build on his “Northern Powerhouse” theme.

Metro mayor details emerged the day after Downing Street revealed David Cameron had asked the Qatar royal family to invest in the north of England.

The Prime Minister urged the Emir of Qatar to add to the £20bn already spent in the Uk with further infrastructure cash for projects such as a new high speed railway from Manchester to Leeds.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will next week launch a series of Lib Dem northern devolution proposals.