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Two candidates put themselves forward for interim GM mayor role

Two Labour veterans are set to go head-to-head in the race to become the interim mayor of Greater Manchester.

Wigan council leader and current chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Lord Peter Smith and police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd have emerged as the only two candidates to put their names forward for the role.

The new post was created as part of the deal that will see a multi-billion pound package of powers be devolved from Whitehall to the combined authority, including more control over transport, housing, planning and policing policy, while the role of Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner will be scrapped.

The interim mayor will be selected by the leaders of nine of the 10 councils in the area, Lord Smith will not receive a vote due to his candidacy. The decision is expected to be made by the end of May with the winner taking up the post in June. He will provide leadership for Greater Manchester throughout the transitional period, until May 2017 when a directly elected candidate will take up the role.

It is understood that the council leaders are divided as to which of the two candidates would be a better choice. However, Lord Smith is expected to emerge as the frontrunner due to his current role chairing the combined authority and his close relationship with the leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese.

62803f7fd42d8eca249059d87d3fee8a 400x400He has said he will resign his leadership in Wigan should he be appointed and will work to raise the profile of the combined authority.

“We need do a better relationship with the public of Greater Manchester,” he said.

“We can’t just continue meeting in small rooms across the town halls of Greater Manchester. We need to get people to understand what’s going on in their name and why it’s helpful.”

In announcing his own candidacy Lloyd said that all eyes were on the area following the deal and subsequent plans to devolve NHS spending.

Tony Lloyd - march 2013“Some are hoping we succeed and prove devolved government can deliver a more equal and prosperous Britain, but there will be some waiting for it to fail,” he said. “That brings a great responsibility for us and all England’s city and county regions and it’s a challenge I am ready for.

“Our communities cannot wait for London and the south east to trickle down economic growth nor can we accept that one or two small parts of Greater Manchester succeeding is success for each of the ten boroughs. I will work to ensure that the benefits of economic success can be felt right across Greater Manchester be that through decent jobs, housing development, training and education opportunities, better, cheaper and further reaching transport links, reduced crime or better health outcomes.”

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