Bury Green Party

The people of Greater Manchester must have the right to a say and vote on the proposed Elected Mayor

11 December 2014

The petition calling for a referendum which Bury Greens will be collecting signatures for across the Borough over the next few weeks reads as follows:

" We call for the " Greater Manchester Agreement, devolution to the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities and Transition to a directly elected Mayor " and any other such future plan for 'devolution' affecting the people of the area, following a sufficient period of public debate, and scrutiny of the Agreement, to be put to a Greater Manchester wide REFERENDUM, before it, or any other future devolution proposal is implemented "


Why is this important?

Greens strongly believe that ordinary people must have the basic democratic right to be consulted, scrutinise, and have a say in ANY changes, welcome or otherwise, to the way they are governed. This must include any regional 'devolution' proposal affecting them. This would include whether they actually want it or not, and if they do, such things as what region they might be part of, and what any devolved decision making powers and financial settlement might go with it.

That is why, following the enormous success of the Scottish Referendum in terms of public debate and people's re-engagement with politics and its political outcome for the UK as a whole, the Green Party has called for a bottom-up, grass roots based People's Constitutional Convention *. 

George Osborne's 'Greater Manchester Agreement' signed on 3rd November by the leaders of the 10 Greater Manchester Local Authorities does not provide for any of these things, but rather the opposite. This is because the entire 'devolution package' is conditional on the imposition on the people of Greater Manchester, without any reference to their views on the subject whatsoever, of a directly elected Mayor for the whole of Greater Manchester.

The terms of the Agreement could not be clearer:

4. Governance: a stage approach to change

4.2   If we are to secure greater levels of influence and control over new responsibilities and resources, Parliament will demand some form of directly elected leadership at GM level. This requirement will never change: without it we will not pass the test of direct accountability for what are now central government functions ".

As stated by an Elected Member of the Conservative Party at Bury Full Council meeting on the night of 10th December, this is tantamount to blackmail.The group which may, or may not, approve of the terms of Agreement, nevertheless called for a referendum in the name of democracy.

There are many other financial arrangements that will come into effect, the details of and full implications of which  could have considerable impact on everyone's lives. Without the proper public scrutiny which the 'Greater Manchester Agreement ' denies - the Mayor's "Cabinet" being made up of the 10 Council leaders -everyone of us will have to put up with whatever they decide.

Greens and hundreds of concerned citizens, trade unions and community groups -and now even some pro-Coalition government's Elected Members - are taking the view that such contempt for democracy is simply unacceptable and are calling for a Referendum.

We futher believe that any transitional arrangements for the Agreement's implementation, including the appointment of an interim Mayor (who would remain in place until 2017 ) should be immediately stopped, and only re-started, if at all, on the basis of a positive mandate from a referendum as called for and outlined above.

 * google Green Party Democracy for everyone, The UK after the Scottish Referendum September 2014.



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