DevoManc, A Bad Deal Just Got Even Worse

Council Leaders need to stop Labouring under the delusion that they are in control says Jenny Ross

Ostensibly, devolution seems like a good thing, a chance for an area to become autonomous, no longer subject to the hostile whims of Westminster, free to chart its own destiny and define itself on its own terms; but scrutinise the DevoManc deal and you’ll see that Osborne’s much touted ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is more like a ‘Mancunian Workhouse’ offering about as much freedom to Greater Manchester as a choke lead does to an errant dog, and Osborne has wasted no time tightening the lead.

Campaigners for a Referendum on DevoManc take to the streets

Campaigners for a Referendum on DevoManc take to the streets

“Responsibility for a devolved and consolidated transport budget, with a multi-year settlement” clearly seemed like a good idea at the time to the ten, mainly Labour, council leaders who rushed off behind closed doors to sign the DevoManc deal with George Osborne, without the merest whiff of public oversight. Unfortunately, like people about to be taken in by a payday loan lender, they forgot to heed the small print: that the deal is “subject to future Spending Review”.

The Chancellor’s post-election ’emergency budget’ just so happens to assure that every single ‘freedom’ Osborne had bestowed on Greater Manchester was precisely where he was making the most brutal cuts: transport, further education and business and skills.

Now Council leaders’ opportunity to build a Greater Manchester integrated transport system to rival London’s winning Transport for London has been severely impeded by Osborne hacking £545 million off the national transport budget, and devolved powers to “shape and re-structure the further education provision” and design business skills provision have both been hit by a £450 million national shortfall. Bad news for apprenticeship schemes in an area with some of the highest youth employment in the country.

What was sold as an opportunity to protect Greater Manchester from Westminster cuts seems, in the cold light of day, to be nothing more than having further responsibility for passing them down. With no opportunity to raise taxes, only an an ‘earnback scheme’ posited on narrow national growth targets, and subject to sanction if they’re not met, Tory-led Westminster are still calling the tune and Labour Council Heads are far too keen to dance to it, particularly when one of the dubious privileges they’ve been awarded is to co-commission the Workfare programme – playing Fagin to Osbourne’s Scrooge.

In an area where both Tameside and Wigan councils have volunteered to subject the most vulnerable members of their boroughs to the vagaries of Universal Credit and Troubled Families pilot schemes, alongside zealously enforcing the government sanction regime, the karmic irony can’t be lost on people that when Council Leaders are inevitably forced to go to Osborne begging bowl in hand to ask “Please Sir, can we have some more?” The answer, to the detriment of us all, will inevitably be, “No.”

Sign here to demand a referendum on DevoManc

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Why we need Space for cycling in Tameside

spaceforcyclingmassiveTameside Green Party candidates in this week’s local elections have backed proposals from Space for Cycling campaign to support specific improvements to road layouts to make it easier and safer for cyclists to get about Tameside.

Tameside Green Party agree that we should be making it easier for people to get around by bike or on foot, getting onto our bikes is great for our physical and mental health as well as improving the air quality and our bank balances!

Greater Manchester has agreed to invest over £30million in the first phase of the VéloCity program, we need to ensure this money is spent effectively in Tameside.

We need Tameside Council to provide high-quality safe Space for Cycling, we must make the most of this opportunity to realise the massive potential that cycling can offer our communities,

We also need to ensure the VéloCity program is extended to cover the whole of Greater Manchester, with funding until 2025, as pledged in Transport for Greater Manchester’s VéloCity 2025 bid document.

More information about the Space for Cycling Campaign here

A letter to Tameside Council on pay inequality

 

letter

15th May 2014

Dear Councillor Kieran Quinn Tameside MB Council Leader,

A recent report* has highlighted the issue of pay inequality. We are writing this open letter to ask about your plans to reduce pay inequality, by committing to reduce or maintain the council’s pay multiple, making companies which are awarded council contracts accountable for pay gaps and by ensuring that all workers are paid the Living Wage.

The report notes that, “Reducing pay inequality and raising lower incomes not only alleviates hardship, it has the potential to create jobs and to invigorate more virtuous local economies through increased local re-spend, whilst bringing us closer to living well within ecological limits.”

Eight out of ten of Greater Manchester councils’ highest earners are in the top 1% of British earners. The pay multiple – the difference between the pay of the highest earner and the average salary – at Tameside Council is currently 8.3, making it the third most unequal council in Greater Manchester. There is significant potential here for your council to contribute to local equality and prosperity by sharing taxpayers’ money more evenly among the council’s workforce, especially by increasing the wages of your lowest paid staff.

We would be grateful to hear what plans your council has to improve pay equality. do you have any intention of setting a limit to the pay multiple between top-earners and those on average salaries and making companies which provide council services accountable for pay gaps?

It is encouraging to see that Tameside Council plans to become an accredited Living Wage employer. We hope that work will now begin to secure living wages for people working on council contracts. It would be useful to know what steps you plan to take to ensure that all workers receive wages they can live on.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please note that we intend to publish a summary of responses in local media.

Yours sincerely,

Steady State Manchester (Benjamin Irvine)

Equality North West (Philip Duval)

Tameside Green Party (Nigel Rolland)

Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign (Tom Skinner)

National Community Activists Network (Joe Taylor)

Manchester Alliance for Community Care (Mike Wild)

GMB North West and Irish Region (Kevin Flanagan)

St Antony’s Centre for Church and Industry (Kevin Flanagan)

A number of Greater Manchester residents have also expressed their support.

Reply to: GM Pay Equality Coalition, Flat 7, 176 Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5LG

* In Place of Pay Inequality: How local authority pay policies can help make Greater Manchester more equal and sustainable, and why it matters, a joint report by Steady State Manchester and Equality North West, March 2014.