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GMCA: What We Learned from the Latest Meeting

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 7:53am

By James Illingworth - Local Democracy Reporter

​​​​​​​An official call for an integrated transport system across Greater Manchester has been signed off by city-region leaders.

More central funds for rough sleeping initiatives and reforms to the justice system were also discussed at Friday’s meeting of the combined authority.

Here is a round-up of key decisions, including a succinct update on how Brexit is going.

Rough sleeping

More than £500k from central government will be shared across six districts as part of the Rough Sleeper Initiative.

GM mayor Andy Burnham told colleagues Manchester, Salford, Tameside and Wigan received cash from the same Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) fund last year and a further bid had been successful.

The funds will therefore be distributed between the remaining six GM areas, with a focus on providing mental health support and recruiting outreach workers.

“The securing of an additional £506,817 to support this critical area will offer a significant boost to local services, will support efforts to tackle rough sleeping across the city-region and also the Mayor’s pledge to end the need for rough sleeping by May 2020,” a report tabled for the meeting said.

“The targeting of this funding also supports existing approaches in other boroughs and specifically towards outreach work, which has been proven to be impactful in delivering positive outcomes.”

Justice devolution

An agreement has been reached between the city-region and the Ministry of Justice to hand over more control of the justice system, the meeting was told.

Deputy mayor Beverley Hughes told colleagues the updated ‘memorandum of understanding’ was a ‘significant milestone’ and could pave the way for reforms of the probation service.

She said: “I think criminal justice services have been a missing link in the multi-agency approach that we’re developing and will enable us to develop those rehabilitation, resettlement and preventative criminal justice services much better.”

Mr Burnham added: “Given some of the turbulence in the probation service in recent years, it’s real progress if we’re about to see a GM run service linked into our wider place-based model.”

Rail review 

The combined authority’s response to the Williams Review of rail service franchising was approved with the mayor explaining it mapped out a vision for GM Rail, an integrated transport system to drive economic growth.

Days after Mr Burnham – along with Liverpool counterpart Steve Rotherham – called for Northern be stripped of its franchise, he said further devolution of responsibility for rail services could lead to a London-style system, where passengers can use various modes of transport without requiring different tickets.

He told colleagues: “We want to get over to the review team that continuing to look at rail in a silo is to repeat the mistakes of the past.

“The rail industry needs to look outwards to integrate with the rest of the transport system.”

Manchester City council leader Sir Richard Leese criticised the government for failing to deliver upgrades to central Manchester’s rail capacity.

“If this was in London or the south east, it would have happened and it would have happened on time.”

And finally…..Brexit 

This month’s update from the regular Brexit monitor report was one of its shortest outings.

“I have to confess, I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen, I don’t think it’s even worth speculating,” said Sir Richard. “I move the report.”

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