We are giving the Mayor the powers and money he needs

You would be forgiven if you missed an important piece of House of Commons business earlier this week but it is worth talking about because it will affect everyone who lives in Greater Manchester.

An order passed in Parliament will be the final piece in the jigsaw in giving the Mayor of Greater Manchester the opportunity to further support bus services across the city region.

Backed by the Mayor and all the councils of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, it’s a technical piece of Parliamentary procedure but an important one for the Northern Powerhouse.

One which will have real-life benefits for the hundreds of thousands of people in Greater Manchester who use buses every day.

Subject to approval in the House of Lords, it means that under the Bus Services Act Andy Burnham will be able to raise funds directly for smart ticketing and bus franchising or other innovative ideas, such as partnering with businesses, to improve bus services across Greater Manchester.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority currently contributes £86.7 million each year towards bus fare concessions and subsiding some specific services.

But with buses soon to be under the Mayor’s full control he will be free to raise funds to deliver improvements to local services.

The accountability that comes with a visible elected mayor means the people of Greater Manchester can have their say and assess his performance.

This would complete the suite of powers we promised as part of the devolution deal which unlocked £900 million of Government investment in Greater Manchester’s infrastructure.

On top of this, Greater Manchester is benefitting from £312.5 million for transport through the Transforming Cities Fund, £300 million for housing and £663.4 million through local growth deals.

A range of powers have already been given to the GMCA, and in many cases to the Mayor directly, including transport, planning, housing, police, fire, skills, justice and health.

It’s a partnership that is paying dividends.

In January the Mayor and the Government confirmed a shared commitment to delivering a transport network across Greater Manchester and the Northern Powerhouse that is fit for the future.

As well as reforming the bus network, another key priority is exploring proposals to expand the Greater Manchester tram network through tram-train services to enable faster, more reliable journeys across the network and cut congestion.

The foundations to create jobs, improve skills, build homes and make it easier to travel in the long-term have been laid. And, as the cranes towering over the skyline show, there is big investment in this ambitious area as it takes control of building its future.

As a Northern MP and the Norther Powerhouse Minister it’s clear to me that devolution and metro mayors have made a major contribution to creating a thriving Northern Powerhouse.

Andy Burnham is a powerful voice, not just for Greater Manchester but the whole of the North, representing the views of local communities on the issues that really matter to them.

We’re giving him the money and the powers he needs to deliver for you.