There are three Scrutiny Committees to scrutinise the work of the Greater Manchester Mayor and other Combined Authority functions in Greater Manchester.
Prestwich councillor Tim Pickstone represents Bury on the Corporate Issues and Reform Scrutiny Committee, and is this years chair of the Committee. Tim reports from the last meeting:
Greater Manchester Plan
The main focus of our meeting was to review performance against the Greater Manchester Plan. This is the strategy document that sets out the objectives that the Mayor and Combined Authority want to achieve and what measures they will use to determine how successful they have been.
This meeting is one of two meetings a year where the Mayor is in attendance himself to report back this. He used the opportunity to highlight three things he felt he was achieving on in the 2.5 years since he has been elected:
In the 2017 election, the Mayor made eliminating street homelessness in Greater Manchester by 2020 his goal. Recently there has been the first fall for some years in the official figures for people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester. 300 people have been helped already in the ‘bed for all scheme’.
The Mayor highlighted take up of the new ‘Our Pass’ scheme, a £10 bus pass which means 16-18 year olds can travel for free on buses in Greater Manchester (not trams or trains). Apparently 32,000 young people have signed up for the pass so far (well over half). There is an estimate that 9-12 million journeys will have been made on the pass in the next year.
The Mayor highlighted the four aspects of a future Greater Manchester transport strategy developing:
– trams – with the opening of the Trafford Centre line next year. The Mayor identified Metrolink as the big ‘Greater Manchester transport success story’.
– buses – with the current consultation on bus re-regulation which MAY lead to re-regulation of buses in the future (though there is a significant cost to the taxpayer of this, currently estimated at £130 million)
– trains – a future aspiration to play more of a role in franchising rail services in Greater Manchester
– active travel – the aspiration to develop more walking and cycling travel routes.
Members of the Committee asked a number of questions to the Mayor, particularly focussed on the transport issue. I asked about why – if Metrolink was the success story (and bus ridership is going down), why we future focus was so much on buses, and not on further Metrolink? Councillors from Bury, Manchester and Trafford (including me) all complained about the existing congestion on the the tram lines coming into Manchester in peak times. Apparently there are more trams coming from next year, but much of this will be to cover the new Trafford Centre line.
Greater Manchester Full Fibre Network
The Committee received an update on the Greater Manchester Full Fibre proposals. This is an allocation of £23.7 million Greater Manchester has received from the Government to connect 1,300 public sector sites (buildings, traffic lights etc) with full fibre broadband, the aspiration of increasing the full-fibre coverage from 2% to 25% within three years.
The project is currently being tendered to private sector providers to deliver. One aspiration is that further private sector investment will extend the full fibre network to other sites in the Borough.
More information and the paperwork for the meeting is here. Any questions please ask!