Greater Manchester devolution referendum called for

Greater Manchester Image copyright other
Image caption The chancellor described the devolution deal as "a massive moment for the north of England"

Greater Manchester should hold a referendum on devolution to avoid "a massive democratic deficit", campaigners in Wigan have said.

Wake Up Wigan wants an area-wide vote on whether an elected mayor and other devolved powers are wanted.

A deal for devolution to Greater Manchester was announced in November.

The campaign's Stephen Hall said it was "hard to fathom how something which is supposed to empower the people shouldn't involve them".

When the devolution deal was revealed, the Chancellor George Osborne said it was "a massive moment for the north of England" that would "give Mancunians a powerful voice".

Mr Hall, the president of the Association of Greater Manchester Trade Unions Councils, said the lack of a referendum was "preventing a proper discussion on devolution and what people might ideally like to see".

He said he agreed with devolution in principle, but was against "devolution by diktat, rather than consensus".

"It's not as if the public have been involved in this, whatsoever," he said.

"People should be involved in a discussion about what devolution should look like, rather than being told 'This is what you're having, whether you like it or not'.

"Surely there must be a better way of devolving power than this."

It was revealed in January that the region would have an interim mayor from June, who would be chosen from existing council leaders. Elections for a regional mayor will be held in 2017.

Greater Manchester

  • Metropolitan area formed in 1974
  • Made up of 10 councils: Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan
  • Population is about 2.7 million
  • Covers an area of about 500 sq miles (1,295 sq km)
  • Has an economy bigger than Wales or Northern Ireland
  • Designated a City Region in 2011 when the Greater Manchester Combined Authority was established

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