Greater Manchester's Mayoral Election 2017: 100 days to go until historic poll

By Kevin Fitzpatrick
BBC Greater Manchester political reporter

image captionWho will win the race to lead Greater Manchester?

With so much attention on national and global politics after the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that the biggest change to our local political landscape for 40 years is looming on the horizon.

There are now only 100 days until Greater Manchester votes for its first metro mayor.

Whoever wins will have huge power and influence, controlling budgets of more than a billion.

The region's first elected mayor will be in charge of Greater Manchester Police and the Fire service, as well as having responsibility for housing, planning and public transport.

While he or she will not control the purse-strings of the region's relatively newly devolved health and social care budget, the metro mayor will clearly have a degree of influence on what the priorities should be.

They'll also be seen as a figurehead on the national and international stage to represent Greater Manchester's 10 councils and 2.8 million inhabitants.

So it truly is a massive job and not one for the faint of heart.

Six candidates have already thrown their hat into the ring, and they have begun to set out their stalls.

They've all waded into the debate over controversial council proposals to build houses on greenbelt land, with four of the six so far rejecting the Spatial framework plan as it's known.

Homelessness, job creation and the implications of Brexit are other issues they're keen to raise and there'll be much more to come between now and election day on 4 May.

'Additional layer of democracy'

Of course, it's not just the politicians who are keen to have their say.

Two think tanks have outlined their hopes for the metro mayor.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says "creating more and better jobs for people" must be the number one priority.

The IPPR North, which campaigns for more government investment in the North of England, says the mayor will need to "focus on unlocking the economic potential of 'left-behind' areas which voted to Leave the European Union".

So what price this additional layer of democracy?

A report reveals the election itself will cost local taxpayers £4m. On top of this, start-up costs are estimated at £1.4m.

Annual running costs, including the mayor's six-figure salary, will be about £2m.

It's a significant cost to achieve the government's aim of making the regions of the UK more independent while ensuring the public have someone closer to home they can hold to account.

Will it be worth it? Only time will tell.

Known candidates to date (in alphabetical order)

Sean Anstee - Conservative

Jane Brophy - Liberal Democrat

Andy Burnham - Labour

Stephen Morris - English Democrats

Shneur Odze - UKIP

Will Patterson - Green Party

Local authorities included in the mayoral region: Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan

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