Friday, 23 October 2015

Greater Manchester Trades Councils condemn 'Devo Manc'

Monday 26th October - Manchester Town Hall - From 8.00am onwards
Lobby of Communities & Local Government Parliamentary Select Committee in Manchester 
'DEVO MANC' campaigners condemn Parliamentary Select Committee's proposals to provide 2.8 million people with just one hour to "share their thoughts and experiences", and for the Committee to "gather evidence" from them, on the extensive devolution deal announced between the Government and Greater Manchester Combined Authority almost a year ago, and which now includes the NHS.
The campaigners, who are seeking a wider public debate, consultation, and scrutiny of the controversial Devo Manc devolution deal, and who are wanting a Greater Manchester wide referendum on any new governance arrangement before it is implemented, say the one hour time allocation for the entire 2.8 million population of Greater Manchester to give evidence to their 'Devolution Bill Inquiry', makes "a complete mockery of democracy" and continues in the same vein as the 'Devo Manc' agreement between The Chancellor and Greater Manchester's 10 local Council leaders, in that "it shows nothing but contempt for the public" throughout the entire exercise.
Speaking on behalf of the cross party and trades union supported Greater Manchester Referendum Campaign for democratic devolution, Greater Manchester TUC President Stephen Hall said:
'That the Parliamentary Select Committee, meeting at Manchester Town Hall on Monday 26th October from 8.50pm until noon, will only be providing an hour for the public of Greater Manchester Public to 'provide evidence' and 'share their thoughts', which the publicity for it says is 'crucial' to inform the Committee's inquiries, is quite simply outrageous, and beggars belief. Surely, if the Select Committee was even slightly serious, they could at the very least extend their proceedings to an afternoon session to allow more submissions from the general public, and from civic and community groups including the trades unions?
'Though this would still not do the Greater Manchester devolution issue or the wider public the justice they deserve, such a step would at least allow more people and organisations from Greater Manchester to submit evidence, and for their views on the issue to be heard by the committee, rather than just the small 'Bubble' of locally based professional politicians, local Government bureaucrats and 'business leaders' who are likely to be the only ones who will get any kind of hearing.
'As it stands the Parliamentary Select Committee meeting in Manchester appears to us as nothing other than a poorly contrived and disguised cosmetic exercise, to make it look like that the people of Greater Manchester have some kind of input into this whole shoddy, undemocratic so-called devolution process, when the reality is the very opposite. It is also part farcical in that almost a year on, most of our local MPs and Councillors don't even know the precise details of the proposed new set up, especially in relation to the NHS and social care, other than in general, it won't involve either them or the very people of the English regions it is alleged to empower.
'As the public session of the event is already fully booked up, the reality is, other than for a no doubt pre-selected few, who might get to say something for more than five minutes, the rest of the people of Greater Manchester will again get no say whatsoever.
"From that point of view, given how few people are likely to be involved in the proceedings from the Greater Manchester area, and the likely huge cost of the Select Committee, and its accompanying entourage, coming to and holding its meeting in Manchester, one has to wonder why they didn't just agree to buy those few people rail tickets to travel to London and hold their meeting in Parliament instead, as it would surely cost a lot less to the public purse, and likely have all the same people participating in the proceedings anyway. In fact why they are bothering to have a meeting at all? It is no far off a complete charade as it stands!
'We believe as a very minimum, that in order for the Parliamentary Select Committee to do its work in what most of us might consider a serious way, that as well as extending its sitting on the 26th at Manchester Town Hall to include an afternoon session to receive further submissions from the public, they should also make a tour of all ten local authority areas in Greater Manchester, and extend their timing there to also include further sessions in the afternoon to which local civic and community groups, local charities, the unions, political parties, and business organisations, as well as the wider public, might be especially invited to submit evidence, and their views on what the so-called 'Northern Powerhouse' and 'devolution' means for them. 
Failing that, one has to wonder why they even bothering with the pretence of even asking what local people's views are.'

Stephen Hall,  President, Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils

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