CIPFA Scotland: Holyrood led the way for devo-Manc, says Bury chief

17 Mar 16

Devolution deals that are transforming public services in Greater Manchester would not have happened without Scottish devolution showing the way, former CIPFA president and Bury Council chief executive Mike Owen has said.

Speaking to the CIPFA Scotland conference in Glasgow, Owen said the city’s landmark devolution deal also stemmed from the ten local authorities in the area demonstrating a will to work innovatively together over several decades, even under different political leaderships.

Now, Owen said, the UK government was giving the experiment every encouragement, and had agreed within little more than 12 months to transfer responsibility for huge swathes of public policy: education at all levels, health, transport, land and law and order.

Now, he said, when the authorities got together nothing was off the table in respect of potential for reform: “At every debate I sit in with the other chief executives the question is asked: “Do we have to do this ten times? Can’t we just do it once?” Owen said. “That’s a big thing for chief executives – by nature we’re power hoarders.

“It’s not just about powers and money. It’s an attitude of, we can change the world.”

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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