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AGMA Scrutiny 11 November 2011

by timpickstone on 14 November, 2011

Friday was the regular monthly meeting of the AGMA / GMCA Scrutiny Pool (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, Greater Manchester Combined Authority). This is a pool which exists to ‘scrutinise’ decisions that are made at a Greater Manchester level made up of 3 councillors from each district. This year I am one of two “Co-Chairs” of the pool.

NHS Reforms
In the morning we had a training session on how NHS structural reforms would be affecting Greater Manchester. We are being sent the ‘slides’ from the presentation, with the detail, and I’ll post them up here when I get them. Clearly there are some big changes in the pipeline – PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) are going, and commissioning decisions being made by Care Commissioning Groups, and with a lot more local democratic accountability through a Health and Wellbeing Board in each area.

Although it is a lot of change, one positive thing is that way the change is being embraced in Greater Manchester. Although the changes are not formally taking place until a couple of years time, in Greater Manchester the commissioning groups and health and wellbeing boards exist in shadow form in all areas, and the PCTs are starting to work together at a Greater Manchester level in what will hopefully be seen as a sensible geographical unit for the future for the “bigger” NHS decisions.

Alcohol in Greater Manchester
Pool members are able to ask for items to be put on the agenda and one item I asked to come back to the pool was around the Greater Manchester Alcohol Strategy. Greater Manchester has some of the worst alcohol and health issues in the country (of the 10 boroughs in Greater Manchester, five of them are in the worst 10 places in the country. Hospital admissions as a result of alcohol are roughly 1/3 higher than the national average.

Greater Manchester has been researching introducing a minimum pricing for alcohol sales (c 50p a unit). Although it is possible to do this on a local level – the view that Greater Manchester has taken is that we should be lobbying for England as a whole to take action on this. Greater Manchester will be holding a conference next year to look at the issue, and in particular to see what Scotland does on this issue when the Scottish Parliament debates the issue over the coming months.

Greater Manchester Strategy
The biggest item for discussion was the review of the Greater Manchester Strategy. This is the strategy which has been adopted to plan what ‘extra work’ is undertaken at a Greater Manchester level. The big focus of the strategy is economic, about how we create more jobs and wealth to the area.

I raised a few things, which included:
– economy / jobs – obviously a lot of the targets around jobs and economy were ‘off target’ (because of the international situation), but I asked how we were still going to push Greater Manchester forwards. I understand a re-look at the strategy is taking place to see how best to do this.
– shops and independent sector – I asked what was being do to help independent shops in the smaller towns in the area (e.g. the ‘LoveManchester’ campaign worked less well for outside of Manchester), and was given an update on some new work.

Hope this is useful. A great way to spend my birthday ;)!! The papers for the meeting are here, any questions please ask.

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