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GMCA Transport

Caroline Simpson named as preferred candidate to lead GMCA and TfGM as new Group Chief Executive

  • Stockport Council Chief Executive named as preferred candidate to become new Group Chief Executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Caroline Simpson would join GMCA and TfGM after two years in top role at Stockport, and public sector career in Greater Manchester and across the UK
  • Recommendation follows intensive process to recruit Chief Executive to lead next phase of trailblazing devolution agenda, including Bee Network completion and MBacc rollout, to deliver greener, fairer, more prosperous city-region

CAROLINE Simpson is poised to lead the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) into the next phase of the city-region’s trailblazing devolution journey as the preferred candidate for the role of Group Chief Executive.

The Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) Chief Executive has been selected as preferred candidate by an appointment panel comprising the Mayor of Greater Manchester, and seven local authority leaders. Her recommendation follows an intensive recruitment process that began when the current Chief Executive, Eamonn Boylan, announced his intention to retire after the forthcoming Mayoral elections.

She would join the GMCA – which also includes Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) – and TfGM from Stockport, where she oversaw a major £1bn transformation of the town centre, spearheaded the borough’s development, regeneration, planning and transport agenda, and led the delivery and reform of frontline place management and property services throughout her eight years at the council.

She would also bring a wealth of public sector experience to the role, with a career spanning local government, housing, and regional development agencies in the North West and West Midlands. Her career started in the City of Liverpool delivering community-based regeneration projects, with a particular focus on work and skills.

Caroline Simpson said: 

“Greater Manchester has cemented its position as the leading city-region when it comes to English devolution. That didn’t happen by accident, but is the result of the vision, the values, and the courage of civic leaders here to do things differently and put power back into the hands of our people and places.

“Our city-region is now on the cusp of transformational change – and my priority is to catalyse the collaboration and the partnerships that are essential to driving that change, whether that be on the local, national, or international stage.

“I am passionate about Greater Manchester’s devolution journey and our commitment to make this a greener, fairer, more prosperous city-region. It would be a privilege to work alongside local leaders and our communities to deliver that vision, and I’m excited to get on with the job.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:

“This is a role that comes with considerable expectations, and we were left in no doubt that Caroline is more than ready to meet them. She is one of the most outstanding members of a new generation of local government leaders, and a strong advocate for our city-region.

“She is highly capable and brings huge energy to everything she does. We would be delighted to have her leading Greater Manchester into an exciting new era.”

As the Chief Executive of the GMCA and TfGM, Caroline would take on a role that has been at the forefront of English devolution since 2011, and which is central to delivering the ambitions of the Greater Manchester Strategy: to create a place where everyone can live a good life, growing up, getting on and growing old in a greener, fairer more prosperous city-region.

In 2023 Greater Manchester was one of the first city-regions to sign a trailblazer devolution deal with the government, unlocking more responsibilities to develop policies and programmes around skills, transport, and housing, and securing a commitment to a single funding settlement, which will be introduced in 2025.

Caroline’s appointment as Group Chief Executive and Head of Paid Service, which is a statutory Combined Authority role, will be the subject of a report to the GMCA on Friday 22 March. The report will provide for Caroline to assume the role of Group Chief Executive when Eamonn Boylan retires in early summer.

Eamonn became the Chief Executive of the GMCA in 2017, and took the top job at TfGM in 2019.

Article Published: 07/03/2024 14:20 PM