Stockport’s Caroline Simpson to take top GM job

Caroline Simpson speaks at Stockport's town of culture launch

Caroline Simpson is to be the next chief executive of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Officially the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) chief executive is “preferred candidate” out of respect to the political approvals required.

Her recommendation follows “an intensive recruitment process” following the decision of Eamonn Boylan to retire.

Boylan also ran Stockport before moving into the GM role. tipped Simpson as a strong candidate from the start of the process.

She has built up a strong reputation at Stockport, where she has overseen a major £1bn transformation of the town centre, working with both Labour and Liberal Democrat leaderships, and spearheading the borough’s ongoing development and regeneration.

She joined Stockport first as regeneration lead and served as deputy to predecessor Pam Smith in her eight years at the council.

Her career spans local government, housing, and regional development agencies in the North West and West Midlands and she 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.”

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.

Her appointment will be the subject of a report to the GMCA on Friday 22 March and she will expect to assume the role of Group Chief Executive when Eamonn Boylan retires in early summer.

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

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