With an ongoing housing crisis and the regions residents still gingerly emerging from the stresses and strains of a year dominated by Covid induced lockdowns, which may lead to fundamental changes in how we work, travel and shop across the region, the next mayor of Greater Manchester is going to have a lot on their plate. But which candidate will be able to polish off that plate?
The mayoral election for Greater Manchester take place on Thursday 6 May 2021, alongside the election of local authority councillors.
The following question was presented to six of the main mayoral candidates: Nick Buckley (Reform UK), Andy Burnham (Labour), Laura Evans (Conservative), Melanie Horrocks (Green Party), Simon Lepori (Liberal Democrats), and Stephen Morris (English Democrats).
Why should I vote for you?
Nick Buckley – Reform UK
It’s easy to moan and complain about others trying to improve society. Talk is cheap. In December 2020, Greater Manchester Police was placed into special measures for failing us and ignoring 100,000 crimes. I decided it was time for me to stop moaning.
Our Labour Mayor has failed to keep his promise to eradicate rough sleeping in 3 years. I know it can be achieved with political will and determination. How do I know? Over the last 15 years, I have help 100s of rough sleepers into accommodation and employment.
I have spent the last 2 decades working across Greater Manchester improving the lives of residents and young people. I’m not a politician. I’m a kid off a council estate who had many barriers to overcome growing up. I eventually founded a multi-award winning charity with my redundancy to stop kids from getting involved in crime. This is my day job.
I want to do things differently if elected Mayor. I want to bring change. I want to change the lives of the people we have ignored and left to rot on failing estates. I want to build the foundations of a society where we leave no one behind. I want an amazing education system fit for the 21st century. I want job opportunities that local people fill, instead of importing new people into the region to fill vacancies. Greater Manchester must work for everyone.
This will take a generation to implement and is not an immediate vote winner for people want ‘change’ today. I am not looking for a career in politics, so will do what needs to be done today, so we all have a better tomorrow. Other politicians can take credit decades from now when the changes I make deliver long-lasting benefits.
Andy Burnham – Labour Party
In 2017, you gave me the greatest privilege of my life when you elected me as your first Mayor. I have given the job my all and Greater Manchester a much stronger voice on the national stage. This place could never afford to have a Mayor who will just nod through everything a Conservative Government says. Where they get things right and treat us fairly, I will work with them on a cross-party basis. But when they try to treat us as second-class citizens, as they did last year in a way they would never do to London, I will always stand firm for you and be a strong voice for Greater Manchester.
Greater Manchester is world-class in many respects – but not in transport. It is over-priced, unreliable and fragmented.
35 years after Margaret Thatcher caused chaos on our streets with the deregulation of our buses, I will bring them back under public control. Returning to a bus system that works for you – the travelling public, and not the shareholders of the bus companies – will be my single biggest priority if re-elected. It is time we decided where the buses go and what they charge, not the bus operators.
I will ensure that: every community has a decent, frequent service; that our buses are more accessible for older people and disabled people; and I will work to make them much more affordable.
Why should it cost £4 to take a single bus journey here but only £1.55 in London?
The bus companies are taking legal action to try and stop our plan and the Tory candidate is trying to stop our plan.
With your support on Thursday, I will continue to build the new Greater Manchester and take our city-region up to the next level.
Laura Evans – Conservative Party
Being Mayor of Greater Manchester is a big job, with a big budget and big responsibilities to change things. The largest part of being GM Mayor is the responsibility for all the policing in Greater Manchester. I will get our police out of special measures and make sure our streets are safe again.
As the Mayor for Greater Manchester, I will;
- Bang on the door of businesses across the globe, reach out and sell the many benefits of them coming to the centrally located place that is Greater Manchester, bringing more jobs and the security of a pay packet to the areas that need them most.
- Improve and invigorate the apprenticeships range and offer, making it relevant and recognised in today’s work place. Driving adult learning opportunities across the region with easy free access to new skills and training.
- Deliver transport links across the whole of GM, through partnership working, helping connect smaller towns through better bus, tram and rail service with easy payment apps and live interactive map. So you spend less time in queues and traffic and more time doing what you enjoy.
- Build more homes – focussing on derelict and brownfield sites in towns and high streets. Regenerating areas that already have the road and rail links, schools and services in place. Saving green spaces and Green Belt keeping them safe and protected for our children.
- Rough sleepers and people at risk of homelessness, We can go further and do important work to tackle the cycle of alcohol and substance misuse that, sadly, is often an underlying factor in why people end up on the streets across the country. A bed for the night will not cut it. We must make it a bed for life and provide a road map out and opportunity for real change.
Melanie Horrocks – Green Party
Your vote for me will place a Green in every room – a Green across all of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs that can be the pressure point on all parties to act on climate change, act on inequalities and improve our transport, housing and healthcare.
As your Green Mayor, I would ensure our Green Belt land is protected. Covid has shown us how important green space is, and it has also shown us the value of strong communities. We need affordable, green homes that are built to create communities, taking the thousands of empty homes across our region and making them fit for purpose.
Our transport system isn’t working. We will tackle climate change by creating a simple fare structure across all of Greater Manchester. Now is our opportunity post-covid to rebuild our transport network to move away from the reliance on cars, give people pedal-power to cycle safely across the region, and give more powers to TfGM.
Greater Manchester built the industrial revolution, and with me as your Green Party mayor, together we can build the green revolution. Creating new, sustainable jobs – delivering safe, affordable housing, and holding our Labour-led councils to account to ensure Greater Manchester plays its part in tackling the climate emergency.
Something has gone very wrong at Greater Manchester Police, and as a lawyer with experience working for the Independent Police Complaints Commission, I am the only candidate with the knowledge to change the culture in the force.
A vote for me on 6 May is a challenge to the established parties, giving a Green voice to speak for every Greater Manchester resident.
Simon Lepori – Liberal Democrats
I am running for Greater Manchester Mayor because I believe we can do better. We are a loud, brash, diverse and creative city that welcomes all, I am proud to call this city region my home.
However, we have fallen behind on so many markers, we talk of a national north south divide, but what of the divide we see across Greater Manchester? The economic divide, the health divide, the access divide, all of these feed into my desire to demand better for Greater Manchester.
We need a police force we have faith and trust in, building those bridges with communities that have fallen over the past few years and being champions of the communities they police once again.
We need a health and social care service that is fit for the challenges we face across Greater Manchester, working seamlessly from cradle to grave, where no one should suffer or live shorter lives as a result of their postcode.
We need a transport system that promotes active travel, that is joined up, clean, cheap and efficient to use for all.
We need to build homes in the right places, at the right prices and for the right people. We need a social housing revolution in Greater Manchester, that will allow us to realise those 15 minute neighbourhoods.
We need to become a shining light of green technology and industry for the rest of the country and the world, showing that we are tackling the climate crisis head on with real solutions.
Stephen Morris – English Democrats
I want to make Greater Manchester a great place to live, work, and visit, with the health and wellbeing of all our residents a priority.
To Make Greater Manchester Police Fit for Purpose
In January, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary placed Greater Manchester Police under ‘Special Measures’ because of its severe failings, the ultimate responsibility for these failings lie with the office of Mayor, we need a change of Mayor to reverse these failings and to protect our citizens. Hold those to account who failed the victims of sexual abuse.
To Make our Local Transport System Fit for Purpose
Peak fares will be abolished, and bring bus routes, frequencies, fares, and standards under local control, including daily/weekly/monthly capped fares. There will be NO Greater Manchester Road Tax, or Zero Emission Zone Tax, or other form of congestion charge under my Mayoralty.
To Make Sure Planning Looks at Long Term Sustainability
There will be NO building on Green Belt land, affordable housing will make up 70 – 80% of all new houses built on brownfield sites. Industrial units will have to have car parking facilities built under their units, areas above ground should be given to industrial units and not made into car parks.
To Make Sure our Health & Social Care looks after our needs
Abolish Hospital Car parking charges. Residents who study In Greater Manchester to become doctors or nurses and sign up to work for the NHS in Greater Manchester for minimum of 5 years, will have their student fees paid for. Care units will be set up to take all the homeless off the streets of Greater Manchester. The reduction in child poverty and deprivation in Greater Manchester will also be a priority.
This article was amended on 4 April 2021 at 18:30, to include Andy Burnhams statement which was received by The Meteor after publication of the article.
The candidates answers were listed in surname alphabetical order as presented on the ballot.
The election is on Thursday 6 May 2021 and you can find out where your nearest polling station is here.
To find out more about the candidates in the GM mayoral election – click here.
Feature image: composite using image from GM mayoral election handbook.