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We asked every Greater Manchester mayoral candidate the same questions – this is what they said

Andy Burnham (Labour)

Greater Manchester residents will head to the polls in a fortnight — to not only decide who should run their councils, but also to select a mayor.

There are six mayoral candidates for the election on Thursday, May 2. To vote, you will need to show photo ID at the polling station — with a full list of accepted forms of ID available via the Electoral Commission online.

To find out more on the candidates, the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked each candidate the same four questions. They focused on their immediate priorities should they win, their longer-term ambitions, what they like about the city-region at the moment, and how they like to unwind.

Here are their answers, ordered alphabetically by candidate surname. Some have been edited for clarity.

Jake Austin — Liberal Democrats

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office? 

For years we’ve had announcements, hints, and teases about the Metrolink connecting up areas of our region it has so far left behind, like Stockport, Bolton, and Wigan. I am not willing to wait any longer for the work to begin, and I’ll make it my priority to start work on extending the Metrolink to Stockport (and beyond) as soon as elected, so that everyone can benefit from the multi-modal transport we desperately need. 

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term? 

Our current Mayor’s strategy is focused on getting people and investment into the city centre, with little thought for connecting our suburban districts. I will shift the focus of the Mayor’s work so that everywhere in our region is more connected, including restoring cut local bus routes and creating a long-term strategy for a circular Metrolink line. 

I have also pledged to make sure there are no reductions in our fire and police services during my term as Mayor if elected, so people can feel safe in the knowledge that voting Liberal Democrat means safer streets. 

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength? 

I was born and raised in Wigan and have lived in Greater Manchester my whole life. I am so proud to be standing for election here because it gives me the chance to represent our greatest asset – the people of our region.

We are a diverse, ingenious and culturally rich region with a history to be proud of. It is the people of our communities that have risen us to success, and if I’m elected, I will spend every day fighting to make sure everyone – no matter their background – has the opportunity to succeed.  

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester? 

We’re lucky in Greater Manchester to be home to one of the most vibrant gay villages in the country – and I like to make the most of living near it! If I’m not working or hanging out with my husband and puppy (shout out to Ritchie), I’m usually out with my friends at a bar on Canal Street watching a drag show before getting a late-night 192 bus home, usually with a box of chips and gravy from the Village Chippy in hand.  

Dan Barker — Reform UK

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office?

As your new Mayor and Police & Crime Commissioner, my top priority will be to get a grip on crime. I will call for a public inquiry into the scandal of the Rochdale grooming gangs. 

I will get rid of the CAZ cameras. I will start a new plan for growing the economy and creating jobs for the left-behind parts of Greater Manchester. I will begin the process of an independence referendum for Bolton. 

I will begin to remove the greenbelt allocations included in Places for Everyone and start building new affordable homes on brownfield sites.

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term?

Crime will be under control and I will have restored the public’s trust in Greater Manchester Police, in local government and the devolution project. There will be affordable housing for young people to get on the housing ladder and rents will have reduced significantly. 

Our precious greenbelt will have been saved and protected. Economic growth, jobs and transport links will have spread to all towns and communities and people will start to feel good again about being part of Greater Manchester. 

Bolton and other places will have had their say on whether they remain part of the city region.

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength?

Greater Manchester has a proud history and heritage, whether it is being at the heart of the industrial revolution, the home town of Emmeline Pankhurst or the place where graphene was first discovered. 

We are somewhere that has punched above its weight on every level in terms of technology, innovation and social change and will continue to do so. But without doubt Greater Manchester’s greatest strength are its people and communities. As your Mayor I will support all our communities and places to ensure that nobody is left behind.

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester?

Earlier in my life, I Iived in central London for a couple of years and when I moved to Manchester, I thought then, as I do now, that as the UK’s second city it has many of the benefits of London without all the drawbacks. 

I love the fact that you can be in central Manchester enjoying the buzz of city life and high-rise and within only a short time be out and about in some of the UK’s best countryside enjoying nature and yet still be in the city region.

Nick Buckley — Independent

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office?

Fix the police – this job will take longer to complete but you will see a huge difference on the streets and begin to feel safer. I will start to name and shame senior civil servants and local politicians who waste our taxes and provide poor services – value for money comes by holding people accountable. 

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term?

Safer streets. Better public services. Lower council tax. More public influence over decisions. And a validation, or cancellation, of the position of Mayor through the referendum I shall hold to see if the people want such a politician. 

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength?

The ability to be able to watch their region and country crumbling away, and yet see no purpose in voting so stay at home on polling day and turn on the TV. Only one in three people cast their vote in the mayoral elections.

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester?

Spend time with my granddaughter and family. It used to be going out to the city centre to bars and restaurants, but different stages of your life bring new opportunities and priorities.

Andy Burnham — Labour

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office?

We’ll be launching all of the plans in my manifesto. And working on the introduction of the MBacc will be my personal mission. 

I believe it is the single biggest difference I can make as Mayor. Two thirds of our kids don’t go to university, and they deserve a proper pathway to technical education and good jobs. 

The MBacc is that pathway. It will be Greater Manchester’s new priority if I’m re-elected. To be the first place in the UK where young people have a genuine and equal alternative to the university route.

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term?

The big promise I made at the last election was to put the buses back under public control. We’ve done that. 

By 2028 we’ll have a fully integrated tap-in-tap-out transport system across bike, bus, tram and train by accelerating completion of the Bee Network, including better fares. The MBacc will be in place. 

And I hope we’ll have a new government that backs us rather than working against us. The new GM Housing First unit will submit a plan to the incoming government to build 10,000 homes — 1,000 in every Greater Manchester borough — within the next mayoral term.

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength?

We do things differently here. Obviously music, sport, culture, the cutting-edge research we do and our scientific clusters, our radical history, our business community. 

But the thing that ties this all together is our people. At a time when the country has been going backwards, our city region has been powering forwards. 

That is because we are the most forward-thinking place in the UK. I’m so proud of the place the city-region is at right now. We’ve been growing faster than the UK economy and we’re predicted to continue to do so.

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester?

My ideal day is to go out with my kids for a few beers in the Northern Quarter, have a Rudy’s pizza and then take in a gig in the evening.  And I’m often found to be doing exactly those things!

Laura Evans — Conservative

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office? 

My first act as your Mayor will be to take down the cameras and close down Labour’s Clean Air Zone. Then halt the half-baked Low Traffic Neighbourhoods scheme. Together we can end this war on motorists.

In the 100 days I will also find out how your money is being spent at the moment: full scrutiny of the accounts. Council tax bills are spiralling up. We know a lot of greater Manchester Investment pots in one part of GM: Manchester City Centre. It has received 57 per cent of the pot and Wigan only one percent.

I will:

  • Set up a Home for Life task force for rough sleepers.
  • Meet with the Chief Constable and Head of Prisons; set up an independent investigation into the grooming gangs.
  • Meet with our community and faith groups, local businesses; take their top issues into developing a four-year plan.
  • Review the Places for Everyone plan.

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term?

A better place to live and work: Safe, with low crime rates and clean streets. Diggers in the ground finishing Metro links. Affordable and accessible developments rising, with small local developers offering social value being prioritised across Greater Manchester.

Transparency: All section 106 monies will be paid and reinvested and be on an open, easy-to-access register. Public scrutiny of how people’s money has been spent.

A leading city.

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength?

Its people and position. Greater Manchester is best placed in the country to be a titan of business and industry.

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester?

Eat Frurt and walk across Manchester, though I suspect I’m one of the only candidates who has cruised on a narrowboat through the locks of Manchester and slept at the Castlefield basin, which was pretty cool.

Hannah Spencer — Green

If elected, what will you do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office?

As mayor, I’d roll out the beginnings of a proper warm home scheme, one that everyone can access. I’d immediately set up a commission to look at the impact of bringing in rent controls across the region. 

Rents have risen astronomically across the region – in Bolton, Wigan, and Rochdale they’ve gone up over 30 percent in the last three years alone. 

I’d also set up an independent body to deal with complaints against serving police officers. Trust in Greater Manchester Police feels so low, and we have to restore it so that everyone feels safer.

How will Greater Manchester have changed by the end of your mayoral term?

It would be fairer – we’d be better off and able to spend more of our hard-earned money on the things we enjoy in life, rather than on the basics like energy bills. We’d be healthier too, with lower emissions and therefore cleaner air. 

Crucially, our votes would no longer be taken for granted. Electing a Green mayor would have a massive positive impact on the whole political system.

In your eyes, what’s Greater Manchester’s greatest strength?

Our people: our innovation, our spirit and our resilience. We’re the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and we should be the home of the next one too. 

We’ve got the skills, the mindset and the diversity to achieve that, and to choose what that looks like. We just need good leaders who make decisions that benefit everyone, rather than a select few. 

And a lighter one to finish… what’s your favourite thing to do in Greater Manchester?

I work full time as a plumber along with being a local councillor, so when I have time off I like finding fun things to do with my three greyhounds. We’re lucky to have so many amazing independent businesses across the region. 

There’s a secure dog field business in Worsley that is absolutely up there – three greyhounds on a bouncy castle is a sight to be seen! Of course, we like to swing by one of Bolton’s most famous pasty shops on the way home.

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