Housing, police, transport – here is where all the mayoral candidates stand on key issues
Date published: 04 May 2021
On Thursday 6 May, 2021 residents will have their say on who represents them in the Greater Manchester Mayoral and council local elections
Days before Greater Manchester goes to the polls to elect its mayor, the nine candidates battling for the role have set out their stalls on key issues for the region.
Each of the mayoral hopefuls were sent an identical list of questions covering issues ranging from Greater Manchester Police, public transport, air pollution, the economy and housing.
This is what they had to say.
Why are you standing for election?
Nick Buckley, Reform UK
It’s easy to moan and complain about others trying to improve society. Talk is cheap.
In December 2020, GMP was placed into special measures for failing us and ignoring 80,000 crimes. I decided it was time for me to stop moaning.
Our Labour mayor has failed to keep his promise to eradicate rough sleeping within three years. I know it can be achieved with political will and determination.
How do I know? Over the last 15 years, I have helped hundreds of rough sleepers into accommodation and employment.
I have spent the last two 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 money to stop kids from getting involved in crime.
This is my day job.
Andy Burnham, Labour
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 then 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.
I am so proud of what we have achieved together over the last four years – on homelessness, on support for our young people, on building the digital economy. But we are only getting started. This place has been held back by the London-centric ways of Westminster and there is so much more we could be.
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
Being mayor of Greater Manchester is a big job, with a big budget and big responsibilities to change things. What’s needed is a mayor who’ll work with the government and work across the whole of Greater Manchester, not one who turns his back on the government and whose priority is just the city centre.
The largest part of the mayoral role is the responsibility for policing in Greater Manchester. Our mayor has failed and our police are in special measures. I will get the force out of these measures and work to put more police officers on the streets and get crime recording back on track, so people can feel safe on their streets on their way to work and going out in the evening.
Greater Manchester is a fantastic place, but our mayor has not been an ambassador for the region. We haven’t seen that much-needed jobs boost and investment outside of the city centre to help local people find work. He’s also failed to deliver better transport links. I will be a mayor for the whole of Greater Manchester, delivering more great jobs, apprenticeships and lifetime learning, making sure Greater Manchester is part of the government’s green industrial revolution.
Marcus Farmer, Independent
It’s time for a seismic change in how we do things, and we need someone now who understands the small, medium and phoenix business economy as this is where jobs are to be won and lost.
I am a graduate of management science from The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and have run many businesses throughout the last 25 years ranging from property, retail and waste management.
The political party option for a leader of a city is now the wrong one as we need to assemble a team of people who are gifted at what they do rather than on political lines.
An independent candidate would represent a changing of politics in the UK where cities stand on their own two feet. Very few people trust political parties right now so why not?
Melanie Horrocks, Green Party
I’m an adopted daughter of this great city-region and was inspired as a feminist to enter politics by the Pankhursts and their fight for equality.
I also want to stand up for what is right for my children and your children’s futures. We have no Planet B – and the time to act on climate change is now.
I have been inspired by the young people around the world coming together to tackle the climate emergency, and this will be at the forefront of my mayoralty if elected.
The Green Party doesn’t just stand for the environment, we are a party for the people – campaigning for social justice, putting an end to the housing crisis, and introducing forward-thinking policies often adopted by the main parties; for example, the public bus franchising.
As your mayor, I will fight for what is right for you and what is right for Greater Manchester.
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.
Alec Marvel, Independent
I believe in helping people, I’ve done it all over the world. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.
I believe the big party system has ruined British Democracy. Most councillors, MPs, mayors are not in it for constituents, they are in it for themselves, and not the people.
I’m there for them and I’ve said I wouldn’t take the mayoral wage I’d donate it to charity or a project I believe in.
Stephen Morris, English Democrats
I was born, raised, live and have worked all my life in Greater Manchester. I have worked in retail and public transport, where I was the Unite Branch Secretary until moving to the Workers of England Union and, in 2015, becoming the General Secretary.
My manifesto – my contract with you – guarantees ‘Local Jobs for Local People’, a living wage, social housing and a public transport fit for purpose.
I know what it takes for businesses to survive; I know what we need to do to make public transport an attractive option to use.
I will make sure that businesses tendering for Greater Manchester local authority contracts have to have family-friendly policies, they reject zero-hour contracts, they implement the Greater Manchester ‘Living Wage’ and local people are given priority in job vacancies.
I know how to tackle the appalling child poverty, deprivation and homelessness spreading across out area under Labour. My health and social care plans will make Greater Manchester a healthier and more prosperous place to live and work.
David Sutcliffe, Independent
I am a food bank volunteer and worker. Up until 2018, I was an Inspector in GMP, and I exposed serious corruption by senior officers and was forced to leave the organisation having served for almost twenty nine years.
I had no desire ever to stand ever for political office. However, having witnessed the rapid decline of GMP during Andy Burnham’s tenure I decided to stand.
Being honest and hard-working and having the ability to seek advice and make decisions I will be a vastly superior mayor in comparison to Andy Burnham.
What is your single biggest priority and why?
Nick Buckley: To combat waste and incompetence in our public sector. I have worked in the public sector and have seen the waste first hand. This is not about insulting hard-working public servants, but about raising the game of middle management so we get more value for our money.
We have a decade of cuts coming because of our Covid debt, it has never been more important to have better stewardship of our tax money.
If we make mistakes, then we need to own up to them. We can learn from our mistakes but not if the culture is to hide them. Managers who are continually failing need to be dismissed or demoted into a more suitable role.
It is our money they spend, and they need to be held accountable. I want a culture change.
Andy Burnham: Greater Manchester is world-class in many respects – but not in transport. It is over-priced, unreliable and fragmented.
Thirty five 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 in this election, we will send a strong message that Greater Manchester wants change to our buses.
Laura Evans: My main priority would be to get our police out of special measures and back on track, so people feel safe on their way to and from work.
We have had four reports from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in as many years and the latest report from Pricewaterhousecoopers, the mayor has failed to release.
Having 80,000 unrecorded crimes clearly shows a lack of leadership and a disconnect between the mayor and the bobby on the beat.
I want to change all this with a new approach, seeing more police on the streets throughout Greater Manchester, more CCTV cameras in crime hotspots and a computer system that actually works.
Marcus Farmer: Ending lockdown on May 6. We need to take our freedom back and not be at the mercy of a leadership that most of us did not vote for. The Johnson administration is a house of cards and even he doesn’t believe his own rhetoric now.
Melanie Horrocks: It will come as no surprise that my biggest priority is the climate emergency. Greater Manchester has been fast to declare a climate emergency, but under a majority Labour leadership, we have seen little to no progress.
If we don’t treat climate change with urgency, we will begin to find our most vulnerable communities that will be hit the hardest. Greater Manchester has extremely high levels of air pollution, which in turn creates long-term health effects for all of our citizens.
A Green Party mayor will change the conversation on climate change and will hold all ten councils to account to ensure they are playing their part in the climate emergency.
We must invest in a greater walking, cycling and public transport network to help people get around our great region, and we must create community homes that are safe, warm and environmentally friendly.
Simon Lepori: Restoring faith in our police force, once trust is restored we can start building strong community links once again to stem the tide of violence and crime in Greater Manchester, enabling us recover better from the pandemic.
Alec Marvel: My single biggest priority is creating a school bus service for Manchester. It’s a new idea but an idea I think can work with the attention of the mayoral office. I think it will create new jobs, make it easier for parents that have to take their children to school and pay bus fares to take them, free up other transportation at the same time and help people that can only work part time. They will have a place to work.
Stephen Morris: Policing is a big one because it has so so much of an effect on trust and confidence in everything else we do, such as health and wellbeing, and the confidence for people to travel into the city centre and elsewhere when we eventually reopen.
David Sutcliffe: To prevent Greater Manchester from following in the path of Liverpool and having government officials running departments.
How would you fix GMP?
Nick Buckley: The priority has to be the new IT system which has caused many issues and continues to do so. All new IT systems have issues. This should have been expected and planned for. I will fix the problems within a few months or the system will be scrapped and an off-the-shelf one purchased. This is not ideal, but needs must.
The next step will be around ‘getting back to basics’. This means preventing crime and catching criminals. No more policing the internet or recording non-crime-hate-incidents. Real criminals need real police.
I will improve officer morale by returning professionalism to the service and I will be a vocal supporter of the tough choices they have to make. The police will not be apologising any longer for doing their job.
Neighbourhoods will have a greater say in policing. I will give every neighbourhood a vote on if they would like the police to use their stop and search powers more to take knives off the streets.
The police work for the people. The people need to direct what they want of the service they pay for through taxation. Their community. Their streets. Their kids dying in pools of blood.
Andy Burnham: Four years ago, I inherited a police force severely weakened by Tory and Lib Dem cuts between 2010 and 2017.
We lost 2,000 police officers and 1,000 civilian staff. GMP then had to contend with the huge challenge of the Manchester Arena attack and it is no secret that it has struggled.
Immediately on taking office, I took a difficult decision to ask the public to pay a little more for police to begin to repair the damage of the Tory cuts.
Today, there are almost 700 more police officers on our streets than 2017 when I was first elected. This year, I will recruit 325 more. This has allowed me to give every resident of Greater Manchester a named police officer and named PCSO which people can find through the GMP website. This will make GMP more accountable to you.
Beyond the cuts, there have been failings of GMP’s making. I have called out an internal culture that is too defensive. That is why I changed the leadership and brought in a new Chief Constable.
I am confident Stephen Watson is the right person to lead us forward and, with the extra officers, he will turn GMP around.
Laura Evans: I would look to bring in a task force and work with Her majesty’s inspectorate to get policing back on track across greater Manchester.
People must be able to feel safe on their streets, so I would work with the community across Greater Manchester, introducing safe street funding across the region to tackle crime hotspots.
I would also fix the computer system that is failing and wasting police time.
Marcus Farmer: GMP is a morale and leadership issue. It is in special measures for a reason, and I couldn’t do any worse than our current leader.
Melanie Horrocks: Something has clearly gone very wrong at GMP. I’m a qualified solicitor, with over six years of experience working for the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and I’m the only candidate qualified to understand how to fix the problems in the police.
As I’ve said previously, there is only one person who knows what is going on inside GMP, and that is Andy Burnham, who has clearly failed in his duty over GMP.
If elected I’ll be working closely with the force to look at the culture, and listen to what the police need. From day one my goal will be to look into how quickly we can get the force out of special measures, and rebuild its reputation once more.
Simon Lepori: I want to remove the internal whistleblowing process and complaints procedures out of day-to-day control and allow the Police and Crime Panel to manage it independently for 18 months to two years, this will allow the new chief to settle in and build trust in the internal processes.
Alec Marvel: To fix the police it will take time. The rot starts at the top and works it way down. I’d have to replace many commanders with officers of lower rank but far more experience. I also think it’s an idea to bring back the local bobby. People are more likely to talk to an officer they know and trust than someone they don’t with a bad attitude.
Stephen Morris: There is a lack of leadership, and ultimately the leader is the current mayor and his deputy who oversees policing on his behalf. Confidence in the police has dropped massively and we’ve got to turn that round. It can’t be turned round under the current mayor as it’s been spiralling down under his watch.
We need to support the police but they have to be able to do what they pledged to do and that’s to police without fear or favour, and not tying them to political correctness.
We need them to do their job, and where they need to target areas to tackle things like knife crime, they need to have the resources.
David Sutcliffe: Support the new Chief Constable (hopefully) in getting rid of underperforming, lazy and corrupt senior officers. Change the culture to a can-do organisation. Support those on the frontline.
Get rid of the iOPS computer system, reopen closed custody offices. Cops travelling across GMP with prisoners is a complete waste of time.
As mayor I will be visible, supportive but definitely scrutinise.
How would you tackle the city-region’s housing crisis?
Nick Buckley: Everyone is in agreement that we need more homes. The easy solution is to build more houses, but this is only a one-dimensional answer to a complicated problem.
I understand that building on ‘brownfield’ sites is more expensive and therefore less attractive. We can incentivise such building with grants, free council tax for a period. We need new ideas to support builders to develop these sites.
Our town centres are shrinking. Commercial properties should be converted into flats, especially one-bedroom accommodation. Planning departments in the councils need to promote such alternatives.
Non-related policies need to be examined for unintended consequences. For example, our welfare system financially rewards couples to live apart, especially if they have children. Two homes occupied when one home would do. This change would also have huge benefits for children. We need to be creative and think out of the box.
Andy Burnham: There is no solution to the housing crisis which does not involve building thousands of truly affordable council homes or homes for social rent, repairing the damage of the Right To Buy policy.
I will bring forward a detailed plan within a year to build 30,000 zero-carbon homes, which are cheaper for our residents to rent and run.
We also need to make the private-rented sector work better for renters. Too many of our residents are forced to live in properties that are poorly maintained by private landlords and or face unfair charges and rent increases.
This is why we are bringing forward a Good Landlord Charter for Greater Manchester so that those landlords who do things the right way get the recognition they deserve and those who don’t can be easily identified.
We need to call time on the outrageous situation where unscrupulous landlords profit from public money through benefits but refuse to reinvest any of it in the upkeep of their properties, dragging down whole streets and neighbourhoods.
If re-elected, I will maintain our successful A Bed Every Night scheme, which looks after over 500 people every night, and donate 15 per cent of my own salary every month in support of it.
Laura Evans: We must look to build affordable homes in the right places, using this opportunity to regenerate our town and city centres where we already have the infrastructure in place.
The mayor’s current plan to build all over the greenbelt risks the last remaining areas of green space. We have an opportunity to build back better and to make sure we see our high streets thrive again.
Marcus Farmer: The Greater Manchester Combined Authority needs to compulsory purchase land and come into the marketplace to deliver social housing. The private sector will never do this as the return on investment is not attractive in the short term. You can use the private sector to build quality housing but why do they need to own it to sell it for a profit?
Melanie Horrocks: Covid-19 has been a harsh reminder of how much we rely on our local communities. Under my mayoralty, affordable homes will be built to create communities, not to satisfy the needs of greedy developers. I will never agree to homes being built on the green belt, and I will always protect our green spaces as havens for our residents, and biodiversity. We face a homeless crisis, which has grown due to the pandemic, so we must explore a ‘make do and mend’ approach, taking the many empty houses sitting across Greater Manchester, and bring them back into use to give people a safe, warm place to call their home.
Simon Lepori: We need to use brownfield first, convert empty office spaces and reinvent our town and city centres so families and well as young single professionals can feel at home. We need vastly more social homes that are fit for habitation. We should bring all 12,000 empty homes back into use and end the land banking scandal across Greater Manchester.
Alec Marvel: A lot of problems with the housing crise that don’t have to be problems. I think requisitioning empty housing and rebuilding them from the inside will help a lot of this problem. A lot of buildings in Manchester are being left unavailable that are listed buildings that can’t be taken down so why not use them?
Stephen Morris: I’m against building in the green belt, we know there’s enough brownfield sites to fulfil our legal obligations so let’s do that. If developers want to maximise the amount of houses on brownfield sites they should be required to build car parking spaces underneath the units as areas above ground should not be made into car parks.
If we want to be a major city-region in the 21st century then what the hell are we doing when we’ve got a homeless crisis going on. It’s appalling and we’ve got to do something different.
David Sutcliffe: Let’s build on ‘grot spot’ areas before green belt (every area has neglected and derelict buildings). Some offices and ancillary business will never return to the high street. Where possible get their usage changed to residential. Financial incentives for developers who do develop brownfield sites. New houses/flats should be allocated for sale to Greater Manchester residents before investors.
How would you improve the transport network?
Nick Buckley: The first thing is to state that public transport is a public service. This is the starting point. We need to come up with a plan of what we want. What level of coverage? Fare price? Frequency? Public transport routes that are not financially viable, but needed by the community, will be subsidised.
To make public transport more attractive, we need to reduce antisocial behaviour and increase the quality of the journey. I know many people who do not use buses and trams for this very reason. Public transport needs policing properly.
The personal car is an important part of our transport network.
A conversation with the public is needed to see what they want. The public needs to influence politicians with their vote. Presently, the voice of the public is not heard, or more accurately, ignored.
Andy Burnham: Bringing buses back under public control is the key to creating what Greater Manchester desperately needs – an integrated, London-style public transport system where people can take as many buses and trams as they like in any given day and only spend up to a cap.
If re-elected, I will be on a mission to create it. I will bring our buses and trams into one system – the Bee Network – by 2025 at the latest.
By the end of the decade, we will add commuter rail services and stations.
To help people leave the car at home, we will work to make cycling and walking the natural choice for the first and last mile of people’s journeys. To do that, we will continue to build high-quality, segregated cycling and walking infrastructure in a network linking all of the communities in Greater Manchester.
Later this year, we will bring in a new bike hire scheme – including electric bikes – and will integrate the payment for it into the Bee Network.
This is a big ambitious vision for our city-region and it will improve our lives in so many ways.
Laura Evans: We all know how important our transport links are and they need to be accessible to all, with good Wifi, capped integrated ticketing and digital signs at bus stops.
I want to improve services around the whole of Greater Manchester, travelling in and out of the city centre and not just focusing on the city centre.
I would also want more tram links and further electric car charging points, as well as greener cleaner buses and bus corridors working with our bus operators covering more areas.
Marcus Farmer: Andy Burnham is on the right lines but needs to use telematic technology to link the buses, trains and the trams. His point of sale control on the tram is laughable where most people still jump on for free.
Melanie Horrocks: If we want to encourage road-users to leave the car behind in favour of public transport, we need a simple, single flat-fare that makes travel accessible for all. I will also be advocating for the ‘cycle to work’ scheme to be extended to schools, giving every child the opportunity to cycle to school, improving health and helping reduce carbon emissions.
One of the first targets I will set as mayor, is to reduce all road deaths to zero. Far too many people are dying on our roads, and this must stop. If we want to encourage our schoolchildren and residents to take up walking or cycling from A to B, we must invest in a safe network of walking and cycling routes. Some of the candidates are calling for a ‘London-style transport system’, I say this doesn’t go far enough.
We need a revolution on our public transport, allowing people the ability to access all areas of Greater Manchester, including green space for families to enjoy leisure time, and for our commuters to be able to bring their bikes on the tram and cycle from door to door.
Simon Lepori: Single ticketing across train, tram and bus with simple charging across a zoned map of Greater Manchester, linking in active travel to create true 15 minute neighbourhoods, with bikes allowed on all forms of public transport.
Alec Marvel: I think the school bus service will help the transport network but also the disabled should not have to pay for transportation and need better access to train stations that are not provided like Greenfield station, where I live, no one can get up those stairs in a wheelchair without being carried – promised by Labour but never delivered.
Stephen Morris: I worked in public transport for 15 years so I know how the system works. Having worked with bus industries in Greater London I know the problems of having an integrated system.
In Greater London there’s loads of different operators and in each depot there are drivers on different routes with a mish-mash of different terms on their contracts.
That has an adverse effect on employees because it tends to drive down their wages. I would want the contracts and rate of pay for driving buses all brought in line.
David Sutcliffe: We need to give people the confidence to go back to using public transport again after Covid-19 contraction concerns. If we are taking back control of the buses let’s make sure that we are going to make it a better system than now. We also need to repair our current road system which is disintegrating rapidly.
Are you in favour of franchising the bus network?
Nick Buckley: In principle, yes. The current Labour mayor’s plans need to be examined very closely. And experts in this field need to have their say and contribute, for I am no expert in this field.
My big worry is that if the Labour mayor is re-elected the same team who were in charge of the police will do the same to the buses. It is hard to improve things, it is much easier to make them worse.
Andy Burnham: Yes, 100 per cent – and this is the big choice in this mayoral election.
Since the Tories privatised our buses 35 years ago, fares have doubled, routes have been cut and passenger numbers have halved. The Conservative candidate in this election is trying to stick with this failed approach and opposing our plans to bring buses back under public control.
In May, the bus companies are seeking to block bus franchising by taking us to court. The Tories in Greater Manchester are siding with them not the three quarters of the public who support our plans.
So this election is a chance to send a message to those standing in the way of better transport for Greater Manchester. If you support what I’m trying to do, please get out and vote for it on Thursday.
Laura Evans: I think franchising the buses is a un-costed open-cheque book concept with a starting cost of around £134.5m of Greater Manchester tax payer’s money – focused around buying up old bus depots, staffing and a ticketing system.
We know people want more and better buses and I intend to deliver that, with cleaner greener buses, capped pricing, more journeys to more places, using digital technology, integrated ticketing working with the bus operators on a partnership model.
A positive strategy offering more with less risk that has worked so well in the West Midlands. Working together.
Marcus Farmer: Buses in private ownership is a joke. I would kick Stagecoach out of Manchester based on emissions and pollution they have created over the last 25 years. The idea that a private bus company will service unprofitable areas is Disneyland stuff.
Melanie Horrocks: As I have pointed out many times, I’d like to thank Andy Burnham for finally implementing a long-standing Green Party policy to bring our buses back under public control. I have always supported the franchising of our bus network, and now is the time to sort out our messy bus system by introducing a single, flat-fare across all of our bus services, allowing residents to get around Greater Manchester in an efficient and affordable way.
It is time for our bus service to work for all our communities, whether they live in the city centre or the smallest village in Trafford.
Simon Lepori: Yes, I am, it will help us get buses to the places across Greater Manchester that have had their routes cut or stopped all together, and it will allow an integrated transport system to finally become reality for Greater Manchester.
Stephen Morris: Franchising is something that I’d like to carry through as we need to bring things under local control. But we need to make sure terms and conditions and wages of the employees are correct across the board.
Alec Marvel and David Sutcliffe did not respond to this question.
How would you rebuild the local economy post-Covid?
Nick Buckley: We start by opening all businesses today. The mayor needs to be pressuring the government for a full and total re-opening.
We support business and attract new businesses by getting the government out of the way. Red tape and box-ticking is expensive. The mayor and government do not create jobs – businesses and entrepreneurs do. We need to set the stage for them, build the infrastructure and allow them to do what they do best. To create jobs and wealth.
This is a good time to expand our tourism offer. We need to be advertising places for days out with the family, historic sites, beautiful landscapes, museums, galleries. We have so much to offer and are not playing to our strengths. This strategy also keeps money within Greater Manchester.
I will be a mayor who champions Greater Manchester to the world. I will go to the foreign investors in India, China, US and sell Greater Manchester as a place ready for their business and investment.
Andy Burnham: I will do it in two ways: by supporting the creation of new jobs and businesses; and by building a more productive economy through better work for everyone.
I am proud to say we are already the fastest-growing digital and tech hub in Europe. We will build on that success by continuing to invest in digital skills and infrastructure. Alongside that, we will accelerate progress towards our goal of a zero-carbon city-region by 2038. To achieve that, we will need to retrofit every property across our 10 boroughs. This huge work programme will unlock thousands of good jobs whilst improving people’s homes, making them cheaper to run. If re-elected, I will immediately establish a Retrofitting Task Force to get this moving.
The pandemic has brought home to us how we need to improve the quality of everyone’s work. Too many people here are in work that is so low-paid and insecure that they are unable to take time off if they are ill. We will never build a strong, productive economy in Greater Manchester on that basis. So we will link all public procurement in Greater Manchester to our Good Employment Charter and set a goal of becoming the UK’s first Living Wage City-Region.
Laura Evans: It’s vital that we focus on jobs and making sure we are linked to the green agenda, investing in our brownfield sites and building affordable homes in the right places not on our green belt.
I want to be an ambassador for Greater Manchester, working closely with businesses and encouraging them to take on more apprentices. As mayor I would also look to work with our universities and technical colleges, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of British Industry.
There are so many fantastic opportunities as we go forward, but as the Conservative mayor I would ensure the whole of Greater Manchester benefits.
Marcus Farmer: Economies are all about the ability to plan and confidence in the city leadership. I am the only candidate that understands small, medium and phoenix business strategies required to encourage entrepreneurial spirit. Ending lockdown on May 6 sends the right message at this point to the business community.
Melanie Horrocks: We have an opportunity to reset our economy post-Covid, and I will advocate for a Universal Basic Income trial zone, so that people have enough money in their pockets to cover their basic needs, with some left to spend on their leisure. This will be good for mental health, removing financial stresses, and also give a fantastic boost to the local economy. It will also take many out of the benefits system, which is broken and unsupportive.
As mayor, I will call for rent controls, allowing median rent to be set so that no residents are forced out of their communities, and that tenants have security that they won’t be evicted because of rising prices.
I will also implement my ‘Make do and Mend’ policy, which will see the hundreds of empty houses across our region be brought up to standard with retrofitting, to provide people with safe, affordable homes, and creating hundreds of green jobs and apprenticeships for our workers.
My plan for public transport giving greater access across the region will also give our residents more leisure opportunities, making travel more affordable allowing people the option of giving up their car and the expensive costs it takes to run.
Simon Lepori: Using the skills and job fund to aid in the development of a green industrial workforce, giving people young and old the chance to reskill for the challenges ahead of us. Campaign for a reduction in business rates and reform of the business rate system. Moving towards city and town centre lifestyles to encourage more to live and work in our city centres.
Alec Marvel: I’d rebuild the economy by promising not to close it again. Small businesses suffered more from COVID than anything they need help. I need to put money into taxi firms, pubs, shops etc.
Stephen Morris: We should never have locked down in the first place, we should have protected the elderly, the weak and the vulnerable and allow the economy to continue. What’s happened now, with not allowing the economy to continue, that’s going to have a knock-on effect on future generations.
Unless we get the economy moving the national debt is going to spiral, so we’ve got to change things and get the economy open again.
David Sutcliffe: Whilst interest rates are at an all time low let’s bring forward infrastructure projects to stimulate the region’s economy.
How would you clean up the air in Greater Manchester?
Nick Buckley: I would scrap Labour’s ‘Clean Air Zone’ scheme, which is a congestion charge through the backdoor. Just because a policy has a great title does not mean it is any good. Businesses are struggling across the region and this is not the time to introduce a new tax.
We reduce pollution by phasing out older dirty vehicles and replacing them with cleaner ones. We can change the MOT system nationally to facilitate this. But businesses need to have time and be consulted. A better public transport system would contribute.
We need to look to science and technology to come up with more answers, for they always do when asked. We need to move away from the ‘car is bad’ mantra. Cars offer freedom, choice, opportunity. We need to ask the people of Greater Manchester what they want, at present, we seem to be in a place where the people are told what they are getting.
Andy Burnham: All ten boroughs have illegal air pollution and the Conservative government has given them a legal instruction to reduce it. They are requiring us to introduce a Clean Air Zone as the most effective way to make this happen.
Polluted air damages everyone’s health. So we’re ready to take action. But, in exactly the same way as the government tried to force us into Tier 3, they are trying to impose a Clean Air Zone without giving our businesses the support they need.
I do not want to see a single job or business lost by a Clean Air Zone. So we’re pressing the government for a fully-funded Clean Taxi Fund and Clean Van Fund to help our smaller businesses and self-employed upgrade their vehicles without taking on loans they can’t afford. If the Tories refuse, we will consider delays and exemptions to the scheme. Private cars will not be included.
One thing I have ruled out is a congestion tax or charge – a payment to use the roads on an ongoing basis. It will never happen on my watch as mayor, despite misleading claims to the contrary in this campaign.
Laura Evans: I want to see a scrappage scheme to help people switch to low emission vehicles and new traffic measures to help ease the most congested roads. It’s vital that we get councils to lead from the front – moving them on to low emission vehicles.
I would also want to see more electric vehicle charging points to make it easier to own electric, and a green reward scheme so people can choose the least polluting businesses and services.
As mayor I would also fight to protect our green belt, regenerating our brownfield sites and re-energising our town and city centres.
Marcus Farmer: Get rid of the Magic Bus. It staggers me that 10-year-old buses are still running down Oxford Road from a purely marketing point of a private company. Somehow we need to get to efficient public transport free at point of sale.
Melanie Horrocks: We need strong measures to clean up our air quality. In Greater Manchester we have areas with air quality that exceeds the limits set out by the World Health Organisation, and it is unfair to continue to subject our children, vulnerable and elderly to unclean air.
If the region really wants to clean up its emissions, electing me as your Green mayor will make sure plans are put in place to improve the level of air quality in our region and I will be working hard with our ten local councils to bring forward the region’s 2038 carbon neutrality goal.
One of the key issues we must sort out is our transport system – if we are to encourage people to use their car less to save emissions, we need to provide residents with a system that works for them, is accessible for cyclists, and is affordable.
Simon Lepori: Following through on the transport plans, accelerating the roll out of electric charging points to aid the move from petrol to electric. Engage with the public to build and maintain active lifestyles within the 15-minute neighbourhood. Move us away from incineration of our waste and more reuse/recycle methods.
Alec Marvel: Well if I won I’d put a Green Party member in charge of the environment as they’re the best to deal with those issues. I’m also bipartisan so I can work with other parties for the common good.
Stephen Morris: I don’t want this Clean Air Zone. They can put whatever label they want on it, the fact is the current leadership are looking to charge people more to travel.
We know full well that it’s going to affect people on low incomes, and people who rely on their vehicles for work.
We need to look at getting people electric charge points, getting public transport fit for purpose so we can encourage people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.
Then we look at other things like incorporating solar energy into new buildings, and building more wind turbines.
David Sutcliffe: Public transport is key to this but this will take time to make people feel secure using it again. However I do not agree with the mayor’s stealth tax on vans as getting the economy moving is of utmost importance for people’s health.
How would you tackle racism while in the post?
Nick Buckley: I am tired of looking at everything through the prism of ‘race’. Greater Manchester is not a racist place to live, the same is true of the UK.
I am tired of ‘race hustlers’ trying to convince us otherwise and attempting to split us apart.
Of course, there is a small number of people with racist views. Greater Manchester is not immune from idiots. If the law is broken, then I expect the police to take action.
As mayor, I will not be splitting people into groups and dealing with them separately. I will take a ‘one people’ approach, for that is what we are. We all live in this region, we all want a great life, and we all want better for our children.
Groups and organisations that promote identity politics will not be eligible for funding or my support as mayor.
Andy Burnham: Greater Manchester takes a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and racist abuse of any kind and that strong, unequivocal policy will continue if I am re-elected as mayor. But we recognise that we need to go further to tackle the racism and discrimination that people suffer across wider society.
I have established a Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel, drawn from people of all communities with vast experience of these issues, and they have been given the job of challenging organisations across all sectors to go further, not just in tackling racism but also in ensuring that their opportunities are equally open to people of all backgrounds and their workforces are truly representative of wider Greater Manchester society.
We have asked the panel to work with GMP to agree the publication of statistics on use of police powers in different communities as part of a regular race equality in policing audit.
I have had many companies say to me that they have invested here because of our diverse society.
Any successful modern organisation needs to draw in talent from all communities. Our diversity is our strength and that is always the positive message that should ring out of Greater Manchester.
Laura Evans: As mayor you must champion community cohesion and where we see racism and hate crime call it out and take action. It must be seen as a crime and dealt with accordingly. We know the government has looked to tackle all hate crimes head on and I would be looking to work with all groups, faiths and communities across Greater Manchester to make sure those voices are heard.
Marcus Farmer: Get all interested parties around the table to discuss what is wrong in a civilised way.
Any argument needs to be statistics driven as we cannot afford to leave the white vulnerable family, in a less affluent part of our city, out of the conversation.
All this does is suck the far right into local politics. It’s a complex area of politics which needs to be argued based on evidence and I admit that I currently don’t have any straightforward answers.
Melanie Horrocks: I am saddened that racism is still a huge problem in our society, and I will always stand up with the BAME community to tackle racism in any form.
Education is the key. As a PhD student studying terrorism and radicalisation, I know how extremist groups target and radicalise young people. Working with anti-racist groups I would want to see interventions in the classrooms to tackle the growing issues of radicalisation in schools.
I will also work with GMP to tackle the ongoing problem of stop and search which unfairly targets BAME people more than any other group, and I will face head-on the allegations of institutional racism that exists within police forces. I will work with anti-racism groups to create systemic change within the force and promote equality and diversity.
I will also provide help to victims of racism and allies who witness racism so that there is a clear resource for them to go to and report hate crime, as well as access help and advice on how to take further action and demand change.
Simon Lepori: Continue to follow through with the findings of the Equality Panel, restoring faith in the police enabling bridges to be built throughout Greater Manchester again. We need to move forward with name-blind interviews and make sure the good employment charter is adhered to.
Alec Marvel: Racism won’t be easy. A lot of cultures are stuck in their ways. I’d have to find a way to bring people together like group meetings for everyone and youth projects. If you get to know someone you are more likely to like each other and respect each other’s differences. Usually we find out we’re not that different.
Stephen Morris: We need to make sure Greater Manchester Police are fit for purpose, it is my priority to get the force out of ‘special measures’ so that all crimes are recorded and dealt with appropriately, including racially motivated crimes which should not be tolerated.
David Sutcliffe: I believe that all sections of society have the right to be treated fairly and with respect. We have a great cosmopolitan region and I do not see racism as a major problem.
Is there anything you would do to improve women’s safety?
Nick Buckley: I would aim to improve everyone’s safety. I have two decades of experience in community safety.
I do not, and would not, give preferential treatment to anyone based on sex, race, religion. All decisions will be based on need. The starting point is improving GMP. If we do not, then we will all be in greater danger.
We improve women’s safety in society by promoting the role of men as ‘protectors’. It is the role of men to protect women and children. Who do you think shouts out ‘women and children first!’ in emergencies? Men shout this. The answer to the tiny number of evil men is not fewer men, but more good men.
Andy Burnham: Following the shocking of murder of Sarah Everard, we have all been reflecting on what must be done to improve the safety of women and girls. We have put some of our ideas out for public consultation through our draft Gender Based Abuse strategy which people can find on the GMCA website.
I have three particular priorities. First, I recognise there is more we can do to improve women’s safety when using public transport. So, as we improve transport, and move towards a London-style system, we will create a single point of contact for people to report an incident or get help.
Second, we will work with our night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord to improve women’s safety on nights out. We will look at Public Spaces Protection Orders in areas that are known to be hotspots for harassment or predatory behaviour.
Third, I will lead a high-profile campaign aimed at men and boys. We have to accept that we are the people who can do most to change the way women feel. Challenging people to make simple changes to behaviour, and call out friends who step over the line, could make a massive difference to women’s sense of personal safety.
Laura Evans: This is why policing must be a priority, with a framework in place to enable women to come forward to report crimes safely, whether in the home or workplace. As mayor I would work with the council to make sure plans like this are in place. We all have a part to play in acknowledging that we can do more.
Marcus Farmer: This needs to be another conversation driven by women and other people who feel unsafe on our streets. As a man who feels relatively safe I would class myself as ignorant to this subject but would be happy to make it a key factor in a position of mayor. My daughters and wife would be better placed to answer this question.
Melanie Horrocks: I’m a proud feminist, and I will always speak up for women, and fight to protect the rights of all minorities, standing up for trans and non-binary people too. Whilst we need to do a lot more to make the streets safer for women, this must be a joint effort, to help men and boys understand the fears of women and helping them to learn how they can take actions to reduce these fears for women.
I will also look at how we can take steps to improve lighting in our streets to make them safer for women, and I’d be working closely with GMP to see what needs to be done to bring them out of special measures and get more police back on the streets. We must also remember that the greatest risk to women remains the risk of domestic violence from their partner or other persons, and making safe places for women will be a key priority for me so that they can get the help they need.
Simon Lepori: Alongside restoring police faith and following recommendations of the Equalities Panel, I would urge the good employment charter to be adhered to and I would use part of the skills and jobs fund and aim it specifically at women so they can get the training and development needs they require. I would also work with national government to develop education programs for our school children both boys and girls to develop better understanding of each other, and acceptable behaviours.
Alec Marvel: Women I think need better street lighting in Manchester also more protection from the police. That’s why I’m thinking more of the local bobby because if a woman is being abused she’s likely to talk to someone she knows and trusts rather than a community support officer with no real power.
Stephen Morris: This again comes down to getting Greater Manchester Police fit for purpose and getting our police back out in view of the public, policing without fear or favour, to create a safe place for everyone to live, work, and visit.
David Sutcliffe: I like police visibility on public transport and in certain areas the use of safe walking corridors. But also bear in mind that males aged between 16-25 are statistically the vulnerable group for serious assaults.
What further powers would you seek from the government if elected?
Nick Buckley: Education. Without the power over education, we cannot drastically improve tomorrow. We allow 18 per cent of children to fail at school after a decade of state education. The one-size-fits-all model does not work for everyone, so we allow some young people to fail. Society writes them off. Welfare steps in and traps them in poverty for the rest of their lives.
I want an education system that inspires and builds resilience. More choice so pupils can pursue what they wish to pursue. We need huge improvements in behaviour and parental responsibility.
I want pupils leaving school with a selection of options, job-ready, confidence sky high and with the ability to change the world and their future.
Andy Burnham: Devolution in Greater Manchester is working but can deliver even more if we fill in some of the gaps. I have three priorities.
First, to build our economy, Greater Manchester needs to take full control of our post-16 skills system. Westminster politicians have always prioritised the university route over technical qualifications. That has damaged our economy and threatens inward investment. I have created a UCAS-style application system for apprenticeships and work-related opportunities – GMACS – but, to meet demands for skills in new green and digital industries, we need to take full control.
Second, I would like Greater Manchester to take greater control of the massive benefits budget. The national, tick-box, “computer says no” approach simply doesn’t work for people. It is designed to trip them up rather than help them out. Where we have taken control with a more personal, bottom-up approach, we have shown we can have twice the success in getting people back into work.
Third, we need to take control of our train stations. It is a scandal that 60 per cent do not have step-free access. Network Rail is not moving quickly enough to make our stations accessible to disabled people and it is time for us to take over.
Laura Evans: There is so much disparity in health and social care across the region and we must do more to level up the areas across Greater Manchester where this is happening. It’s not acceptable and the mayor must tackle this and work with the appropriate agency groups and councils across the region to deliver change. It’s just not right that some people are better off in some of our towns and cities than others. It is something that needs addressing.
Marcus Farmer: Control of the universities. They are broke and need to come back under public ownership. During Covid they have been morally bankrupt in the way they have treated students. I note with interest that the teachers have all gone back to school but it is still unsafe for lecturers even though they are all going to the supermarket.
Melanie Horrocks: Greater Manchester knows what it needs to thrive and succeed, and residents are sick of Westminster dictating to us the policies that decide how we live without knowing our needs. I will pressure the government for power to control rent in Greater Manchester, putting an end to the increasing price hikes across the city-region that is pricing Mancunians out of their homes, and making it impossible for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder.
I will also push for further devolution of powers so that we have a greater say over how Greater Manchester is run – I will work with the government to have a two-way effective communication, and will not bow to pressure or bullying to do what is right for our residents.
Simon Lepori: I want public health funding to be a combined authority responsibility instead of local councils, this would enable us to target support where needed, either during pandemics or for health concerns in hot spot areas.
Alec Marvel: I would seek more powers over the NHS. I need to be able to look after my city and care workers, I can’t do that with something under government control.
Stephen Morris: Education would be a power to get from government, this will allow our region’s education system to work better with businesses leaders in developing the skills we need to make Greater Manchester a world beating technological and industrial centre.
David Sutcliffe: Fast track compulsory purchase powers to enable derelict/eyesore buildings to be bought and redeveloped quickly.
The Greater Manchester mayoral elections and local council elections were due to take place last May but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Polling stations will be open with Covid-safe measures, with voters expected to wear face coverings, observe social distancing and use hand sanitiser when they arrive.
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