Greater Manchester Mayoral Candidate Profiles 2024

By Ethan Davies – Local Democracy Reporter

What is each candidate promising in their manifestos?

IN 10 days time, Greater Manchester will go to the polls to select its new mayor.

With a range of powers over transport, policing, economy, and education — to name a few — over nearly three million people, the 2024 mayoral election winner will become arguably the most powerful figure in Greater Manchester’s political history. That’s because in 2025, the city-region is expected to get a ‘single settlement’ of cash from the government.

In effect, it means the mayor will run the GM Combined Authority (GMCA) akin to a government department. The new mayor will also be able to benefit from permission to retain 100 percent of business rates for 10 years.

So with such an important decision on the cards, what are each of the six candidates offering voters? Here, the Local Democracy Reporting Service takes a brief look at each manifesto.

To vote on May 2, you will need to bring photo ID to a polling station, with a full list of accepted ID here.

Jake Austin — Liberal Democrat

Jake Austin did not send over a manifesto when asked by the LDRS. However, when asked previously  what he would do for the people of Greater Manchester in the first 100 days of office, he said: “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.”

And when asked how Greater Manchester will change by the end of the mayoral term, he replied: “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.”

You can read more about Jake Austin’s campaign here.

Dan Barker — Reform

Reform candidate Dan Barker is promising voters seven key ‘pledges’. The first is called ‘take back our streets’, which includes a promise to personally oversee the stewardship of GMP, rather than ‘offloading to deputies’. It also includes a promise to ‘reopen police counters in local towns and communities.’

The second pledge is ‘Get GM Building’, specifically on ‘brownfield first’ after removing green belt plans from the Places for Everyone plan. That falls alongside a promise to ‘enforce affordable and social housing commitments for existing developments’ and ‘increase affordable and social housing targets on all future developments’ in order to bring rent prices down.

Third is a promise to continue the Bee Network’s roll-out, and create ‘cross-connecting routes across Greater Manchester’, and fourth is a pledge to remove Clean Air Zone cameras and the ruling out of a congestion charge of pay-per-mile — plus the need for 80 percent of local residents to approve the installation of a Low-Traffic Neighborhood.

Number five is a list of economic pledges, including the creation of ‘a new freeport or enterprise zone for Greater Manchester’, and having a ‘focus will be on left-behind areas and towns’. Sixth is a commitment ‘to maintain and improving the level of support currently provided for rough-sleepers across Greater Manchester’.

Lastly, the seventh pledge is a commitment to give any borough in Greater Manchester an independence referendum.

You can read Dan Barker’s manifesto here.

Nick Buckley — Independent

Nick Buckley, an independent candidate, has ten key pledges. They include ‘scrap the money grabbing scheme known as the Clean Air Zone (CAZ)’, ‘fix the police by turning them back into a police force’, ‘sack senior police officers who failed the victims of the grooming gangs’, ‘tackle knife crime by offering neighbourhoods a vote on Stop & Search’, and ‘create a Free Speech Charter so everyone understands their rights’.

The second half include ‘end rough sleeping in one year’, ‘promote the family as the foundation of our society’, ‘create a Waste & Incompetence Watchdog to inform the public on how their taxes are squandered’, ‘support Bolton to hold a referendum on if they wish to be part of Greater Manchester’, and ‘give the people a referendum on if they want to keep the position of Mayor’.

Other policies in the manifesto include a pledge to appoint an ‘Education Tsar’, focuses on SMEs and town centres, relaxing planning permission to allow commercial buildings to be converted into homes.

You can read Nick Buckley’s manifesto here.

Andy Burnham — Labour

Incumbent Labour mayor Andy Burnham is bidding for a third term in the job, taking his time in charge to 11 years. His manifesto centres around ‘three big ideas’, namely GM Housing First, the MBacc, and Live Well.

The housing element of that has a headline aim make ‘Greater Manchester the UK’s first Housing First city-region, with a clear mission to end the housing crisis by 2038’. That includes a new right for tenants to request a property check, a good landlord charter, and developing a plan to build 1,000 homes in every borough by 2028.

The MBacc — officially the Greater Manchester Baccalaureate — is a plan to ‘give our young people a genuine and equal alternative to the university route’ in technical education. It will see 14-year-olds choose sets of GCSEs tailored for a specific GM industry, e.g. IT, and apprenticeships to follow.

Live Well takes advantage of new powers given to the mayor in the trailblazer devolution deal to connect up the benefits system and primary care in an effort ‘to make Greater Manchester the test-bed for an entirely different way of providing social support and social security in the 21st century’. It will see primary care facilities and job centres renamed Live Well Centres.

Elsewhere, there is also a promise to complete the implementation of the Bee Network by including buses in south Manchester in early 2025 and eight commuter railway lines by 2028. There is also a pledge to ‘continue to resist the introduction of a charging Clean Air Zone’.

You can read Andy Burnham’s manifesto here.

Laura Evans — Conservative

Laura Evans, the Conservative candidate who came second in the last mayoral election in 2021, has five headline pledges.

The first is called ‘a safer city’ by ‘leading from the front taking decisive action against knife crime, burglaries, car thefts, and the grooming of young people by criminal elements’. Next is a healthier region, by tackling the ‘root causes of homelessness, including mental health challenges, unemployment, and family breakdowns’ by ‘investing in a ‘Homes for Life program’ to provide ‘sustainable solutions to end rough sleeping an access to long-term support and housing stability’.

Third is on connectivity, and includes pledges to ‘extend the Metrolink network to all the boroughs’, ‘improve connectivity by bus to hard-to-reach areas’, and ‘upgrading them to easy accessibility for all users’. Fourth is a commitment to an investment zone to ‘generate over 30,000 new jobs in advanced manufacturing, science, and industry’ and ‘position the region as a leading economic powerhouse’.

Lastly, Laura Evans is promising to build ‘new affordable homes on derelict and disused sites’ by incentivising developers to go after brownfield sites first.

These five sit alongside a promise to take down the CAZ cameras, and creating a veterans’ travel card for free public transport use.

You can read Laura Evans’ manifesto here. 

Hannah Spencer — Green

Hannah Spencer, Green Party candidate, also has five pledges for voters.

The first one is on housing — namely improving GM’s stock by retrofitting in better insulation. Next up is transport, where she promises to ‘draw up plans for underground links, transforming tram and train lines into a Crossrail-type network’.

Third is a pledge to tackle gender-based violence against women and girls by ‘reinstating the Serious Sexual Offences Unit, axed in 2017’ and installing a new commissioner to examine complaints against police officers. Fourth is another pledge to create a commissioner — this time to for ‘Future Generations’ in order to ‘make sure the mayor’s actions balance the needs of the present with the needs of future generations’ in Greater Manchester.

Lastly, the plumber also wants more powers from the government to be given to the mayor — and a ‘London-style assembly, directly elected by you and representing you fairly, that can hold the mayor to account consistently, not just every four years’.

Alongside this programme, Spencer says she will have ‘the beginnings of a proper warm home’ scheme in her first 100 days. In the same timeframe, she says she will ‘set up a commission to look at the impact of bringing in rent controls across the region’.

You can read Hannah Spencer’s manifesto here.

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