Priorities & Pledges
As the election results rolled in on Friday 5th May, local government in the North of England changed for good. Three Northern Mayors were elected to newly-formed combined authorities in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Tees Valley. These Mayors will have extensive powers over transport, infrastructure, skills and planning. Their priorities and respective manifestos will now come under significant scrutiny. If they are to succeed then they will need to ‘hit the ground running’.
In order to deliver on their respective agendas, the new Mayors will have to capitalise on the unity shown during devolution negotiations. The cooperation of constituent authorities will be vital and by no means a given. The General Election is the next milestone, but after that focus will be drawn to the Mayors’ profiles, priorities and pledges.
At Quatro we have brought together the priorities and pledges of the three new Mayors. This will give you an idea of the emerging character for these new civic leaders, the impact they will have on local government in the North of England and the future for the Northern Powerhouse.
Previously the Member of Parliament for the safe Labour seat of Leigh, his campaign prioritised: early years, affordable housing, public transport and investment in digital and green industries.
By far the most high profile of the candidates to seek a mayoralty, Andy Burnham made the north-south divide a core message of his campaign. As a former Cabinet Minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown he has the most experience out of any of the new Mayors when it comes to running Government departments. Whilst he was expected to win the election with a significant majority he outperformed expectations on polling day by winning a majority in every borough of the new Greater Manchester authority, including Conservative Trafford. This came as an additional surprise considering the less favourable performance of Labour candidates nationally.
“All our children starting school ready to learn and leaving with hope of a good future, through a new drive to improve technical education and help with transport costs”
“A decent affordable home for everyone to rent or to own, with nobody forced to sleep rough on our streets”
Growth and Development
“The 21st Century Industrial Capital, a world leading Digital City and Green City, where businesses are supported to succeed and jobs are decently paid and secure”
“Reliable and affordable public transport serving all communities, with less congestion on our roads”
The best place to grow up
- Working with Greater Manchester schools, colleges and businesses, we will deliver a revolution in technical education. Central to this will be the development of a ground-breaking UCAS-style application system for all apprenticeships in Greater Manchester.
- We will ask all public bodies in Greater Manchester to sign a specific undertaking to collaborate to improve levels of “school-readiness”. This will be a pre-eminent priority shared by all of Greater Manchester public services.
- We will fight for a fair funding deal for Greater Manchester’s schools and strongly oppose any new funding formula that seeks to move money out of schools here.
The best place to live, work, get on
- We will develop a new digital infrastructure plan and deliver super-fast broadband connectivity across the whole of Greater Manchester, driving growth in every part of our City-Region. We will look at expanding public Wi-Fi provision in the city-centre and all the main towns of Greater Manchester.
- We will make Greater Manchester a world-leading Digital City-Region. To signal our intent, we will hold a Mayor’s Digital and Tech Summit within the first year of the election.
- We will refocus the Greater Manchester Housing Fund, with the explicit aim of solving the housing crisis and building affordable homes. We will seek to renegotiate the terms of the fund so that it can be used to help councils and housing associations build more council homes and social housing.
- We will publish a new plan to tackle congestion and commission an urgent review of the condition and configuration of our busiest roads, working with businesses, road users and Transport for Greater Manchester to see what quick changes can be made to improve traffic flows.
- We will use new powers to make our bus services more affordable, more reliable and more accessible to disabled people and families with pushchairs.
The best place to grow older
- We will guarantee all existing travel concessions for older people, including free travel on all Metrolink trams after 9.30am Monday to Friday, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.
- We will demand a fair funding deal for Greater Manchester’s NHS and social care so we can give older people the care and dignity they deserve.
- We will introduce in Greater Manchester the country’s first fully-integrated National Health and Care Service, building on the work that is already ongoing across our region to bring our services together.
A more equal society
- We will establish a new Homelessness Action Network led by Ivan Lewis MP and Councillor Beth Knowles bringing together charities, businesses and faith groups and any individuals who wish to make a contribution in this area, with the goal of eradicating rough-sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020.
- We commit to a gender-balanced Combined Authority and will agree a plan with member councils as to the best way of achieving it as quickly as possible.
Liverpool City Region
As the previous Member of Parliament for Liverpool Walton, Rotheram made his mark in parliament campaigning, alongside Andy Burnham, for families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster. A Corbyn loyalist, he won the election in the first round of voting with 59.3%. Rotheram campaigned heavily on his record in the constituency and his background as a native Liverpudlian. The message was clear, “vote for Steve Rotheram because he is one of us”.
His priorities were grouped into five values or qualities: ambitious, fair, green, connected and together. Each quality grouped the pledges of his manifesto into cogent themes.
“I believe we can be a city region that really punches its weight on the national and international stage. I want us to be a dynamic and prosperous economy creating wealth for our nation and opportunity for our people.”
“I will put fairness and social justice at the heart of everything we do as a City Region….. I want this to be a region that values and nurtures all its citizens, that ensures everyone has access to education, good public services, rewarding work and a decent affordable home.”
“I want our region to be at the forefront of innovation in sustainable technology and be a zero-carbon City Region by 2040. I want us to be a place that cherishes its natural assets, its green spaces, its ecology and its heritage.”
“I believe our future prosperity depends on our ability to renew and modernize our connections – to fulfill the potential of port expansion, to revolutionise our digital capacity, to foster our export capacity and culture, and ensure we are an integral part of the UK’s agenda for high speed rail.”
“We are a region of many identities, towns and communities, but we are also united by history, geography and some fundamental shared values.”
- A Strategic Economic Review: It is vitally important that our economic plan is evidence based, strategically focused and sets measurable targets. That’s why one of my first actions will be to commission the City Region’s first Strategic Economic Review. Working with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Combined Authority (CA), I will develop a vision and action plan that will deliver economic benefits and opportunities to every borough and community.
- Supporting local entrepreneurs and business: We know that 70% of economic growth is likely to come from businesses already based in the City Region. We need to radically improve business support services across our area to support new start-up businesses, and help established companies to expand and find new markets. We need to instill and nurture a culture of entrepreneurialism, starting in schools, but also through community-based strategies and targeted support for key growth sectors.
- Creating a high-skill, high-value economy: Our future prosperity is ultimately dependent on our ability to develop a well-qualified and highly skilled workforce. This is our biggest challenge and it has to be the key priority for the Metro Mayor, the Combined Authority, the City Region LEP and all our partners. This will require a rigorously focused and joined-up strategy and will be one of the key foundations of our Strategic Economic Review.
- Leading by example on the Real Living Wage: It’s important that we lead from the top and deliver on the principles and values that we espouse. For that reason we will commit to being a Real Living Wage employer and work to ensure this is reflected in procurement undertaken by the Combined Authority. The Real Living Wage is a fundamental building block to achieving a fair economy and a society free from poverty.
- A plan for a fairer, greener housing market: Making the housing market work for everyone is one of the biggest and most urgent challenges facing our region. That’s why within my first 100 days in office, I will convene a high-level housing summit, bringing together local authorities, housing providers, developers and government agencies to develop a strategy and early actions to make ours a fairer, greener housing market. Our actions will include scoping the role for a City Regionwide vehicle to deliver new homes to rent and buy as well as other affordable tenures.
- Putting equality and social justice first: We want to measure every policy, every service and economic initiative against our commitment to deliver a fairer and more equal City Region. We will establish a Fairness and Social Justice Advisory Board to review every aspect of the Metro Mayor’s and Combined Authority’s policy and practice. The Board will give a voice to all disadvantaged and marginalised groups and bring together representatives from the social economy, faith and community groups, large and small businesses, trades unions and young people.
- Showing the world the potential of renewable resources: We will make the most of our key natural assets to create a Liverpool City Region Renewable Energy Company – to harness the river Mersey – and use offshore tidal energy to power our homes and workplaces. Our ambition is that this should be funded through an ambitious public/ private sector partnership.
- Establishing a green energy investment fund: We will pool local funding with national and Third Sector funding to establish an investment fund to promote new renewable and community energy businesses and initiatives, as well as supporting businesses already operating in the sector. The fund will be part of our wider strategy, to drive innovation and encourage an entrepreneurial approach to developing our carbon-free future.
- Embracing a balanced and sustainable land use strategy: We will use devolved strategic planning powers to balance the needs of economic growth and environmental conservation. We will consult widely with residents, businesses and stakeholders in devising a sub-regional spatial strategy that ensures new homes and businesses are built in the right places and we safeguard the future of valued green spaces and sensitive habitats.
- Supporting the expansion of the Port of Liverpool and the SuperPort vision: We will provide strategic support for the Liverpool 2 post Panamax berth to ensure this game-changing opportunity realises its full potential in a post-Brexit world. We will support infrastructure investment and better connections to the port to enable Liverpool to become the UK’s deep port gateway to the Americas and the Pacific.
- Digital Connectivity: We will lead initiatives to transform the City Region’s digital capacity and infrastructure. At present, 1 in 4 homes across the City Region don’t even have access to superfast broadband and the quality of our digital infrastructure is inhibiting the development of our creative sector and our attractiveness as an investment destination. We will lobby Government and network providers for investment to improve speed and capacity, but will also look for innovative leap-frog solutions that will enable us to enhance connectivity, drive growth and expand opportunities for people across the region.
- Investigating New Funding Streams for Infrastructure: We will press for more freedom and autonomy to find innovative ways to fund urgently needed new infrastructure projects, similar to those used in London for Crossrail. Additional borrowing flexibility, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and other innovative fiscal models are in the spirit of devolution and would unlock the investment needed to make the Northern Powerhouse vision a credible reality.
- Ensuring the Metro Mayor and Combined Authority are accountable and accessible: We are creating entirely new democratic structures to bring our region together and represent all its communities. It is vitally important that we operate in a transparent and genuinely accountable way. I have engaged with people across the region in writing this manifesto, and I will remain in touch over the next three years through regular round table and community forum events in every part of the region. I will build on my commitment to create a Fairness and Social Justice Advisory Board by establishing other cross-cutting boards and forums that bring genuine diversity of experience and opinion into the policy-making process.
- Looking out and building alliances: One of the key benefits of having a Metro Mayor is having a single figurehead and champion with a democratic mandate who can give our region the kind of profile that London has enjoyed for many years. I will take on a proactive role as an investment champion and advocate for our region, and with our six borough leaders will continue to ensure our voice is heard where it matters.
Previously the Leader of the Conservative Group on Stockton Council, Houchen’s victory was by far the biggest surprise of the local elections. A local man, he was elected to represent the council seat of Yarm and Kirklevington in 2011. He contested the parliamentary by-election in Middleborough after the Labour MP, Sir Stuart Bell, passed away in 2015.
He clinched the win in the second round of voting, beating Labour’s Sue Jeffrey 48,578 to 46,400. So far the priorities of the Tees Valley Mayor are fairly general. Given the unexpected result it was clear that the Conservative campaign focused on publicising key messages rather than developing detailed manifesto proposals. Of all the new Mayors, Houchen perhaps has the most unique challenge since every council that makes up the combined authority is Labour controlled.
Priorities & Pledges
Buy Back Tees Valley Airport
Houchen pledged throughout the campaign to use the Mayors new £15 million budget to buy the Airport from its current owner Peel Investments Ltd. In regional television debates Cllr Houchen did not rule out using a Compulsary Purchase Order to force a purchase from the current owners. Peel have said that airport is currently losing £2.5million a week and that passenger numbers have fallen from 918,000 in 2006 to 132,000 last year. Houchen has committed to reversing the decline of the airport and using it as a vehicle for regeneration.
“I will use part of the new public money at my disposal to conduct a deal with the airport owner, Peel Investments (DTVA) Ltd, which will give back the airport services to the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.
For too long Teesside airport has been allowed to decline. It was sold off a generation ago and local people have had less influence. The result has been a struggle for flights compounded by policies such as drop-off fees and passenger fees that actively discourage airport users.”
Clean up Cleveland Police
Houchen has also made clear his intention to review and reform Cleveland Police. Cleveland Police has suffered a number of scandals recently. Most notably they have been found to have acted unlawfully in monitoring the phones of former police officers.
“The last few years have been so turbulent for Cleveland Police that I have no philosophical objection to bringing the organisation to an end. I have reached the decision that if elected as the Mayor for Darlington, Teesside and Hartlepool I would establish a commission to make recommendations to ministers on finding or establishing a successor body that could adequately replace it.”
Jobs and Skills
During the campaign Houchen pledged to introduce a new investment fund to drive jobs and growth. As of this point what the fund is worth and what the principles underpinning it involve have yet to be clearly articulated. In addition and since his election he has shown interest in the establishment of The South Tees Development Corporation.