A beacon of inclusion, equality and diversity

My ambition is simple: I want Greater Manchester to be the most open, welcoming and inclusive city-region in the UK. 

Our councils have a long and proud tradition of tackling discrimination and promoting equality. Other places look to us for a lead. But we can't be complacent. There is undoubtedly more we can do to build a more inclusive politics in Greater Manchester.

My ambition is simple: I want Greater Manchester to be the most open, welcoming and inclusive city-region in the UK. 

Our councils have a long and proud tradition of tackling discrimination and promoting equality. Other places look to us for a lead. But we can't be complacent. There is undoubtedly more we can do to build a more inclusive politics in Greater Manchester. 

 

We need to start by improving women's representation and achieving a better gender balance in decision-making bodies. My colleague Barbara Keeley MP has agreed to conduct a review on how we can achieve this and also on what policies will win back some of the women's votes we have lost.  

I will set the clear goal of 50-50 representation of women and men on the Combined Authority. Barbara will advise me on how we can achieve this, for instance by asking all 10 local authorities to nominate two councillors - one woman and one man - to attend meetings. We would be interested in hearing your views on this.

A truly inclusive society needs to draw from all communities in building its political representation and leadership. I will commit to ensuring that representatives of all BME communities in Greater Manchester are involved in the work of the Combined Authority and will establish mentoring schemes to support it. 

We also need a stronger focus on BME representation in our key public services. Greater Manchester Police has made progress in recent years but has further to go. People from BME communities make up over 15% of the GM population but less than 5% of our police force. There are only a small number of black and Asian officers in the senior ranks. We need to improve these statistics and recruit leaders from all communities. Alongside this, I would keep use of Police stop-and-search powers under close scrutiny to prevent any feeling that some communities are unfairly targeted. I will take a zero-tolerance approach to sexual and domestic violence, harassment and all forms of hate crime. 

The creation of the new Mayoral role presents an opportunity to involve more younger people in politics. We are lucky to have some brilliant young councillors. But we need a more permanent place for the voices of young people at the Greater Manchester level. I will consider creating a Combined Youth Authority, drawn from our younger councillors and Members of the Youth Parliament, to advise the Mayor on all areas of policy.

I will commit to producing a GM-wide strategy on LGBT rights and tackling homophobic bullying and violence. I have supported young people in Wigan who are behind the borough's first-ever Pride event which will take place later this year. As Mayor, I would set the goal of annual Pride events in all the boroughs of Greater Manchester and provide funding to support it. 

Working with the ground-breaking Time to Change initiative, I will develop a specific GM-wide campaign to tackle the stigma around mental health. 

I will look at making Greater Manchester an autism-friendly area. This would mean asking all public bodies and businesses to sign up to appointing an autism champion and providing staff training in awareness and understanding of the condition. I will commit to having a published Autism Strategy for Greater Manchester on improving access to support and services. 

In a similar way, we should set the goal of being a dementia-friendly city-region. Part of this should be the promotion of active and inclusive ageing by changing the way we support older people. I will say more about this when I set out my proposals for the country's first National Health and Care Service. 

But the biggest challenge of all is to build a Greater Manchester that is more equal across the board. 

This is a great place to live and work. But there are big inequalities within our boundaries and certain groups do better than others. What we know is that, by reducing these inequalities (particularly in income), not only do disadvantaged people do better, but the rest of society does better too. Fairer societies are better for everyone. 

I want to learn from communities such as Oldham where, through their Oldham Fairness Commission, public, private and voluntary sectors are joining forces to tackle inequalities. Local Commissioners have accepted the challenge and are working to address inequalities in education, employment and income in the borough.  

Based on the Oldham model, I will establish a Greater Manchester Fairness Commission to advise us on what more we can do to build a society where everyone can get on, where success is shared and where no-one is left behind. 

These are just a few ideas to get the debate going. You can email yours to: INFO@ANDY4MAYOR.CO.UK 

 

Let's work together to make Greater Manchester the beacon of inclusion, equality and diversity that we all want it to be.