Our Manifesto sets out some radical ideas.
We will only achieve them if we are prepared to think differently about how we do our politics and open it up to a much broader range of voices.
People will be appointed to the Mayor’s office and Combined Authority to reflect the diverse population of Greater Manchester. We will ensure that there is a balance of women and men in the most prominent roles and all communities will be fairly represented.
We will encourage people from all walks of life to enter politics – including people from under-represented groups and people with backgrounds and expertise in business.
A new relationship with the voluntary sector
Delivery of the ambitions in Our Manifesto will require a new way of working with the voluntary and community sector.
We will sign a new concordat with the voluntary and community sector based on a relationship of trust. This is essential if we are to unlock the full potential of our citizens and communities to contribute to our ambitious vision for Greater Manchester.
With the Mayor and Combined Authority setting the lead, we will set new standards for working with voluntary and community organisations, based on long-term funding arrangements of at least three years and preferably five and which cover core costs rather than project funding. Voluntary organisations based in Greater Manchester will be prioritised.
Making Greater Manchester the most accessible City-Region in the UK
Society's understanding of what it is to live with autism is woefully inadequate. Simple changes could be made to the way public buildings are designed, and in the way services in the public and private sector are provided, which could open up new horizons for people with autism.
The same also applies for people living with dementia, where something as simple as an improved street sign can make a huge difference. We should be looking at following the lead of countries like Sweden and start building specially-designed ‘dementia-friendly’ homes as part of a plan to make Greater Manchester the most dementia friendly City-Region in the country.
We will set an ambition of making Greater Manchester Autism-Friendly and Dementia-Friendly and establish a network of interested individuals and organisations, such as Autistic Wigan, who want to drive real change in this area.
Homelessness and rough-sleeping
One of the most common issues raised at Our Manifesto events was the growing levels of rough-sleeping on our streets. That’s because people here don't just walk past people in doorways without noticing them. They want something to be done.
Homelessness and rough-sleeping are not an inevitable consequence of a 21st century economy.
We will take immediate action to 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.
The Network will bring together organisations and people with lived experience to develop localised solutions. The emphasis will be on speedy, direct action as opposed to writing reports or plans.
The Homelessness Action Network will also work with local authorities across Greater Manchester to spread best practice and develop a long-term strategy to reduce, and eventually eradicate, homelessness.
Working with local authorities and the Combined Authority, the Network will by supported by a new Mayor’s Homelessness Fund.
To achieve this, everyone will need to play their part. To kick-start this fund, Andy Burnham will donate 15 per cent of any potential Mayoral salary on an on-going basis and seek similar donations from businesses and other individuals who can afford it. We will also make it easy for residents and visitors to GM to donate to this fund rather than giving to people directly on the streets.
Progress happens when people pull in the same direction. Though the Tory Government looks the other way, we can at least ensure that, here in Greater Manchester, no-one is forced to spend a night on the cold streets. This is what we mean by making Greater Manchester a beacon of social justice.
It is hoped that the Homelessness Action Network might provide a template for how we can involve a much broader range of individuals and organisations in the political process and in making a difference. Other networks could be established around other issues where there is a similar community of interest.
Greater Manchester is a great place to live and work but certain groups of people do better than others. For example, if you come from a low income household, you are less likely to do well at school. What we now 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. More equal societies are better for everyone.
We want to learn from experience in Salford, which has established a Poverty Truth Commission, and Oldham, which has been running a Fairness Commission. This commission works across public, private and voluntary sectors to tackle inequalities. Local commissioners have accepted the challenge and are equally determined to address inequalities in education, employment and income in the borough. Last year, 100 people across Oldham came together – from health, education, local government, business and voluntary sector – with Debbie Abrahams MP to discuss their plans to tackle inequalities in income, education and employment. This year these plans will be updated to show the progress that is being made locally.
Our vision for a fairer Greater Manchester is one where everyone, wherever they are from and whatever their background, is supported to get on and no-one is left behind.
We will build on experience in Salford and Oldham Fairness to establish a GM-wide Fairness Commission to develop more detailed plans to tackle inequalities across our City-Region.
A new way of doing politics
As the Mayor is a new role, it is vital that we develop effective mechanisms to hold the Mayor to account. Democracy thrives on scrutiny from the public, other politicians and the media and we will actively encourage that.
We will look at introducing a public e-petition scheme, similar to the one used to force debates in the House of Commons. If a certain number of signatures are reached, this scheme could be used to bring issues to meetings of the Combined Authority, which will be chaired by the new Mayor.
We also want local councillors to have more involvement and influence over the work of the Mayor and Combined Authority. Most Councillors are rooted in their communities and know them better than anyone else. We should use that knowledge to inform decisions and let us know when something is wrong. We will look at giving Greater Manchester Councillors a new ‘call-in’ power, whereby if an agreed proportion of elected Councillors sign up to challenge a particular policy, the Mayor will be required to delay implementation pending further debate.
We will develop new mechanisms to help people hold the Mayor to account and commit to holding at least one Mayoral Question Time in each borough every year.
Collaboration across the North
Greater Manchester is not the only City-Region electing a Mayor this May. Five others regions - including the Liverpool City-Region and Tees Valley - are also electing Metro Mayors for the first time.
These new positions will allow major Northern cities to collaborate on issues such as transport and influence Government decisions including over the coming Brexit negotiations.
We will work with other parts of the North to ensure that our voice is heard more loudly on the national political stage, including actively considering the idea of a Council of the North. We call on the Government to establish a Brexit Committee of the Nations and Regions, with a seat for Metro Mayors, to guard against the risks of a London-centric Brexit.
The devolution journey
As we have seen in Wales and Scotland, devolution is a journey. As we demonstrate the difference that devolution will make in Greater Manchester, we will call on the Government to go further and deliver other powers over crucial areas.
Firstly, to achieve all of our ambitions for young people, we believe the Mayor and Combined Authority should have much stronger influence over all aspects of education policy from 0-19.
Secondly, we will argue for much greater devolution of the Department for Work and Pensions budget, allowing us to link it to our local organisations.
Above all, devolution is a chance to change politics and break out of the old way of doing things.
To achieve our ambitions, we cannot wait for Westminster to come up with the answers. We need to think of our own solutions.
Greater Manchester’s history is full of examples of changing politics from the bottom-up. It is time to do the same again.
If you agree with the vision in Our Manifesto, please come forward and let us know how you would like to contribute to implementing it and making Greater Manchester truly a beacon of social justice for others to follow.