With the Greater Manchester mayoral election coming up, it is important to review the actions of the current Mayor, Andy Burnham, as he aims for re-election this May.
Burnham’s policy failures can be seen through his role with policing, buses, the greenbelt and the congestion tax. These failures impact every Mancunian: with their businesses, their community and their safety. This is why it’s important that you vote in this election and vote against Andy Burnham.
Recently, Burnham has delayed the release of a £300,000 inquiry into the failures of Manchester Police until after the election. How convenient. With failures to record more than 80,000 crimes in a year, extremely outdated IT, and 600 GMP staff identifying a serous disconnect between leadership and organisation, it would be assumed that this report should be published as quickly as possible for the sake of the citizens of Greater Manchester. Especially since Burnham’s manifesto promised a new era of transparency and openness at the force.
Bolton West and Atherton MP Chris Green commented on the matter: “The latest delayed report cost over £300,000 of taxpayers’ money that could have gone on front-line policing, but has instead been spent on management consultants. The report is finished and ready to be published, but Burnham has made the decision to wait until after his re-election before he makes it public. Surely, in a healthy democracy, you need to know what is in that report before the election.”
Knife crime is rising. Young people and women don’t feel safe on the street. Andy Burnham is failing. The time taken to answer 999 calls has risen from 12 seconds to 48, despite a 10-second national target. Victims need more support.
Burnham is not taking grooming gangs seriously. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has criticised Burnham for not using his new powers as Mayor against the men convicted of sexually abusing dozens of teenagers in Rochdale. In addition, she claims she hasn’t received a response from Burnham on the issue. The safety of grooming gang victims should be a priority for the Mayor. For Andy Burnham, it seems it isn’t.
Policing is only the start of the list of failures. Burnham has announced that buses will be controlled by GMCA. This would cost £135 million to transition and not deliver any new buses or new services. Surely, this money would be best spent elsewhere as the country exits a pandemic, with many people’s livelihoods becoming unstable and insecure. There are better and more efficient ways to improve bus services.
Laura Evans, the Conservative candidate, has commented: “There was no appetite to work with the bus companies at all, and I think there’s been an agenda all the way through this process.”
Furthermore, bus companies Rotala and Stagecoach have applied for a judicial review against the GMCA’s bus franchising plans. Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says that the operator believes the Combined Authority has “conducted an unlawful process and a flawed consultation on proposals which do not properly reflect the fundamental and material changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
In addition to this, Burnham has launched a congestion tax, which would result in non-compliant buses and lorries having to pay £60 a day to drive within the “Clean Air Zone”, with vans paying £10 and taxi and private hire vehicles paying £7.50. This would be another hit to businesses coming out of lockdown. There are other ways, proposed by other candidates, which would protect the environment without crippling businesses.
It’s ironic that Burnham is in favour of the congestion tax whilst allowing the GMSF to build on green belt areas. The “super-council” intends to build 227,000 new homes, a quarter of which would be built on green belt land. This includes Bury, Bolton Salford, Stockport, Trafford, Oldham and Rochdale. Unlike other candidates such as Laura Evans, Andy Burnham has yet to take a firm stand against building on green belt land.
Conservative MP William Wragg has commented that: “There are also significant doubts as to whether local infrastructure of roads and amenities, which already struggle with existing demands, can support such large scale building programmes. The fact is we need more housing. However, the areas which should be developed first are brownfield sites.”
Andy Burnham clearly has ambitions for Number 10. However, how can he be trusted to run the country when he’s failing to run Greater Manchester? Another four more years of Burnham will drastically cripple Greater Manchester. Let’s vote Andy Burnham out on the 6th of May.