Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

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Councillor Kieran Quinn, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Putting Devolution into Action

Friday, 30 June 2017

With all the excitement of the General Election earlier this month people could be forgiven for forgetting the election that took place just five weeks earlier. I’m referring, of course, to the election for the newly created position of Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester. This election was won by Labour’s Andy Burnham, former Cabinet Minister and Shadow Home Secretary.

When campaigning for Andy it’s fair to say that there were many local residents who didn’t understand what the position was, or why we needed it. This was perhaps borne out in the disappointingly low turnout for the vote of below 29%. Elections for new positions often suffer from low turnout. It’s not too long ago that we had the first Police and Crime Commissioner election with a turnout of just 13.93% and the first election for Mayor of London had a far lower percentage voter turnout than subsequent elections for the same position.

I’d argue that both of these cases demonstrate that once a position is established and local residents start to see the difference the holder of the new post can make, people become more engaged and recognise the importance of having a say on who gets to do the job next time around. That’s why I welcome the two major announcements that Andy has made since taking office just last month and believe that these strike the right tone early on in demonstrating the power of the new Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Throughout the campaign Andy made a pledge to donate 15% of his Mayoral salary to a new homelessness action fund, established with the goal of ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020. The fund was established on his first day in office and has raised over £25,000 so far. Applications are now open for homelessness charities and support organisations to make bids for funding and the first grants have already been awarded.

I often write here about the work that Tameside Council undertakes to improve the life chances of our young people, working hard to improve school standards, provide new further education facilities and ensure that local youngsters receive good advice on how to get on. One thing however, that we’ve not had the resources to do ourselves, is to replace the valuable support that was previously provided by the Education Maintenance Allowance, cruelly scrapped in 2010

Education Maintenance Allowance was principally used by students to pay for travel to and from Further Education Courses. Public transport is a significant expense for those who have to travel to access education and is felt particularly acutely among young people from low income households. That’s why I welcome the announcement by the Mayor’s office that, from September, half price bus travel will be extended to 16 and 18 year olds in Greater Manchester. This measure will make staying on in education more affordable for our young people.

In just over one month since the first elected Mayor of Greater Manchester was sworn in here are two significant changes that demonstrate the difference that the new post can make to people’s lives across the region.

“I’ll believe it when I see it”, so the saying goes. With this flurry of policy announcements we certainly are “seeing it” and I’m sure that this will aid in the understanding of the job when voters next go to the polls, translating in to higher voter turnout.

Posted by: Executive Leader

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