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18th April 2024

Greater Manchester Mayoral Hustings held at the Students’ Union

Ahead of the Mayoral election on May 2, the Students’ Union held Mayoral hustings where candidates made their case to students
Greater Manchester Mayoral Hustings held at the Students’ Union
Credit: Jacob Robinson @ The Mancunion

The Students’ Union held the hustings for Greater Manchester Mayor on April 16 in Academy 2, with four of the six candidates running for Mayor in attendance.

These candidates were: Andy Burnham, the re-running candidate from the Labour and Co-Operative Party and current Greater Manchester Mayor, Dan Barker (ReformUK), Jake Austin (Liberal Democrat), and Hannah Spencer (Green Party).

The Conservative Party candidate, Laura Evans, was also invited but was unable to make the event.

The hustings were held in light of the Greater Manchester Student Partnership being announced on April 8, an initiative where the Students’ Unions of the University of Manchester, the University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the University of Bolton (Greater Manchester) agreed upon a shared list of priorities to make “Manchester the best place in the country for Students.”

During the event, Burnham explicitly endorsed the Greater Manchester Student Partnership and pledged to see it enacted in full.

The panel was hosted by Ethan Romer, the President of the Manchester Metropolitan University Students’ Union, Hannah Mortimer, the current Union Affairs Officer at the University of Manchester Students’ Union, and Alexandra Baynes, the incoming Union Affairs officer at the Students’ Union.

Candidates were asked a series of pre-prepared questions as well as questions from the audience.

They were first asked what they thought the biggest issue facing students is, to which Burnham replied housing affordability and conditions.

Spencer said safety, particularly gender-based violence was the biggest issue facing students.

Reform UK candidate Barker said that student debt was the biggest issue, while the Lib Dem candidate answered poor NHS mental health services.

Numerous themes emerged throughout the hustings, such as student safety and the student housing crisis. Both Spencer and Burnham discussing the introduction of rent controls in order to prevent rapidly rising rent costs.

Transport was also a major theme, with all candidates asked for their plans regarding the future of transport in Greater Manchester.

Incumbent Mayor Burnham revealed that his office is currently looking into the introduction of a monthly student bus ticket once the Bee Network integration arrives in student areas beginning in January 2025. This ticket could cost around £40 or “about £1 a day.”

The ReformUK candidate took aim at the incumbent Mayor over the previous record of Greater Manchester Police being forced into special measures prior to Burnham’s first term, which the Mayor accepted as true.

However, the Mayor pointed out that 2500 new police officers have been appointed since he was first elected, and that GMP is a rapidly improving force. Burnham went on to say that there is still “plenty of work to be done” to make Manchester a safer city.

The Labour, Lib Dem, and Green Party candidates expressed support for Manchester nightlife and expressed concern over numerous venues facing issues, such as the Night and Day cafe.

All candidates received applause at the end of the closing remarks except for ReformUK candidate Barker, who faced heckling.

The election for the next Greater Manchester Mayor will be held on May 2.

Miles Davenport

Miles Davenport

Co-Editor of News, 2023-2024, 3rd year student in History & Sociology

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