This week it has been announced that Baroness Beverley Hughes is stepping down as Andy Burnham’s Deputy Mayor. Bev has held this position since Andy was first elected back in May 2017, and I worked closely with her during that time, particularly in my role as Chair of the GM Police Crime and Fire Panel.
Her time as deputy mayor has not been easy, within two weeks of her appointment she faced the biggest challenge imaginable after a terrorist attack killed 22 people and injured hundreds more at Manchester Arena, her focus then as it is to this day was on the victims and families ensuring that that everything possible was done for them and that lessons are learnt. In December 2020 Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was placed into special measures, this resulted in the appointment of a new chief constable and major changes within the force. Significant improvements have been made and last month saw GMP move out of special measures in record time, which makes it an appropriate time for Bev to announce her decision to step down.
Andy Burnham has announced that his nomination to succeed Bev is Kate Green the current Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston, a position she has held since 2010, and where she took over from no other than Beverley Hughes! Kate is well respected across Greater Manchester and has served in the shadow cabinet as Education secretary, however as an MP cannot also serve as mayor or deputy mayor, there is a requirement for a by-election that is expected to take place on 15th December, bringing the number of by-elections currently underway in the northwest to three.
The Labour Party candidate for this election will be Andrew Western, the current leader of Trafford Council, coincidentally before Bev was the Member of Parliament for Stretford and Urmston, she was also the leader of Trafford Council. Andrew has been a councillor for eleven years and has lead the council since 2018 when he wrestled control from the Conservatives. He is one of several local government leaders hoping to make the transition to Westminster, Andrew currently chairs the LGA Resources Board and leads on Clean Air, Housing and Regeneration on a GM level, he will take with him a wealth of local government experience, something I believe Westminster desperately needs.
If Andrew is successful in his quest, which being honest in a seat where labour currently has a majority of 16,417 he should be, the focus will move on to who will succeed him as Leader of Trafford and lead the Labour Group into the all out elections in May. The front runner is the current Executive Member for Finance and Governance Tom Ross, he was first elected in 2008 and has served as Mayor of Trafford, other names in the frame include current Deputy Leader Catherine Hynes and Executive Member for Culture, Leisure, and Strategic partnerships Joanne Harding.
The new leader of Trafford will be the nineth new face around the Greater Manchester Combined Authority table in the last two years – there are only eleven faces, however they may not be the last, as half of the councils have all out elections in May!