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Andy Burnham launches campaign at Salford venue made famous by The Smiths




Andy Burnham has launched his bid to be re-elected as mayor of Greater Manchester for a third time at the famous Salford Lads Club.

Speaking at the launch with local Labour MPs and councillors, Mr Burnham said the venue, a symbol of working-class aspiration and the last surviving purpose built “lads club” in England, meant “so much” to him.

Opened in 1903, the venue has now become world famous by being photographed for an album by The Smiths, drawing fans from across the world to be pictured there – including himself, the mayor said, 40 years ago.

Andy Burnham speaking during the launch of his campaign for re-election as mayor of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, at the Salford Lads Club (Danny Lawson/PA)
Andy Burnham speaking during the launch of his campaign for re-election as mayor of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, at the Salford Lads Club (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Burnham was first elected as mayor of the city region in 2017 after giving up his Westminster seat as MP for Leigh while Labour was being led by Jeremy Corbyn.

He has since been described as the “King of the North” for his high profile championing of the region and his frequent rows with Tory governments during the Covid pandemic.

Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester had been a “beacon of hope” in dark times.

He said: “I believe our best times are just ahead of us. We are pointing a way to a better way of running things.”

Mr Burnham will be a strong favourite to retain the office of mayor – in May 2021, he won a second term with an increased share of the vote, on an increased turnout, from 2017.

He cited his record in office, claiming the local economy was outperforming the national average, and that he had turned around the local police force, Greater Manchester Police, after the sacking of the last chief constable and employing 1,600 more police despite “Tory cuts”.

I believe our best times are just ahead of us. We are pointing a way to a better way of running things
Andy Burnham

He said he had ended “40 years of disastrous Tory deregulation” by bringing local bus services, the Bee Network, back under public ownership, with more routes and lower fares.

Mr Burnham also spoke of three “big ideas” for his next term of office if elected.

He said he would focus on housing with a “Good Landlords Charter” to improve standards and give renters more rights as well as greater enforcement powers.

He also spoke of talks with the Labour front bench about devolving the Department of Work and Pensions budget for greater support for people in the region.

But he said his “most audacious ambition yet” was the introduction of the Greater Manchester Baccalaureate or Mbacc, for technical education as an alternative to the university route, which he dubbed a “game-changer” for young people in the region.

“We are showing there’s a better way than the Whitehall way,” he added.

“We are fixing the fundamentals to put people at the heart of all the things that matter.”

Voters go to the polls on May 2.


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