Category: Devo-Ed

Devo Question Time at Labour Conference proved to be a huge success, seeing prospective Metro Mayors take questions from the floor on their vision, priorities and planned policies. Sion Simon MEP (West Midlands), Steve Rotherham MP (Liverpool City Region) and Andy Burnham MP (Greater Manchester) spoke to a packed audience at one of the busiest fringe events this year.

DevoConnect worked in partnership with New Philanthropy Capital, Birmingham City REDI, and Manchester Airport Group to deliver the fringe hot ticket at this year’s Labour conference.  Chaired by the excellent Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, this was the first time all three had shared the stage.

An important question raised was whether the candidates could work together effectively. Steve Rotheram spoke of the importance of bringing the 6 boroughs of Liverpool City Region together under the ‘Liverpool’ brand, while Andy Burnham suggested creating a ‘council of the north’, speaking with one voice for the region.

Another questioner commented on how devolution was dominated by men. Andy Burnham pointed to DivaManc, a new initiative set up in Greater Manchester to empower women in devolution, while Steve Rotheram said that women deputies could bring a greater gender balance. Last week’s DevoIntelligence included a blog from the Fawcett Society on this very issue.

All candidates were keen to improve social mobility and wellbeing, with Steve Rotheram pledging to create a Social Justice Commission, Andy Burnham outlining his desire to go to the voluntary sector and find out what they want from devolution, and Sion Simon saying that achieving greater prosperity for all was a major priority.

There were many familiar faces in the DevoQT audience, including Lord John Prescott, who contributed from the floor; highlighting the importance of regions, and suggesting the candidates look beyond their own cities and lobby together for greater clout.

The candidates set out their visions for devolution. Sion Simon highlighted the importance of transport, including building an airport in Birmingham, Steve Rotheram said he wanted significant council house investment, and Andy Burnham said he would improve young people’s lives, with free bus passes for 16-18s, and a focus on Mental Health.

While all candidates had ambitious plans for their potential mayoralties, none have been voted for yet. Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham are strong favourites in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester respectively, but  according to Centre for Cities, Sion Simon  could be in for a battle,with Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis, now confirmed as the Conservative candidate.

To find out how DevoQT goes at the Conservative Party Conference, don’t miss the DevoQT fringe on Tuesday lunchtime, your opportunity to hear the Conservative voice on devolution.

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