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Despite mayoral criticisms, Leese joins Burnham’s top team

Newly-elected mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham has now selected his leadership team, including Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese as one of his deputy mayors.

The appointment comes after Sir Richard last year said in a blog post on Manchester City Council’s website that the mayoral model was a “step backwards, a step down even”, and that he would not be in the running for the mayoral office.

In the same post, he also criticised the ambassadorial role that the mayor will play, joking that he’d rather “be having a pint in the Cleveland than selling Manchester to investment funds in some anonymous international hotel”.

On Thursday Burnham won a comprehensive victory in Manchester, sweeping up a whopping 64% of the vote, although voter turnout was disappointing – standing at just over a quarter (28.93%) of the region’s population.

In his new role, Sir Richard will lead on business and economy issues. Former Home Office minister Baroness Beverley Hughes was also announced as Greater Manchester’s first deputy mayor for policing and crime.

And completing the leadership team will be Bury Council leader Rishi Shori, who will take on the role of portfolio holder for young people and social cohesion.

The new mayor of Manchester stated: “I am committed to delivering on my promises to the people of Greater Manchester and a strong leadership team is key to achieving that.

“Sir Richard Leese and Beverley Hughes bring a wealth of experience, expertise and passion to their respective roles.”

Burnham also highlighted the importance of young people being at the heart of his plan for Greater Manchester and being given a strong voice in the decisions affecting them.

“By appointing Rishi Shori as the portfolio holder for young people and social cohesion and raising this role to become part of my leadership team, I am inviting every young person to work with us to ensure they have the opportunities they need to get on in life,” he said.  

The mayor also assured voters that Manchester has had a “strong and stable” leadership for 20 years, and that the team would ensure this continues in the future.

“In testing times, Greater Manchester will need its best team on the pitch and that is what today's announcement achieves,” he concluded.

And Sir Richard, the new deputy mayor for business and economy, added: “I’m pleased to be taking on this role and look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead as Greater Manchester begins a new era.

“As deputy mayor I will continue to work with the business community and encourage investment in Greater Manchester to generate more growth, jobs and opportunities for people across our city-region.”

Finally, Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor for police and crime, added that she was “honored and excited” to be given the opportunity to work alongside the rest of the leadership team, as well as “local people to make our communities safer and stronger”.

“This role will not be without challenge, not least with continued budget pressures and increasing demand on our police, but we have a strong foundation on which to build on,” she added.

Top Image: NHS Confederation, Flickr

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