by Brian BamfordTODAY at The Albert Halls in Bolton's Victoria Square the Labour candidate for the Greater Manchester Mayor's job told those who gathered to hear his manifesto for 'A safe, inclusive and diverse Greater Manchester' that he would be a 'People's Mayor' and a 'Grass-roots Mayor'.
Mr. Burnham declared himself in favour of 'Safer Streets' and promised to work with the Chief Constable to start recruiting new police officers that reflect the diversity of Greater Manchester. He promised to create 'a different relationship between the State and the Voluntary sector'.
We were told that 'Crime is on the rise' and that 'Deep inequalities remain', and that 'we have seen an increasing amount of young people sleeping on the streets'.
The Labour candidate for Mayor worried about the cost of transport and bus fares, though he never said how often he used a bus, he spoke of housing problems and it was claimed that many young people will never be able to own their own house. It was said that pensioners were made to feel guilty for claiming state pensions. That scapegoating was prevalent in what was called the 'blame culture' of British society were everyone knows his or her place and fears the disruption that foreigners may bring: it was said that one Polish nurse had been abused by people who she was treating in the Bolton community, telling her to 'Get back to Poland!'
Andy asked us 'Why has Mental Health shot up the social agenda?', and suggested that the 'voluntary sector' was 'person sensitive' while the 'Statutory sector' was much less inclined to address a 'personalised approach'.
He claimed that he had in mind a new apprenticeship system which would draw upon the good things in the traditional apprenticeship and blend it with new concepts: saying that he had had contact with the union UCATT.
Regarding care in the community he said that he wanted to recruit the help of the Communication Worker's Union (CWU) to get the post-men to keep an eye on old and frail people in society. This, he claimed, would reduce the isolation and insecurity people felt.
What was wanted was 'a young-people's cabinet to advise the Mayor on all areas of policy and ensure young peoples' voices are heard'.
Then in keeping with the latest fashion, Mr Burnham stated: 'I am proud that Greater Manchester has such a thriving LGTB community, rivalling London as the LGBT capital.'
Nothing was said about the Labour councillors in Rochdale who last month voted themselves a 34% increase, though one of the Rochdale Labour councillors at the Burnham manifesto meeting quietly told me that he was not going to take the rise, and when asked what the Rochdale Council leader, Richard Farnell, was thinking of by forcing the rise through on a whipped vote he said: 'He's Big Headed and doesn't care about UKIP!'
Nothing was said about the Labour Council leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Lees, who had addressed a meeting of Voluntary Organisations on Devo-Manc at which he said he wanted to see ward and hospital closures across Manchester, including Tameside because he believed that many people are in hospital who ought not to be, and could have their needs better met elsewhere.
Fear of the threat of UKIP was ever present in the workshops.