Ensuring everyone is able to reach their full potential and that no one gets left behind – the message is clear from Greater Manchester Mayor Conservative candidate Sean Anstee.
Speaking to MM at the Big Mayoral Debate for the Manchester Publicity Association (MPA), it was evident that Anstee, who is the region’s youngest – and only Tory – council leader, has a love for Greater Manchester which he hopes, come voting day on May 4, will translate into the policies he has put forward.
Growing up in Partington, he attended his local comprehensive, and started an apprenticeship when he was 16.
He then went on to work at BNY Mellon, an American bank who have invested and created jobs in Greater Manchester, allowing him to complete a degree part-time with Manchester Metropolitan University.
And it is these opportunities that Anstee is now so passionate about giving to everyone in Greater Manchester through his policies of working to devolve more powers over education to the region and away from Westminster, as well as making sure that when the UK leaves the EU, Greater Manchester is at the heart of new trade deals.
His “From here, for here” campaign stresses his belief that a Manchester Mayor can achieve great things for the city and that, with his help, decisions which have remained in Westminster can now be taken by people who truly understand what impact they would have in Manchester.
“When I speak to people, I try to speak to them as Sean and I try and have a conversation about what is affecting their lives,” Anstee told MM.
“I think the Mayor can give you something beyond party politics, it’s much more about the individual and their passion and drive for the city.
“This is our moment to say we can do something so profoundly positive for the people of Manchester in a way that central government cannot. It’s not about the traditional workings of Westminster, it’s about how do we use the mayoralty to do something different.
“We don’t have to do what we’ve always done, otherwise we’ll end up with something that we have always had.
“I want people to feel that their Mayor is standing up for the city and I think I can achieve that well for the people of Manchester.
“It would be a great benefit to the city.”
One of the big issues he hopes to tackle is housing in the region: in his manifesto he pledges a new £1bn housing fund as well as ensuring that a proportion of new homes in the region are reserved for local people so that youngsters growing up in the area have a chance to get onto the housing ladder in their local community.
In recent weeks the issue of homelessness and Spice has plagued the news with the latest figures showing that the number of rough sleepers on the city’s streets has quadrupled since 2010, and the epidemic is one that Anstee is keen to address.
He pledged that if elected he will lead a concerted effort to help support those who are homeless or sleeping rough off the streets, and then stay off by offering a warm place to stay, access to education and employment and ongoing health and wellbeing support.
“I don’t want to just help people off the streets, I want to help them stay off the streets long term.
“We need to tackle the root causes and I think I can bring a wide view of how to improve housing and education across the region.
— Sean Anstee (@seananstee) April 19, 2017
“I have been deeply distressed over some of the images that I have seen because what are effectively the city’s most vulnerable people have nowhere to turn and are cold and scared at night.
“That points to me that we need to do a lot more than what we are doing.
“It also tells me that if we try to tackle homelessness in isolation it isn’t enough. A Mayor for Manchester can bring together key components such as housing, education and mental health services and make a real change.”
Despite being the underdog in this race behind Labour candidate, Andy Burnham, Anstee’s enthusiasm for the difference that a Mayor could make to the city is unfaltering.
And his belief that he can provide Manchester with real change in a way no one else can raised the question: is this race so clear cut after all?
“I have spent my entire life here and it gives me a huge personal commitment to Greater Manchester and this city,” he said.
“I want people here to realise their full potential and I believe that this would be a wonderful thing.
“For me I love the people of this city region, that’s what makes me love Manchester so much. I spend a lot of time in other parts of the country and when I get off the train at Piccadilly I just know I’m home, and to me that is because of how the people of this city look after one another.
“In any contest, everybody loves an underdog when there is a chance that the underdog might win. In some respects I’m saying I have a view of Westminster politics that has failed Manchester for many decades.
“Some of the reasons we have the issues we do today is because we haven’t been able to make decisions ourselves about key problems like housing and growth.
“Andy may have decades of Westminster experience, but for me it belongs in Westminster.
“I don’t think that experience qualifies him to be Mayor of Greater Manchester, though I do not doubt his intentions, I think everyone in this race wants to do their best for Manchester.
“But I want someone to be elected who understands what we’re entering into here.”
Alongside Anstee and Burnham, Jane Brophy is running for the Liberal Democrats, Will Patterson for Green and Shneur Odze for UKIP.
Image courtesy of Sean Anstee via Twitter, with thanks.