20 April 2017

Arlene from UKFast and Andy BurnhamManchester has a history of incredibly strong leaders – you only have to look at Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese to see how well the city and region’s leaders stack up. As Sir Howard steps down from the council, there is undeniably a space that needs to be filled, alongside that we also have the opportunity to elect the first Greater Manchester Mayor on May 4th.

I was interested to meet Andy Burnham MP at UKFast Campus a little while ago to hear what he proposes to bring to the role of Manchester mayor. I was impressed by his focus on digital and his passion to get to know the region’s digital industry.

While he was here he set out his intentions to convene a digital summit announcing the region’s ambition to the country and to the world that Greater Manchester is going to become a world-leading digital region, building on all the great strengths of the city’s current digital ecosystem.

It’s a breath of fresh air to have a leader putting technology at the centre of his manifesto. We’ve been saying for a long time that Manchester has the potential to be the number one tech city in the country, there’s no reason why not. So, as you can imagine, the fact that Andy’s saying he wants Manchester to be the number one tech city in Europe is music to my ears!

Let’s face it, it is all very well wanting to be the best but ultimately you have to address the weaknesses that you have. One area causing a bottleneck for the city and wider region is that we’re not creating enough talent.

Whilst we’re doing all we can, we’re even opening a school and working with multiple universities to help develop work-ready graduates, it is fantastic to hear Andy immediately say that he wants to significantly boost the quality of digital education in schools and put a big focus on technical education and apprenticeships as an alternative to university.

It’s the only way that we can ensure our future growth as a tech city.

I am excited to see where the election takes us. It’s a great moment for Manchester and something we’ve been waiting for for a long time. Too much of the country is governed by Westminster, it is impossible for a group of people so detached from the day-to-day goings on of a region to properly manage its investment in facilities. We gain a huge amount from being able to make our own spending decisions locally. To take advantage of that opportunity we need a leader with incredible vision and I believe Andy has that.

That’s why I am backing Andy Burnham for Manchester Mayor. It’s our time. It’s our opportunity.

Watch the video of Andy’s visit to UKFast.

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