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Laura Evans is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester. 

The role of Greater Manchester Mayor was created to bring change and new opportunities. But our Mayor isn’t doing his job. He’s too busy playing politics to do his day job. So it’s time we told him that’s not good enough.

Soon residents across Greater Manchester will go to the polls to pick the Mayor they want for the next three years.

Labour think the blue wall was a one off; this is our chance to prove them wrong.

There is so much at stake, but the choice is clear. A Conservative Mayor who can get things done. Or three more years of a Labour Mayor with the wrong priorities.

Andy Burnham is in charge of Greater Manchester Police. The buck stops with him. But under his watch, our police have been left high a dry without the plan or the leadership they need. 80,000 crimes have gone unrecorded in a year. Shocking figures which resulted in the force being put in special measures by the Home Secretary. Under our current Mayor, there are not enough homes in areas with the roads, schools, and services they need. And our public transport isn’t working, especially if you live outside central Manchester.

Before coronavirus, we might have been able to ignore these problems. We might have been able to muddle on and live with them. But in the middle of a pandemic, we can’t afford for our police to be stretched to breaking point because they’ve not been given the support they need.

So, we need a better plan and that’s what I’ve been working on.

My plan would be for the whole of Greater Manchester, not just the city centre. And it would be ready to go on day one after the election.

I’ve already pushed back against the Mayor’s reckless plan to charge across 493 square miles of Greater Manchester’s roads. That’s every road, in every town, everywhere. Under his plan, van drivers could be charged £10 a day to use the roads. That’s a tax on jobs which will put livelihoods at risk, right when we need people to get back to work and get wages into pockets. I’d scrap it and get to work on supporting businesses, not tying their hands.

I want to see major improvements in transport across the whole region, using our share of the extra £568 million announced by the Government to invest in the north. Ensuring each local council gets to grips with tackling congestion and improving bus routes with more services that run on time.

I would push for investment, unlocking new opportunities from across the world now we have left the EU. That’s what people voted for and I’m ready to work with the Government to unleash our potential. New employers mean more people can secure the quality well-paid jobs and apprenticeships we need.

The Greater Manchester Mayor also needs a plan to take on the criminals and put extra police back in our communities. Taking charge of our local police would be my priority – using resources effectively so we can tackle serious crime and put officers back on the beat in our communities, so they can focus on helping to make our streets safer.

Our police need the tools to do the job, but officers have been forced to use pen and paper to record crimes. That’s not good enough – and it is putting residents in danger. Together with the Government, I’ll make sure every officer has the equipment and resources they need to keep us safe. And I’ll make sure they have extra powers, like stop and search, to bring knife crime down.

I also believe we need tougher action on anti-social behaviour. Every crime needs to be taken seriously, but that hasn’t been happening. So I’ll make sure that our police take a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, and theft, with extra CCTV in crime hot spots, on public transport, and around our local parks. And I’ll work with residents to set up neighbourhood watch schemes, with dedicated officers. So we can stop anti-social behaviour ruining lives.

The role of the Mayor is to make Greater Manchester work for every resident – in every city, town and village. But for too long, investment and opportunity has focussed on the centre of Manchester, and ignored the communities where people live and raise a family. As the Conservative Mayor, I would be able to work with the Government to secure the transport investment and new jobs for Wigan, Oldham, Stockport, and everywhere in between. I’m not willing to leave any community behind.

Because it boils down to this: for most people nothing has changed since Andy Burnham became Mayor. And we simply can’t afford three more years of nothing changing, especially as we look to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

So this is our chance to reject the politics of soundbites and invest in communities, police officers, and work with the Government to get stuff done. Put an end to stunts and posturing and more roll-up-your sleeves action that actually changes lives.

The people of Greater Manchester were loud and clear at the last General Election. I’ve already been working with our MPs, including our new Conservative representatives in Leigh, Heywood & Middleton, Bury and Bolton, to secure the changes we need.

For 30 years I’ve been campaigning to improve Greater Manchester and I don’t intend to stop now. Because we need a strong police force, better transport, and more jobs. Together, at the next election, we can make that happen.