Bev Hughes steps down as Burnham's second-in-command
Stretford and Urmston Labour MP Kate Green is set to take on the role of Deputy Mayor of Manchester as Bev Hughes announced today she will step down from the role, exiting Greater Manchester's game of political musical chairs.
Baroness Hughes has been serving as deputy to Mayor Andy Burnham since 2017, with responsibility for policing, crime, criminal justice and the fire and rescue service.
She oversaw GMP as it was placed in special measures in 2020, and when lifted out again earlier this month (November) after it made significant improvements under its new chief constable, Stephen Watson.
Baroness Hughes said: “It’s been a privilege to work with Andy and other local leaders to establish Greater Manchester’s first metro mayor and Combined Authority, laying the foundations for a brighter future for our city-region.
“It has been an enormous privilege to do this job and work with so many able and committed people to improve community safety across Greater Manchester.
“I look forward to supporting the new Deputy Mayor into the post and seeing community safety partners and indeed Greater Manchester go from strength to strength.”
When the music stops...
The new kid on the GMCA block is nevertheless a familiar name in Manchester politics. Kate Green has served as Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston with a majority of over 16,000. She took over the role in 2010 from one Beverley Hughes (that's the very same person she is set to take over from as deputy mayor).
The MP also served as Shadow Education secretary under Keir Starmer, and as Shadow Women and Equalities Minister under Jeremy Corbyn. She resigned that position after losing confidence in Corbyn's leadership and backed Owen Smith for leader of the Labour Party in 2016.
In yet more political criss-crossing, Owen Smith backed Andy Burnham during his leadership campaign in 2015 but Burnham did not return the favour a year later, refusing to back either Corbyn or Smith.
... grab a chair
Ms Green announced earlier this year that she would not stand for re-election at the next general election. Andrew Western, the current leader of Trafford Council, was selected as Labour's candidate for her replacement at the ballot box. Continuing the political circle of life, Beverley Hughes also started her career at Trafford Council and served as Leader there.
There will be a transitional period as Kate Green moves to the deputy mayor position. When the move is complete a by-election will be triggered as an MP cannot also serve as mayor or deputy mayor. Sources say the by-election is set for December 15.
Andy Burnham said: “Bev has given an incredible career of service to the public of Greater Manchester and is a very hard act to follow. However, I’m confident I have found someone with the calibre, character, and values to do just that.
"Kate Green MP has accepted my invitation to be put forward for the role as Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester with responsibility for police and fire, and that nomination will now go forward for consideration by our Police, Fire and Crime Panel. If approved, Kate will take up the role in the New Year, supported by Bev in a transitional period.”
A Green mayor for Manchester?
There has been much speculation that Gary Neville or Sacha Lord are being primed to take over as mayor of Greater Manchester, should Andy Burnham choose to return to national politics.
However, Mr Burnham recently told the Commission on Political Power that the skillset for mayor was very different to that required for business and that political skills were needed for a role that is based on building consensus.
While Mr Burnham has committed to seeing out his second term, a politically able deputy would be invaluable if he decides to leave part-way through his third term, should he be re-elected.
Given that Kate Green has political experience to match Mr Burnham's, she might just be being groomed for an even bigger role in the years to come.
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