Leese Burnham
Leese and Burnham provided an update on Greater Manchester's response to the Covid-19 outbreak

Leese: Local authorities must be ready for lift off post-outbreak

Dan Whelan

In the latest Greater Manchester Combined Authority coronavirus update, leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, called upon local authorities do what they can to ensure a fast recovery after the pandemic, while mayor Andy Burnham urged construction firms to close sites.

Responding to a question from Place North West at the council’s weekly meeting conducted via video link, Leese said: “Clearly our economy is taking a hit and we need to try and make sure that we keep as much going as possible so that when we come out of this crisis, we are able to get things under way as quickly as possible. 

“We urge all local authorities in Greater Manchester, to the extent that they have got capacity, to do what they can to make sure they are ready for lift off when we are able to return to anything like normal.” 

Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, agreed but said that it was perhaps too soon to be thinking about the economy as the peak of the outbreak nears. 

“As we go forward we do need to think about economic recovery. Our attention will turn at some point to the fiscal stimulus we need from government. We need to start thinking about that so we can bounce back as quickly as possible but that is not necessarily for now.” 

On the topic of construction sites, many of which are continuing to operate, Burnham urged firms to put the safety of staff first and close sites to help speed up economic recovery.

“There is a conflict between the safe distancing requirement and health and safety rules. This is a major concern and lots of members of the public have been in touch about it. If things can be done safely and that can be demonstrated then the Government has said that sites can stay open but we have received a number of reports that this is not the case.

“I want to reiterate that at this moment in time health has got to come first. If health and safety cannot be ensured then the right thing is to close.

“The quicker we deal with this and stop the spread of this virus, the quicker the economy will bounce back. It is message to all employers to please put the health and safety of your employees first and if you can’t guarantee it then do the responsible thing and close.”

The pair also confirmed that no other sites were currently being explored after the NHS chief executive announced Manchester Central Convention Centre would be used as an auxiliary hospital. Burnham said Metrolink services would be further reduced, after passenger numbers dropped below 10% of normal levels.

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We are very lucky in Manchester to have Burnham as our mayor

By Anonymous

Anonymous – you’re quite right. I fear we’ll lose him back to Westminster at the next general election though, whenever that is, although our loss would very much be the country’s gain.

By two-step

A failed Labour politician from Liverpool. He’s using GM as a vehicle for his own means to get back to Westminster and has done nothing for the region.

By Anonymous

Just to be clear – “Is he worth the extra £300 on the council Tax bill?”

By ChesneyT

Burnham is just a photo opportunity. Can anybody name anything that he has done in the past 4 years??

By Redenuff

Redenuff – housed hundreds of homeless people, campaigned for devolution of the bus network, introduced early bird ticketing on Metrolink, introduced the zonal fare structure, represented Manchester on the national stage, campaigned tirelessly for control over the rail network, worked together with other northern leaders to make the north a major election topic….. need I go on?

By Anonymous

Anonymous – he gave up his parliamentary seat to become GM mayor so he’s hardly using it as a vehicle to get back to Westminster. Also he’s from Warrington not Liverpool!

By DMPlanner

No fault of Burnham or Rotherham, but they are lightweights pushing a flawed model of devolution. Neither have done anything that Councils themselves should have been able to do. Net sum is more Council Tax on exhorbitant charges already, with an army of appointees drawn from the usual ranks of close friends and former colleagues. Liverpool Combined Authority as a Policy Director on £159k a year. Who is he/she? What does this person do for that sort of money? At least when the RDAs existed there was an element of transparency on decision making and allocation of money to projects.

By John Smith

Anonymous yes you do need to go on. all of those things have been debated and campaigned for years and not a single one of those things is a burnham initiative. He just piggy backs other people’s hard work. Hopefully he will be back in Westminster soon

By Redenuff