Tackling the city’s affordable housing shortage and improving health and social equality are likely to be high on Cllr Bev Craig’s agenda after she was picked to succeed long-time leader Sir Richard Leese, 70.
Originally from Belfast, the 36-year-old Burnage councillor secured 51% of the vote when Manchester Labour met to select its first new leader in 25 years tonight. She is the city council’s first female leader.
After a quarter of a century under the same leadership, Craig’s arrival in the post in December will mean changes.
Following her victory, she has a mandate to deliver them.
At a glance
Craig graduated from Manchester University in 2007 with a degree in politics and modern history and went on to gain a masters in political science.
A PhD exploring class representation and diversity in UK politics followed.
She was first elected as councillor for Burnage in 2011.
In May, Craig was re-elected, winning more than 70% of the vote.
She ran on five main policies she described as:
- Fairer: keep building more affordable housing, reduce poverty and support the vulnerable
- Cleaner: Take action on litter and fly-tipping
- Safer: Call for more police to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour and safer roads for all
- Greener: Tackling the Climate Crisis, planting more trees and investment in parks and green spaces
- Supporting you: Continue supporting local community groups, and the hundreds of individual residents I help each year.
In recent weeks, Craig has been outspoken about the government’s decision to rescind the £20-a-week universal credit uplift, saying it would throw “tens of thousands of Mancunians into despair this winter” and cost residents a combined £60m.
During her tenure, Craig is expected to target improving Manchester’s poorest communities, while continuing to lobby central government for funds to do this.
Craig was also instrumental in launching Manchester as a Real Living Wage City earlier this year. Craig, who is gay, leads on LGBT issues for the city.
Following Manchester’s decision to increase council tax by almost 5% in March to raise cash for public services, she criticised the government for “abandoning” social care in comments to the Manchester Evening News.
Proud to be re-elected in Burnage with an increased majority. Thanks to all those that have helped and supported along the way, and to the voters of my area that have resoundingly given my their backing. I won’t let you down 🌹 pic.twitter.com/e7DyNGjZbR
— Bev Craig (@bevcraig) May 7, 2021
The new leader is expected to take a tough stance on affordable housing.
Critics of Leese’s administration claim not enough has been done to force developers to meet the city council’s 20% affordable housing policy.
In future, developers may be asked to sacrifice profit in order to deliver much-needed affordable housing, one council source told Place North West.
The new leader is also reportedly planning to throw the doors of the city open to new players in a bid to freshen up Manchester’s regular pool of developers.
Craig has been passionate about social housing since she was first elected as a councillor in 2011; she served on the board of Southway Housing Trust from that year until 2018.
- Read more: Q&A with Cllr Bev Craig
Health is also likely to feature high on the new leader’s agenda.
Prior to being appointed as deputy leader in May, she spent four years as executive member for adult services, health, wellbeing and inclusion.
The latter part of that stint saw her play a key role in Manchester City Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Craig also spent four years as deputy chair of the Manchester Health and Care Commissioning and three as the co-chair of the Manchester Local Care Organisation.