Cllr Craig was elected Tuesday night. Credit: MCC
In the first interview since her victory on Tuesday night, the elected head of Manchester City Council sought to reassure the city’s property community, saying development would be one of her priorities.
Cllr Bev Craig spoke to North West Square on building the legacy of Sir Richard Leese, collaboration with central government and age not being an obstacle to success.
What will be your main priorities as a leader?
Manchester for me is delivering the things people want to see today and staying ambitious with our plans for the future.
In the short term, my priority is to help people recover from the pandemic. I think that has to be the top priority of any council in the country right now.
In the future, I want to demonstrate that we are an ambitious, confident, outward-looking city, which wants to have growth and development. We want to continue to exceed our weight in sectors where we already do it and in new sectors in the future.
But all of this is rooted in the contribution we can make to the people of Manchester; building on what the people of Manchester tell us they need in terms of access to high quality jobs, housing and services.
In Manchester, we are not standing still. I am delighted that the new chapter builds on the legacy of the past.
What would be your message to the developers?
As a city, we know who we are. We are open for business and we want to see investment coming to our city, but it has to be an investment that benefits the people of Manchester.
I want to create more jobs and I want to see new housing, and I want to see exciting things for people to do.
For businesses that come to our city, our simple request is that you are as passionate about Manchester as we are and that you contribute to our city and make it great.
Do you consider yourself pro-development?
I would consider myself pro-Manchester and part of that relates to the expansion and development of the city.
I would come back to what I said before. We are open and we want to do business. We want people to come and invest their money, but we want people to commit to our city and give back when they can or at the very least contribute to our overall plan for what we want to achieve.
I know there has been some nervousness in the industry but I want to reassure people that we want to build stuff and move fast.
What do you think of the current supply of affordable housing in Manchester?
I think Manchester is way better than what the story might suggest, we deliver affordable housing. We will always want to do more, however. What advice wouldn’t, given the national housing crisis?
As a council, we are on track to deliver 6,400 affordable housing units by 2025.
I want to run a city that always goes out of its way to ensure residents get the best deal.
In the coming weeks, I will sit down with our Executive Members for Housing to see what the updated housing strategy will bring to the people of Manchester.
How do you plan to strengthen relations between Manchester and the central government?
I am a politician. When I think the government is doing something wrong I call it out, but I will work with anyone who wants to invest in our city and help us thrive.
I think that’s what Manchester and Greater Manchester are for; we will put our people before politics and work with anyone who wants to help us improve the lives of the people of Manchester. And this offer still stands.
What is your relationship with Andy Burnham and how do you see it developing in the future?
I have worked closely with Andy Burnham and other Greater Manchester leaders throughout the pandemic and we have shown that we can come together.
I get along well with Andy, I will work to support what he does with combined authority just as I’m sure he will work to support what we do in Manchester.
I’m not the type to get caught up in drama, I want to get things done. And I have no doubts that by working with colleagues in Greater Manchester and with the Mayor, we can get things done for Manchester.
You are 36 years old, what some would say is young for the head of a council. What would you say to these people?
The life that I have led has a lot of life experience. I started working part-time at the age of 13, and it’s not about babysitting or newspaper crawling, I’m talking in a restaurant.
When I was 14 or 15, I ran the restaurant bar and worked three or four nights a week. By the time I arrived in sixth grade, I had two jobs.
My politics are shaped by these experiences, not just the books.
I’m 36, and that gives me a perspective on a young generation of ambitious people for Manchester, who care about our city and care about its future.
I have extensive experience in various sectors. And I would just like to point out that over the past 18 months, from the discovery of Covid in Wuhan until I was elected deputy chief in May, I have overseen public health and community response for the city. .
I know what the city needs, I know how it works, and regardless of my age, I get the respect of our partners’ officers. And I am convinced that my age is not a barrier to getting things done for Manchester.