Residents of Wigan borough will go to the polls in May for the first ever Greater Manchester mayoral election.
We have invited each candidate to make an early pitch to our readers about why they deserve your vote.
Here are their responses in no particular order.
• Mr Nzeribe sadly died earlier this month. We have been asked to print his words in tribute to him. A new Green Party candidate will be announced at a later date.
Sean Anstee – Conservative
All parts of our city region can be proud of their profound impact on the world from the industrial revolution to the invention of graphene. Our popular music culture, our sporting heritage and our diverse labour market continue to define us today.
We are home to Europe’s largest industrial estate and our economy is growing with new jobs being created across the city region. Yet, we still have our challenges. Unemployment is too high; our young people are leaving school not ready to start work and too many people have no qualifications at all. We need to change this.
I will be the Mayor with true experience of Greater Manchester.
I grew up in Partington, attended my local comprehensive, finishing at 16 to start an apprenticeship. I grew up with my mum and brothers and have seen with the right focus and determination being beholden to a welfare, skills and health system that traps you into a cycle of dependency does not have to be the case.
When I launch my manifesto I will set out how I, as Mayor, will address these issues.
Together we can propel Greater Manchester to a new period of greatness, a city region made up of places that are the very definition of opportunity and that we are proud to call home.
Andy Burnham - Labour
The centre of Manchester continues to prosper but as Mayor I will attract investment for parts of Greater Manchester that currently feel left behind. The lack of public transport in our borough means the roads are grinding to a halt and the commute to work is taking even longer. I will tackle congestion, improve bus routes and never give up fighting for a train station in Leigh.
We are fiercely proud of our towns and we can make all parts of Wigan even more attractive to live in by replacing empty shops with new council homes and green spaces. During my 15 years as the MP for Leigh, I’m proud to have brought fresh confidence to the town with new sport, leisure and entertainment facilities.
In the EU Referendum, people in our borough voted for change on immigration and in the way the country is run. Westminster has failed the North by focusing on service sector jobs, home ownership and University education. As Mayor, I will break with that to give Wigan a strong voice that fights for manufacturing, building council and affordable rented housing and giving young people high-quality apprenticeships. I owe the town of Leigh, our borough and its people everything – I’ll always be loyal to you.
Deyika Nzeribe - Green Party
As readers of this newspaper know, Greater Manchester is at the forefront of the Government’s plans to devolve powers to the regions. Although Manchester is one of the richest cities in the country, it also has one of the highest levels of child poverty and some of the poorest public health in the country. And three of Greater Manchester’s 10 Councils are amongst the most deprived in England.
This version of devolution is definitely flawed, but it does present an opportunity to address Greater Manchester’s development going forward and tackle the widespread deprivation. It’s also the chance for some real, practical action to address climate change issues. With progressive action, we can regenerate Greater Manchester to provide meaningful jobs while still addressing our environmental and our health concerns.
The Mayor position should be a campaigning role which reflects the needs of the people: the NHS; clean, green jobs; sustainable economic development; housing; better education; the environment; defending our Green Belt; encouraging a real living wage; and pushing back against racism and xenophobia. These are all areas the Mayor should be campaigning on. We can do devolution differently. As the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, I will.
Jane Brophy - Liberal Democrat
I want to build on our long and proud history of being open, tolerant and welcoming to those who come here and contribute to our communities and economy.
Recently Andy Burnham commented that EU immigrants make our streets unsafe and claimed we would be richer if we left the single market - our biggest customer. Not only is he factually wrong, but by scapegoating law-abiding citizens who work hard and pay their taxes, he only seeks to divide communities - communities that we should be uniting.
I want to see Wigan united, not divided along racial or national lines. I want the people of Wigan – and Greater Manchester – to be the open, tolerant and united community I know we are but this is only achieved when everyone works together and commits to making a difference. We can only achieve that if we trade with our EU partners.
So if you voted remain, if you voted leave but didn’t vote for a hard Brexit with absolutely no consideration for our local industries, if you are a European, if you believe we are an outward looking region that should retain our link with the EU, if you are looking for something to believe in and someone to step forward with, then believe in the Liberal Democrats and step forward with me.
* For clarification, Mr Burnham’s comments in a Commons debate about immigration were: “It is time for many of us on this side of the House to confront a hard truth. Our reluctance in confronting this (immigration) debate is undermining the cohesion of our communities and the safety of our streets. I am no longer prepared to be complicit in that.”
Stephen Morris - English Democrats
After seven years as branch secretary for the Unite union at Metrolink I moved to the Workers of England Union in 2010, becoming General Secretary in 2015.
I will bring first-hand experience in both the public and private sectors, along with grass roots activism, to the position of Mayor of Greater Manchester.
I have a proven record of speaking up for people as a trade union official and campaigning for leaving the European Union, campaigning against the congestion charge, against ID cards and against fracking in Greater Manchester.
As a member of the English Democrats I campaign for England to have equality within the UK, to have an English Parliament with a First Minister and accountable English MPs making decisions on England, just like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
I also believe the Mayor of Greater Manchester must be accountable, responsible, and transparent at every level and is committed to supporting policies that are in the best interest of our families and businesses.
Marcus Farmer - Independent
I was born into a white collar home but after studying management science at UMIST, travelling around the world and a few years in accountancy I decided to start a blue collar business with support of the Princes Youth Business Trust. Since 1994 the business has twisted and turned and in 2016 I have achieved everything I set out to do. My style of management is one of fairness and the staff turnover in my business has been zero for six years.
The waste industry has allowed me the opportunity to see all the spectrums of society here in Manchester as I deal daily with everyone from barristers in Cheshire to betting shops in Moss Side. I feel that I am as best placed as anyone to understand what is required for the city. Having stood twice now as a ‘bystander’ in my local constituency of Didsbury I now know what is required to launch a campaign that outlines what Manchester really needs. Manchester can now become a truly world class city. All the ingredients are here but my worry is that the political party system will not deliver the best candidate.
All the city needs is a simple system which sorts out right from wrong and provides opportunities for our young people at the same time as looking after all those that are vulnerable. Everything will then fall into place.
Shneur Odze - UK Independence Party
It is now six months since Wigan voted by a massive 64-36 per cent to leave the EU, the highest in Greater Manchester. Whilst the Westminster-based politicians try to undermine our vote and backslide on Brexit - what it clear is - the predictions of doom was simply project fear.
Which has led many who voted to stay, to change their mind and now agree Britain will do best outside the EU. I welcome them all to the cause.
In campaigning for a leave vote across Greater Manchester, the number one reason people gave to me for voting Brexit was that we need to take back control and put it in the hands of politicians we elect and who are accountable to us.
Which is why I’ve pledged - if elected as your UKIP Mayor for Greater Manchester - I will put transparency and accountability as my first priority. No more murky decisions to close local police stations, health services and sell vital local assets.
Wigan needs a Greater Manchester Mayor that genuinely believes in protecting front line services, not just mouths the words he thinks people wish to hear - only UKIP has a track record of standing up for ordinary people and will put us and our public services first.
• If other candidates emerge in the race we will give them the same opportunity to address our readers at a later date.