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North West Powerhouse promised as Labour chooses Manchester and Liverpool mayoral candidates

Steve Rotheram (left) and Andy Burnham.

The red hot favourites to become Greater Manchester and Liverpool mayors have both called on the government to follow through on its promise of a Northern Powerhouse.

Labour announced its candidates for next year’s mayoral contests in Manchester and Liverpool this week with Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram comfortably winning selection contests and being chosen by party members.

Both candidates have placed infrastructure, transport and housing high on their campaign agendas and both Burnham and Rotheram were keen to highlight the need for government to deliver on the promises made to Greater Manchester and Merseyside as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiatives.

Shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham, will fight the Greater Manchester mayoral election in May 2017 and his close political colleague Steve Rotherham will contest Liverpool at the same time. The fact that both men are good friends as well as political allies will make it interesting in terms of collaboration between two north west cities which have often been rivals in the past.

Speaking after his election as the Labour candidate, Burnham said: “Today I have a clear message for the prime minister – you and your party were elected on a series of promises to the north of England and I will not let you walk away from them. You promised us a powerhouse and now you must give us the tools and investment to build it.”

Rotheram, a former bricklayer who has a keen interest in the construction and infrastructure sectors, said: “I want to send a strong message to Theresa May. Prime minister, you may have backtracked on the idea of a Northern Powerhouse, but with Andy Burnham as the mayor of Greater Manchester and me as the metro mayor of the Liverpool city region, it’s our intention to create a North West powerhouse.”

Ther Greater Manchester mayor’s responsibilities cover ten local authority areas and include control of a new housing investment fund of up to £300m, greater planning powers, responsibility for local transport, welfare-to-work programmes, with a budget of £100m, control of existing health and social care budgets, greater responsibility for business support and further education and up to £30m a year for the growth generated by its economy.

The Liverpool city region has a population of 1.5 million and covers five Merseyside councils - Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral - plus Halton in Cheshire. The new mayor will oversee transport, planning and post-16 education, as well as a £900m, 30-year investment fund.