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Policy@Manchester launches party conference fringe programme as General Election approaches

The University of Manchester’s policy engagement unit has unveiled a packed series of fringe events at next month’s Conservative and Labour Party conferences.

For several years, Policy@Manchester has brought together panels of politicians and subject specialists to discuss a broad range of pressing policy issues at the showpiece political gatherings.

This year’s programme will kick-off with eight events at the Conservative conference in Manchester on Monday 1 and Tuesday 2 October, including an appearance from Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

Monday morning includes a discussion on what initiatives should be introduced to support young people in neighbourhoods with low levels of wellbeing. Chaired by Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Mark Rowland, the line-up will feature Professor Neil Humphrey, Professor of Psychology of Education at The University of Manchester, Rukshana Kapasi, Barnardo’s Director of Health, and Dr Layla McCay, NHS Confederation Director of Policy.

Amongst other issues due to be tackled by different panels on day one are growing the economy through innovation, fixing the UK’s economic inactivity problem and addressing ethnic inequalities in mental healthcare.

Day two will begin with Mayor Burnham and former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield taking to the platform to debate how to level up education, alongside Matt Leach, Chief Executive of Local Trust, Dr Eric Lybeck, Lecturer and Presidential Fellow at The University of Manchester, and Mary Robinson, the Conservative MP for Cheadle and a member of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee.

This will be followed by two further gatherings of politicians and policy experts to discuss the role that transport might play in delivering economic growth, and how government can help to build strong local institutions to boost levelling up.

Professor Cecilia Wong, academic co-director of Policy@Manchester, said: “We are excited to be hosting the first round of fringe events at the Conservative Party conference in our home city, with an equally busy programme to follow at Labour Party conference in Liverpool the following week.

“These gatherings provide the opportunity to really dig down into some of the most critical and topical policy challenges facing decision-makers.

“They also enable The University of Manchester to showcase some the world class research our academic experts are leading which informs national and international debates across a whole swathe of different fields.

“With the General Election expected to take place in 2024, these high-profile discussions can make a truly meaningful impact on policy development as the political parties step up their work in formulating their manifestos.”

Six of the eight Policy@Manchester events at Conservative Party conference will take place outside the secure zone so a conference pass is not required to gain entry.

Details of the full programme of Policy@Manchester fringe meetings at the Conservative and Labour Party conferences are available on the Policy@Manchester website

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Policy@Manchester As the University’s policy engagement unit, Policy@Manchester connects researchers with policymakers and influencers, nurtures long-term policy engagement relationships, and seeks to enhance stakeholder understanding of pressing policy challenges. Professor Cecilia Wong Cecilia is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Her research expertise includes strategic planning, spatial policy monitoring and analysis, urban and regional development, and housing and infrastructure planning. She has been working on a number of collaborative grants recently, including a five-year consortium project on ‘Tackling root causes upstream of unhealthy urban development’ funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership and a three-year project on ‘Eco-Urbanisation: Promoting Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Regions of China’ funded by the ESRC-NSFC Newton Fund Collaborative Research. She received the University’s Distinguished Achievement Award ‘Researcher of the Year (Humanities)’ in 2021. Andy Burnham Andy Burnham was first elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017 and was re-elected for a second term in May 2021. Responsible for shaping the future of Greater Manchester, Andy’s priorities include building a London-style integrated transport system, ending rough sleeping, transforming Greater Manchester into one of the greenest city regions in Europe and making Greater Manchester a great place to grow up, get on, and grow old. Before being elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001. In government, Andy has held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009. In opposition, Andy has served as Shadow Education Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary. Andy lives in Leigh, Greater Manchester, with his wife and three children.

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