The Greater Manchester town that's ready to join the New York party

The mayor hopes Bolton can follow in Stockport’s footsteps with a regeneration which has put the town on the map as ‘the New Brooklyn’.

Stockport has recently seen the opening of a new interchange, park, and hundreds of new homes in the centre. That, combined with confidence in the town — partly fuelled by Stockport County’s rapid rise up the Football League — has seen some cheekily describe it as ‘the New Berlin’ or ‘the New Brooklyn’.

Now, Andy Burnham says he’s turning his attention to Bolton if he is re-elected. Unveiling his manifesto on Friday (April 19) in Manchester city centre, he pledged to establish ‘a new Mayoral Development Corporation based on the Stockport model’.

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MDCs, as they’re called, ‘is a statutory body created to bring forward the regeneration of a defined area’. “They have powers to acquire, develop, hold and dispose of land and property and have powers to facilitate the provision of infrastructure,” according to Stockport’s MDC.

Promising to ‘aim high’ to voters in the town, he told the MEN: “I think Bolton has got incredible assets in terms of its architecture and its culture — it’s an amazing place, Bolton.

“To be honest, when I was young in the 70s, Bolton was often the big town everybody looked to. It was the biggest centre of them all. I used to go with my gran and grandad to Bolton — if we weren’t going to Manchester or Liverpool, it was Bolton.

“I think because of that, the town centre is bigger than others and therefore has struggled more perhaps because of the stuff that’s closed. I honestly see huge potential.

“We are going to build on the model we developed in Stockport but make it right for Bolton but it is about bringing in the ambitious use of incredible buildings around Bolton Town Hall. It’s very, very exciting. Bolton is ready for it — the council has already putting more start-up space in the town centre, and more residential development.

“The former leader of Stockport called it the ‘New Brooklyn’ to Manchester’s Manhattan so what’s the equivalent here?”

The idea of a Bolton MDC is something which was first mentioned by the mayor in March 2020 — just two weeks before the country went into the first Covid-19 lockdown. Mr Burnham, at the time, said he’d offered the then-council leader, David Greenhalgh, who welcomed the move.

Separate to the MDC plans, the mayor — bidding for his third term in May — also confirmed plans are in place to bring Bolton station into the commuter rail element of the Bee Network by 2028. That isn’t the only rail pledge in the 11-page manifesto, as there is also a promise to establish a ‘Liverpool-Manchester Railway Board to oversee the creation of a publicly operated railway’ between the two cities, including an underground station at Manchester Piccadilly and new station in Liverpool.

The document does not feature a heavy use of Labour’s traditional red branding, something Mr Burnham said was done in an effort to bring in a ‘broader church’ of voters in a ‘place-first, rather than party-first’ approach to the role.