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Photography by Katie O'Neill & Beth Wilson

Bev Craig is Leader Manchester City Council taking over the role from Sir Richard Leese in December 2021. Bev is the city council’s first female LGBT leader. 

First elected in 2011 as a Burnage Councillor, she held a range of responsibilities on Manchester City Council, including serving for four years as Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, then as Deputy Leader overseeing resources, capital programmes, social value and digital.

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Manchester City Council Leader, Councillor Bev Craig

Born and raised on a council estate just outside of Belfast, she was the first in her family to go to university, moving to Manchester in 2003 to study and making it her home. After graduating from the University of Manchester with a degree in politics and modern history she began her career in local government, before working in higher education and then a national trade union leading on social care. Alongside working full time, Bev completed postgraduate degrees at Warwick Business School and the University of Manchester.

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I grew up in social housing and my family still rely on it. I know the value of [what] the safety net of a good quality home can give you when times are tough.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese with Burnage winning candidates Carl Austin and Bev Craig

2001 council elections - Burnage winning candidates Bev Craig & Carl Austin-Behan with Sir Richard Leese

As Executive Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing she led the city of Manchester's COVID health and community response, manging the crisis and focusing on a more equal recovery, and has championed the City’s work to become a Living Wage City. Bev became Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council in May 2021. Now as Leader, her focus is on Manchester’s ambitious COVID recovery, the importance of building a more inclusive and sustainable economy, children and young people, equalities, housing and zero carbon. Bev is also Greater Manchester Combined Authority portfolio lead for Digital and Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships.

Outside of politics she enjoys sports and being outdoors, music, culture and enjoying all that Manchester has to offer.

As leader I’ll be looking forward to the city’s exciting new chapter, as we continue building a truly exciting world class city which puts our people first and where all of our residents can share in its success.

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THE SHOOT: St Peter's Square 

Civic spaces - The Town Hall Extension & Manchester Central LIbrary

Student reflection: Beth Wilson

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We met Neal on the steps at Langworthy Park, Salford which gave us a commanding view overlooking the terraced houses of Chimney Pot Park, now a desirable Urban Splash redevelopment, but for many decades a tough and neglected area of the city. Neal explained it was here back in the 80s and 90s where he learned his skills as a reporter.

I began by photographing Neal against the dramatic backdrop of the rows of red brick houses and then moved down into the streets which were apparently used in the original Coronation Street opening credits. It was a bright but bitterly cold Spring morning, so I had to make best use of any shade and tried to avoid any harsh direct sunlight. Neal was really easy to work with and very obliging with my suggested poses. We would pause as Neal retold many of the fascinating stories he had worked on in his time as a Salford reporter. We moved around the streets making good use of the red brick houses which stretched into the distance. These shots, many of which I turned to black and white really capture Neal in his natural working environment and hopefully help to tell the story of his dedication to the cities of Manchester and Salford through his reporting.

 

Neal is a real unsung hero… a worthy Greater Mancunian.

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Neal & Katie

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The Shoot

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