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Greens lead call to give all Manchester residents right to vote

A polling station board.

Manchester Greens have today led the call for all Manchester residents to be given the right to vote, no matter where they are from.

The city’s Green councillors, alongside independent councillor Amna Abdullatif, proposed a motion calling on the government to extend local election rights in England and Northern Ireland to all qualifying foreign nationals, in line with rules in Scotland and Wales.

The motion, passed with Labour backing at today’s Manchester City Council meeting, looked to support the many Mancunians set to lose their right to vote in local elections due to government changes.

Cllr Ekua Bayunu, deputy leader of the Green Party on Manchester City Council, said: “All our residents bring infinite value to Manchester, no matter where they were born. 37% of Mancunians were born abroad and 12% are from the European Union (EU). They live, work, study, make use of public services, and call Manchester their home.

“When we charge them council tax, we do not discriminate based on anyone’s nationality. So why should the right to vote which shapes who your representatives are and how your council tax is spent be a privilege reserved to only some nationalities?”

The motion comes in response to the government’s Elections Act, which has brought changes to EU citizens’ voting rights.

Currently, all British, Irish, and Commonwealth and EU citizens can vote in local elections, while British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens can vote in all other elections.

Under the Act, all EU citizens who arrived in the UK by the end of 2020 will maintain their right to vote in local elections. However, EU citizens who arrived in the UK from 2021 onwards will only be able to vote if their country of origin has a signed agreement with the UK.

While the Act will not affect voters at this May’s local elections, the changes are set to take effect from June 2024, locking many EU residents out of the ballot box locally.

The Greens’ successful motion calls on government to amend the Elections Bill and ensure a UK-wide and fair approach to voting rights.

Cllr Astrid Johnson, leader of the Greens on Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is home to an exceptionally diverse and vibrant population, which makes this the city people want to call home. That makes it even more important that we all have to thrive to work for ever more democracy.

“The Government needs to work collaboratively with Manchester City Council and voluntary sector organisations to develop a strategy of communications about voter eligibility following the Elections Act.

“The changes to the voting law that we have proposed will make this work easier. We would achieve a higher voter turnout and empower more of our residents.”

At today’s council meeting, Greens also supported calls to extend the Household Support Fund, which is set to end in March this year.

The council currently uses this to support around 60,000 residents in managing cost-of-living pressures.

After having a proposed amendment voted down, Green councillors also opposed a Labour motion which urged Lib Dem MP Ed Davey to apologise for the British Post Office scandal, calling the motion ‘frivolous’.

“Labour’s motion was nothing but a cheap pop at one man,” said Cllr Rob Nunney, Green councillor for Woodhouse Park. “It does nothing to improve the situation for those who were wronged. It merely diverts attention from all those who played a part in this dreadful miscarriage of justice and focuses it on a single individual.

“Our amendment sought to change the motion from one of mudslinging to one which called for immediate reparations, which is what the victims really need.”


Notes to editors:

The Green Party is the joint opposition party on Manchester City Council with four councillors. The Green group leader is Cllr Astrid Johnson. The deputy leader is Cllr Ekua Bayunu.

The four Green councillors on the council are Cllr Astrid Johnson, Cllr Anastasia Wiest and Cllr Rob Nunney, who represent the ward of Woodhouse Park, and Cllr Ekua Bayunu who has a seat in Hulme.

Manchester City Council is formed of 87 Labour members, four Greens, four Liberal Democrats, and one independent.

Cllr Astrid Johnson will be available for interview upon request.

For further information, please contact Chris Ogden at