Manchester City Council

Halloween

Completely gratuitous title and no intention of talking about pumpkins, superior horror films, fancy dress or that nasty American import trick or treat but did think I'd take a brief respite from transport and devolution though I will return to those next week.

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A New England

The question of devolution has dominated my week as well as attracting a large amount of media attention, largely because of the publication of the final report of the Royal Society of Arts ( RSA ) City Growth Commission chaired by eminent Jim O'Neill. The report is underpinned by the macroeconomic argument for why our fifteen largest metropolitan areas, those with a population of over 500,000 people, should have far greater control over our ( economic ) future.

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DevoManc

Devolution - power coming from Whitehall back to Town Halls, power moving from national to local - is very much on the agenda. A few weeks ago respected think-tank ResPublica publish a report recommending that all of the public expenditure in Greater Manchester should be decided upon in GM, DevoMax, DevoManc. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority ( CA ) and its ten constituent Councils are currently discussing how we might need to change our governance and management arrangements to deal with very much greater powers and resources.

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Prohibition

Full Council day today and something that's not happened for at least 25 years as I was on the losing side of a vote, but more of that later. The meeting opened as is now standard practice with two presentations, the first on valuing older people and Manchester's role as a UN designated age-friendly city. This was followed by a presentation on this year's State of the City report, as usual a mixture of good and not so good news, but really important in helping us develop and implement strategies for improving the city.

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Yesterday

Not an exercise in rose-tinted spectacles but a brief canter through some of what I did yesterday. Firstly, our second live-streamed Council Executive with some very substantial items on the agenda, the most significant being action following the inspection of our children's services, but also London Road Fire Station and the condition of the Town Hall. For absence of doubt, we are not going to consider selling or moth-balling the Town Hall, but are looking at the investment required to get it through another 140 years.

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Budget 2015-17

The City Council faces another round of severe cuts over the next two years. The process of preparing the budget is underway but it will be a couple of months before draft proposals are in any state to consult on.

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Devolution for Real

In London today for a Core Cities business summit bringing our devolutionary message right to the heart of the City. There is now a flood of publications coming from all sorts of positions making the argument that centralisation hasn't worked, isn't working, and the UK and its people would be a lot better off if our major cities had more control of those things that support job-creating growth and those things that ensure our population can benefit from that growth.

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Contrasting buildings

A lot happening this week so I'm going to pick out a couple of things today and then a couple more tomorrow.

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After Austerity

Took part this lunchtime in the launch of a report commissioned by UNISON from CLES, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, " After Austerity:an economic plan for the North West ". It's great to see the union contributing to a wider political debate about our future prosperity and playing an active role in promoting ideas that would not just benefit the North West, but the whole of the Midlands and the North.

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Must Do Much Better, Will Do Much Better

Cuts and recession notwithstanding, Manchester has had much to celebrate over the last few years, but unfortunately it's not always good news. This morning Ofsted published a report of their recent Childrens Services inspection. It's not all bad news, and front-line workers should take some heart from a recognition of their hard work and committment, but the bottom line is, we have to improve and by a lot, quickly, something we have already started on and are determined to succeed in. Below is the statement made by the Executive Member for Childrens Services at this morning's Council Executive Committee meeting.

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