Manchester City Council

Wuhan Too

One of the down sides of short stay long haul flights is the absence of sleep. I'm writing this at 10.30pm Thursday UK time, but 6.30am Friday Chinese time, having been up since around 5 and thought it might be useful to fill in some of the detail of how I'm physically spending my time here. As an aside to that, the Manchester delegation is fifty two strong, largely from the business sector, higher education , and the arts world, and they all have their own programme of meetings whilst they are in Wuhan. It's not a coach tour!

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Connecting Lines

Writing this in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport where I have a four hour wait before getting a flight to Wuhan. Before anyone gets over-excited about jaunts to China at the taxpayers expense, this is very much a working trip and by Saturday teatime I'll be, I hope, safely back in Manchester.

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Unity is Strength

I know it's the budget but not going to give my predictions not least because much of it has already been given to the press anyway. Instead will return to a recurrent theme of northern transport, something I do expect to be referred to tomorrow ( that's an expectation not a prediction ).

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Invisibility

This year's tortuous budget setting process came to an end today when the 2014/5 revenue budget was agreed at today's budget Council. I won't go into detail here as all the papers are available on the Council's website and insomniacs can even watch the debatein full online as it unfolded. I was first elected to the Council in the mid-1980s so was there when we were ratecapped in 1988 and later when we had to deal with enormous cuts arising from the imposition of the Poll Tax and the nationalisation of business rates.

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GM decides for GM

I've been a bit dilatory with blogging of late. As a one-finger typist I'm always tempted to put it off but last week's events, particularly around health, have motivated me to pull my finger out, if only to correct a lot of the miscommunication especially from a normally reliable BBC. Firstly the Health devolution proposals shouldn't have been that much of a surprise. Last year's " DevoManc " contained with in it that the Combined Authority and the Clinical Commissioning Groups ( CCGs ) would work on a business plan for integrating health and social care.

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A Night on the Town

Did have one of those on Monday taking advantage of one of the many January sale restaurant offers around and fortunately thousands of others are doing likewise - all year round. Following yesterday's Executive Committee meeting we had our monthly look at the Manchester economy. We had a particular look at three things, youth unemployment initiatives, low carbon development, delivery and investment in Greater Manchester, and the Visitor Economy.

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Good or Outstanding

The City's Strategic Education Partnership met yesterday. Included on the agenda was an excitingly titled report, School Improvement and Outcomes. At the heart of this is a good news story for which the city's schools should take the credit though they would be the first to recognise there is much more still to do. Notwithstanding the demographic challenges our schools face, 79.8% of them are now judged to be good or better against a national average of 77%. Of the twelve Ofsted inspections that have taken place since the start of the school year, eleven of the schools were judged to be good or better, that's over 90%.

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Lies and Statistics

The Council's Executive did as I previously announced publish a draft budget for 2015/6 yesterday. The two reports run to a hundred pages in total so I'm not going to attempt to summarise but there is a link at the bottom for those who want to read them. It is a draft budget and along with all the options published in November it is still very much subject to consultation and scrutiny but does give an update on current thinking in the light of changed circumstances since November.

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Resolutions and Predictions

Happy New Year and welcome to the first blog of 2015. You're probably heartily fed up of all the predictions and resolutions that have filled the pages and screens of virtually every media outlet over the last few weeks so I won't add to them here. What I might talk about are some of the considerable challenges Manchester faces over the next twelve months, a year when, from a local government perspective at least, the upcoming General Election creates even more uncertainty than usual.

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Rest and Best

The last blog of 2014 following the last Executive Committee meeting of the calendar year yesterday. Unusually we had two sets of comments on the minutes. The first from me responded to reports from Oldham Council's discussion of the GM devolution agreement where Council Leader, Jim McMahon proposed that the Combined Authority should become a precepting authority. This was misinterpreted as suggesting an increased tax burden for GM residents. Not true.

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