Manchester City Council

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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Making it up

Not talking about the awful financial settlement announced yesterday although making it up could be used as a very accurate description of the government's approach to local government finances. This is about manufacturing.

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Stars shine in Moston (and Harpurhey)

Spent an inspiring few hours at Contact Theatre as a member of what was described as a Dragon's Den type panel, although as I've never seen said TV show can't be too sure. My first involvement but the second year of an initiative by the Agency, a partnership between Contact with Battersea Arts Centre in association with People's Palace Projects, working in the Clapham Junction Area of South London and in Harpurhey and Moston.

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Bearing Fruit

The progress Manchester has made over the last couple of decades has been remarkable but transforming a city can't be done without taking the odd chance and without occasionally getting something wrong.

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A Long Wait for Spring

It would be remiss of me not to comment on yesterday's Autumn Statement and churlish in extreme not to acknowledge that it contained some very good news, for Manchester in particular, but also for the North in general. We have been making the case for well over a decade that more publicly funded research and more national research institutes should, building on the research excellence of our universities, be based in the north. so the announcement of a new national research institute, the Sir Henry Royce Institute, specialising in applied materials is very welcome indeed. As the University of Manchester is currently rated number two in the world for its material science research, it makes sense to headquarter the institute here, but that it is a collaboration with other northern universities and even some from the south is an enormous enhancement of the proposal.

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