Manchester City Council

7.15 to Euston

Although Council activity continues to be dominated by the budget and will continue to be so until final decisions are made at the budget Council meeting early in March, there are still other duties to perform. With six months to go until the general election, one of my tasks is to try and influence all the main parties as they finalise their election manifestos. Influencing those in the Westminster bubble means sadly having to go into the bubble and I had a busy 24hrs earlier this week doing just that.

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Cuts

I last blogged on the subject of the budget on 17th September signposting readers to a presentation made by the City Treasurer to full Council. Anyone who followed the link will not have been surprised by this week's press coverage of next years budget options, although the Treasurer's current estimate for the year after next, 2016/7, has improved believe it or not, by around £10m.

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Rolling Stock

A last word on devolution and Mayors, at least for the time being, not least to respond to a couple of questions that have been asked. The words elected Mayor have taken on a negative connotation in much of the local government world, largely I think because of successive governments attempts to foist them on us with no additional powers or resources.

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New Powers to Greater Manchester

A rather longer blog than usual. Yesterday Greater Manchester Leaders signed an agreement with central government for the biggest transfer of power from central to local any of us will have ever witnessed, taking powers from a remote and inefficient Whitehall so that more decisions effecting Greater Manchester are taken in Greater Manchester by local elected representatives. I'm not going to comment further today though may do later in the week. For the time being I leave you with a summary of the agreement set out below.

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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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