Manchester City Council

Wild in Wythenshawe

As mentioned yesterday, the last meeting of the year of the City Council's Executive Committee is this morning. Two of the items on the agenda, one regarding directly elected mayors, the other the Darra Singh interim report into this summer's " riots ", have already been widely discussed in the media so there is little to add here. The general consensus is that a directly elected mayor is a solution to problem Manchester hasn't got, and not necessarily a very good solution anyway. The Riots report is consistent with the evidence we gave to the Inquiry. As always, there are lessons to be learnt, but the Manchester response, community and Council, comes out pretty well.

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Big Science

Although the Council Executive meets tomorrow, much of this week is about tying up loose ends, emptying or at least checking there's nothing badly overdue in the in-tray, and making sure advice cases are up-to-date. So yesterday morning was a little bit out of the ordinary then, a trip for an early morning meeting at the Daresbury Laboratory. Science seems to becoming very much more popular nowadays. Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics - especially Physics - courses are heavily oversubscribed, and a good thing to. Economically and environmentally, we need more and more people able to invent and to innovate with ideas that help create a low-carbon knowledge based economy.

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Mad Friday

Executive Members' Office Christmas lunch today but the Taxpayers Alliance needn't start swamping us with very expensive Freedom of Information requests - none of it was paid for out of Council Tax! Wasn't very mad either. Just a pleasant lunch in a city centre restaurant accompanied by a mixture of sensible to outright daft presents from secret Santa. So no Mad Friday there, so was it at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority meeting this morning.

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All Change

Third meeting of the shadow Health and Well-Being Board this morning. Subject to legislation, it won't come in to formal existence until 2013, but both the Council and the various Health bodies represented see real value in using the board as a vehicle for better collaboration between services to improve the health of Manchester people. A lot of time is going in to agreeing purpose, vision, key priorities and it's essential that we do that to ensure that we really are all pulling in the same direction. Some people round the table are quite used to partnership working at a strategic level. For others it is a new experience.

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Science in the City

Meet Ian Blatchford, the Director of the National Science Museum this morning. Next year, Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry ( MoSI ) will become part of the national museum, a move that is very much welcomed by the City Council. Science, including such notable figures as Joule and Dalton, has been integral to the development of Manchester as a great city. MoSI has a great story to tell and in telling it can not only boost visitor numbers to the city but inspire a new generation of Mancunians to become scientific pioneers.

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Mince Pies ( but no Sherry! )

My periodic visit to St Helen's Town Hall this morning for a meeting of the Regional Leaders' Board which I currently chair. Marie Rimmer, the Leader, and Carole Hudson, the Chief Executive, of St Helen's always give us a warm welcome, and today is no exception with mince pies to go with the pre-meeting tea and coffee. If regions are dead you wouldn't have known it from today's agenda, with a number of significant items on the agenda. The first dealt with Atlantic Gateway. This is an umbrella term for a number of major economic development projects in the Ship Canal corridor. Today we consider the business plan and delivery plan for the next period, and get a very positive introduction from Geoff Muirhead, Atlantic Gateway chair, who makes it clear that they are going to focus on a small number of priorities where they can make a real difference, Northern ( formerly Manchester ) Hub and Port Salford being the ones with most relevance to Manchester.

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Another Hidden Gem

Full Council today. The refurbishment of the Town Hall extension means the Council Chamber is out of use until 2013. In the interim Council meetings are being held in the Great Hall. It's a beautiful room but even with a temporary PA System installed the acoustics are such that it's very difficult to hear what is being said in many parts of the Hall. They're not the most riveting meetings you could ever go to but even so lack of audibility isn't really ideal for open democracy.

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On time, on budget

Had our four-weekly Executive Members meeting with senior officers today concentrating on where we are up to with the 2011-13 budget. The meeting would have been on Wednesday but was put back to today to avoid the Pensions strike which I talked about in the last post. A bonus of the deferred meeting has been its saved me from a trip to Liverpool or rather saved me from the trip back. The return journey would have been around tea time and on a Friday that would inevitably have meant cramming on to an overcrowded train with little chance of a seat even if I'd got one booked, an experience I've already had this morning with a ludicrously overcrowded tram from Crumpsall into town.

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