Back on my bike this week for the first time since Christmas and a frighteningly close view of the cracks and holes that have appeared in the road surface along my normal route as a result of frost damage. Our Highways people are out inspecting the whole road network and will be putting a remediation plan together but an early estimate is that the extra repair work will cost at least £650,000.
The total additional cost of the freeze is likely to be well over a £1M but we won't be increasing Council Tax or cutting other things to pay for it. Manchester has followed a prudent budget course for many years keeping Council Tax increases to at or below the rate of inflation and making sure we have adequate reserves to cover occasions just such as this.
The morning's first meeting is the city-region wide Innovation sub-group. The two major items on the agenda relate to Next Generation Access ( NGA ) and how homes and businesses can start accessing safe, secure and reliable 100mbs+ communication networks. One of the reports concerns NorthernNet which is providing a number of high capacity data transfer stations across the North of England, two in Manchester, coupled with industry standard media editting facilities, largely aimed at maximising the opportunities for small and medium enterprises from Media City. The other concerns a fibre to premises scheme that has already been agreed for the Corridor but we want to role out to parts of East Manchester and Central Salford that are and are likely to remain underserved by commercial networks. The tecnological aspects of most of this go completely over my head, but I understand enough to realise that this is economically the future and that we need to make sure that all our communities are e-included in it.
Back to Crumpsall early for our quarterly Ward Service Co-ordination Group. I think I've said before that this is the real bread and butter of local politics and a can't miss meeting. The main item today will deal with all aspects of housing including licensing and management of private sector landlords, investment in social housing, and getting new-build housing starting again. Clearly the credit crunch has had a really bad impact on housing overall. We need to make sure that as the market comes back we getting housing development of at least the quality we would have had pre-recession.