Still busy with the budget. We will be making draft budget proposals public at around 8am tomorrow and inviting feedback on them between then and February 13th when the Council Executive will be meeting to agree its budget recommendations to the Council meeting on Friday 8th, March. The scale of the cuts will inevitably mean hard decisions, and spending more on any item will mean spending less on another. Even so, we don't claim a monopoly of wisdom and would be delighted if anybody out there has better ideas than any of our draft proposals being published in the morning.
Cuts or no cuts, building the city needs confidence. First thing this morning I'm at a really well attended question time organised by the Forum for the Built Environment billed as a rally for confidence. Going right back to the first days of the banking crisis and the emergence into the light of the problems with sub-prime mortgages, the construction industry has been very badly hit. In previous recessions, construction has traditionally been the first to lose jobs, but also has then led the way out of recession. That's not happening this time largely because of government cuts and the impacts of ongoing banking restructuring but Manchester does have a comparatively healthy project pipeline and we do need to use that to boost confidence, the confidence that will help bring more work to the city.
Just to show that things really are happening, later in the morning I have ( separate ) meetings on the Beswick Community hub and the re-design and improvement of Collyhurst Village. Both involve substantial amounts of building work, both have funding in place and will happen, and both will substantially improve the city over the next couple of years.
As I have remarked before, one of the strengths of our system of local democracy is that in order to be Leader of the Council I also need to be a Ward Councillor, and so this afternoon it's back to Crumpsall for ward co-ordination where our main discussion item is on health and well-being. I came in to the Town Hall on my bike this morning but will make this return journey by tram before another chilly ride back later this evening.