For the second consecutive Monday, I'm on a train to Leeds. Last week it was to join other Core City Leaders at Leeds City Museum to meet David Cameron and Nick Clegg following the HSR route announcements. Although the meeting started with HSR it moved rapidly to the wider devolution agenda and the need for cities to have more influence and control over the economic levers if we are to re-balance the economy and create sustainable jobs.
Relating job creation to social agendas - tackling worklessness, troubled families, reducing re-offending, integrating health and social care - we also pointed to the sort of work done in the Greater Manchester Whole Place Community Budget pilot which shows that neighbourhood-based, integrated approaches are more effective and give better value for the public sector spend invested.
This week's visit to Leeds was to the Art Gallery, this time to meet Leaders and transport spokespeople to discuss the North of England taking over the Northern Rail and Transpennine rail franchises when they are re-tendered in the next couple of years. This would be a very significant piece of devolution and would allow us to improve and grow local and long distance rail services serving the North. The meeting started later than planned because as you would expect some of the attendees, in this case from the North East were delayed by a late train. When the meeting began, it was very positive indeed, and although there is still much work to be done, there was a real appetite for the North to work together to take responsibility for these key bits of infrastructure.
Back in Manchester I meet two members of a peer review team who are spending the week here looking at our safeguarding practises. These are services that are still subject to external inspection but there is real value in review and challenge from people doing the job in other Councils. Childrens' Services are going through a process of significant change and the review will also help us keep our eye on the safeguarding ball.