Manchester City Council

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.

After a bit of agenda juggling, the next item was a " back bench " notice of motion proposing voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds, as they did in the Scottish referendum. The debate on the motion was preceded by an address from Yazmina Lee, a sixteen year old member of the Manchester Youth Council as well as being a Manchester representative in the national Youth Parliament. The address was well argued and concise, confidently and articulately delivered, and a first class example of why she and people of her age should have the right to vote. The motion was passed unanimously.

Not so the last item on the Council agenda, another " back bench " motion on legal highs and particularly Nitrous Oxide, laughing gas. The disagreement was not about whether or not we needed to tackle dangerous drugs but on how. This resolution took the prohibition route for all dangerous drugs except the two most dangerous, alcohol and tobacco. I opposed it on the basis that a forty plus year history of banning a range of drugs, the war on drugs, has been a complete failure. If we've been adopting a particular approach for over forty years and it isn't working, isn't it time to try something else?

The motion was passed 40-29 but more importantly Councillors took part in a genuinely open debate in public on a subject that is important to the health of the city and its citizens. If you missed the live stream it is archived and available via the Council's website.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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