I should mention the Council's Executive Committtee meeting which took place on Wednesday. The most significant item on the agenda was a suite of reports that allowed the Executive to finalise its recommendations to Council on the 2017-20 revenue Budget, the bit that pays for services, the Capital Budget including the £100million extra investment in roads and pavements, and the Housing Revenue Account, a ring-fenced budget covering Council housing.
There were other important items but the only one I will draw attention to here is the conclusion of a review into City Centre management where we agreed to additional expenditure, in part necessary to deal with visible and audible problems ( beggars, chuggers, pedlars, loud amplification, rough sleepers, anti-social behaviour, trade waste ), and in part necessary to respond to the growth in jobs, residents and visitors driven by the city's success.
After the Executive,following meetings with firstly Edwina Grant, the independent Chair of our Childrens Services Improvement Board, who thankfully reported much positive progress, and then Stephanie Flanders, Chair of the RSA's Commission on Economic Inclusion, to discuss their soon to be published final report, I went out to the Airport and spent, excluding sleep time, the next 24 hours on Manchester Airport Group (MAG) business. This started with the Airport board spending time on a forward looking strategic review and ended yesterday with the regular board meeting. Manchester Airport Group is important to us for a number of reasons. One is that it generates a fair chunk of dividend that we are able to plough back into Council services. Another, and this applies particularly to Manchester Airport, is that it is a direct driver of enormous numbers of local jobs, and is a major driver of not just the Manchester economy but that of the whole of the North of England.
Airports might look at first sight a relatively simple business. Planes take off and land, passengers get on and off. Thirty years ago that was about it, but now it is far more complicated and serves a very different range of aviation customers, airlines and passengers. Against this complexity and the economic uncertainy caused principally by Brexit, MAG has to make some big decisions over the coming months, not least how to proceed with the proposed £1billion transformation of Manchester Airport . MAG has been doing really well since we brought in IFM as a partner and bought London Stansted but it is vital to our long term future that it continues to do so. Well worth a few hours of hard discussion!