Jam Today and Jam Tomorrow

First job this morning was putting a new inner-tube in my rear tyre. A puncture on Tuesday left me with a long walk home pushing the bike up Cheetham Hill and today was the first chance I'd had to fix it. Spend half-an-hour in the Town Hall before nipping off to the Airport for the Etihad announcement that they have decided to locate their European Contact Centre in Manchester. The announcement is made in the Etihad lounge in Terminal One which means there is the whole kerfuffle of getting airside but it's worth it for a development that will create an initial 160 jobs in the city.

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Under the Weather

Suffering from a lingering cold compounded by the relatively mild and sunny weather which has turned the Town Hall into a hot house. One of the ( many ) problems we have to solve is how to introduce an affordable and effective, low carbon heating system into a grade one listed Victorian pile.

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Present Tense, Future Perfect

A typically varied day yesterday. First meeting was to be taken through files itemising 590 different Council buildings ranging from the Town Hall to park huts. One of the ways we are looking to protect front line services is by minimising building costs and this work has identified how we can save £3.5m by rationalising building use. It also starts to look at what we can do to ensure we don't have empty, boarded up buildings blighting local neighbourhoods.

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A very quiet and relatively routine Council Executive meeting this morning. Most of the more interesting items - Eastlands, High Speed Rail, the consultation on the location in St. Peter's Square of the Cenotaph - have all been widely reported already, and the full agenda is available as always on the Council's web-site. Will comment on one late item not least because it's good news and we need all of that we can get.

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High Speed Too

I said last week that I'd say a bit more about transport this week and so I will. The war of words over High Speed 2 ( HS2 ) is already hotting up fuelled primarily by Home County nimbyism. Of course London and the Home Counties already have access to the developing European High Speed rail network via HS1 and most of them won't give two hoots about the impact of a two-speed Britain with all of us north of the Chilterns excluded from the system. But they ought to because unless we start planning for HS2, there will in the long term be a negative impact on the whole of the UK economy. I'm not going to spend time here discussing the importance of good transport links to economic growth, but knowledge and connectivity are the twin foundation stones of a modern economy.

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Doing the Best We Can

It would be a little odd if I didn't blog about yesterday's budget Council meeting, and comment on some of the news coverage, although in most respects there is nothing new to say. There was a surprisingly small, indeed disappointingly small lobby outside the Town Hall yesterday morning.

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Aspiration and Skills

I'm joined by Simon Waugh who chairs the National Apprenticeship Service for a breakfast session aimed at getting more employers to take on apprentices. The City Council is already leading by example with 550 apprentices since signing the Skills pledge, but of 17,360 businesses in the city, only 867 employ apprentices.

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Two Ends of the Stick

Going to return to transport next week but for now I want to relate two events I attended yesterday which demonstrate the breadth of the agenda we need to pursue as a city.

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