Yew Know

The biggest chunk of yesterday was taken up with the bi-monthly Manchester Airport Holdings board meeting. It's now a year since we joined with infrastructure fund IFM to add Stansted Airport to the group and it has been a very successful year. Performance has exceeded business plan and the ten GM councils ought to be able to look forward to a very healthy return on the investment. Dividend received of course goes straight into Council services and with more austerity cuts on the way, every penny helps. But, as it says in the small print, investments can go down as well as up, so notwithstanding that good twelve months, the board need to ensure that continues well into the future.

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The Big Dig

The last Council meeting of this municipal year yesterday. Over the last couple of years we have established the practice of starting the meeting with presentations on some of the major issues the city is dealing with. Yesterday we had two such presentations.

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New Ground

With the launch of " High Speed 2 : Get Ready " the report of the HS2 Growth Taskforce this morning its tempting to use this post just for that. But I won't. It, along with the Higgins report published on Monday, is important not least because we are now moving past having to make the case for the new North-South rail network ( although some diehards will never be convinced whatever the evidence - see comments on last blog ) to looking how we maximise the economic and social benefits from what should become the new spine of a 21st century integrated national rail network. However other things have happened this week.

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Please Mr Porter

After eight weeks in post, the new Chair of HS2, David Higgins, delivered his first evaluation report in Manchester at the beginning of this week. Being in Manchester was in itself symbolic, giving a very clear message that HS2 is very much about improved transport links for the North, but the report had much more than symbols to offer.

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Green Shoots

The Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub Board holds its quarterly meeting today. Most of the work is done in our five thematic and two cross-cutting subgroups with an enormous number of people involved, but one of the issues we will be discussing today is how people can find out about what we are doing and get involved. Very little of what we do is in any way confidential (though there are occasionally bits that are commercially sensitive) and some of our subgroups, for example the one dealing with growing green businesses, need to pro-actively market to meet their objectives. Comms are often controversial, spending money on comms even more so, but if we don't we will not be able to meet our aspirations in this crucial part of the city-regions strategy.

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The Evil Empire

Three things motivating this piece. Had to be in Warrington for just before 10am so naturally biked into town, took the train from Oxford Road to Warrington Central, had a pleasant walk across the town centre to the Village Hotel, arriving fresh and having got some work done on the way. Conversely I could have driven and instead arrived frazzled and probably no quicker having "enjoyed" the M60 and M62. I was there to speak to the NW Flood Defence conference, very topical, about climate change adaptation, transport of course being one of the big contributors to global warming. Lastly, though I know Twitter is not necessarily the place to go for informed opinion, I was astonished over the weekend, to see that the City Council, or maybe even me personally, is waging an evil, yes evil, war on cars.

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Looking back, Looking forward

Budget Council this morning but a bit less excitement than some other budget council meetings around the region. This was the second year of a horrendous two year budget but all the difficult decisions were taken last year and the only significant changes from that are the Council Tax freeze, for the fourth year out of the last five, and that from April 1st this year we are proposing to raise the Manchester Minimum wage to the level of the National Living Wage. Sorry to say that next year's budget won't be so straightforward.

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Feet on the Ground

One of the ( many ) advantages of the Council Leader system of local government compared to the elected mayor system is that the Council Leader is also a local councillor and does all the things any local councillor does. So on Monday this week I had a series of meetings related to Crumpsall. The first looked at progress on consultation on a residents parking scheme for the area around North Manchester General Hospital.

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