Which translates as Tobacco Free Futures for Kids. Chaired a breakfast meeting this morning organised in conjunction with TFF and the Smokefree Action Coalition. The opening speaker was Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle Council, who introduced us to amongst other things the Newcastle Declaration on Tobacco Control, something Manchester City Council will be signing up to at our next full meeting in July. The stats are pretty frightening with a headline figure of 81,400 deaths caused by smoking in England every year, still the single biggest cause of avoidable, premature deaths. The Tobacco companies of course want to replace those lost customers and the basic technique is to catch 'em young. Most smokers start when they are still in their teens and one of the reasons I support things like the plain packaging campaign is to try and cut off that new supply of cigarette addicts. Smoking in the North West of England is estimated to cost our economy £2b a year and that's £400m more than the comparable tax revenue paid by the tobacco companies.

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And Now for the Hard Work

The Council is just about getting to the end of what has been the most difficult budget that certainly any current Councillors, and one or two go back over thirty years, can remember. You might think that Executive Members in particular would be breathing a collective sigh of relief as we get to the end of the decision making process but in reality the hard work for them and for Council officers has only begun. We now have to deliver the budget and the price of failure doesn't bear thinking about. If we don't deliver the budget financially then we end up having to make even bigger cuts to compensate. If we don't deliver the radical changes in service provision then thousands of Manchester residents, many already suffering under the government's deficit reduction programme, face an even harder time. We have to believe in a better future and for that we need to keep Manchester, the place, growing and developing.

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Useful Evidence

Getting very noisy around the Town Hall at the moment as preparations are finalised for our visitors from Old Trafford so a good time to do the blog.

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Low Carbon and Future Growth

At a consultation event this morning organised through the Low Carbon Hub looking at the draft of the refreshed Greater Manchester Strategy. The strategy brings together creating the conditions for economic growth and supporting business with the people side of the equation, tackling worklessness, improving skills, and reducing dependency - city deal with whole place community budgets. The draft also strongly references the commitments in the city-region's Climate Change Action Plan, specifically the 48% carbon reduction target by 2020 and the need to act now to adapt to the already inevitable impacts of climate change.

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A Very Odd Feeling

Yesterday was the first Thursday in May. Election Day. Local elections were taking place in counties all over the country but not in Greater Manchester. For Metropolitan District Councils like Manchester it is our fallow year, the one year in every four when we don't have local elections. However in our last fallow year we had European elections, and the two before that General Elections, so, if I've got it right, you would have to go back to the Nineteen Nineties for the last time we had a year without any elections in the city.

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