A Better Place

Sorry I haven't posted for a while but I have been suffering from a form of writer's block. I've wanted to write about the tragic deaths of Police Constables Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes but have struggled to find a way of not just expressing the sympathy we all feel for their family, friends and colleagues, of expressing my horror at the viciousness of how they were killed, but also saying something about the contribution they have made. I didn't know either of these two brave officers, but have read about two young women full of energy, full of hope for the future, committed to helping to make Greater Manchester a better place to live for all of us. It was a headline in today's Evening News, " They did not die in vain ", that made me think of a way of recognising that contribution.

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Poor Laws

The Poor Law system was not formally abolished in this country until 1948, with some of it remaining on the statute book until 1967. Yesterday the City Council considered its Family Poverty strategy which has been accompanied by extensive Manchester Evening News coverage, coverage which would not make it hard to imagine a return to the worst of Victorian conditions.. Of course no families now live in the level of absolute poverty that pertained then, but it is nevertheless the case that after a ten year decline in the number of children living in relative poverty, the situation is now getting worse.

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Never too late to learn

I've posted often on the subject of skills, and particularly the ever-increasing skills requirement of a modern economy coupled with the long-term decline in unskilled/low-skilled jobs. This is not just about graduates either, important though they are, but it is about increased technical skills and so-called soft skills, particularly communication skills. This morning I am at the opening of the Council's first Union Learning Representatives' Conference the ULRs themselves are not new. They've been around for about a dozen years with the simple objective of providing advice,guidance and support to council employees about learning and training available to them. Though this comes out of the Trade Union movement, the approach is wholly consistent with the Council's own aspirations for a highly skilled and motivated workforce.

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All Change

The Council week has been dominated by meetings of Scrutiny committees. I attended the Economy Scrutiny committee as half the items on the agenda were in my portfolio. The other half were mainly in my deputy, Councillor Sue Murphy's portfolio, but Sue had to attend a very important European funding meeting, the other deputy was on leave, so I agreed to cover the whole meeting. Something wrong there - I'm sure they're supposed to be deputising for me, not the other way round. There were a number of big items on the agenda but the two that took up the most time were the Work Programme and the Family Poverty Strategy.

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