A Sense of Perspective

A few days in China doesn't half help put the relevance of the northern powerhouse concept into perspective. The North of England has around 15million residents, it's major cities, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield ( including their whole city region areas ) 10million. If you draw a triangle with Newcastle, Sheffield, and Liverpool as its corners, the land area covered is less than that by the cities of Beijing or Shanghai on their own. Chongqing's 30million people live in a city the size of Austria.

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Shared Agendas

Taking advantage of the long train journey from Cardiff to Manchester to do a second blog post for today which should put me in credit for next week when I might find it more difficult.

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Tackling Homelessness

I've been intending to do something for some time on the very real issue of homelessness in the city. I will do that in the next couple of weeks but this post will largely consist of a statement made by Councillor Nigel Murphy following the eviction of homelessness "protestors" from a camp on Oxford Road. I get regular emails on the subject of these camps including some that suggest that evicting these camps are an attack on the homeless. They're not and in reality all the camps have achieved is to make it harder for us to help some very vulnerable people being exploited by a bunch of “activists ". Nigel's statement is below.

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Working Together

This morning was entirely occupied with Health and Social Care matters, starting with a development session for Health and Well-being board members built around the Locality Plan. There was a fairly detailed report on today's H and WB Board agenda today for those who are interested, but this is a key document describing how health and social care commissioners and service providers are going to work together as a basic building block of the devolution progress.

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The Power of Place

Been in London this morning with a couple of hundred other people at the Connected Core Cities Summit 2015, an event organised by Core Cities UK with Bilfinger GVA. The main external speaker was Jim O'Neill, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury who gave a challenging address, reflecting on progress since the publication of the final report of the RSA City Growth Commission last year, and what cities outside London needed to do if they were to pull their weight in the national economy. Underpinning this was the importance of scale and a recognition that our cities outside London are at best medium sized and will only be able to balance London and match big cities around the world by pulling together as for example northern cities are doing through Transport for the North.

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Global Significance

In a couple of weeks time I will be joining a Trade Mission to China which will at least in part be promoting trade and investment opportunities in the North of England. Notwithstanding an element of scepticism regarding Northern Powerhouse, particularly since the " pausing " of Leeds-Manchester electrification, the idea does seem to have captured the imagination elsewhere, and that's something we have to get the maximum mileage out of. To do this one problem to be overcome is that since the days of the Northern Way nobody has done any work on what are the pan-northern economic strengths and opportunities.

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Welcome to Manchester

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Ambition and Adaptation

At Economy Scrutiny committee this morning where the most substantive item was the draft Manchester Strategy 2005-2015, currently out to consultation. Although committee members were largely positive about the draft there were a lot of questions covering, amongst other things targets and metrics, housing strategy, business involvement, resilience to an ever changing economic climate, the impact of cuts, leadership and inclusivity, and the level of ambition.

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