Rest and Best

The last blog of 2014 following the last Executive Committee meeting of the calendar year yesterday. Unusually we had two sets of comments on the minutes. The first from me responded to reports from Oldham Council's discussion of the GM devolution agreement where Council Leader, Jim McMahon proposed that the Combined Authority should become a precepting authority. This was misinterpreted as suggesting an increased tax burden for GM residents. Not true.

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Making it up

Not talking about the awful financial settlement announced yesterday although making it up could be used as a very accurate description of the government's approach to local government finances. This is about manufacturing.

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Stars shine in Moston (and Harpurhey)

Spent an inspiring few hours at Contact Theatre as a member of what was described as a Dragon's Den type panel, although as I've never seen said TV show can't be too sure. My first involvement but the second year of an initiative by the Agency, a partnership between Contact with Battersea Arts Centre in association with People's Palace Projects, working in the Clapham Junction Area of South London and in Harpurhey and Moston.

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Bearing Fruit

The progress Manchester has made over the last couple of decades has been remarkable but transforming a city can't be done without taking the odd chance and without occasionally getting something wrong.

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A Long Wait for Spring

It would be remiss of me not to comment on yesterday's Autumn Statement and churlish in extreme not to acknowledge that it contained some very good news, for Manchester in particular, but also for the North in general. We have been making the case for well over a decade that more publicly funded research and more national research institutes should, building on the research excellence of our universities, be based in the north. so the announcement of a new national research institute, the Sir Henry Royce Institute, specialising in applied materials is very welcome indeed. As the University of Manchester is currently rated number two in the world for its material science research, it makes sense to headquarter the institute here, but that it is a collaboration with other northern universities and even some from the south is an enormous enhancement of the proposal.

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Fly Me to the Moon

Although I've spent a lot of time recently talking about railways ( HS2, Rail North ) and more generally Northern transport infrastructure (One North) of late, it's a while since I've blogged about airports. Later this afternoon I'm off to the Concorde hangar at Manchester Airport for a consultation event on UK runway capacity jointly organised by Runways UK and Core Cities UK. I'll be speaking on behalf of Core Cities after Sir Howard Davies, the chair of the commission set up by government to look at this often controversial issue. Cynics would say that the commission is simply a ploy to put off a decision until after the general election and then to allow the Conservatives to change their position to one of supporting a third runway at London Heathrow. Whatever the motivation in establishing the commission, it consists of serious and reputable people and it's work has to be taken seriously.

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7.15 to Euston

Although Council activity continues to be dominated by the budget and will continue to be so until final decisions are made at the budget Council meeting early in March, there are still other duties to perform. With six months to go until the general election, one of my tasks is to try and influence all the main parties as they finalise their election manifestos. Influencing those in the Westminster bubble means sadly having to go into the bubble and I had a busy 24hrs earlier this week doing just that.

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