Manchester City Council

Above and beyond

The day starts, after a light breakfast, with a six and half mile run, starting from home, going through Blackley Village and on to Middleton, back via Rhodes and Middleton Road. All part of my preparation for the Great Manchester Run in May, which I did for the first time last year, but on the basis of this morning's effort and how much I ache afterwards, I'm not expecting to better last year's time.

Highlight of the day is the launch of the 2nd Manchester International Festival to be held between the 2nd and 19th July later this year. The first festival two years ago was an outstanding success, but this year's programme is even more ambitious and exciting. I'll leave more conventional news outlets to tell you all about it but it features twenty one newly commissioned works and premieres covering every aspect of artistic activity. It really is a typical Manchester event, innovative and challenging, and will command attention from around the world. There are lots of free events and Albert Square will become the festival hub. I suspect for ticketed events that they're going to sell out very quickly and I want to go to everything.

This afternoon I go to Durham for the Northern Way Steering Group. This meets three times a year, once in each of the three Northern regions and is focussed on narrowing the economic performance gap between North and South - an even bigger priority now than when we first started. The steering group concentrates on three areas, connectivity, investment, and innovation as well as promoting the North as a place to be. Unfortunately the trip means I'll miss City's match on TV which shows the sacrifices I'm prepared to make for Manchester to be a better place.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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