Manchester City Council

Made in Manchester

In London yesterday for the first meeting of the Funding the Frontline Task Force which I've been asked to co-chair by Secretary of State for Communities and Local government, John Denham. An interesting group of people including the only person who is a Chief Executive of both a local authority and an NHS Primary Care Trust, and the only person who is Chief Executive of two local authorities of different political persuasion.

One of the things we will be looking at is flexibility and you don't get more flexible than that. The assumption behind the Task Force of course is that over the next few years Councils, like most bits of the public sector, will have less to spend The objective is to make sure that in a tougher climate we can protect, indeed enhance, the services that are most important to the people we represent and serve. We are due to report by the end of February so the bulk of the work will be to identify the many innovative things that are already being done and make that knowledge widely available.

Manchester Partnership Board met this morning bright and early kicking off with a discussion about progress on arrangements for the Manchester City Region. Other items included progress on the Climate Change Action plan, and then some really exciting reports on the Comprehensive Area Assessment ( CAA ) and the annual update of the local area agreement ( laa ). Later I go to Salford, to a factory. More than a factory really. They're called Pilkington Tiles and they both design and manufacture tiles and their customers include Manchester City Council's Building Schools for the Future programme. It's a world-class business and an international business but it is great to see things ( with apologies to Salford ) still being made in Manchester and being used in Manchester.

There are 23 responses to “ Made in Manchester”

  1. Harry Spooner Says:

    Wednesday morning: kids in school: bins still not emptied. Good of Sir Richard to quote collection days before we had the snow. It really is time to stop defending the indefensible; populist sound bites have a habit of biting back. I have visited Russia in November, and the schools were open in deeper snow. Mind you their local authorities cleared the access routes to those schools. Schools are at the centres of their communities. As such, they are usually on roads and streets that are a low priority for clearing unlike streets around the Town Hall. No side roads have been cleared in my neighbourhood. You still haven't answered why the bins haven't been emptied. Too embarassing?

  2. Richard Leese Says:

    I actually quoted collection days in the middle of the freeze period. Two were weekends because even before last week's snow refuse collection crews were working weekends to make up for Christmas and New year falling on week ie normal collection days.If I was still a teacher I might be more embarrassed if I couldn't spell embarrassed.As reported at this morning's Executive, the City Council has gritted 20% of its road network, more than most other local authorities anywhere. It doesn't take a genius to work out that to do the whole network would have required five times the number of vehicles, operatives and salt. The cost would be astronomical and the grit isn't available anyway. Add in that most residential roads have cars parked on both sides whose owners would not appreciate them being sprayed with grit and you see just how impractical wider gritting would be. Of course the length of pavements is around twice the length of the road network, would need to be cleared and gritted by hand and would require a veritable army of people to do it. Actually most roads and pavements in the city have been passable to anybody reasonably moblie since last Wednesday but if Harry really wants his pavement clearing perhaps as a responsible citizen he could do it himself

  3. Mr Bleach Says:

    If I may could I expand Harry's question slightly for him. I think what Harry is getting at is that the bins on his street haven't been emptied and he wonders when they will be cleared. Your explanation on gritting is absolutely fine and most people can understand the logistic calculations you're making, however I suspect people do wonder why the perimeter of the Town Hall complex required gritting ahead of other more essential pathways. Even if someone volunteered the grit, wouldn't the assistance be better directed to a school rather than a civic building area. I really think you have something of a tin ear to people's concerns rather than empathy. And anyway, going back to the logistics, yes it takes a lot of effort to grit all the roads and areas etc... so what? What's the significance of it being hard work or expensive? Just get on with it.

  4. amused and saddened denizen Says:

    Sir Richard Leese, if you don't want to listen to complaints regarding the handling of the weather conditions by the council, then you shouldn't be keeping a blog on the council website.

    Since you do insist on the blog, then you have to take the good with the bad. Yes, people will be rude and argumentative under cover of anonymity. Rightly or wrongly, that is just human nature. And if they feel strongly enough about an issue, they will shed that anonymity and still be confrontational, as many people have over the course of the past week on this forum.

    As a person in authority and a Knight of the land, I would have expected you to repsond with far more grace than you have to these comments. Rather than rising above and setting a good example for your citizens, instead you are being petty (really, you can't let a simple spelling error go?), confrontational, and disrespectful in your tone towards them.

    Call me idealistic, but I expect better from my so-called Leaders.

    (And just as an aside, my manager arrived late to work today having had to stop and assist a gentelman who slipped and fell on the ice, causing a head injury, within spitting distance of the MRI. Should we ask the patients to go out in their gowns and shovel the road, in the spirit of community?)

  5. Harry Spooner Says:

    Sir Richard as you have a degree and were a teacher for five years, I expect you are embarrassed that you cannot spell pupil or mobile, and have questionnable punctuation. To sink to personal comments against critics demonstrates the fragility of your excuses. I think that you will find that most schools in Manchester were open on the first day of term before the heavy snow fall. Perhaps as a responsible leader of the Council you will admit that you have let your demonstrable prejudice against teachers, and lack of empathy with council tax payers plus a reluctance to accept that you may be wrong to cloud your otherwise responsible judgement. Try typing all that in a small box without making a mistake.

  6. CB Says:

    Generally people come on here with gripes and complaints and complain about not getting any response.

    I felt Mr Leese's tone refreshingly mirrored My Spooners and why shouldn't reply in the tone in which a question has been answered?

    It would seem Mr Leese is personally responsible for covering the city in ice and not allowing the temperatures to rise.

    I can't see how anybody with a modicum of common sense would expect every single street and pavement to be gritted and/or cleared. It's icy and slippy! Some people will fall over and hurt themselves! Blame the weather.

  7. Spelling Police Says:

    "Actually most roads and pavements in the city have been passable to anybody reasonably moblie since last Wednesday but if Harry really wants his pavement clearing perhaps as a responsible citizen he could do it himself "

    Surely it's spelled MOBILE, Sir Richard? How embarrassing...

  8. Pedant Says:

    It would seem that Mr Leese also struggles with homophones as this example from a previous blog entitled A Certain Future clearly illustrates:

    'have you posted this in the write place and if so can you explain what the hell it is about.'

    If you were still a teacher Mr Leese I would consider our education system utterly doomed.

  9. Striker Says:

    Harry, it's QUESTIONABLE to criticize other people's spelling without keeping to your own high standard

  10. Marc Hudson Says:

    moblie mobile. It's a typo. The worst you can accuse the man of is not using a spellcheck. So what? Don't you have better things to be doing with your time, like clearing the ice in front of your house, and from the pavement in front of your neighbours?

  11. Spelling Police Says:

    Unless you're one of our cousins from across the pond, Striker, it's criticise, not criticize. ;)

  12. Mr Plow Says:

    To be fair to Harry, Marc, Sir Richard started the spelling war by pulling up Harry on what could also have been a typo, so you can't really blame Harry for responding in kind...

  13. Harry Spooner Says:

    Thursday morning: kids in school: bins still not emptied.
    Time to raise the debate above the level of the playground - if it's safe to do so.

    Sir Richard is choosing to miss the point. Schools were not closed just because teachers couldn't get to work just as the reason the bins haven't been emptied isn't because the refuse collectors can't get to work.
    It would be interesting to know how many senior officers in Manchester have been working from home because they couldn't get in to work? I'm sure that there are many refuse collectors and teachers who would have liked to have been afforded that luxury.
    By the way, the weekend collections were scheduled months ago because the normal collection days were bank holidays. These were not extra working days.

  14. Richard Leese Says:

    I think it would have been helpful if Harry had pointed out that his bin collection day is Friday. Interesting that nobody has commented on what this entry is actually about.

  15. Kevin Peel Says:

    The taskforce sounds really exciting and shows that the Government is committed to protecting frontline services in the face of necessary spending cuts. I'm curious as to what services Tory 'easyCouncil's' across the country will be cutting?!

  16. Mr Bleach Says:

    Come on Sir Richard, demonstrate some understanding of the situation. It doesn't matter what your blog is about if you are unable to satisfactorily focus on the issues that people are concerned about. The council are forever seeking the views of the public, but when you receive them you react sorely. Without wishing to become personal you do seem to be very sensitive and a bit short tempered when people disagree with your point of view. I'm sure that the meetings you are attending on behalf of Manchester are strategically important for Manchester's long term future, everybody, I'm sure is really proud of what Manchester has become in the years just gone. However, the one thing people get completely wound up about is when the City can't get the basics right but prioritise all the high profile activities.

  17. THX resident Says:

    What is the Local Area Agreement? Who is it made up of and what is agreed??

    I communte from a northwest town and our bins and streets have not been seen by bin lorries or gritters since the snows arrived. You will find that most roads except minor roads are clear and now the snow is steadily going(i cleared my own path and gritted with cat litter). I don't mind stacking bin bags or recycling in the garage until its safe enough to collect it - I dont fancy a lorry side swiping my car! Rubbish is kept outside so no hygiene problems there.
    Are people scared of getting their feet wet in the snow, the council has done ALL it can to keep the city open for business, sure their are areas for improvement and im sure this will be looked at in a review of response some time. There isn't an army of civil servants ready with shovels and sand to hold everybodies hand when bad weather comes. Im sure Manchester will learn from failures and improve procedures next time.
    If teachers can't get to work, then shut the schools. If its not safe to collect rubbish (in heavy trucks down side streets) then postpone them.
    SIR Richard Leese is the leader of the Council, not the manager of all the departments that deal with problems around the clock across the whole city!
    Appreciate the efforts and that failures happen from time to time.
    No council in the UK has so far been 100% effective at dealing with the latest weather.

  18. Mr Bleach Says:

    THX Resident - I don't have a garden or a garage, the street is a death rink. You seem to be coping admirably - Well done! Some of us rely on the services for which we pay large chunks of cash. Most main roads are now clear of snow, why not now prioritise the lesser roads? I'd learn to understand the political philosophy [sic] behind not taking action - is it to the left or is it to the right?

  19. Pedant Says:

    THX Resident said:

    "Rubbish is kept outside so no hygiene problems there."

    I beg to differ. Rubbish stored outside attracts vermin and vermin spread disease.

    Also, the Greater Manchester councils had every opportunity to learn from their failures when we had the extreme weather conditions in February 2009. Instead they have chosen to invest our tax money in ridiculous fads like 'smart meters' rather than finance an extreme weather contingency plan.

  20. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    CB, you're right on two counts. Sir Richard made a fair point recently about the tone of comments, which is a problem on all blogs and comment pages - have a look at the Guardian's excellent, but combative, site, for example.

    As for the Leader's responsiblity for the weather, of course on the face of it the idea is preposterous. There was a heroic post the other day by one Mr wheres your community spirit, who caused me to think that maybe I should buy a shovel before the next cold snap. Like David Cameron on his better days, this poster was pointing out the blindingly obvious - that we are all as individuals perfectly capable of doing things for ourselves without expecting the government (local or national) to do them for us. But for thirteen years, New Labour has insisted that government can and should run every aspect of our lives for us. The very idea of popping to B&Q has thus come to seem like the kind of 'rugged individualism' that got America into such a mess, when in fact it is simply what anyone would have done in the past. The idea of government doing less and individuals doing more is completely sensible - and closer to Old Labour thinking as well as Mr Cameron's. I'd be interested to know where Sir Richard locates himself on this scale.

  21. Mr Plow Says:

    @ Post 20

    Oh my days. You used the DC words in an effort to stir political debate. Shame on you. Unless you're just playing devil's advocate, in which case, shame on you...

  22. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    Rumbled... :)

  23. Jane Abdulla Says:

    The Local Area Agreement (LAA) is a three-year agreement between Manchester City Council, its partners and the Government. The agreement identifies priorities that most affect the lives of the Manchester people and targets which, when achieved, will raise the performance of the city significantly with other cities.

    Manchester's LAA has been developed and agreed with all agencies within the Manchester Partnership - our Local Strategic Partnership. This includes elected Members of the City Council, public agencies, private enterprise, community and voluntary organisations and residents.

    For a copy of the Manchester LAA go to Manchester Partnership website at
    Jane Abdulla
    Cheif Executives Department



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

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