Catching up on last week first! Suppose I could pretend it was all this week but won't as this blog is about open and transparent government.
Wednesday saw a first official visit to Manchester from the American Ambassador. I had lunch with Ambassador Susman and Mrs Susman playing the heritage card by taking them to Sam's Chop House. The Ambassador is from Chicago and is a close associate of President Obama and before that had worked on the Senator Kerry campaign so gave some fascinating insights into recent US politics. Rather more mundanely there are over four hundred American owned companies in the Manchester city-region, a lot of them in manufacturing and advanced engineering, companies we want to stay here and thrive here. Equally, there are lots of opportunities for Manchester companies to trade in the USA, and we want to use our linkage with Los Angeles to build two way business. By way of contrast, tea time was Crumpsall Park Playgroup's management committee, which meant I got home reasonably early - well at least in time to go out for an evening meeting.
Thursday morning I went to Maine Place with the Moss Side councillors led by Roy Walters to meet Housing Minister John Healey, and look at the new housing that's going up there with the help of a £10m injection of government cash from the Kickstart programme. I'm still in the Town Hall late into the evening, still with Roy Walters, for a Caribbean Question Time featuring speakers from the three main political parties. It's a good debate and a good bit of democracy in action.
Friday is AGMA Executive and decision day on city-region governance. Well not quite. Over the next week or two, each individual Council in Greater Manchester has to decide whether we do want to work together for our common economy, whether we do want more power devolved from Central Government - or not. I just hope all ten Councils are big enough to grab the opportunity, to seize the time.