Still Catching Up

Highlight of Monday was a visit (in my role as the City Council's design champion) to two of our increasingly numerous new schools. The first, Irk Valley Primary, is in my own ward of Crumpsall, although it serves a much wider catchment area, sitting as it does on the Crumpsall, Harpurhey, Cheetham boundary.

The school has only been open since half term but early signs are that not only does it look good but it also, notwithstanding some early traffic management issues, works well. A good educational environment can't guarantee a good school but it can't half help, and the pupils clearly loved their new educational environment. Then it was on to the East Manchester Academy, still a building site, due to open in September, and already oversubscribed. A new school was planned for this site over forty years ago but never happened (must make it quite clear this was before my time). The new school will also incorporate a new public library and as well as being a welcome addition to the East Manchester landscape is a key part of the regeneration of the area.

Staying with the design theme, on Tuesday met the architects responsible for the new Council Housing, the first for two decades, soon to be under construction at various sites in Charlestown and Blackley, and also designing another chunk of new Council Housing for West Gorton. I think most volume house-builders have let us down, not just in Manchester, with poor quality layouts, external design, space standards, sustainability, and post-sale management, and I want the new Council Housing to show just what can be done, even with a tight budget.

Later on I give a welcome to Soccer-Ex delegates attending an England World Cup Bid Reception in the Town Hall. Soccer-Ex brought over a thousand delegates to the city Tuesday and Wednesday for a major football business to business conference and exhibition. They're coming back for the next three years and will be very welcome.

Yesterday was budget day. The headlines have already been widely reported, the one most people are interested in being that the City Council's own share of our citizens Council Tax bill will be frozen for next year (there will be a small increase for Police and Fire). There are no cuts in services and no compulsory redundancies, but there is a recognition that money is going to be even tighter over the next few years and there is a real challenge for us in how we manage that. The important thing is to make sure we start from the things that our residents tell us are the priorities for them.

There are 6 responses to “Still Catching Up”

  1. MIKE H Says:

    But we should be having cuts in services, and compulsory redundancies, why should the city council be different to every other business? I see wastage and bad management in every department of the council i come into contact with, we should be reducing the council tax as a good gesture to help the people of manchester in this difficult time, how good would that make the manchester labour party look.

  2. CB Says:

    Yes MIKE H.

    Lets close some schools, get rid of some social workers, close a couple of art galleries, shut a few leisure centres, maybe sell off a couple of our parks. Also lets forget the regeneration programme in East Manchester, lets just sack all the staff and stop any building work. Also leave all the pot holes open that have been created this winter - that'll cut down some costs.

    What a wonderful gesture to help the people of Manchester.

  3. Portly Says:

    CB - I think this is misplaced sarcasm. Mike H was suggesting that we might apply some private sector principles to the public sector. He didn't suggest reducing the regeneration programme or sacking social workers. If left wingers actually stopped pathologically hating anyone with different views than themselves we might get somewhere. Also, given all the terrible news we hear about this country's social workers, what evidence do you have that Manchester's social workers are doing a good job?

    BTW - the pot holes may have been avoided with effective gritting. It didn't happen.

  4. CB Says:

    Portly - If you read again you'll find that Mike H doesn't mention the private sector at all. He calls for cuts in services and compulsory redundancies or are you suggesting that these are the guiding principles of the private sector? Maybe you could explain how suggesting cuts in services and compulsory redundancies doesn't mean stopping programnmes and sacking staff?

    Your sentence on left wingers sounds like a great idea - I'm unsure why it features on the context of this discussion though? Maybe you should suggest it to some next time you see some.

    To be fair I haven't done any research on how good a job Manchester's social workers are doing but I propose adopting your method and using the tabloid press. Maybe we could do a phone in vote on which workers to be sacked first?

  5. Dave Says:

    Mike H

    Remember those heady days when the private sector was handing down pay rises of well in excess of 10% I seem to remember the council paying 2.5% when inflation was 5% so for 4 years that worked out a cut in real terms of 10%. O do lets get back to the private sector and who was it that caused the fininical problum for the whole country was it the public sector or was it the Banks being greedy. No one asked me if I wanted to own two building societies and two banks that still can't seem to get away from paying out unbelieviably large bonus payments to their hard working staff taken from us the Taxpayers.

    So please before you pick on the public sector, in this downturn it is the public sector that is keeping the economy afloat. Fall for the Tory spin and we'll never get out of this downturn.

  6. Portly Says:

    CB - I said suggest, I didn't say implicty say. There is a difference. You ask for suggestions about where costs might be found. Well I'll try and be specific to Manchester. Rather than having a massive wing of analysts looking at transformation, why not syphon the spend into new bin men, lollypop ladies, road workers et al in which case you would probably gain money on staffing cost transference as there jobs are usually paid less than business analysts and they actually do, you know, work?

    In terms of left wingers, hang around the town hall entrance on a wednesday morning and you'll probably find a full range of socialist worker sellers.

    My method of assessing the quality of social workers isn't the tabloid press and you're a snob for suggesting so.