Absolutely Fabulous

The day starts with a couple of (relatively) routine meetings, the first with the Chief Executive of New East Manchester about a couple of prospective projects there, the second a regular meeting of an Executive Members task and finish sub-group overseeing the merger of the Council's personnel and organisational development functions.

The second of these might seem a bit obscure but is a key element in the Council's transformation agenda. Then its physically off to East Manchester, to the CHIPS building in Ancoats and the launch of what is I believe the UK's first Fab Lab. Fab Lab began as a community outreach project of MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There is now a growing network of Fab Labs around the world, still supported by MIT, and the Manchester Fab Lab will link us into that global network ranging from inner-city Boston to rural India, enabling the sharing of ideas, designs, and knowledge.

What is Fab Lab? It's a place where you can build things, from a computer chip to a bicycle, and it will give Manchester people of all ages a doorway into a new world of manufacture, no longer mass production, but individually designed and built small-scale manufacture. The launch is the fun bit of what is otherwise a rather heavy, meeting intensive day.

Later there's more Council transformation stuff with the members working party looking at the decant to First Street and the refurbishment of Central Library and the Town Hall extension. Then North Manchester members meet to discuss the refresh of the North Manchester Strategic Regeneration Framework. The day finishes around 9.30pm after the monthly caucus meeting, the timing of which means I have to miss Crumpsall Carnival Committee, and after that I have to make sure I'm ready for an Executive meeting and a full Council meeting, the last of this municipal year, tomorrow morning. Not so Ab Fab!

There are 9 responses to “Absolutely Fabulous”

  1. Russell Clifton Says:

    It's true the Fab Lab is an excellent opportuntiy for all members of the community, especially for young people as shown by members of the Manchester Young Inventors Group which is also the first of its kind in the uk. A new organisation aiming to work with all young people to encourage their creativity. We work with young people to explore their ideas and gain confidence in expressing their ideas by taking them through a ful design process, exploring intellectual property rights, elements of design, marketing and analysis. Our firt pilot group has been with a group of young carers who were present at the Fab Lab launch which showed what a success the project is with a lot of interest in the products they had deaigned and made i.e. the toothbrush and mp3 player. The fab lab will offer the young people to take their ideas into reality and is certainly a positive for all inveolved. Russell Clifton, Founding Director Manchester Young Inventors Group

  2. Simon Greenwood Says:

    Fab Lab looks great fun.
    My 12 year old son has sent in an idea for himself.

  3. Jason Says:

    Please explain why the move to First Street is 'win win win' for Mcr Council Tax Payers? My understanding is that a move here will see the complete closure of what is left of local access points (apart from libraries). First Street is hardly convenient for all. The cost cutting in terms of Council staff providing direct services and locally accessible services continues as does the growth of the army of business analysts, serving no one but themselves. The rise of Consultants, Change Managers and Call Centres is 'Loss, Loss, Loss' for Manchester Council Tax payers, Communities and Resident's. Many Council staff who provide frontline services will find out on Tuesday 30/3/10 that they no longer have a job. The very next day, 80+ members of the so called 'Transformation Team' will attend a staff conference at the Raddison Hotel in Manchester. Please would you provide the actual cost of this junket so we CT payers can decide if it represents value for money? And in the interest of openess, honesty and accountability, let's see the total cost of First Street.

  4. Disgruntled Says:

    Ah, First Street aka the Holy Grail. I would love to know which genius decided to relocate x thousand employees from the City Centre to Hulme. Incidentally, First Street is not in the City Centre, on a DoT map it maybe, in reality its miles away from anything. As usual staff opinion is ignored as the so called experts once again concoct a way to mightily dishearten almost everyone with a move to the middle of nowhere and an office layout that resembles an Indian call centre. If it is frowned upon for chickens to be crowded, why is it acceptable to crowd 'valued' employees?

  5. Jane Goodier Says:

    I am one of the many who may or may not have a job at the end of a very disturbing exercise in cost cutting. Staff feelings have been left by the wayside and are of no concern to the new hierarchy. We should have had decisions regarding our jobs yesterday but lo and behold we won't be told until after 3pm today.

  6. Business Analyst Says:

    As a self-serving business analyst I clearly have no idea about business analysis so perhaps Jason can help me out by explaining how knowing the cost of the Transformation Team's conference can enable council tax payers to calculate its value.

  7. Sean McGonigle Says:

    In response to Jane Goodier's comments there are two fundamental reasons why the Private Sector Housing Service has been restructured. Firstly, there has been a significant reduction in funding through grants such as Housing Market Renewal and the service has needed to take this into account. More importantly, there was a recognised need to improve the quality of the service being provided to the residents of Manchester, particularly in ensuring it meets their needs and is delivered at the neighbourhood level. It is appreciated that the process of restructuring is a difficult one for those staff concerned, however, every effort has been made to keep staff informed and involved throughout the process. Whilst it was regrettable that the decision concerning the outcomes of interviews was delayed by less than a day it was more important to ensure that the process was conducted properly and with more than 100 interviews to consider ensure that the right decisions were reached. Sean McGonigle
    Assistant Chief Executive
    Neighbourhood Services

  8. Jason Says:

    Business Analyst. Why the Radisson or any other hotel? There must be plenty of large rooms in the Town Hall or numerous Church halls and Community rooms throughout the City where, for a small fee, you could split into groups; play silly games; have meaningless managementspeak discussions about what the next buzzwords/phrases should be(having first written these up on flipcharts, in pretty colours and 'fed back' to the whole room, of course), then applauded yourselves for a job well done. As there is usually someone who's task it is to take away all the "ideas" and write these up, to be distributed (so you can all see how awfully meaningful it was), might I suggest that these are published, along with the aims and objectives of the day (for context) together with the full cost of the venue. Then we, the Council Tax payers, can evaluate it and give you some feedback. I do so hope that Manchester's brand 'Original-Modern' was at the heart of proceedings, given that it has had such an impact on the City since it's arival in 2004.

  9. Dawn Royle, Manchester City Council Says:

    The Town Hall Complex is currently undergoing an ambitious transformation programme. This programme will not only preserve this important historic complex for future generations but will also significantly transform the way we deliver services to customers and the way in which our staff work.

    The transformation will start this year and whilst the refurbishment takes place Council services and staff will move to temporary accommodation at Number One First Street for a period of 3 years.
    A key element of improved customer service is the creation of a new Customer Service Centre that sees the current disparate counter services from the Town Hall Extension move into an integrated open plan environment in 1 First Street.
    The Customer Service Centre at One First Street is a vast improvement on our current customer offering and will also feature:
    • A self-service computer area and phone points
    • Well designed comfortable waiting areas with children’s play tables
    • Baby changing facilities
    • A café
    • A small lending library

    The opening of the Customer Service Centre at One First Street is only the beginning of our journey to improve customer services across the whole of the Council. Throughout the transformation period, the Council will also improve web and telephone access to support improved access to services. This will complement rather than replace access to services within neighbourhoods, which continue to remain a Council priority.

    The Council’s vision is to enable customers over time to receive high quality services in one contact; one visit, one click, one call. To this effect, the Customer Service Centre and neighbourhood access points will mature and grow throughout the transformation period with service provision increasing over time to include all customer facing services by the time the Customer Service Centre returns to the newly refurbished Town Hall Extension in 2013.

    With regards to location, we considered many offices across the Manchester City Centre and One First Street enabled us to keep all of our services and staff together throughout the transformation and was also more cost effective. One First Street is located only a short walk from the Town Hall Extension and is accessible by numerous bus, train and tram routes.

    In terms of office accommodation for staff, we realise that this is an important asset that can make a significant contribution to the ongoing transformation of the Council. Our accommodation will help us work more efficiently by changing the way we use space and releasing funds from maintaining or leasing property that can then be used to re-invest in services. Although the office accommodation will be a different type of environment to what staff are currently accustomed to, we believe that it will be a vast improvement to the current facilities in the Town Hall Extension. It is a much more open environment, with teams and managers sharing space which will ultimately encourage joint working as ‘one Council’ and improve communication and interaction. The office is light, spacious, temperature-controlled, and accessible. It features a wide range of high quality facilities as well as a choice of different meeting rooms and work areas, allowing staff the flexibility to choose a workstation appropriate to the task in hand. The Directorate of Transformation have tested the office design in their own workplace and staff from across the organisation are welcome to arrange a visit or alternatively can book onto one of the staff induction tours at One First which start next week.