Manchester City Council

A Night at the Opera

Always loved Marx Brothers films but perhaps not surprisingly my favourite is Duck Soup rather than the one named above .

Yesterday was our eight weekly full Council meeting which is what set me off thinking about the Marx Brothers. Not that Council meetings are funny. They're not! But they are a very peculiar sort of theatrical event , more Punch and Judy than anarchic farce, and definitely not the sort of theatre that attracts much of an audience.

The public gallery started off full enough, populated mainly by what appeared to be a large group of students, but by the time the meeting was over, we were down to one poor soul still observing proceedings. One member suggested we might want to think about web-casting proceedings. In principle that seems a good idea, indeed I had discussions with Granada when it still was Granada about them doing it. I'm all in favour of openness and transparency in politics but there are already enough bad actors in the Council Chamber without the performing to the gallery cameras would inevitably bring. A rather more serious issue would be that simply web-casting the Council and it's committees would be about as insightful in to how decisions are actually made as the broadcasting of parliament is about how our laws are made. There were some big issues discussed including voting systems, school improvement, student fees, pension cuts and the risk of cuts to services for older people, cuts to the police, the fire service, and the knock on impact of cuts in the public sector on the private sector. There is lots of tweeting goes on from the meeting but can't imagine that there are a lot of followers for that. However, the question of how we present local decision making in an interesting and informative way is a good one. Any ideas out there ?

Talking of educational improvements, I went to the opening of the new Enterprise Academy by Sir Bobby Charlton in Wythenshawe this afternoon. Good event but more importantly, what a great place for the young people of that part of Wythenshawe. We are justly proud of our Building Schools for the Future/ Academies programme and you can expect to see it, or rather the schools that have emerged from it, written about regularly here.

There are 6 responses to “A Night at the Opera”

  1. Phil Korbel Says:

    re Council meetings - live transmission probably strictly for the anoraks but a good statement on transparency - whatever the quality of the acting. As you know there are now six superb community radio stations in Manchester and I'm sure they could be a good platform for reporting back - and perhaps debating some of the core issues raised in the big meetings - perhaps in conjunction with the Tweeters and bloggers. There might even be some volunteers that would be interested. A little of training/demystifying and they'd be away...

  2. bicolouredpythonrocksnake Says:

    Phil's isn't a bad idea in principle (although I don't know how many people listen to community radio). What's important isn't that we get to see everything that goes on in the chamber (not everyone can be as entertaining as William Hague or John Prescott, after all, and most of us have got better things to do) but that we are kept informed.

    Twitter seems to me to be the worst possible mechanism for this; the MEN's coverage of council meetings gives the impression that tweeting councillors ('twits', as the Prime Minister memorably described them) are not only incredibly rude (shouldn't they be paying attention to their colleagues instead of playing with their phones?) but intellectually thwarted as well, merely using the medium to exchange petty insults and/or misrepresenting arguments. This goes for both parties equally and does neither any credit. Don't get involved, Richard - but do keep us posted by other means!

  3. SK Says:

    Re: Twitter. Maybe a more independent representative in the chamber can peform the actual 'Tweeting' to avoid the potential slanging matches.

  4. malcolm wallace Says:

    ... but where is the advertised program of council meetings?
    I've search the MCC website and have not found a link!

  5. al Says:

  6. Richard Leese Says:

    Or click on The Council and Democracy followed by Council meetings and minutes



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

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