Manchester City Council

. . . and a Happy New Year!

Unfortunately for the Council it's likely to be a dreadful new year but one of the many tasks we face is to do our best to minimise the knock on impact of that for the recipients of our services (which one way or another is everybody living in, working in, or visiting the city) and indeed minimise the impact of cuts in other public services on Manchester people.

The state of English cricket looks a little happier though not good for my sleep. Watched the Test Match 'til about 1am this morning and then from 5.45am, though had caught up with a bit of sleep during City's soporific display at Arsenal.

Been back in the office since Tuesday but not a very exciting week. The highlight so far has been helping Lower Crumpsall Tenants and Residents Association sort out some new street signs they have got a Council Cash Grant to put up, but are struggling with Council Bureaucracy over the design. Will probably take all year to sort it out!

Most of the rest of the week has been centred on planning the next stages of the budget process bearing in mind that we started on the 2011/12 budget in April 2009. The Council's Executive is currently scheduled to decide on it's budget recommendations to Council at its meeting on February 16th. That means having proposals prepared and published round about February 8th. The scale of the cuts means that we will have to look at every aspect of Council expenditure with nothing at this point sacrosanct. That also means we are likely to have all sorts of rumours flying around over the next few weeks about what will or won't be cut. So just to make it clear, unless there is a formal announcement from the Council, anything you hear or see about the Council's budget before proposals are published next month will be rumour or speculation. Even after February 16th, the budget proposals will still be subject to scrutiny and then possible amendment when Council decides the budget at its meeting on March 9th. We want to be as transparent as possible as we go through what will be a very difficult process but at the same time we don't want to set lots of hares running, start lots of scare stories, or cause unnecessary alarm.

There are 85 responses to “. . . and a Happy New Year!”

  1. Layla Says:

    'Struggling with council bureaucracy over signs' - the iron fist of coprporate comms strikes again!

  2. Richard Leese Says:

    False assumption Layla

  3. Val Stevens Says:

    Happy New Year to all of you struggling to make sense of the budget this year. Be interesting to see what the opposition put forward since their Leader said the settlement was good for Manchester. saving on paper clips again I should think.

  4. Somebody Says:

    Richard, do something now about the signs not in a year. What a waste of time and money!

    Planning the budget since 2009! How many meetings have you had. Just do it and stop procrastinating. This is what is wrong. Not enough action. To many chiefs.....Just get on with it!!!

  5. A concerned Youth and Community Worker Says:

    Who is preparing the proposals and will people get to see them hear about them or have any input...or will we just learn the outcome once the decision on cuts has been made as usual??

  6. ricardo Says:

    Val Stevens makes a point about money saving ideas from the opposition. By opposition she presumably means the Tories and Lid Dems. Can't comment on what they might suggest locally and one of the issues is that we don't really have an effective opposition in Manchester to challenge the mediocre performance of the Council. However, nationally the Tories and Lib Dems have made many suggestions on how to save money. One of which concerns salary levels for top managers. So MCC, why not follow that suggestion and start cutting the excessive salaries of Mr Leese and Mr Bernstein et al ?

  7. Aaron H Says:

    Good luck getting the balance right Mr Leese. A desperately unenviable job! Please remember how desperately hard Manchester has to work already to assist a very sizeable vulnerable population already whilst implementing these proposals.

  8. fedup Says:

    Nice to see that at a time like this, the £138 million refurb of the town hall is still going ahead. Priorities firmly in place.

  9. t matt Says:

    Happy New Year. Yes, the cricket provided some cheer to an otherwise bleak Spring in MCC. Thanks for your honest post.

  10. Squidge Says:

    Happy new year Mr Leese. Have you made any new year resolutions?

  11. worried about my job Says:

    ricardo - do you really think that £50k is an excessive salary for the leader of the most important city in the country outside of the capital? Because I don't, and I earn a lot less than that.

    We've had a massive amount of money cut from our budget. Even if Howard Bernstein wore sackcloth and ate dust in the town hall basement for the next 10 years it wouldn't even begin to start to cover the kind of money that's being slashed from our services that will hit every ordinary Mancunian for the next goodness knows how long. I don't think you've understood the scale of these Lib Dem Tory cuts. You'll see it over the coming months though...

  12. REDSTEVE57 Says:

    ricardo Says:

    I agree with your sentiments that those Senior Managers on their over inflated salaries should bear the brunt of any reductions. The reality is however that these are the very people that will decide where the cuts will be made. Do you really believe that their first priority will be to reduce their pay or the pay of their over paid cronies or just take the easy option and reduce the number of low paid, hard working staff that actually provide and deliver a service and not just talk about providing a good service??

    I doubt that anyone involved or reliant on Public Services will have a Happy New Year just the usual Hope to Survive New Year now that the slash and burn party is back in power.

  13. PuppyLove Says:


    I object to your assertion that managers have "inflated" salaries in the public sector. I have, this week, seen and advert for a job with a private company which covers just a small part of the job that I do as a manager in the public sector (same field), but for approx £15k more than I am currently earning. If I was as grasping as you seem to think, I would take the expertise and training that the public sector have given me and go where the money is - but no, I prefer to put my time and energy into a lower paid public sector role that benefits my community, and before you start about the gold plated pensions subsidised by the taxpayer, I am also a taxpayer.

  14. val stevens Says:

    ricardo makes the point about senior salaries and coalition statements. I would have more confidence in their suggestions if they had managed to control bankers bonuses and salaries and the £50000 just spent in legal costs for Eric Pickles advisor's mistake.

  15. fedup Says:


    Yeah, we do it for love, not money, eh what? You should take the job, free up your post for someone who needs it - you obviously don't.

  16. Andy Says:

    Richard, Happy New Year

    in reply to some of the above comments I'd like to just say a few things... the council buildings renovations had all ready begun before the size of the council cuts were known backing out would likely cost more than continuing, plus i don't see how the council could use them in the state they were in nor if we cancel and we are left with an empty "derelict" box ... signs are always complex to design etc it won't take long to complete it like everything else just has to jump through a few council loops to be ok'd.

    w/ Rgds

  17. Richard Leese Says:

    No New Years resolutions Squidge. Learnt long ago not to make promises you can't keep.

  18. Ricardo Says:

    Val Stevens makes a point about whether the ConDems have done enough to curb bankers bonuses. Would probably agree but lets not lose sight of the fact that it was Gordon Brown's regulation of the banks that let it get out of hand in the first place.

    Val also points out the money wasted on legal advice by Eric Pickles. I don't know the details but I'm sure this is correct. But lets not forget the billions wasted by the last government on botched IT systems (eg connecting for health and ID cards) or the billions put into the pockets of private sector 'partners' through PFI and outsourcing.

    The last government could have done a lot more to curb the rising salaries of the top people in local government. Indeed the Audit Commission looked into the merry go round of Council Chief Executives moving between Local Authorities and how it pushed up pay. There is clearly a problem with top pay - it has increased by far more that that of frontline workers.

    The fact that Councillors so often defend the pay of the Chief Exec and the top team tells me that perhaps the Councillors are a little too close to the people they are supposed to be holding to account.

    If Sir Howard took a voluntary paycut it really would help to get buy in from Council employees as the budget cuts bite. The Chief Exec in Rochdale has taken a 5% cut - why can't the same happen in Manchester. Thanks

  19. Liz Says:

    I don't know where you get the £50k figure for the top earners salaries - it's actually more than double that!

  20. Disgrutled Says:

    Plenty of ways to save money Cllr Leese. Why not start with an overhaul of staff G12 and above, esp given that 95% of them are in the same age bracket. How about giving younger staff a chance, who are able to innovate and arent stuck in their ways. But I guess MCC will adopt its usual bury the head in sand approach that seems to serve it so well...

  21. OldFella Says:

    Happy New Year, Sir Richard, and to all who work for the City Council.
    The next few weeks and months are an especially anxious time for ‘us staff’. The engine has been idling for ages, the handbrake is now off, but those of us squashed into the back of this juggernaut are droning 'why are we waiting' with ever increasing volume. Everyone is eager to ‘set off’. But some of us older ‘uns are more eager to ‘get off’ given the chance! We've been ages waiting for an 'official announcement' - we're way too overcrowded in here, and if all passengers are to be safely seated and delivered to the final destination it assumes some of us must disembark. There's no point even dipping the clutch and getting into first gear until the passenger burden is reduced. When can we expect some ‘official announcement’ on opportunities for disembarkation, Sir Richard?

  22. fedup Says:

    Andy - yes the plans were made before the cuts - now that the cuts have come in, why not adapt? The council aims to save £135 million in the next few years. The clown hall renovation is costing £138 million. The move to First street has been completed, why not keep staff there?

  23. 21st century employee Says:

    Biggest concern is potential loss of talent and expertise in the council - been with you for just over a year and maybe I've been fortunate in my job role but I''ve been working with some of the most committed, talented and hard working people - inspriring - I am all for doing things better and value for money is paramount in the public sector but potentially we could lose the best resource we have in making Manchester what we want it to be - so how do we offer solutions to retain talent and yet reduce the total FTEs? How about offering reduced 0.8 or 0.6 contracts- this retains the level of talent(and the job spec demands) and allows staff to find other top up jobs, potentially with private sector - not a bad thing. On costs maybe slightly higher per staff unit but we keep our committed employees who want to continue making things better for our Manchester communities - a bit of creative thinking - we seem to be stuck in a Victorian business model based on manufacturing industry working patterns - lets be creative and keep our talent where it is needed - working for Manchester

  24. RealWorld Says:

    Given that the cuts are savage and unprecedented it seems that radical ideas are needed to make savings - here's mine;

    - Mcr Pride, Mcr Day and Mcr Festival to be cancelled/postponed for the foreseeable future. Every man and his dog knows that Mcr is a welcoming, tolerant city that can celebrate diversity, cultures, etc - is it essential to have Parades year in/out to 'prove' it? Ah, you may say these events are part sponsored by this group or that company - so what? I imagine MCC's contributions are significant and so can be saved and poured into the huge empty Savings Pot. If the cuts are as horrendous as people fear then it's time to get back to basics - just trying to help citizens to survive will do for starters.

  25. Squidge Says:

    The end is nigh!

  26. Soon-to-be-jobless Says:

    I think the last suggestion is a good one - I for one would consider a reduction in working hours if it meant I could keep my job (which I enjoy and am good at!) in the Council. It would be worth putting this as an option alongside Vol retirement/redundancy surely?

  27. GrimUpNorth Says:

    Regarding the town hall, what are people suggesting, that we abandon it and let it fall into disrepair? I have to admit though, one wonders if the work can't be postponed for some time until the economy is better than it is now. A voluntary pay cut from top brass, of 5% would go a long way in hearts and minds even if it is only a token gesture in terms of the costs to be saved.

  28. Ross Says:

    Richard, I was sorry to read about the job losses today. But why isn't there a single mention of it on the website's front page?

  29. Veritas Says:

    I have no issue with the cuts announced today - what I do take issue with is the way it was announced. I heard it on Radio 2 at 7am this morning which came as rather a surprise. When I get into work, hey presto, an email from Sir Howard sent at just gone 10pm last night announcing the cuts. Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, and maybe just for the sake of doing something different, to actually tell staff first, rather than letting the media do it!

    Perhaps an apology to staff from yourself and Sir Howard would not go amiss, - oh sorry I forgot, you don't have the kahuna's to do that.

    Its the same old ethos - do as I say, don't do as I do.

  30. Richard Says:

    Can't Mcc sell Bournemouth airport? Indirectly were supporting jobs and the economy in Bournemouth whilst ,economically, its raining in Manchester.... Could staff be redeployed to any of the airports we collectively own across the country?

  31. maker Says:

    Why were these job cuts announced/leaked today ? Was this a cynical ploy by Mr Leese to help the Labour candidate in Oldham East ?

  32. Town Hall Tavern fly on the wall Says:

    These cuts are going to hurt a lot of hard working people. They are also going to hurt some very stubborn and ignorant Heads of service who have failed to notice staff concerns. Spending, running of departments and the more recent Communications stories. Existing staff seemingly doing the same jobs and THAT story of the newest vacancies being recruited. More staff have arrived on high salaries. More (Management posts)
    Again, it is somewhat upsetting for most, but merely a headache for the top end who will, one might think, fly off into the sunset and onto another 70,000 salary.

  33. Council Worker Says:

    How about stop wasting money, cut the pay of many directors and leader of the council who earns more than the PM. What about all the money spent on making the Town Hall look nicer and as for the B of the Bang.........

  34. graham van den bergen Says:

    cricket? small annoying insect that runs the council? take a look at the german local tax/admin system my council tax for a road without holes is £100 a year bigger house than here..better economy and more eco aware.sack the cricket and its chums

  35. HurrayHenry Says:

    We clearly see from the Coalitions announced cuts and saving grace for southern councils how ignorance is bliss for an outright North- South Divide. Manchester its residents and workers should rise up and tell the tories they are not welcome to hold their conference in this city. This is certainly a call for devolution for the North.

  36. hmmm Says:

    @ council worker,

    B of the Bang was the most ridiculous waste of money i think i've ever come across, art and its effects on society are very important but a big old stupid piece of rust that falls apart and costed how much to "construct" 1 mill? and then how much did it cost to tear down the pile of rust before it fell on top of some innocent passerby, who ever makes these decisions on behalf of the residents of Manchester needs to actually consult the residents of Manchester, because i can tell you outright now if you asked them if they wanted that or something to benefit the city they'd of slapped you for asking such a ridiculous question.

  37. Oscar Milde Says:

    Some interesting points made in diffuclt times. I certainly agree with the assertion that staff should have been informed first, it seems unfair to announce it through the press first. Secondly, I also agree with the sentiment that the Tories should not be welcome here and should not have their conference here. Let them have it in one of their strongholds where the cuts haven't been felt so harshly. There is no way that it is cost effective for Manchester when policing/road closures etc are taken into account.

  38. person Says:

    Veritas - I do have a big issue with the cuts today as any right minded Mcr person would, but can I completely agree with you on one thing; IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE DISGRACE that the announcement came in the morning y/day before staff were told (10pm email does not count). This is a shame, as otherwise to this, MCC had been acting well considering. All this talk of salaries in MCC is a joke, and merely a tactic by the government to get around the horrible settlement for Manchester. The basic salary of the PM is too low; that is obvious (though the cost of his post is much much more), we all know this and so not a fair comparison. Compare the Chief Execs salary and his responsibilities to the private sector and he would be considered as extremely good value! I have to say Sir Lees has been doing a good job and I fully support him and his efforts as do most MCC staff at this time, but MCC - please communicate to staff properley during this worrying time and tell us before you tell the BEEB in future.

  39. Bruce Campbell Says:

    I was dismayed to hear one tory minister compare the spend per head in Manchester to the spend per head in Wokingham. £700 per head in Manchester, £125 per head in Wokingham. This was presented as 'proof' that Manchester is not being treated unfairly. How can you compare a metropolis like Manchester with a town like Wokingham, which was once described as having the best quality of life in the country?

  40. Helz Says:

    Dickie - you've gone very quiet?? Come on give us something - Howie what about you - anything?? Go on anything at all??

    No? Thought not. Your silence says it all.

    Unison - what are you planning - the usual - role over and let it happen.

    And yes I am a union member.

  41. Disgruntled employee Says:

    Dear Mr leader I am just pre-empting your denial that many MCC employees did actually find out about the proposed job cuts from the media. This is a disgraceful way for an employer to treat its loyal workforce. Why is there so much cloak and dagger activity surrounding this important issue. What has happened to your promise of transparency? How can your electorates trust you let alone MCC employees?

  42. worker Says:

    here - here Disgruntled - well put

  43. Aaron H Says:

    Because of the sheer scale of the number of cuts that are going to take place, I am not confident that individually we are going to get much in the way of a response from either M People or various unions who are swamped with requests for information.

    M People is already full to the point of overbrimming as people scramble to secure themselves. How are you going to match the aspirations of MCC against the skills and attributes of your existing staff? How will individuals be identified for redundancy? Will those who have bona fide reasons behind absence suffer as a result of 'cherry picking' when it comes to attendance figures?

    The unions need to stand up and be counted now. I have tried to contact them many times and received nothing in response.

  44. Realist Says:

    I am a loyal and committed employee here at MCC and I think that the leadership shown both political and financial up to now has been great. But now in these difficult times I find all these feelings being tested.

    I was made aware of the Council shedding 2000 jobs by a BBC news reader at 7:30 in the morning! I am incredibly angry and disappointed as I did not expect to be told this devastating news in this most inhumane way. Up to this point the communication was exemplarily. I agree with previous posts that an email from Sir Howard at 5 past 10 in the evening is not acceptable.

    I like to think that the vast majority of the staff at MCC understand the severity of the cuts being placed at the doorsteps of the Town Hall, but they haven’t quite understood the dramatic way in which you are implementing the solution.

    Could a mixture of the following been done instead;

    Delaying the £138m refurbishment of the Town Hall Extension and Central Library as contracts would not have been fully committed until the planning application had been approved, which it just has. If they have just been committed then that is a travesty and a lost opportunity. I love both these buildings but helping to keep 2000 tax payers and local economic spenders in employment should take precedence. An extra couple or so years would not make a massive difference, would it?

    Pay cuts right across the Council 10% at the top, sliding down to 0.5% at the lowest grade?

    Working a 4 day week and being paid accordingly?

    Reducing the amount spent on internal redevelopment and communication?

    I am sure you have considered these options, but don’t you think we deserve to be told of the options explored along with the outcomes concluded? I am fully aware that these ideas together would not have stopped the loss of 2000 jobs, but it may have reduced the number some what.

    We are constantly being asked for our opinions on where Manchester should spend it’s budgets and how we can improve efficiencies, but when it comes to the most severe of decisions like reducing the workforce by 2000, we are not asked one single question.

    Come on Manchester, I love working for you, don’t let this lapse of communication spoil what was once a good thing. This is not a dig at MCC it is merely a way of trying to understand the processes taken to get us out of this ConDem mess.

    NOTE to UNISON. You’re quiet. Where are you? And yes, I am a fee paying member.

  45. Disgruntled Says:

    Nice to know that MCC spend £100k plus on a communications director, but manage to let most of the staff find out via radio. As one of Sir Howards 'yes women' I doubt there will be any fallout...heaven forbid if any other staff member made an error like that

  46. OldFella Says:

    Yes, I was expecting a serious announcement this week, but not heard on the radio first. Didn't harm Labour in the Oldham bye-election I suppose, timing wise!

    Shame we still have to wait until after 19th to get meat on these scary bare bones, but the fine detail is still being examined and agreed, so I'm not saying that there is an activity vacuum until then. Just feels like it when you're anxiously waiting.

    Thank you to HR staff who I can only imagine are spinning like dervishes to get these promised statements to us all, and later when it has to process all those forms coming back. Too soon to say "well done", but the fact that every member of staff is expected to recieve a 'personal offer'sometime relatively soon is still quite remarkable.

    Media reporting of criticism of the Council and The Leader in particular have largely been very unfair, but everyone loves a scapegoat, especially if it has a name. The Coalition is doing it's best to divert attention away from it's responsibility for this mess to whipping up public anger directed towards the Council, so it will continue to do. It's a smokescreen at best. See it for what it is. Pathetic.

    Btw, Sir Richard, I WILL be one of those signing up for early retirement, as I qualify. However, I would still like links with the Council and public service if approved, and an opportunity for a bit of craic with 'colleagues' now and again if it helps deliver a better service and/or support of those less experienced in their new roles who need the advice, and it gives me a positive reason to get up early of an occasional morning! I'd like to do so on a totally voluntary non-paid basis, and I would see it as 'win-win'.

    Suggestion: Can we have a small form asking if we'd like to 'volunteer' for any such scheme if it were to be launched with our 'offer' packs, and some clarification of our area of expertise? Just a thought... I don't want to do anyone out of a real salaried job, but I think until better times arrive we might be a bit creative and flexible in our thinking and doing in these current unprecedented times. Public Service hasn't involved voluntary work traditionally, the Unions might get completely giddy at the suggestion, beggar 'em! If it helps ease workload on hard pressed salaried staff, and improves services to customers, why not if people are WILLING to help out voluntarily??? There must be LOADS of things that 'former employee volunteers', even people seeking some 'work experience' could do to help out with our services on a voluntary 'part time' basis, without incurring significant HR/H&S concerns? I can literally think of loads! For some, such a scheme might be a life saver, to stave off retirement/redundancy boredom, for some to keep their hand in, for some the experience needed to help apply for any future salaried vacancies. Daft idea???

  47. Bird in the clock tower Says:

    Trips abroad on tax payers money is one thing. Taking others is another. This type of story aswell as others certainly makes us wonder. ? Who exactly did go on these trips. ?
    Our money has been wasted by the sound of things in the local paper. How many more wasteful decisions...??? Would we have found out about these if the cuts were not in the news just now ? I wonder....Budget controllers without the control.

  48. let down Says:

    It is usual for broadcast emails (to staff) to go out at 10pm. In this instance, given that a percentage of staff (mostly managers) have access to the emails, at their homes and through their Blackberry's, shouldn't you have considered this and sent the broadcast in the morning so that Staff got to hear it from the Council and not the media? Or do you not think it important?
    Also, you and Howard Bernstein and the senior managers have shown yourselves to be spineless, as none of you had the decency to appear on any of the news programmes. I know you cannot defend the indefensible but you should have had the courage to face up to your decision, explain yourselves and answer any questions.

    HELZ - your comments are absolutely spot on.

  49. Maria H Says:

    It seems Nicholas Ridley's dreams for local councils are finally being a previous comment I had thought that MCC, could at worst become gatekeepers of resources. It sadly seems that this is now becoming true...I hope MCC retains some integrity when subcontracting services...this is the biggest assault on local councils and its depoliticalisation since the Thatcher years…
    I think its time you updated your blog!

  50. Ali Says:

    I absolutely agree with "21st century employee" - rather than laying off 1 in 6 council staff, why not move to a 30-hour week? This would minimise the number of people who would lose their jobs, help the council to retain knowledgeable and experienced staff, and move us towards a more sustainable employment model where more people have access to decent jobs, and people have more time to spend with their families and in their communities. Richard, is this something that the council has considered?

  51. Captain Swing Says:

    VER for the over 55s eh. Do you fancy it Sir Rich, or you, the bloke with the CBE and massive salary. Bet you'd both get a nice little earner-unlike the majority. And probably walk into a nice little job as 'consultants' on a 2 day week.

  52. Ian Says:

    Would'nt it be nice if Richard just came on hear and say they are looking at all options, I don't expect to know everything yet but a lot of people must be very worried and would'nt it be nice just to say something.......

  53. bewildered, Manchester Says:

    Here we go again. Cuts, cuts, cuts. The Tories getting their own back on staunch Labour Local Authorities. Keep cutting, see what you have left. It's a mess now. We've already had cuts, not been able to fill posts, Job Evaluation, where almost everyone lost out. So saying staff should take a pay cut is a bit of a cheek as most have already. No pay rises, so effectively, more pay cuts (as inflation is running at 2% although I don't know how they come to that figure as my shopping bill has been increasing at a 11% rate per year (unless the Gov are basing their inflation figures on the price of turkey twizzlers and potato waffles as they seem to appear to get cheaper every time I see them in Asda). Why don't MCC help staff out by cutting spending on things like, Manchester Day, Pride, Lord Mayor, trips here there and everywhere for Councillors, buffets at meetings, revolting coffee at meetings, heating buildings and leaving the windows open because they are too hot, having staff based in Manchester City Centre who visit clients, meaning we have to pay for car park passes, paying unbelievably high rents for places like Heron House which has got to be one of the most overpriced dumps to rent in the City Centre, spending £8k producing an illustrated guide to sex for the over 50's, I could go on, but I am too depressed. I'd cheer myself up with a copy of the illustrated guide just mentioned but I'm not yet 50 so guess it doesn't apply yet. Whoever voted Tory or Lib Dem, thanks a lot, you obviously forgot what it was like under Thatcher.....

  54. OldFella Says:

    There's nowt much Sir Richard can say now that hasn't already been said in Sir Howard's statement, until after the meeting on Wednesday. Assuming the Executive Members OK the plans on the table for cuts and voluntary severance offers as described already, the next thing you need to know is what your personal package looks like. I know this vacuum in information is discomforting, but I can't blame Sir Richard saying nowt until then probably. I just hope these envelopes go out this week. Whatever The Leader says these days is potential dynamite, and he hasn't become Leader by not knowing when to keep his mouth shut!

    If all staff cuts can't be achieved in this first round of voluntary departures, I'm sure that 'all other options' will be examined by Members, key Officers and the Unions to minimise compulsory redundancies. I expect some of these options have been discussed already. But realistically the Council is an employer and it has a duty on behalf of all service users and tax payers to provide services in the most cost efficient way possible, especially in these cash strapped times. Anyone argue with that? I'm sure that Sir Richard will try to be as fair as possible to as many staff as possible. But he'll not please everyone. There might seem to be lots of good ideas in the blog, and when discussing this in the office, the pub or in other forums, but it's all back to the efficiency and cost of the end product.

    I assume that 'everyone getting a personal offer' means Sir Howard too. It's his personal decision as to whether he goes or stays, and so it should be, although I expect he has had the opportunity to retire on very handsome terms for some time. But maybe his salary says every day in full pay is yet another nice holiday.... well the sort those of us who are not knighted can afford! Maybe at a time like this we actually need the likes of Sir Howard and the Strategic Heads in post to stay in post until such a time as this transformation job is completed. Even asking them to take a pay cut when their jobs are more responsible and demanding than ever isn't right either, or so it seems to me. And they have been part of the pay freeze same as the rest of us. And what sane person would want to fill their shoes at this critical time for so much less dosh?

    Having said that, I haven't heard of any talks or plans to consider cuts in Members jobs and allowance earning opportunities, or even the amount of the allowances... but then as a regular employee I'm not privy to everything that's going on or being discussed. But cuts in Members expenses payouts would be politically correct in line with cuts being made everywhere else!? Turkeys voting for Xmas???

  55. piRATe Says:

    I'm not bothered, I'm loaded

  56. Abdul Says:

    It is a very difficult time for everybody - both cllrs, staff and communities and Manchester People. Decisions made by the Executive will have a long and lasting effect on Manchester. Please ensure that fabric of the City is maintained - do not want our communities to be even further fragmented and the City turned into a ghost town, with empty shops. It is the responsibility of all elected politicans to work together to develop an integrated solution for Manchester - working closley with all sectors of the community including the private sector.

  57. Help Says:


    What planet are you on?????

  58. Me Says:

    Oldfella - Are you Sir Richard?

    piRATe - and are you Sir Howard?

  59. Majid Says:

    In response to all the unrest I suggest everyone buckle up expect the axe too fall hard as it inevitably will. There have been some great suggestions to avoid mass redundancies. However it seems unlikely to soften the blow. I myself am on a six month contract and assume my position wont be filled after my departure. (One down 1999 to go.)

    On a more serious note I do agree that Manchester seems to be unfairly being targeted by the Tory and perfidious Liberal Coalition. When the dust settles I believe that the Government will have a very short life span. My only concern is in electing a lightweight leader in Ed the Labour party have shot themselves in the foot. As the backlash form the cuts would have been significant enough to have got a safer choice like David a sure in.

    Nevertheless a compelling 12 months to follow. Peace.

  60. Hmmm Says:

    On the brightside, McR is a vibrant, diverse and ever changing City, and regardless of the cuts the people will get by in a pull up your socks manner, wont be beaten down by the coalition stick.

  61. Poppy Says:

    “they have got a Council Cash Grant to put up, but are struggling with Council Bureaucracy over the design. Will probably take all year to sort it out!”

    This statement is made despite you being the Leader of the Council, an elected member with substantial influence and sway. Are you suggesting that the, your, Council are providing a poor service? The final word on budgets won’t be until at the least Feb whilst a major announcement is made about staff cuts being inevitable “coincidentally” the day of a by-election in a neighbouring town, setting many hares running. With efficiency and strategic planning like this how have we ever found ourselves in this situation?

    There were 56 comments on this blog, many of them asking for you to make further statements in a time of great worry. Some reassurance that this will be done without what appears to be customary “Council Bureaucracy” and that staff will be treated reasonably would be very reassuring. It’s time to step up and lead.

  62. disgruntled admin Says:

    Surely a look at individuals productivity would be a good start. We may work within flexitime but that does not prevent staff from "swinging the lead" whilst they are clocked in.

  63. bunnywabbit Says:

    thank goodness we've got our staff newsletter - the Mcr Evening News- keeping us up to date on whether we've got jobs or not

  64. OldFella Says:

    LOL! No, I'm not Sir Richard!!! I wouldn't want to be in his shoes just now, or in those of any of the people making these big very hard decisions about our future, and the future of the City. I've never met the guy either, just to make it clear! But you see it's easy to whine, and even for me to pontificate when you are not privy to the full facts and figures, which you'll never be. That's why he has HR, legal and financial advisors, and we don't really want transparency to the degree of knowing everything. Just the salient facts, which we've had already. I really don't know what Sir Richard is expected to be saying that will keep us all happy? Btw, I'm not even a manager just to make it clear! I'd also like to add that everyone's opinions are equal even if they don't accord with your own view on things... there are always two sides of a coin.

    I had foreign visitors staying with me recently who gushed about just how great Manchester City Centre was during their shopping and recreational trips there. They are very widely travelled and frankly it made me feel really proud! I know East Manchester well too, and the work done already and still in progress is simply amazing. Manchester is a City that many other Cities can be and are envious of.

    It's easy even for me to focus on the work area that I'm engaged in and the good hard work we do. It's easy to forget that many thousands of other staff are thinking similarly. Working just as hard in a really diverse number of services that ALL integrate to create an even better place to live in, work in, study in, and just visit. A better place to be tomorrow than it was yesterday by incremental improvements. Not just the City, but also the Region we reside in. And it's all been envisioned, overseen and encouraged by the Leader and his cohorts. Imho they've been doing a blooming good job so far. Continuing that improvement, as the Council would like, has just been made incredibly harder to do.

    Credit that Manchester Leadership is still upbeat about what we still hope to achieve even after the cuts and with this Transformation. So, the Council can't do everything as it would like any longer, or with the same numbers of staff. There's been a public consultation as to what people want. Maybe the Police could do the same. The Council now has to prioritise services to accord with what users say they want, and that dialogue will continue. Resources flexibly prioritised and shifted around the City according to need, that makes sense. That is already in the Transformation ambition statement. Not everyone will be happy. There'll be some losers and some winners, staff and residents alike. Look, ultimately this current situation IS all bloomin horrible for everyone. BUT even I can see real merits in this Transformation programme. I'm an old git, supposedly stuck in the mud, hankering after the old days and old ways! But teams of colleagues working together in smaller neighbourhoods and in a more integrated focused way, with a clear set of ambitions and targets for their areas, and hopefully visible achievements day on day. Could be more job satisfaction for front line staff, and ongoing positive results for the people and communities we are serving. I think it's a great plan overall, but no one is pretending that it won't need tweaking. Of course it will.

    I just hope that some budget can be found to 'job satisfaction' survey staff again when the transformation is well under way. A very unhappy overworked, undertrained, and poorly managed staff will not 'perform to target'. simplez. Many staff feel that they have been living in that situation already and for too long. Unnecessary stress and consequent ill health and high levels of sickness can be a direct a consequence of bad managers. But the blame is always laid squarely at the feet of those being mis-managed. Anyone heard of managers being shifted where sickness rates and/or bad survey comments in their units are high? I haven't. Uncomfortable. Anyone resorting to Union help had much support in these situations? I only ask...

    Most staff are rightly concerned that nothing will change, and even get much worse. So a big priority from NOW and over the next few years imho, Sir Richard, would be a 'Management Transformation'. Not just actual numbers of managers, but appointing good managers who can support, motivate and deliver targets without making their staff feel totally stressed out, miserable and literally sick in the process. Even in these poor times, better investigated appointments, and a decent budget for management training to this end MUST be a worthwhile and cost-effective investment. Else my feeling is that everyone, staff and service users alike, will be the much the poorer for continuing future poor management appointments in Manchester. Time will tell. But staff surveys and staff absenteeism audits might provide some indicators.

  65. Somebody Says:

    Last week you announced 2000 job cuts. This week you are advertising for a 'skater boy' paying them £26k a year. You really know how to take the **** and rub it in don't you. Who allowed this job to be advertised? Have you any sense at all? Everybody is furious with you all when you do this!

  66. Mari Says:

    1/ Start looking at WHY in some departments it takes so many layers of management to organise an ever dwindling frontline of staff. Surely it’s about time we started focusing our attention HERE first especially when drastic cuts need to be made.

    2/ Stop overspending.

    3/ Shorter working hours makes sense.

  67. Squidge Says:

    @Somebody, that position is an external vacancy and isn't funded by MCC.

  68. Squidge Says:

    Oldfella, you seem to be oblivious to the fact that 12000 staff are staring redundancy in the face. I can only assume that your position is protected in some way, which would explain your highly positive and upbeat comments. Personally, I can't stop worrying about how I will buy clothes for my son if I lose my job. This has clouded my sense of pride in being an MCC employee, something I have always felt in the 10 years I've worked here.

  69. shady eddie Says:

    hey Somebody says,

    do you have to have skater experience to apply for the £26k a year job. I'm interested, but have no skater experience. I am, however, fully experienced in brass rubbing, will that help?

  70. slim shady Says:

    Why does the leader and Sir Howard not look at giving some of these cuts to the Department of Transformation. The only Council Department that has no cuts planned within the next 3 years, while they carve the council into bitesized sections.

  71. Mr X Says:

    The skater job is "This position is jointly funded through Sport England and Manchester City Council."

  72. Council Worker Says:

    I heard that Bury council had requested staff take 3 days unpaid leave and this helped keep everyone in a job for the next 2 years. Wouldn't this be an idea at Manchester coupled with still trying to look at ways of reducing staff levels but wouldn't be the need to reduce the staff so drastically and so quick. Could then work on reducing levels as orginanlly planned through natural wastage and the continuation of centralising functions. Also forget wasting money on things like Manchester Day!!

  73. Heartbroken-never to vote labour or Libdem again. Says:

    Yet again we found out about the plans for job cuts form the media, Manchester Evening News.
    Just two questions Sir Richard and/or Sir Howard
    1. Do you really thing if you offer £12K or something like that to your lower paid staff and they will run for it? You and Sir Howard are definitely out of touch with your low-grade members of staff. You need offer much higher amount to make it attractive and for that you need to come down to planet earth.
    2. Try to show some respect to you employees. They may be low paid but they still deserve some dignity. Commmunicate directly with your employee directly before contacting the media first.
    Good luck with Councils budget.

  74. OldFella Says:

    @Squidge... I know what's going on, not just in Manchester but in the region because I have friends and working partners in other neighbouring Councils. Add I am in the same boat as everyone else respecting this situation, no protection etc. Upbeat? I can see the cons same as everyone. I had a conversation with a colleague 'p*ssed off' that they are getting the same severance offer for 30 years employment in Manchester as you will for your 10 years, and also facing the same prospect of possibly losing their job. If you feel bad...

  75. Disgruntled employee Says:

    So nice of you to issue a statement to the MEN. What about your staff Sir Richard? When are you going to give us some proper information?

  76. Squidge Says:

    Hang on Oldfella, the same severance offer as someone who has worked for MCC for 30 years? How so? It'll still be based on years served so the pay for 30 years service will be 3 times the amount I will be offered.

  77. The late Robert Maxwell Says:

    Pay cut referendum anyone? I've heard a 5% cut across the board could save 600 posts? Set up a personnel number and date of birth activitated online poll and ask the staff if they want the cut to save some jobs?
    By pass the unions and actually consult the staff.

    Also fellow workers - how about we take up the coalition's offer of setting up a co-operative? Let the workers run the council and get rid of any posts that have stragety" in the title and a absolute moratorium on the employment of consultants.

    The co-op idea aside, this is an opportiunity to refocus the council on delivering the services that the city needs and getting rid of all the guff and fluff.

    Is there any consideration of Salford and Manchester share more services (such as senior management for a start).

    This is an opportunity for radicalism and all we get is a redundancy or nothing approach.

  78. Me Says:

    How about a 4 day week? Fridays off wahay!!

  79. Stop the ride I want to get OFF Says:

    @Old fella

    I note a change from your previous posts - now you have the VER you were desperate for you are very upbeat - but please take note some staff who have worked for MCC for over 5 / 10 /15 even 20 years are not at the VER age and the VS offer is a joke and that is why we are not upbeat - because we are thinking of food for our families and how we our goinf to pay mortgage`s - there is no work in the private sector so please do not buy in to the PMs BULL

  80. Stop the rid I want to get OFF Says:


    The VS is capped at 36 weeks so anyone who has worked over 12 years (3 x 12 being the capped 36 weeks pay) will lose out - so a employee with 30 years iservice at 3 weeks pay per year worked should get 90 weeks but due to the cap will only get 36 max

  81. OldFella Says:

    @Stop the ride I want to get OFF - I've already said I don't buy the b*llshit coming out of #10.... I said it was pathetic. Don't begrudge us old beggars their VER opportunity - I've decades of bloomin hard work in my field, I am beggared and not fit for purpose in the Transformation, even I know that! I knew it years ago... And btw, I made ALL my above posts PRIOR to this latest statement.

    @Squidge, the improved offer means for 10 years you'll get 30 weeks severance pay (3 weeks for each year). For 10+ years service you'll get UP TO 36 weeks severance pay, tops. An extra 6 weeks pay for the extra 20 years if you've put in 30 years, for example.

  82. Ian Says:

    Stop the rid I want to get OFF Says

    Sorry you might just have the money settlement wrong from what I understand you only get the full 36 weeks VS if you sign up by the end of March otherwise after that you get 30 weeks pay.

  83. mind of information Says:

    Quick, take the voluntary settlement....the next offer will be a mega rider bus ticket for a week and some curled up sandwiches from N Joy.

  84. OldFella Says:

    If you have 5 years continuous employment you will get 5x3=15 weeks severance, for 10 years 10x3=30 weeks severance, 12 years 12x3=36 weeks severance... that is the cap. 36 weeks max. 20 years service just 36 weeks, also 30 years, the same, 36 weeks. And the DEADLINE is 11th March, NOT END of March!!!! PLEASE READ YOUR DOCUMENTS WHEN THEY ARRIVE VERY CAREFULLY!

    If you don't volunteer for VER/VS by 11th March you risk either having A job after 11th March 2011, or NOT getting A job... when the likely statutory redundancy pay applicable IF compulsory redundancy is applied, is just 1 week severance per year of service. So, if you have worked 10 years, just 10 weeks redundancy pay. 30 years, 30 weeks redundancy pay. So the main 'risk' of NOT volunteering BY 11th March for redundancy is with the staff with fewer years of service. For sure, 10 years service and 30 weeks redundancy pay is surely more attractive than 10 weeks pay. If you have 20 or 30 years service for example, this group might be tempted to risk it.

    So I think the main gainers of VS will be the 'younger end' of staff to encourage them to think about investing their redundancy in a small business, or to support them until they find new work, and they'll on average be young enough to do this, way too young to retire. The middle ground who don't qualify for VER, and for whom the VS terms are not sufficiently attractive, will also be those who have a lot of valuable experience which will help maintain services, and also support staff moving under the Transformation plans. There will be a lot of 'peer support' included in this deployment and re-training plan. So whilst the Council want to offer attractive retirement opportunities for knackered 55+ staff who want to go, and attractive VS opportunities for less experienced staff, the middle groud will actually be vital to support a continuation of service, and provide 'on the job' support for deployed workers. As I see it.

  85. getgone Says:

    Yes, yes yes. Pat Karney should be one of the first to go.



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