Manchester City Council

Choices

Although in some respects, lack of choices, and most definitely impossible choices. There is barely a day goes past when I don't get a letter or e-mail, see something on Twitter, read something in the press asking why, in the current economic climate, the City Council is spending money on A, B, or C rather than whatever it is the person concerned wants us to spend it on. It's a fair question.

One of the answers, and a true answer too, is that we simply don't have enough money to do everything people want us to. Favourite targets are economic development projects, particularly in the city centre, many of which are at least in part paid for from sources other than the Council's own budget.

An example from earlier in the week is the pedestrianisation of Victoria Street, which for those of you who don't know is the bit of road in front of the Cathedral. Albert's Shed, a bit of listed quayside on the Irwell has come up recently, and the MTV crashes TV programme is a regular. The answer to why we spend money on any of them is JOBS.

The City Council has established very clear principles to underpin what has been our most difficult budget in living memory. We have to do all we can to look after the most vulnerable within our society. We have to do what we can to prevent more people falling into this category and the sort of work we are doing with ' troubled' families, with integrating health and social care, with early years, on reforming justice, on tackling worklessness, on early intervention and in general public service reform is all about this - promoting independence, reducing dependency. But if we are going to do any of this we need to continue to create jobs, and that means we have to continue to invest in things that support job creation in Manchester.

We live in a global economy so our global profile is vital. We need to ensure strategic sites are used in the most effective way possible. We have to look like an international city. There are by far more jobs in the City Centre than anywhere else, and it is the place with the biggest potential for more jobs. There is obviously a balance to be struck with the other demands on the Council's Budget, but we do need to continue to invest in our economic infrastructure. The alternative would be the sort of decline we last saw in the nineteen eighties - the depopulation of neighbourhoods, the consequent reduction in local amenities, and a cycle of decline that would put even more pressure on already overstretched Council services.

These are difficult choices, but if we choose not to invest in the future of the city, the city will have no future.

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

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