Manchester City Council

On the Rack

I often describe the position the City Council is in as an impossible one, trying to balance an enormous range of demands and expectations of Manchester citizens with the ever diminishing financial resources available to us. Yesterday I met a delegation from the Save Burnage Library Campaign which included primary school pupils right through to pensioners. It was the last day of the formal consultation on the proposed library strategy so I was there principally to listen, but was given a bit of a grilling by a number of students from Burnage High School.

One of the questions related to new technology and its impact on the traditional and not so traditional library, the former focussing on books, the latter just as much on information and i.t.. Library usage has gone down significantly. One of the reasons is reduced opening hours but another is the proliferation of e-readers, people choosing to download a book rather than borrow one. Another is the rapid spread of smart phones, tablets and free wi-fi. Of course not everybody has access to these choices and part of the challenge to the Council is how we continue to provide for a diminishing number of service users in a way that is relatively easily accessible for them, but also a reasonable cost to Council tax payers in general.

Articulate, informed and challenging young people takes me back to Tuesday and the quarterly meeting of the Manchester Partnership Board. The highlight of the meeting was a presentation by elaine Morrison, Head of 10-19 Commissioning at the City Council on engaging with young people and young people's comparative service satisfaction. Manchester Youth Council was re-launched last year but on a very different model to its previous incarnation. In the new model, rather than trying to align the work of the Youth Council with that of the City Council, the youth councillors have now set their own agenda and priorities, the big two for the current year being jobs and perceptions of young people.

There's a bit of survey evidence that shows that there is a bit of a hill to climb on the second of these. Whilst a small majority of young people believe they make a contribution towards society, 72% of the population generally don't. Similarly whilst only 19% of young people think young people in Manchester do not take enough responsibility for their actions, that rises to 58% of the general population. Interestingly, the survey suggest that the older people get, the more positive they are about young people.

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

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