Manchester City Council

Ones and Zeroes

A really important conference/event ( is that an oxymoron ) in the Town Hall yesterday looking at Digital Skills. The rate of change in the world is phenomenal and accelerating and in many cases driven, underpinned, or made possible by computing. Digital industries, even in the recession have continued to grow, and we are struggling to keep up with the skills requirements. At the same time, the digital world is permeating virtually every aspect of our lives to the extent that computing skills are becoming almost as important as language and mathematics. This isn't about being able to download and use apps or being able to use a spreadsheet. This is about being able to create new hardware and software, to create new apps, to write computer code.

The conference brought together business with colleges and schools, including governors and students, important because this is something we need to address at every level of the education and skills food chain, from early years and primary all the way through Higher Education to adult skills. The conference, or at least its subject matter, is important because Manchester's future depends on it.

Now for something much less important but far more irritating. The Manchester Evening News was good enough to print a letter from me responding to a dreadful article they printed last Friday. Well were almost good enough. The letter was censored! Now I know it says at the top of the letters page that they reserve the right to edit letters but it is the first time I've ever had a letter cut. It can't have been because of lack of space, because more space than the cut paragraphs was taken up by a feeble defence of the MEN's original article by their Editor. I don't really like to whinge about the press. I support a free press and don't support statutory regulation and if you are in politics you have to accept that you are going to be criticised and sometimes justifiably. None of us get everything right! However I do take great exception to being censored so here for posterity are the paragraphs that were removed.

" If the MEN wanted to do a piece of investigative journalism it could have looked at why after spending £10bn on the Olympics the taxpayer is now having to find another £200m to ensure the Olympic Stadium can secure a long term tenant, this at a time when towns and cities throughout the country are struggling to meet sports and leisure priorities including Sheffield who also hosted teams for the Olympics and have now been forced to close the Don Valley Stadium.

Such an investigation would also have shown that in contrast Manchester is still the only City which having built a Stadium to host a successful sports event, the 2002 Commonwealth Games, now receives significant annual payments from the occupation of the Stadium to support sports development in the City. "

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There are 8 responses to “Ones and Zeroes”

  1. Sam Tramiel Says:

    Did the Raspberry Pi come up in the discussions?

    This small and inexpensive (approx £30) little gizmo could revolutionize the way kids are taught about computer programming.

    Best of all, they are manufactured in the UK, just like in the golden era of the BBC micro, ZX spectrum etc.

    More info can be found at

  2. franky Says:

    I'm not surprised the MEN censored you, the so called free press is free for the editors and journalists, but not for the readers comments!!

  3. Halit Says:

    Glad that there's a voice for digital in Manchester. But a shame that voice has to be censored by the city's very own newspaper :(

  4. i love jack russels Says:

    They could also have raised the question of why the science museum is under threat from funding cuts, when 90% of government funding for museums and the like is already spent on London, leaving relatively little for the rest of the UK. What is it with tories and their running down of the regions when they get in power ?

  5. RB Says:

    I'm actually more surprised that you're surprised they censored you,Sir Richard!

    The MEN ceased being the "newspaper of Manchester" a long time ago-particularly for it's once envied local sporting coverage,which now seems to consist almost entirely of regurgitated London-based Sunday tabloid rumours,silly speculation and "mischievous" headlines...(particularly where MCFC are concerned-which would explain why they seemingly err... "left out" discussing the positive benefits to Manchester and ongoing legacy of the Etihad stadium).. Long gone are the days of informative,local journalism,and waiting for the likes of "The Pink"...It's now seemingly all about provoking a response,and attracting as much "traffic" to the website as possible..just like any other red top tabloid.Sad, really.

  6. digitalist Says:

    What a pity Sir Richard that your sentiments about skills are not passed on to your management. Council staff in all specialist areas, particularly ICT are being de-skilled as the HR policy is for generic job roles. This appears to be happening not just in ICT but in all departments from Neighbourhood Services to Chief Executives department. Experienced skilled staff are being de-skilled and demoralised, and services are suffering

  7. Richard Leese Says:

    @digitalist. De-skilled or multi-skilled?

  8. Mr X Says:




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

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