Manchester City Council

No Easy Options

Some big decisions taken this week and not all of them will score highly in the popularity stakes, though one of the roles of elected politicians is to provide someone to blame for the hard decisions that sometimes need to be taken.

The Council's Executive met on Wednesday with a number of major reports on the agenda including the future of the former BBC site on Oxford Road, the future of ITV's Quay Street site, and of a number of MMU sites that are either surplus now or will become so when the Birley Fields campus is completed. There was a report on how we manage the Sharp Project and its various off-shoots. The project already supports around 500 jobs and that will double over the next couple of years. As the projects move from the development phase to the operational we know need an effective structure to ensure they continue to flourish.

However, the report that has probably attracted most attention was the one that proposed a reduction in the number of day centres. Although the proposal arose as a consequence of the government's expenditure cuts, it is probably in the category of something we should be doing anyway. Under the proposal no eligible service user loses their service. We replace a number of half-empty centres with reasonably full ones but still with space for more users if need be. We increase personal choice and flexibility, improve the quality of the centre environment through capital investment, replace segregated provision with more integrated provision, promote social inclusion and community capacity via the greater use of universal settings. We continue to meet statutory needs and fulfil our statutory responsibilities, and save £1.7m ( of the total savings required of £40m in the care budgets ). The Council has to be sensitive to the concerns of service users and carers who are understandably concerned about change, but as with other comparable changes made over the past few years in care and special education, I think these proposals will ultimately be seen as a big step in the right direction.

Today was Combined Authority day concluding with a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel to, amongst other things, hold a hearing into the Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCC ) proposed Deputy. Although I still hold the view that PCCs shouldn't have been created in the first place, they have, and we need to make them work as best we can and the Deputy appointment needs to be seen in that light. Two points I want to make. First, does the PCC need a deputy? In my view yes and for two reasons. First of all, not even Tony Lloyd can be available 24/7 365 days a year or cover the whole of GM simultaneously. There needs to be someone to stand in when Tony is unavailable and somebody to help him cover an area of more than 2.5m people. Secondly there is the "under a bus question". We have to have confidence that if at any point the PCC cannot carry out his duties we need to be confident that there is a suitable person to step in.

The second point concerns the appointment process. We will have all seen jobs for the boys stories from PCCs elsewhere in the country. The Greater Manchester appointment was conducted through an open and competitive recruitment process. Of the three person panel that interviewed the short-listed candidates and made recommendations to the Commissioner regarding the appointability of candidates, two were independent and non-political, all of which ensured that this was an appointment made on merit.

Make a comment

There are 14 responses to “No Easy Options”

  1. Mike H Says:

    The problems within the council are quite easily solved by running the council for the users and not like now when the council is used for the benefit of its own workforce, the wastage of resources is truly amazing , everywhere you can see this wastage , incompetence is the key work in every council dept I deal with , wages and sick pay are not inline with the quality of the workers . Sick levels are the highest In the country , yet the fat cats at the top milk this system to there own advantage accepting gongs from unelected heads of state along the way , 1980s labour in Manchester changed now we have the same stale pally council we kicked out . TIME FOR CHANGE "SIR"

  2. Sam Says:

    Thank you for recognising the concern attached to the Day Centre issue. However the issue of the half empty Centres cannot be used as a simple justification. They are empty because of two reasons both under the control of the council. Firstly a decision taken by the council to restrict the allocation of individual budget resources to pay for day support to only those in substantial or critical need and who have no access to any community involvement and no extended family support, both of which ignore the needs of Carers. Secondly the amount of individual budget when allocated is usually insufficient to pay for even one day at expensive council run day centres where the charge per day against an individual budget starts at £47+

    No one will argue against more universal provision but support for the carers of those with critical and substantial needs is being cut, by stealth.

    The council has set it’s own day centres up to fail, they are too costly for current individual budgets but instead of contracting out services and supporting new independent providers to come forward to deliver real personal choice and flexibility at a more economic cost the council proceeds with a negative slash and burn policy.

  3. Ayadi Moniaye Says:

    There is a need for a proper and professional link between the Police and the Council in Manchester. The collaboration between the two bodies should not be seen as duplication but verification. Where a crime is omitted by the Police, proper investigation should be carried out to verify this by the council. The link now is just Police handing over information to the council staff for use without any verification. This should stop if crime is to be totally prevented. In-fact some of the council social service officers are using the Police to exploit the council . Urgent arrangement has to be made to avoid this -I will be willing to discuss with the Council head -some of them that social service are privately asking to leave and migrate from UK now who engage in this exploitation in an organised group.

  4. notblackandwhite Says:

    thanks for answering some of the queries people have made over the last few weeks (including myself), definitely noticed the election of a deputy PCC, the only thing can say is that Cllr Battle is a good choice as he has good experieince from the days of Crime and Disorder - a shame that this team was basically removed though. Mike H - there are problems but you are just wrong, I work for MCC and recognise problems and issues but your sweeping statement is incorrect, in tough times there is still a hard working workforce facing incredible pressures.

  5. franky Says:

    Just to point out that lots of little kids are swimming in withington baths, some go there without their parents, can they do that in the proposed baths?

  6. Ian Says:

    Why O why do we need a deputy PCC, who is paying his/her wages guess who the tax payer more waste.

    What we need is less of these nil value jobs, would we notice if these two jobs were not sucking large amounts of taxpayers money, now did we survive when they were'nt around.

    If it was up to me all Local Authorities would become commisioning departments out sourcing all jobs to the private sector like a large amount of southern authorities do.

    Why can we not share a chief ex with the other ten local authorities?

    If Howard can spend two days in london every week maybe he should think of that.

  7. Hoopla Says:

    Ian - thank god you're not in charge cos, like, outsourcing has worked SO well with the likes of G4S and Serco getting millions and millions of pounds they aren't entitled to.

    Mike - if it's all so easy then, you know what, why not run for office. Surely you'd win by a landslide? Or maybe it's slightly easier to be a armchair "expert" than trying to run a huge, complex organisation with hundreds of millions fewer pounds.

    Pity Jim Battle is going. He manages to give a bit of personality to the council unlike this bland, dull website. Leese's blog is about all worth looking at on it.

  8. Ian Says:

    Hoopla your arguement is like looking at apples and saying they are oranges.

    Those outsourced contracts were done by central government not local authorities massive difference.

    MCC are already outsourcing services, have you not seen the morrision vans around working in partnership with MCC.

    Another one is the contracts to run care homes outsourced by MCC no worries there.

    Rubbish collection another outsourced service no MCC bin men?

    Manchester Advice now being outsourced to CAS.

    Outsourcing is the way to go less staff less money spent less tax payers money being wasted.

  9. i love jack russels Says:

    Ian, it's all fruit. I think the problem is your assumption that all private sector delivered services are better than public sector, when actually the overwhelming evidence is that they aren't. As already mentioned A4E, Serco - for their bent, useless and expensive schemes for 'helping' the long term unemployed - it has been shown that people not getting their 'help' have a better chance of getting a job and the money wasted could have been better spent on a salary for said people (I think it came out at about £35K per person helped, given that so few were actually helped into employment), but hey we've bought Emma Harrison an £8M mansion - taxes well spent ?. Both these companies have been investigated for fraud - using dead people's names as clients, claiming people have gone on to employment who haven't, etc. The olympics security fiasco, the unsafe gp out of hours service in cornwall (commissioned locally by CCGs not nationally) leaving old and sick people without help, Harmoni and it's non functioning 111 'help' line, Branson's gp surgeries with insufficient gps working on a locum basis (no continuity of care)etc, etc. I could go on. It's not that private is all bad, but neither is the opposite true. Services such as Social care and health have a cost attached to them, so bringing a profit margin into the equation has to mean less to spend on the actual service and a consequent drop in quality.

  10. Ian Says:

    i love jack russels Says:
    Not sure I agree with your take on the privite public thing.

    Take the NHS a public service that eats money are you saying that privite sector business styles could not make it work just as well with a saving in money spent.
    How many management lairs do we need in the NHS.
    Again most of the cases you have raised are structured via central government that itself could learn from the management of some local authorities.
    Outsourcing services saves money without any loss to service, how by having a good commissioning team in place.
    these people would structure a contract for the best of both the LA and the users of that service. A contract for two or three years would force the sector to keep on their toes or lose the contract.
    This will be the way of the future most of the large LAs are heading that way the only exception being thoses services that are leaglly required.

  11. Don't believe the hype Says:

    Ian-I'm afraid that you typify the new breed of Daily Mail,skapegoating Tory who literally sees every public sector worker as a "lazy skiver with a gold pated pension" and every answer to every question as a "competitive process."I'm old enough to remember Maggie making her lapdogs and money shifters richer and richer by selling off the family silver that was already owned by the public to the highest bidder in the interest of short term profits..and judging by my utility bills,that was a great success,wasn't it?The fact is that "outsourcing" essential services to the lowest bidder invariably ends up with the public eventually being forced to pay more and more,which invariably ends up in the pockets of greedy shareholders,rather than invested back into the communities they serve...and your suggestion that "private sector business styles" can magically save the NHS without somehow impacting on care is just laughable...wasn't it "private sector business styles" that got us into this financial mess and seemingly unending "austerity"in the first place?Just remind me who we all apparently "owe" all this money too again?

  12. Ian Says:

    Don't believe the hype Says

    Lots of points and so wrong.

    The sad fact was over the last 20 years the british economy was built on both increasing house prices and the ability of people to fund their life's with easy credit. Not all people but a large number do tell it was the labour Party that de-regulated the banks and allowed them to do what they wanted as long as they paid their taxes to allow tony to spend on his pet projects. So please don't think I'm a mail reader hell no but one that knows an economy do not be built on the contiuned rise in house prices please note the building/estate agents sector is trying to force the price again another bubble is coming.
    The economy has too be balanced even labour agree that there has to be companies raising taxes to allow Public sector to work but if there are more Public sector workers whos paying for that?
    The sad fact is that our economy is to closely related to the banking/money sector.

  13. Bill Raymond Says:

    I'm not a big fan of day centres but in the absence of real social inclusion for the most dependent people it is hard to think of alternatives. We've already seen the merger of centres that have led to juxtaposition of peopel with widely differing needs - young adults who are learning disabled with frail elderly people, for example. The slogan 'universal settings' sounds good but unfortunately there aren't such places - just warehouses for people with diverse characteristics but all of them very disadvantaged and dependent. Council day services in recent years have in the main been very good value and competent and it would be a pity if there were to be erosion. They do an important preventative job too, enabling family carers to continue providing their unpaid subsidy to the national welfare bill. Fewer and larger centres also tends to mean longer time travelling and since this is usualy by minibus picking up a number of people, this can be a considerable part of the day. It is extremely difficult to maintain services in the face of the government assault of local government, but it gets a bit irksome when the resulting cuts are spun as service improvements. Let's see the detail.

  14. Don't believe the hype Says:


    "The sad fact is that our economy is to closely related to the banking/money sector."

    As I said-just remind me "who" we owe the "debt" too again?The financial sector allowed people to run up enormous unsustainable debts buying "things" and chasing the dream...then simply reels it all back in to re-sell to those at the top of the tree when the bubble bursts...that was my entire's all an illusion...that's OUR money that was used to prop them up,and it's US that have paid the price to get them out of their mess with austerity!That's why this "public v private" argument you have is an utterly futile smokescreen-a dog chasing it's own tail.This whole "all-in-it-together" (surely up there with Michael Fish's "no storms honest" weather forecast in its hapless inaccuracy) nonsense has created a climate of opportunistic, money-making cartels,cashing in on "gaps in the market" at the long term expense of the public-all fueled by "titbits" leaked to the right wing press,and a concerted Tory attempt to "starve out" councils in Northern cities like Manchester,where they have a virtually zero political other words-it's entirely manufactured in nature.



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

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