Manchester City Council

7.15 to Euston

Although Council activity continues to be dominated by the budget and will continue to be so until final decisions are made at the budget Council meeting early in March, there are still other duties to perform. With six months to go until the general election, one of my tasks is to try and influence all the main parties as they finalise their election manifestos. Influencing those in the Westminster bubble means sadly having to go into the bubble and I had a busy 24hrs earlier this week doing just that.

After a brief meeting about airport capacity, I went with the Leaders of Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow and the Mayor of Bristol to see shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in his Palace of Westminster office. The discussion obviously covered financial prospects under a Labour government but with most of the time devoted to functional ( as opposed to fiscal ) devolution. From there we went to join the other Core City UK leaders for a working dinner with Jon Cruddas who is leading Labour's policy review and Nottingham MP Graham Allen, who is the leading advocate of a new constitutional settlement for the UK which would enshrine our right to a strong and independent local government sector.

The next morning, the ten Core City Leaders travelled to City Hall for a meeting with Jules Pipe, Chair of London Councils, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London to review progress on our joint city-centred campaign for fiscal devolution and to agree the next steps. The Core Cities Cabinet then held its regular cabinet meeting in City Hall where the major item was a presentation followed by an extensive Q&A with Sir John Armitt on the work he has been doing on national infrastructure planning.

It was then back to Westminster to meet William Hague in his role as Chair of the Cabinet's post referendum devolution committee. We were reassured by his lack of support for an English Parliament as we made the case for a devolution settlement for the whole of the UK based on the sort of devolution agreement Greater Manchester has made with the Chancellor. Last stop was a round table discussion with the Municipal Journal the highlights of which will appear in next week's edition. And then back to Manchester.

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

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