The Council's Executive met on Wednesday and indeed many of you might already have seen the webcast of the meeting. It wasn't a big agenda but there were some very interesting items. One concerned school places. Until around ten years ago, as the population of the city declined and grew older, all we ever did was to close schools. Now, not only is our population growing, but its also getting younger, and over the last few years we've barely been able to keep up with the demand for primary school places.
That demand is now feeding through to the secondary sector. We opened one new secondary school in Ardwick this year but need at least two more by 2017.
Another was about The Space Project in West Gorton. Sister to the Sharp Project, it is partially housed in the building that was home to ICL's big computers, has been fully open for less than a year. It is essentially a series of five sound stages, spaces for TV and film production, with some space for ancillary functions and for small companies operating in this field. It's bringing lots of jobs to this part of East Manchester and is helping open the eyes of young people in that area to the careers opportunities available to them. The Space Project is already full with healthy bookings well into the future and so we've started the process of doubling its size. Not only that, we are looking for far more space for TV/film industry related companies so we may end up with hundreds of jobs in a studio village down there.
Later that day I went to Voluntary Sector North West's annual conference to talk with them about devolution and the role of the third sector in it. It felt to me like a really good discussion with lots of tough questions but also demonstrably a real willingness from the sector to get involved at every level from the strategic to neighbourhood delivery.
I'm now looking forward to the Council's Awards For Excellence 2015 presentation night later this evening. It is always a fantastic night with an enormous amount of noise around the awards themselves. They also have an enormous symbolic value to the Council as it is an opportunity to celebrate not just the award nominees and winners, but all of the brilliant Council staff who work so hard for the city and its people. Local authority employees up and down the country have felt the force of the government's austerity programme more than most, but that makes it even more important to celebrate the work they do.