Manchester City Council

Happy New Year


The first blog of 2016 and traditionally a time to speculate on what the New Year will bring. I've often thought that being a futurologist might be quite an interesting career but it’s not the job I've got and I really need to be concentrating, not on predicting the future but on creating the future. A little later today I will be talking with the Fulbright scholars conference, taking place this year in Manchester and that has caused me to reflect on the changes that have taken place over the last 35 years in the city - the journey from a dying old industrial city to a modern, dynamic and growing city. Growing yes, but we clearly still have a way to go to wholly reverse that long period of decline which only really bottomed out less than twenty years ago.

The mission hasn't changed over that period, and at its heart we need to continue to create more jobs with decent pay and conditions and ensure that Manchester people have the skills and aptitudes to benefit from that job growth. The Council has to provide a lead to all sectors but at the same time will be grappling with even more budget reductions. Although not as severe as they might have been, they compound earlier enormous cuts, and make it increasingly difficult to take a balanced position to the budget that allows us to give adequate support to the most vulnerable in our communities, whilst at the same time both grow our economy and take effective action to reduce the number of people becoming highly dependent. Devolution is not a magic bullet that will eliminate that tension in one shot but it will help enormously, particularly in allowing us to take a more joined up approach to early intervention and prevention.

It will undoubtedly be another tough year, but we can still ensure a better Manchester at the end of the year than at the beginning.

There are 6 responses to “Happy New Year”

  1. Nik Says:

    Manchester was only a dying old city because right-wing Labour in 60s and 70s didn't fight to save jobs. On the docks, at Lawrence Scotts and loads of other places. We need a working class answer to unemplyment not your 'top down' deals with Tories. So pleased Labour has changed in last year. Maxine Peake for GM Mayor?

  2. Franky Says:

    The main thing to change this year is to make Manchester air breathable!!!

  3. 2016 Says:

    New year, new approach? Manchester's approach to creating jobs seems a bit dated these days. We've come a long way in the last 30 years, Manchester is an attractive investment proposition in its own right nowadays.

    We need to re-focus on ensuring the city offers the best environment and the best quality of life it possibly can. We're competing with, and still losing too much talent to big global hubs like London and places with a better climate and lifestyle. Too much of Greater Manchester is plain ugly or badly planned and that goes as much for new places like First Street and HOME as it does for much of our post war housing stock.

    So a relentless focus on improving our infrastructure please, better buildings, better spaces, more respect for our unique culture and identity (stop trying to erase our industrial heritage) and more bottom-up economic, social and cultural development. The council needs to continue to provide leadership and enable good things to happen but equally it needs to learn when to let go and let creativity blossom.

  4. Bouhedli Mohamed Nassim Says:

    Happy New Year

  5. Streetwalker Says:

    In 2016 can we see a little more focus on the large puddle that has gathered in heavy rain at the corner of Newton Street & Piccadilly forge past seven years. It's a major pedestrian crossing point and it raises the question as to whether council managers walk the street and follow up on basic quality of life issues. Undoubtedly we need a big focus on street scene once the second crossing is complete. The council should be trying to get the public and the private sector engaged now.

  6. Anon Says:

    Predicting and creating the future are two sides of the same coin. We need to, if not predict, then to imagine and describe the future we want to create. Better jobs, a cleaner city, more local people in employment - these describe the what, but not the how.

    The 'how' of urban regeneration is changing. Property-led growth in urban land values, fuelled by international capital flows, is reaching its limit. London is thought to still have room for further growth, but the inequality strain will snap at some point, and other UK cities have already peaked.

    A market correction / crisis is widely expected, but investor sentiment always believes it will ride the wave and happily bail just before the peak. Saying there is froth in the market actually encourages them in, believing they will outwit other naive people.

    So, beyond relying on double-digit rising land values into the future, what is the strategy now?

    To some extent, the strategy to date has been post-rationalised. It was music - Factory Records - and lofts in and around the gay village - Urban Splash - and visual culture - Granada TV - that made the city centre "vibrant" again, a word that is now just estate agents code for public drunkenness. The money saw the Manchester wave growing, but it didn't create it.

    The recipe for urban renewal has some basic ingredients - youth, risk, a constantly-new mix of cultures, room to fail and start again anyway, and shoestring ways of taking a punt. Manchester adds a powerful tolerance for diversity and difference, usually, though recent trends are a worry. For example, the responses to street homelessness may have been technically correct but is anyone saying it was handled well? Politics and leadership is more than bylaws.

    The Victorians pretty much invented local government. Libraries, swimming baths, clean water, parks, housing standards, school boards and inspectors, tramways, and the like. Who is now re-inventing local government? The fundamentals of health, of education, of working environments, of housing, of culture, still need a visionary creative group of people to think - how shall we all do this now? Devolution is a start, but it is about working the old model a bit better, fewer internal contradictions, etc.

    We need to devolve the old, but more importantly we need to evolve the new.



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

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