Medieval Manchester

On a train again - seems to be the only time nowadays I get enough peace and quiet to write a blog. Very quiet indeed for two minutes as Virgin Trains did invite all passengers to join in the Armistice Day silence and, at least in my carriage, everybody did. On my way to London for a meeting of the Local Government Association's City Regions Board, which I chair, with a really interesting agenda including inclusive growth, devolution, employment and skills programmes, and the constitutional position of local government post-Brexit.

This week the Council's scrutiny committees began the process of scrutinising budget options, something that will continue next month and into the New Year when the Executive will publish its draft budget proposals. Although I have an overall budget responsibility there are some areas of it for which I have a particular responsibility and I attended both Economy Scrutiny and Resources and Governance Scrutiny to listen to members' questions and the additional information they wanted about specific options.

The week hasn't been all formal meetings and yesterday I went to visit Chetham's Library to hear about their fantastic plans to improve public access to what is the oldest library in the English-speaking world and free for readers to use. The setting and visibility has been greatly enhanced by the demolition of the Palatine building on Victoria Street, an area which the City Council will now landscape as part of the medieval quarter strategy. The Library aims to become what it should be, a major destination for visitors from around the world, as well as give better access to readers of its remarkable collection. It is been so well hidden for over a hundred years that I suspect many Mancunians are unaware of its existence. Look forward to supporting Chetham's in correcting that.

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