Manchester City Council

The Big Move

Friday 5th January, 2018.    
Back in the office on Tuesday after a very quiet but pleasant break. Although all Scrutiny Committes were meeting this week (my 6 monthly report was on the Economy Scrutiny agenda for those who would like to see the headlines of what I do as Leader of the Council ) the Town Hall itself is a bit like the Marie Celeste with most staff already having been decanted in preparation for the refurbishment work. For my office the Big Move doesn’t happen for another two weeks but I took advantage of the quiet to spend a fair chunk of Tuesday and Wednesday clearing out cupboards and drawers, in the process discovering documents going back to the early nineteen eighties, though nothing very interesting unless you have an interest in the inner workings of the Labour Party thirty five years ago.
There are still people asking why we are doing the refurbishment and how can we afford it. The answer to the second question is with difficulty but there’s really no choice. The building, Grade 1 listed, is undoubtedly the most important building in the city, held in trust by the Council on behalf of our citizens, and we have a duty to maintain it as our principal civic building for future generations. It has not had a major refurb since it was built in the 1870s and although structurally sound, if we did not do the work we would have to close it down anyway and we would face the humiliating sight of our magnificent Town Hall boarded up. The building would still cost a significant sum to run and we would have to pay to permanently relocate all the staff and activities that currently take place. With interest rates still very, very low the most cost effective solution for the Council and Council taxpayers is to do the work now.
Last weekend saw a fire in a block of flats in the city centre, something that seems even more frightening than it would have done previously in the light of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire. Fortunately the fire, though spectacular, was not serious, the building is well constructed, and the fire was largely contained in the one flat in which it started and to e tear all balconies. Our Fire Service did a tremendous job in getting it under control very quickly and there were limited injuries to residents caused through smoke inhalation.  Council staff were also on the scene very rapidly to make sure that if residents needed support, including temporary accommodation, that support would be available. In Manchester, we should be very proud of how our public servants deliver in circumstances like this.

There are 6 responses to “The Big Move”

  1. Jack Coupe Says:

    Thanks for looking after this magnificent building, which is a most prominent part of our Manchester Heritage, and one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in this country. I'm always proud to show our Town Hall to visitors. What a loss it would be if we didn't have it anymore.
    Well done Richard Leese and Manchester City council on money well spent! It's a fine legacy for future generations.

  2. A Clarke Says:

    Can the council taxpayers of manchester put forward the suggestion of getting another huge loan to improve the streets and hire more council call centre staff to answer the phones or reinstate council bin collections back to weekly collections rather than each forknight

  3. Richard Leese Says:

    @A Clarke. . The Council agreed as part of last year’s budget to invest an extra £100m over five years to improve our highways and pavements and we can borrow to do that. The big cost in household rubbish is not collecting the waste but disposing of it and the changes to size of bins and timing of collections has massively boosted recycling and so reduced waste disposal costs

  4. franky Says:

    Burton road is full of holes are you going to do anything about it?

  5. Steve Broadhead Says:

    Manchester Regional Industrial Archaeology Society (MIRAS) Meeting
    Room 301, MMU Business School, All Saints Campus, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 6BH
    Thursday 8th Feb at for 6.30pm
    Abel Heywood oversaw minutely the building of Waterhouse's Town Hall as chair
    of the New Town Hall Committee. He had a fascinating and varied career,
    which took him from abject poverty to the top of civic society. A successful
    businessman as a newspaper distributor, publisher, printer, and wallpaper
    manufacturer, he was especially committed throughout his life to his work on
    the Manchester Council, becoming Mayor twice. He was only the third Freeman
    of the City, and the first from a humble background.

    He was involved in the major radical causes of his day, from the free press -
    for which he went to prison in 1832 - to universal suffrage as a Chartist.
    In his eagerness to promote the latter, he even sought a parliamentary seat
    for Manchester in 1859 and 1865, but his working class origins and his
    radicalism failed to win over the vital middle class vote. As a radical
    liberal he espoused women's rights and causes in Europe, such as Hungarian,
    Italian and German nationalism, and campaigned about the Crimean War and the
    Eastern Crisis in the Balkans. At times of hardship, notably the Cotton
    Famine in the 1860s, he was prominent in fund-raising and managing the
    situation, and very cordial relations were established between Manchester and
    the USA at this period.

    He worked tirelessly throughout his life to develop Manchester's
    infrastructure, notably as Chair of the Paving and Sewage Committee, and took
    a lead in the construction of railways and the tram system. But his driving
    force was his own early experiences of squalor in Angel Meadow, which gave
    him an acute awareness of the needs of the city's poorest inhabitants; public
    health, education, co-operation and temperance were all areas in which he
    laboured to improve their lot. Nor did he neglect the city's cultural life;
    he encouraged the Council to take on the Royal Institution as its art
    gallery, and was a patron of the College of Art. He assiduously focused on
    the development of Manchester to create a great city in every sense.
    If any person is interested in the above you can contract MIRAS via the website or Steve Broadhead –

  6. Bob Carolgees Says:

    @SteveBroadhead there is an inconsistency in your comments, it is actually the Manchester Industrial Regional Archaeology Society (MIRAS) Meeting rather than the Manchester Regional Industrial Archaeology Society (MRIAS) Meeting.

    Abel Heywood also went to prison in 1833, not 1832. This is a common inconsistency when it comes to Abel's history. During this period he also wrote some fantastic poetry and even a short book of erotica.



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