Smart City Manchester

It’s a conference about Manchester. It’s not often I come to place rather than sector or discipline-based conferences. First up, Sir Richard Leese to welcome us.

He tells us the vision for Manchester – its no different to most of the others I see (and believe me, in my job I see a lot).

But here’s something different, we are not going to be big anymore – we are going to be smart. As an analogy, Manchester is going to compete in the world beer market as a micro brewery.

So what’s smart. Invest in people. Build their skills and pay them a living wage.

38% of the Greater Manchester Area are graduates (or higher or equivalent). Putting that in some context – it’s about 50% more than Birmingham.

But there’s to do, especially in technical education and early years. Council employees are getting the living wage, but lots of local people aren’t.

The second smart point is to be more autonomous. Less controlled by Central Government and more financially independent (less ‘handouts’).

Barbara Spicer, CE of Salford City Council then explained the governance structure and strategies of the Combined Authority (of all the councils that make up the city region).

They are unique – but are also, for anyone not in ‘the club’ they are complicated.

This leads into a question from me about how to communicate what the Combined Authority does so it can engage people into achieving the vision. After all, surely it’s our vision? I live and work in Manchester.

The answer? I have nothing to worry about – it is just a big public body. Hmmmm.

The rest of the conference looked at the various facets of making, maintenance and marketing of Manchester.

This conference is actually a very effective way to engage this group of delegates into place management in Manchester, or at least raise awareness of it.

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