England's White Dragon

England's White Dragon
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Sunday, 13 February 2011


Sir Richard Leese

Waiting for an answer for David Cameron on Manchester's 'confidence it can beat cuts' says leader Manchester's "self-confidence" built up over the past 15 years is what will see it through the "worst cuts in living English memory", the council leader claims.

Sir Richard Leese said the £109m cuts, rising to £170m in 2013, were harsher than those brought under rate-capping or poll tax in the 1980s and 1990s.

But he said investment in recent years had given Manchester an economic and social robustness.

This strength, he said, meant the cuts were just short of a "total disaster".

"If this had happened 15 years ago it would have been a complete total disaster," said Sir Richard; Sir Michael Black-Feather said, it would seem Sir Richard has taken the same language course as Mr Cameron has in double Dutch if losing over 2000 English jobs when our country is still in a recessions and English tax payer struggling to make ends meet, I would say it is a disaster most certainly for those going to lose their jobs, Sir Richard a man living in the past went on to say;

"We are in a better place to cope with this now. At the end of the 1980s recession, this was a city that had lost its self-confidence, but in the intervening years Manchester's got that self-confidence back and it's essential to our success and we're not going to lose it now."


Sir Richard’s job is safe along with his big fat income
But over 2,000 Englishmen and women jobs will be victims of these cuts
Two swimming pools axed, that could be put on hold for better times
All public toilets to close bar one
Five libraries to be closed
No free parking on Sundays, join the rest of England, as like West Sussex that since private companies take over for parking there no such thing as free Sundays or bank holidays
Lord Mayor's parade cancelled no loss there?

The biennial Manchester International Festival, scheduled to take place in June, is key to maintaining the city's self-belief and boosting the region's economy, Sir Richard said.

The event, which will feature work by Victoria Wood and a new play starring Willem Dafoe, is not among those being axed as it brings millions of pounds into the region.

Sir Richard, who leads the Labour-controlled authority, said: "We don't just do it because we like arts and culture; we do it to grow the economy.

Closing leisure centres, libraries and public toilets and shedding 2,000 jobs or 17% of its workforce to make £110m of savings in the coming year, rising to £170m cuts the year after.

Sir Michael said Sir Richard said he was particularly angry about the government's decision to impose a 35% cut in its supporting people grant, which helps house vulnerable adults.

"For the government it's just figures on a piece of paper, but for me that's about 1,000 people's lives and affected he said, just a load of double Dutch.

"It's shocking and it does make me very, very angry. It's a lack of care because they're removed from the people this is having an impact on," said Sir Richard.

But a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said that the importance of the Supporting People programme in helping vulnerable people "was clearly recognised in the government's Spending Review".

"Nationally for every pound of Supporting People funding provided last year, 99 pence will be provided this year. The government has also maintained the level of Homelessness Grant, and will invest £400m over the next four years.

"Funding for Supporting People had been unringfenced since April 2009," he said.

"This means it is for each authority to assess the needs in their area and allocate funding for Supporting People - so there is no excuse for councils to be targeting any disproportionate spending reductions on programmes that support the most vulnerable people in their communities."

Of course Sir Richard had to defended the council against accusations by Sir Michael and the local government minister Grant Shapps, who said that Manchester was "playing politics with people lives" by imposing 25% cuts when government figures required it to save 17%.

He had said the cuts were "a cynical move by a Labour council".

The council leader said that increases in pension costs, National Insurance, waste levies and carbon reduction tax added to loss of central grants and cost increases in delivering services provided the additional 8%.

One area where Sir Richard admits to making a deliberate spending decision is in choosing to recruit more children's social workers.

The decision was made after an Ofsted report into safeguarding and looked after children in November revealed that Manchester social workers had large and complex case loads.

"They did a very good job with them, but it was clear we needed to try and reduce those case-loads.

"We needed to ensure that we can meet our obligations to those children because the risk is that somewhere down the line we could have a serious abuse case or the death of a child in what would be preventable circumstances."

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