The leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese was in optimistic mood as he addressed a breakfast forum of Downtown members at the Restaurant Bar & Grill earlier this week.
Discussing the forthcoming property festival MIPIM, housing, skills, the EU, the digital sector, culture and the Northern Powerhouse, Sir Richard acknowledged that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit was not good for the economy or the city, but he stressed that all indicators suggested that Manchester was outperforming all other UK cities in terms of growth – including London.
He also highlighted the recent Deloitte crane-count survey, which evidenced more development in Manchester than anywhere else; and outlined progress that was being made by Transport for the North on some of the infrastructure and connectivity issues that are at the heart of the Powerhouse agenda.
“As the north increasingly gets its act together, we are seeing that collective lobbying having a real effect on Westminster and government decision making. We are talking big investments here. Billions of pounds. But, the return on those investments is even greater.”
A keen ‘Remainer’ Sir Richard was not confident that the country would stay in the European Union but thought that a second referendum could not be ruled out.
On the new governance arrangements within the Greater Manchester region, the city leader said that metro mayor Andy Burnham was doing a great job, and he needed to be given the support to make further progress in the future.
“We know people see tax as a negative. However, if we are to have a mayor, then resources are required to support the work of that office. That is why I, and all the other Greater Manchester leaders, have supported a financial precept to support the mayoral function”
Sir Richard was equally upbeat about his football clubs’ prospects for the remainder of the season. He ruled out the ‘quadruple’ but believes that Manchester City will be crowned Premier League Champions – and possibly win the Champions League too.