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Sir Richard Leese interview

We're interviewing the Council Leader next Tuesday: got any questions you'd like to ask him?

Published on January 5th 2010.

Sir Richard Leese interview

We're interviewing Sir Richard Leese, the Council Leader of Manchester, next Tuesday.

We'll be asking him about Manchester's position in the world, its future development, the political situation, how we might alleviate poverty within the city, about transport policy and much else besides. That much else may include some of his other appointments such as heading up plans for high speed rail links across the country and looking into efficiency savings in local government.

We'll also be asking him about his own future, his ambitions and how long he might lead Manchester. We'll be asking about his successes and the failures such as Congestion Charging. Sir Richard Leese is an interesting all round man. There aren't many Council Leaders with a first class honours degree in pure mathematics. Nor one with such a vast musical knowledge and broad cultural appreciation.

If you have any questions for the Council Leader please post them below. Please make sure the questions are real questions about policy or the leadership of the city – any abusive comments will be removed.

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128 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

OJanuary 5th 2010.

I had the idea to 'sub let' my Man Con subscription? I pay a tenner a month then I give my username and password to 4 other people for say, £4 a month each. Ask him if he's up for being one of the four people. I'm struggling to find, victims, sorry partners for my proposal.

SiJanuary 5th 2010.

Why is Urbis being closed to make way for the National Football Museum? As a fan of both, i think it's great that the NFM should decide to relocate to Manchester, but not at the expense of Urbis. How many times is the average Manc likely to visit the NFM compared to the exhibitions hosted at Urbis?

angela gibsonJanuary 5th 2010.

will i get a rebate on my council tax this year as none of my streets have been gritted they are terrible i live ravensbury street clayton. Our elderly residents have not been able to get out at all

scottie dogJanuary 5th 2010.

Why did Mr. Leese appear on BBC TV on Monday night advising council workers not to come in because of the conditions? They were told when they did go into work that any time they were not in was to be taken out of their holiday entitlement!

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Why doesn't MCC open a visitor's centre in or just outside Piccadilly Station. There is no info for visitors arriving at the station about how to get round Manchester. I am always directing people from just outside the station to their hotels, conference centres etc. Leeds has a brilliant info centre and shop inside their station. And most European cities that I have visited offer info to new arrivals.

chopchopJanuary 5th 2010.

I'd like to ask if there are any plans to encourage more business start ups to take some of the many empty spaces in the city centre by giving them a hand and offing reduced rates for the first couple of years? It seems to make sense - filling unused spaces, reducing unemployment, nurturing possible future success for the city, creating businesses who may be paying into the city for the future... I do know there are lots of avenues of 'support' for new businesses, offering advice etc, but in these difficult times no manner of advice or support is a substitute for actual cash. It could be fun.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

I hope this rare opportunity to question the council leader is not squandered by indulging fanatical minority interest lobby groups that have an axe to grind about the TIF bid (i.e congestion charge) or a particular planning permission or something as mundane as bloody road gritting!

scoteeeJanuary 5th 2010.

O; you missed a free bar and great food a couple of weeks ago at the Mark Addy along with a newly branded champagne launch at Ithaca where you would have been drinking all the free champagne you could get your greedy little tum to fill.As well as the exclusive offers of 50% discounts on some restaurants offered to me yesterday and first refusal on 5 offers that are not going out to the normal readership until tomorrow. The site is not changing just yet from what I understand but there are some good plans when I saw the template a few weeks ago.

scoteeeJanuary 5th 2010.

This is a pretty boring question but one that a lot of people over the last few days and weeks have been asking that Sir Richard he palms it off and still doesnt seem to be able to answer directly....see his blog "a winters tale" on the Manchester city council web site" People would like a straight answer, why are there not enough gritters on the roads gritting in and around this massive city?We do have weather forcasts and we should have main routes well gritted. They are not out there regardless of the stories he seems to believe.Why are there not salt bins at the end of every street to allow for residents to grit there own paths and pavements?Why was/is the city centre an ice rink? could he not do what the independant councillor from warrington has done?what about the prisoners from open prisioners that emptied the bins recently?What are they up to this week?

Siobhan McAndrewJanuary 5th 2010.

Many people work in the city and go back to the leafy suburbs which cream off their CT and vote Tory. In an ideal world, what governance and tax-raising powers would he like, in addition to what we get via City Region status.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Jinkies - not sure shop lifting counts toward GDP

scoteeeJanuary 5th 2010.

I can answer that anon,emma grace has left for london :@)

Mr J FrostJanuary 5th 2010.

We don't need to clear it up Fedup we just cover it with ice.

reading is sexyJanuary 5th 2010.

Is it true library walk is to have a roof? if so when will the public get a chance to comment on this.

mendezJanuary 5th 2010.

Yeah, why is Urbis being closed? Why is a labour council sacking loads of people who worked there?

maltloaferJanuary 5th 2010.

i'd like to know if he misses the b of the bang? I truly do and wonder if there might be some more public art coming our way? Liverpool have been doing some interesting things of late. Thanks.

John bertaJanuary 5th 2010.

Can you please ask Sir Richard Leese to give us some more information on the Sports City/Super Casino leisure destination proposal, next to the City of Manchester Stadium.(one of the biggest in Europe apparently)A public announcement on the proposal was due in November or December of last year, but has now been put back until February(?) of this year.Could you ask him to give us an indication of what to expect, the size of the proposal and possible costings.(Obviously I don't expect him to spill all the beans before the public announcement)Can you also ask him how talks are going with ADUG, the Owners of Manchester City Football Club and Sport England regarding the proposal. Are all of the agreements signed off yet or are there still issue's outstanding?Can you also ask him to give us a precise date of when the public announcement/unveiling will be made about the proposal.(February apparently)I know it sounds like a bit of a grilling, but many people are very interested in this proposal and hardly any information, let alone plans or renders have made it to the public domain yet. It's all very hush hush and 'top' secret.Many thanks.John.PS. Can you also tell him from me that I sincerely hope we don't end up with another cinema, tenpin bowling, bingo hall, Burger king type of generic leisure destination that are ten a penny and are dotted all over the city/country.I really hope this will be something different and one of the biggest and most exciting leisure destination's in Europe, as announced by the City Council last year. (I remember that quote)

The Whalley RangerJanuary 5th 2010.

When, not if the Conservatives take power in May: how will he respond to the imminent closure of the North West Development Agency, the North West Vision Film Office and other quangos which currently raise Manchester's profile nationally and internationally?

JinkiesJanuary 5th 2010.

Was there a question in there Martin, or just political hyperbole?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Why does Manchester have one of the lowest recycling rates in the country?

PhilboJanuary 5th 2010.

a) Which areas of the city does he admit to having neglected over past few years, and what are the plans to correct this?b) There has been much talk of trying to bring a continental feel to the City centre (such as the talk of pedestrianising Deansgate). Which European cities does he see as a good template for the future of Manchester?

sevenJanuary 5th 2010.

The council have made the majority of Urbis staff redundant. Many were involved in groundbreaking projects that benefitted Manchester and its communities (educational, adult learning, tours etc). What is Councillor Leese's views on the redundancies and what support is the Council going to give to ensure these activities continue?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Ask him "how soon can we expect the regeneration of Miles Platting to begin now that his politburo in Red Square...sorry, that should have read Albert Square.... has forced the closure of my local pub The Ace of Diamonds on Oldham Road?" By using the draconian powers allowed to force Compulsary Purchase Orders ( CPO ) on the Ace I assume work must be in hand, otherwise why has he forced it to close depriving locals of our last decent pub? It wouldn't be political would it?

John Kestion-ChargelolJanuary 5th 2010.

How could Sir Richard have got the views of the people so wrong with regards to the congestion charge and how is is he still in office after suck a debacle and waste of taxpayers money on trying to push it through?

jaybeeJanuary 5th 2010.

Wonder if councillor Eakins attended the Copenhagen 'heat-festival', is so how did he get there? Did he use boats, trains, car or cycle? Like the rest of the 'hot-air brigade' ( I like that term ) he will of course have used the plane, possibly out of Manchester Airport. These people are intent on taxing us all to the hilt to pay for their pet project on non existant global warming. Believe it or not we don't have constant gales blowing around the country. Blair and Brown have sat on their hands whilst our ageing power stations reach the end of their useful lives. Lights will be going out in around 8 - 9 years as electricity is rationed, so we all know who to blame, NuLabour and the Green Party lentil eaters. Ask Sir Richard the earlies starting date for the new runway?

ALSJanuary 5th 2010.

1) The city has an unusually high level of car crime - as experienced by yourself, what initiatives would you put in place to make parking in & around the city safer?2)What is the council doing to support first time buyers in terms of reducing council tax, offering affordable housing options etc?

JinkiesJanuary 5th 2010.

Anonymous, those drink/drugs people are great for the local economy. Don't bin them yet

Bill DJanuary 5th 2010.

What with introduction of;1/ The New Labour Party beanfeast in Manchester 2/ Congestion charges and "there is no plan B". 3/. ID cards being launched in Manchester.4/ Manchester Airport trying out privacy busting new equipment.Has he done a secret deal with New Labour that Manchester can be used for any of New Labours trials for their latest ragbag ideas..

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

1. Can you regulate the busses and paint them all orange ?2. put proper pedestrian crossings in - not the stupid cheap new style ones with the little green man you can never see.3. Get all the unemployed people to scrape chewing gum off the streets - or campaign to make it biodegradable .. which ever suits.4. Fix the roads and pavements.

NorthernGeezerJanuary 5th 2010.

Thursday 7th Jan 7.30..................its on the telly now!!!!.................... ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR and the inability of the police and the local authority to deal with it.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Why is the replacement for Central Library so small? What is actually going to happen to Central Library? Why does it need to close for three years or more?

RJanuary 5th 2010.

What is happening with the proposals for next generation broadband along oxford road corridor, is this still going ahead?

John BertaJanuary 5th 2010.

London Road Fire Station.When will the CPO be issued against that horrible hotel company that currently own London Road Fire Station?(as soon as possible please)When it's successful, what plans do the Council have for the building?Instead of another Hotel, can we please have another museum or art gallery. (an attraction that would pull crowds and visitors to that side of the city centre)Perhaps you could ask Frank Cohen to put part of his art collection on permanent display there. Eventually housing most of or if not all of it after his death.(Sorry Frank) I definitely remember a planned Frank Cohen gallery located in Spinngfields, but it never materialized. It would be a major coup for the city.Can we also have updated news on the Royal Opera House Manchester move North and just as importnatly the Shakespeare: Rose Theatre move North. Perhaps a joint bid with Salford and a Geengate Embankment location overlooking the Manchester Medieval Quarter and Manchester Cathedral. Perfect site.PS. Any chance I can have a job in one of your various departments please? As you can see from this post and the Sports City post I recently posted, I have limitless ideas and enthusiasm regarding Manchester and it's future/direction. Manchester Confidential have my email address.Thanks.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Any plans for clean, green affordable transport for Manchester?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 5th 2010.

I reiterate folks I won't be wasting time on gritting questions. The snow is in our minds because it's here but it will be gone in several days and gone probably at this intensity for several years. Also Manchester is not a special case through mis-management, gritting has been a nationwide problem. In reality it's a temporary problem that doesn't merit interview time given the other major long term issues facing the city. As for the elderly let's make sure we ask if they are ok ourselves and maybe go to the shops for them.

you do what all day?January 5th 2010.

a) is the town hall a temple of inactivity?b) do you ever intend to visit the real world?

JimHJanuary 5th 2010.

Why are GMITA still insisting in squandering scant money by building the misguded bus to Leigh? The concept does not work, look at Cambridge & Edinburgh, spend the money on Metrolink to a P+R at Haydock M6, buses go off in this weather quicker than rail

straight upJanuary 5th 2010.

In the Drivers Jonas LLP research survey, out today- of 100 City centre businesses,43% felt that traffic congestion was the worse thing about operating in the city;33% said it was a lack of parking/cost of parking and 21% said high rent was an issue.What is Sir Richard planning to do on the parking front that will help bring both businesses to the city centre and more custom?

Manc BryJanuary 5th 2010.

Does Sir Richard see Manchester Airport as remaining in local authority ownership in the medium to long term future? Do the council see it as a jewel in the crown, or an ecological liability?

CheesemanJanuary 5th 2010.

Do the Council in planning applications care about aesthetics first or whether a given design might help the economy by bringing in a developer who might then invest further?

soupfanJanuary 5th 2010.

Public transport in the city defo needs looking at - I think it is currently un-necessarily hard to navigate the city what with all the different providers and means of transport - don't get me wrong I hail from a rural area and appreciate that public transport is actually an option but I do think an integrated system should be a priority. Also the network needs to be reassessed - it is terribly hard to get from Stocky or Didsbury for example to Salford Quays via public transport without going into the city centre first which seems silly as the Quays is were Mediacity will be/ more and more offices are! Is this a possibility or just a mere pipe dream?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

I take it Cllr Eakins is one of those Green eco warriors who when their theory of 'man-made global warming' is challenged resort to emotive terms such as 'deniers', shades of holocaust deniers.I don't normally support Sir Richard in anything, however his position on the airport is spot on. More jobs will be provided and boy do we need them. Interesting point from Peter Hitchen's yesterday, "On the coldest day of the year so far, when Britain came close to running out of gas, how much of our electricity was produced by wind power? I will tell you. One tenth of one per cent!" He wrote. Facts count Cllr.As the hot-air brigade continue the nonsense of spending £billions of our money on useless 'wind-farms' ( North West LibDem MEP Chris Davies has shares in a wind turbine company...as you would expect ) some of the worlds most eminent climate scientists state our arctic weather conditions are only the start of a trend towards cooler weather which is likely to last for 20 - 30 years.My question to Sir Richard is " when can you start work on the airport, we need the jobs now."

Private&ConfidentialJanuary 5th 2010.

Please ask him for his opinion of Metrolink's farcical fencing in St Pete's Square. A trivial question? No. I think the answer would be an excellent bellweather for telling us whether a culture of good design is embedded at the council.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Ca we add foreign, mainly Romanian, Big Issue sellers to that, selling out-of-hours?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

What's the Councillors opinion about what really happened to Micheal Jackson? How does he feel it's affected Manchester.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Get to grips with litter and street cleaning. As a city that has a big tourist industry, first impressions matter.

j smithJanuary 5th 2010.

How much is Leese being paid, this is the council that failed to provide gritters and keep roads open are now complaining that schools are closed. SPEND spme of the money you take on parking fines, bus lane fines, council tax business rates and spend it on the infrastructure then schools will not have to close. And by the way the trains stopped running this morning, wake up MR Leese and do what you are (over)paid to do. As for good employers; they have insurance to cover for loss of earnings due to bad weather so why penalise staff when the employers are going to get the money back anyway....... (EDITORIAL - No name calling allowed people, a word was taken out of here because of that)

CBJanuary 5th 2010.

Under Cllr Leese's and Mr Bernstein's leadership the city has been transformed both physically and culturally.Where did Cllr Leese get his vision and inspiration from before going about creating a successful post-industrial city?

LJJanuary 5th 2010.

As a resident of Manchester, I am becoming more and more concerned with the supposed "power" Nick Griffin and his party of thugs have been handed. What is going to be done to remove the BNP "party" from the Council? It has been proven that their beliefs are illegal, how difficult can it be to remove them from the race?

celebre777@yahoo.co.ukJanuary 5th 2010.

What plans are in place to smarten up some of Manchester's most deprived estates? How are people expected to take pride in where they live and expect others to see value in it when they look so decadent?

Cllr Martin EakinsJanuary 5th 2010.

Dear Sir Richard,At the full Council meeting on the 2nd December, you dismissed objections to the decision to expand Manchester Airport, and you down-played the future impact aviation emissions will have on our climate. You erroneously claimed that aviation only accounts for 2% of the UK's CO2 output and re-confirmed your enthusiastic support for the continued expansion of Manchester Airport. Intentionally or not, you have allied yourself with climate change deniers and the Aviation industry, whilst your opponents are scientists, public opinion and your own government - this is not where you should be. In 2006, the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment at MMU published a report commissioned by DEFRA which calculated that aviation emissions would contribute between 86% and 128% of the country's total CO2 budget by 2050, if allowed to expand in line with the 2003 Air Transport white paper. In other words, aviation alone would take up most, if not exceed, our total carbon budget by 2050 if allowed to fully expand.Last week the world was dismayed when our leaders failed to reach a legally binding agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Change summit. Although you travelled to Copenhagen and presented Manchester City Council's Climate Change plan, we regard it as flawed as it does not recognise the dangers of expanding Manchester Airport. What's the point in Manchester City Council attending the summit, only to tell everyone that whilst we are expanding our biggest polluter, the rest of the world should cut back?You are in a unique position as leader of Manchester City Council and chair of Manchester Airport's Shareholders Committee to reduce Manchester's contribution to aviation emissions by halting any further expansion. We urge you to announce a moratorium on any future expansion at Manchester Airport, and cancel the recently approved plan to double air freight capacity. Yours sincerely, Peter and Holly Johnson - Threatened residents of Hasty Lane Jon Harcourt - Threatened resident of Hasty Lane Anthony Lowe - Rose Cottage, Hasty Lane John Stewart - Chair, Airport Watch Liz Snook - Plane Stupid Robbie Gillett - Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport group Gayle O'Donovan - Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Manchester Central Dr Mary Di Mauro - Chair, Wythenshawe and Sale East Liberal Democrats Cllr Martin Eakins - Lib-Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Wythenshawe and Sale East

AndreaJanuary 5th 2010.

Was Mr Leese ill considered and inflammatory comment regarding school closures this week a genuine comment or a poor attempt at diverting attention from the dire situation of the Labour party.

pompous gitJanuary 5th 2010.

Just a general point of no relevance to this discussion: Judging people's intelligence and worth on their ability to spell and use punctuation is generally a bad idea, but any adult inserting an apostrophe into a person's name automatically disqualifies themself from being allowed to voice their opinions. Same rule for using quote marks for no apparent reason.

Michael JacksonJanuary 5th 2010.

Actually anonymous I'm living in a flat in Harpurhey. Nobody recognises me there. They accept me for what I am.

maltloaferJanuary 5th 2010.

i'd like to know if he misses the b of the bang? I truly do and wonder if there might be some more public art coming our way? Liverpool have been doing some interesting things of late. Thanks.

jack the redJanuary 5th 2010.

Councillor Leese - I have 3 children at 3 seperate schools ranging from nursery to GCSE level. Their schools have not received any grit or rock salt until today - how can they safely allow access to their premises when there is ice everywhere. As we have no car we would have to walk and the pavements and "non" essentlal roads have not been gritted and would be great if you had skates on. Before you come out with comments like this in future look outside the city centre and the icy conditions that we are enduring at the moment. Yes my eldest has missed a week of his GCSE year - but I'd rather he missed one week than a few with broken bones. The local schools have tried to clear their grounds but with little help from their employers - the councils.

Private&ConfidentialJanuary 5th 2010.

Would be interested in Cllr Leese's opinions on the impact of any Conservative government on Manchester's development in particular (1) their proposals to rip up newly introduced powers for councils to better regulate local bus services; (2) their ill considered and tokenistic ideas about "localism" that seem not to account for the huge strides being at city-region level (3) how he thinks they can reconcile this with their welcome proposals to abolish regional development agencies

M4NChesterJanuary 5th 2010.

How will the council go about making making the public aware of the forthcoming relocation of many of the staff working in the Town Hall and Town Hall Extension to the offices on First Street in the summer.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

I commute daily to the city centre, regularly alternating between the bus and bike so I've kind of got over how expensive the buses can be. This week however, its been amazing how many people, whom I assume have been forced on to public transport because their cars are buried under snow, who can't believe it costs £3.50 for a day ticket from Whalley Range to Manchester. This could have been a good opportunity for bus services to show themselves as a viable alternative to the car to people who would never had considered it otherwise. Instead its confirmed to them that they're better off staying dry, warm and travelling door to door in their car. Are there any plans to address the costs of using public transport as this is obviously one of the main factors when people consider using it?

BobJanuary 5th 2010.

What are the Council's plans in relation to extending the metrolink lines? Will they be extended to areas such as the Trafford Centre?

Mitchell JJanuary 5th 2010.

Since it's gone I'll say it again. North Manchester areas such as Harpurhey or Mile Platting are stagnating, they still have major problems. Or these areas condemned to second class status - or is there a way out of their seemingly slow decline?

patrick stanleyJanuary 5th 2010.

How much do you get paid and how does that compare to the prime ministerts salary?

Daniel CunninghamJanuary 5th 2010.

Over the last few years the city council has actively encouraged building of flats to draw people into living in the city centre. Unlike a European city which is the model they are aiming to emulate, all of these people are students, singles and dinkies. How does Sir Richard aim to get more families with children to move into the city centre to add to the demographic mix?

The Lampshade with AttitudeJanuary 5th 2010.

Scoteee, it only happens every forty years, let the money be spent elsewhere.

DescartesJanuary 5th 2010.

I'd like to know if it's official council policy to have a minimum of three coffee shops on every street in town, or just someone in planning that doesn't really give a f*ck about what he's doing.

ThinksJanuary 5th 2010.

Aren't rates set nationally AD?

SoupfanJanuary 5th 2010.

Also, I am pretty amazed that the whole Tesco so big you can see it from space, Trafford Council, LCC debacle has got this far - could this and would this ever happen in the bounds of Manchester?

celebre777@yahoo.co.ukJanuary 5th 2010.

What plans are in place to smarten up some of Manchester's most depprived estates? How are people expected to take pride in where they live and expect others to see value in it when they look so decadent?

NorthernGeezerJanuary 5th 2010.

Johnothan, i know you said you wouldnt ask questions on gritting but a lot of us are interested on the councils policy of grit versus rock salt versus scarborough sand. I myself will be casting my vote at the next national election based on the answer Sir Gordon of Brown and Sir David of Cameron give to this enthralling question....................sheeeeeesh!!!!.

Mike DJanuary 5th 2010.

Why haven't you resigned ? You said you would,if the Congestion Charge Referendum was a NO...You must have heard the result by now.

CasJanuary 5th 2010.

I agree with Scoteee, this snow issue needs to be covered. People seem to assume it costs an awful lot in equipment and man power to deal with snow, it doesn't. In America, sanitation department workers (binmen) are re-deployed to dealing with snow when these things happen. They attach plough gadgets to the front of their refuse trucks and clear snow, they clear pavements also and grit any areas that haven't already been done. Given that our own refuse collections have been stopped this week then why not make use of this labour which is already being paid for? Surely that has to be better than having workers sat at home picking up a wage for nothing, when there is work out there to be done?

YorkieJanuary 5th 2010.

Sir Richard:1: Does it depress you that many Manchester Confidential ranters think it is easy to run a huge city and please everyone all the time yet don't seem to understand much about how things work, what powers you have (or lack) or that you have a responsibility to make the best possible decisions for all in the city, including those who don't vote for you or for anyone?2: Do you find it irritating that those who want a huge amount to be spent on their pet services (this week, gritting) also begrudge the employment of their fellow human beings to actually do the work?3: Does it make you sick that those who think you are a councillor only for lavish expenses and massive pay know nothing about the reality and play no part in real politics that involves balancing one need against other competing needs within limited powers (mainly stolen from local councillors by the vicious Thatcher regime)?4: Does it trouble you that some of those who moan about Manchester's reputation not being even better around the world are often the cause of the problem?

OJanuary 5th 2010.

Ask him if he would pay £10 a month to be a hero. Where is the all the exclusive content by the way? I don't pay anything to Manchester Confidential and was expecting to not be able to access any of the articles from 1st January, but it seems nothing has changed. Can a hero fill me in on what I'm missing on here?

DescartesJanuary 5th 2010.

If public transport in Manchester is so wonderful (as we keep being told); why is it the councillors still need a whole roads-worth of free parking?

JohnJanuary 5th 2010.

Actually Jonathan, just for once, you've got it completely wrong - questions about gritting aren't a waste of time because that's what most people want their council to spend their council tax money on. Not, diversity and equality workshops, council magazines that exist solely to boast about the council's achievements, gold plated pensions, salaries for town hall ghost workers etc., etc. The public sector long ago lost sight of the fact that they are called public servants because they are there to serve the public not themselves. It's the basics that are important as the rants on here show. People want to be able to travel around the city in clean, affordable public transport that runs on time and at the hours that they need them. It's no good talking about a "vibrant night time economy" when the last train home on a Saturday night is before 11 p.m. Yes, the gritting debacle is a national disgrace not just in Greater Manchester but that is because all councils are incompetent and wasteful. All council leaders should be made to justify their large salaries at a time when they are getting it so badly wrong. Just because Richard Leese is a likeable, intelligent guy doesn't mean that you should let him off the hook for presiding over the chaos that is affecting every single person in his fiefdom.

SiJanuary 5th 2010.

Perhaps we should have a referendum on the Urbis closure so that you can be humiliated again a la TIF

DrakeJanuary 5th 2010.

John Berta--(nice questions by the way, hope Leese gets you to join his cabinet)--the Cohen gallery in Spinningfields didn't happen beacause Sir Frank wanted serious money for the use of his cllection. He's been hawking it around for years and the general arty perspective is that its very second-rate. Not sure that would fit with Manc's image?

mendezJanuary 5th 2010.

I would like to ak Mr. Leese what he wants do do with the West Properties development? They've obviously stopped the building work and no one wanted it anyway.

Despairing!!January 5th 2010.

What about saving some money, not by cutting services, but by cancelling the Council biscuit order? ... It might seem trivial, but apparently no meeting is complete without biscuits.Perhaps a few secondments to the private sector might be an idea too - in the real world you can't say "sorry I've only had the information for three months, so I haven't done anything with it yet". (Yes, that is a verbatim quote - and it didn't raise an eyebrow).

January talesJanuary 5th 2010.

The city's retail sector is in very poor shape. How much of a priority is the area around St Ann's Square and King Street in terms of developing the city centre?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 5th 2010.

Listen folks I won't be wasting time on gritting. The snow is in our minds because it's here but it will be gone in several days and gone probably at this intensity for several years. Also Manchester is not a special case through mis-management, gritting has been a nationwide problem. In reality it's a temporary problem that doesn't merit interview time given the other major issues facing the city.

CommentsfromafarJanuary 5th 2010.

Philbo, John Berta excellent questions/points. I am thinking the planned Tesco in Stretford and its gifts to LCCC, Trafford Council etc. What are the Council going to do with Stretford Mall as it is dying on it's arse. It needs regeneration rather than neglect, it supports a community ....... I have witnessed in another town the exact same set of events, the Council accepted The Borg and the people lost alot. look forward to the outcome of your interview. It would also be good to plan a review in the next 6/12 months to see how the promises have progressed.. good idea?

Hey up its real this!January 5th 2010.

Aportion blame on to someone else Richard! Push the spotlight on to somebody else so as you dont have to take the rap?He says he has to ask questions as to why some schools stayed closed during the Arctic conditions.Well you dont need to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that a lot of Britain still remains ungritted.I don't think I have to state the obvious.As for the Educational attainment, musical appreciation and a broad cultural apprecation count for nothing if they are not used wisely.As for the Beswick Bag Catcher ( The 'B' In Bang) well my point entirely!!!

IrlamjonJanuary 5th 2010.

Does Mr Leese feel embarrassed over his actions when he spat his dummy out with his rantings over the loss of the congestion charge..especially when we were given the money anyway

The Whalley RangerJanuary 5th 2010.

'Gritting' wasn't a question by the way. Do it yourself for Pete's sake...

CBJanuary 5th 2010.

Descartes.I'll think you'll find coffee shops wanting to take on leases within the city has no influence from the planning department.The main influence comes from people who want to buy lots of cups of coffee which sustain lots of the shops. It's called supply and demand.I agree with Jonathans stand on the gritting. I can't believe the lack of aspiration with some people who wish council tax to be spent more on storing hugh amounts of salt in warehouses 365 days of the year as oppose to things like schools, cultural facilities, regeneraring areas.We've had just a week of disruption were people haven't been able to do and go EXACTLY where they want to at EXACTLY the time they want to in EXACTLY the manner they want to and all bloody hell breaks loose.

michaelJanuary 5th 2010.

Ask why the roads and pavements in Manchester City centre are so neglected and in a dreadfull state of disrepair. As an employer I am horified at what the Burghers of the council waste money on. Queen St has not had a hands on street sweeper for nearly 2 years and when complaing to the council we get fobbed of with "Oh it is done, as City centre is a priority" Why wasnt the city gritted at the correct time during this bad weather? Thes are only a couple of examples of gross mismanagement. Ask him how he really feels when there are so many individuals and businesses in and around Manchester who have been lied to and betrayed.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

What are the council doing to tackle the increasing number of drink/drug addicts, with which the city centre is now crawling 24/7? Its become impossible to walk more than 100yds without being hassled for change.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 5th 2010.

Enough Urbis questions please. By a wonderful coincidence I'm interviewing Vaughan Allen, the departing head of Urbis on Monday, so will split questions posted here between him and the Council Leader on Tuesday.

jaybeeJanuary 5th 2010.

Ask 'Sir' Richard if he enjoyed his experience 12 months ago when he was car-jacked by a pair of thugs whom his government claim enrich society? Also, the Ace of Diamonds will be left empty for many years, like the old derelict Osborne, and will become a reminder to all regulars who used it that this council is as corrupt as a ten pence note! Regeneration? Don't make me laugh.

Fedup of ChewingGumJanuary 5th 2010.

Manchester has become the blight of chewing gum. The road and street surfaces are covered in chewing gum. Clean it up please!!!!

ChrisJanuary 5th 2010.

Will the council ever introduce some sort of sensible residents' parking scheme for the city centre? Every major city in the country has provision for residents to park (even London, where congestion is considerably worse than here). While I realise the council is anti-car and so on, is it really also pro the robbing (privately owned) gits that charge a couple of grand a year for somewhere to put your car while you're busy feeding the city centre economy by living there?

The Whalley RangerJanuary 5th 2010.

Homeowner, grit your part of the pavement or I will come round, purposly slip outside your house and take you to court! Nice day out at the coolest building in town, that Civic Justice Centre, I promise...

Private&ConfidentialJanuary 5th 2010.

I would love to know why Urbis is being killed off and where its activities will be displaced to?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

1. Simple equation: Wide pavements with no pedestrians + norrow roads with many vehicles = congestion. 2. Begging in this country is illegal why are we being asked for change by the woman holding the drugged baby/life like doll in the city centre.3. Must we wait for the same length of time for a regime change before 'The Wall' comes down, as in Berlin?

scoteeeJanuary 5th 2010.

Please excuse how poorly that reads and it's low priority against poverty etc.

Mike CainJanuary 5th 2010.

What plans are in place to make the city centre people friendly?During the Commonwealth games the city was alive all the time with late transport, people talking and happy. As soon as the games finished, it was as if the lights were switched off - the vibrancy stopped, and the streets were empty. When I thought of living in the city centre I was wooed by the lively centre at 8 and 10 but the sinister feeling of streets at 1 in the morning deterred me. I had no problem living in central London at any time. Mike Cain

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

I'd check with the first class degree thing

Monsieur TabacJanuary 5th 2010.

How come you have to have an orange tan to get a table at San Carlo? And what implications does this have for city centre development.

BLackley boyJanuary 5th 2010.

Simply Questions"Why didn't you do the honourable thing and resign when the vast majority of people voted against the congestion charge which you backed completely (no plan B rubbish etc)?""Why is North Manchester (between the M60 and City Centre being turned into a ghetto, lowest education attainment, lowest earnings and the mix of people which lived there 15-20yrs which had a spectrum of earnings and ages is now just a black hole of despair with no escape.)"

I've always been a fan of Northampton myselfJanuary 5th 2010.

What's Sir Lees opinion of mixologists; would he support a late summer hunting season to curb their numbers and keep them in check?

rowantreeJanuary 5th 2010.

I would like to ask Sir Richard Leese if the City Council would provide permanent park and ride schemes for accessing Manchester city centre for work, shopping and entertainment.

ADJanuary 5th 2010.

Ask him whether his council could give small businesses within the city a rates reduction to help promote the independents which give this city so much vibrancy.

Private&ConfidentialJanuary 5th 2010.

I would be fascinated to hear Richard Leese's opinion on how Manchester will emerge from the global recession, in particular, how development momentum can be maintained, what form he thinks it will take (residential / commercial / cultural / municipal or a mix) and how he thinks it might come about such as the use of innovative or different forms of financing.

JanineJanuary 5th 2010.

Please please explain the decision to errect the grey walls in Piccadilly Gardens. The regeneration of Piccadilly Gardens was a good thing, but this is one of the first things visitors see when arriving on train, bus or tram. Are the walls making some kind of artistic statement that I am missing? What function do they have? Is this really the best this internationally renowned creative city can do?

CHOR7ONJanuary 5th 2010.

If there is a change of government later this year does this mean it will be doubly difficult ot push through proposals to improve the public transport network across Manchester?

SarahJanuary 5th 2010.

With regard to transport - is there plans to introduce something like the Oyster card system, so that it makes it easier to travel on train/tram/bus in the Greater Manchester area and communiting areas? I am aware of the new plusbus system, but this is for train/bus after 9.30, which doesn't help those travelling to work early in the mornings.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Please can you ask him if there are any immediate plans to develop city wide cycle infrastructure and facilities.1. Manchester is already home to British Cycling and the world class facility which is the velodrome.2. In terms of topography Manchester is flat, has wonderful canals and waterways which would be ideal for proper cycle paths. Furthermore, a decent cycle path network within the M60 area would facilitate considerable congestion relief.3. Cycling would be an excellent way to show off all the architectural splendour and heritage of the city for locals and for guests.4. There are too many fat and inactive people. Cycling is one of the best ways to help them.5. Cycling is one of the most cost effective transport methods and therefore would not discriminate against poor people, of which this city has so many.6. Cycle friendly infrastructure has mutual benefits for disabled people and therefore should be designed with them in mind.7. MCC has a piss poor record on delivering sustainable transport. So far their efforts amount to all fart and no poo. Build a comprehensive cycle network, get some secure cycle storage and pedestrianise a large portion of the city centre. GMPTE/GMITA have some fancy new offices right next to Pic.Train Station, why not start right there?

scoteeeJanuary 5th 2010.

@ Lampshade, If we can afford to use council tax revenue such as 350k for stretch of wall on Canal street and untold sums on bloody wrapping paper, I don’t know why we cant have the roads gritted when it gets nippy. Besides; I know where I’d rather see it spent. This is the 3rd eventuality of bad weather in the region in the past 11 months. There are many voters who want that changed who scream and shout about it certainly more than asked for wrapping paper expensive walls and partially refurbished but no more effective tram systems. And whilst we are on that one GMPTE stated that the metro link services on the Alty line would be every 12 minutes yesterday, that was rubbish too,1hr 10 mins my staff waited. Not good enough and that was if you could get on it atall.

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Is it true that £8 million of taxpayers money is being spent to shut the Urbis and open the preston football musuem? I visited the Urbis a lot and visited the football museum in Preston once. The Urbis was innovative and had a lot going on, and don't expect forgein visitors to suddently want to see an old Evertonian's ashes in a football museum.

Michael GoodJanuary 5th 2010.

Would Sir Richard ever consider Parliament? Or does he worry he'd get lost on the back benches like Graham Stringer?

manchesterphotographyJanuary 5th 2010.

Why are you closing URBIS and putting most of the staff on the dole in the middle of a recession?

DaveJanuary 5th 2010.

Please no boring questions about gritting. The met office predicted a mild winter, so there we have it. What to do with the wall, short of demolishing it? Could castlefield be our camden market?

Manchester Water TaxisJanuary 5th 2010.

Manchester is no stranger to transport innovations, whether it is the first passenger train journey in 1832 or the Metrolink light rail system, which, in 2007, became the first tram network in the UK to be supplied entirely by renewable energy. (Manchester. A certain future. Manchester's Climate Change Action Plan)Could you please ask Sir Richard if he is aware of Manchester Water Taxis and our plans to run a zero CO2 emissions public transport system via the regions waterways and what he thinks about the effect this would have on regenerating the River Irewell. Thanks

Man Con ConFebruary 4th 2010.

We apologies, this interview never happened in first place... sorry for the inconvenience caused

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2010.

ManCon never delete critical comments. They leave them there so the rest of us can giggle at the pent up frustrations streaming from them.

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 4th 2010.

You are a funny bunch. Thank you for hanging on so long for this interview. But it did take place and it's going up LIVE, in COLOUR, for the weekend. We aren't the Council agreeing to pick up the green waste bins on a Tuesday you know? And funny criticism like this is fine.

James11364February 6th 2010.

Perhaps people would like serious answers to serious questions. Or perhaps another cafe review?

Jonathan Schofield - editorFebruary 6th 2010.

Well the weekend isn't over yet. At present I'm watching the Oswald Road under 10s in the sun in the park. Then it's back to finishing off the piece with Sir R. Did a bit this morning and what he says about Shameless and people not wanting to work is fascinating.

NortherngeezerFebruary 6th 2010.

Was Sir Richard of Leese away on his hols in sunnier climes or could it be that he just couldnt be fookin bothered.

AnonymousFebruary 12th 2010.

Oswald road school .. no wonder Man Con likes Chorlton so much

Victor HumphreyFebruary 12th 2010.

Another snivelling buffoon leaps on your site as an anon.

EditorialFebruary 12th 2010.

Oddly enough nobody in the Confidential editorial team lives in Chorlton cum Hardy. Although the editor's sons play for Chorlton teams.

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