Lunch with Sir Richard Leese

 

Having grown up in Manchester, and having lived here nearly my entire life, I am so proud to call this city my home. From music to culture, and everything in between, it has so much to offer as the UK’s second city (sorry Birmingham).

That’s why I was delighted to be able to attend a lunch with some of the city’s brightest business minds on a bitterly cold January afternoon. The event was hosted by pro-manchester, with a key note speech by Sir Richard Leese CBE, Leader of Manchester City Council, to discuss the transformation of our city.

Sir Richard Leese began his speech with Manchester’s economy and how we survived the recession quite well as a city overall. He discussed how, over the past few years, Manchester has grown to have a more diverse economy than other cities within the UK. Financial services were the biggest employer in past years, however the technology and creative sectors have now taken over our city’s economy, with fantastic additions like Amazon, booking.com and more opening significant office spaces here.

We have also seen a significant change in quality of life here. New flat blocks are springing up all over the city to house our workers and the development of new social neighbourhoods, such as Ancoats and the Northern Quarter, mean there is more of the city for us to enjoy.

However, as much as our city is evolving for the better, there will always be some improvements to work towards. Manchester city centre has sadly got some of the most deprived communities in the Greater Manchester region and we have a lack of social housing and a growing homelessness problem. We will hopefully see considerable improvement on this, with more social housing being sourced and built in the next few years, as well as progress on decongesting our streets.

One way the council is going to combat this is for residents to opt for walking or travelling on our constantly improving public transport systems. 2019 will be an exciting year for transport with the enhancement of both our train and bus systems, in addition to large projects such as the HS2, Northern Power Rail and developments at Manchester Airport bringing considerable benefits to the area.

Something that was discussed that I’m sure was on everyone’s minds was Brexit and its impact on Manchester’s economy. Unfortunately, it is too hard to tell what will happen over the next few days or how Brexit will impact us as a city, but Sir Richard believes that a no-deal Brexit will be negative for everyone. I guess we will just have to wait and see what unfolds for now.

Overall, the lunch was filled with positivity and I think we all have much more to look forward to in Manchester, no matter what happens in these uncertain times. Thank you for having us pro-manchester!

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Sophie Dunne