Bernstein ready for public sector restructuring

Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, used a Downtown Manchester in Business breakfast on Tuesday to outline his strategy for working with the new government.

Speaking to the select audience of around 50 guests at the Town Hall event, Bernstein said: "While my opinion is that any public spending cuts announced in the emergency budget shouldn't be too savage, whatever happens it's likely to provide an opportunity to refresh and restructure public sector services particularly on a neighbourhood level. We'll need to look at policing, housing, healthcare and education as well as the ways in which we interact with our communities.

"The public sector is vital in a mixed economy and for the future growth of Manchester. We put the place first – what are the needs of the community, what do we need to do to improve employment opportunities and inward investment? In some respects it doesn't matter what colour the government is, we will continue to do the best by our communities. Where our priorities match that of the government we will work with them to ensure progress is made and where the priorities don't match, we will look to persuade and influence.

"To ensure Manchester is positioned as a world-class destination we cannot be seen to stand still. We cannot eradicate poverty and depravation without wealth creation and for that we need a constant stream of investment into the city. As a council we are hugely aware of this responsibility and as such, try to make the process as easy as possible for businesses looking to relocate."

On future development in Manchester, Bernstein added: "Piccadilly and Back Piccadilly seem to be areas of interest to developers and investors at the moment and the new Co-op HQ is set to extend the northern boundary of the city centre offering new opportunities. However, we need to stimulate the market place as a whole to continue creating the quality office accommodation that there is a real demand for in the city, product like Spinningfields. Designs for the regeneration of St Peter's Square have been shortlisted and a public consultation is imminent so that too will boost activity and pave the way for the Oxford Road Corridor regeneration plans."

Downtown in Business is Manchester's newest business club for the private sector. Already established in Liverpool, Preston and Lancaster, Downtown in Business has a membership of over 500 companies across the North West.

Frank McKenna, chairman of Downtown in Business, said: "This latest event in our networking calendar has been a huge success. The Town Hall is one of the most iconic of the city's landmarks and it's not often that you get an open forum with the chief executive of Manchester City Council. It was fascinating. Sir Howard is so passionate about Manchester, I have no doubt that the city will continue to go from strength to strength under his influence."

Downtown Manchester in Business will be hosting a Budget Briefing Breakfast on Tuesday 29 June 2010 from 8.30am at Restaurant Bar & Grill, John Dalton Street.

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This sounds like pre-recession rhetoric…. We have a new government and the north west needs new ideas tailored to the new Market conditions. Returning from a few days in London, it is clear the usual north west investors who are sitting on their hands in the region have them grasping at the potential of the London Olympics.

By Brian Holden

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