Speculation that a system behind the scenes at Manchester City Council is failing is categorically untrue, writes leader Sir Richard Leese in a column for Place North West.
I’ve read with bemused interest the speculative story around strategic development and the position of the council’s chief executive in this week’s edition of Place North West’s The Subplot, published on Tuesday.
In a fantasy piece, the subtext seems to be suggesting that the city council or its leadership is failing. That chief executive Joanne Roney – the first woman to have taken up the role – is failing. That the system behind the scenes is failing.
This is a position that I simply do not recognise. And a position I don’t believe most people living in the city would recognise. A position completely at odds with all the available evidence.
What is visible to all is a city that is one of the fastest growing in Europe – a city whose population is growing at a huge rate of knots, and a city that has shown a remarkable resilience and ability to recover following the pandemic.
This success has not been created in the last year alone. This is the success of a long-term vision – the recently refreshed Our Manchester strategy – that isn’t dependent on when any individual decides to move on.
Having worked closely with Joanne, I have seen first-hand how she has taken the Manchester message nationally and been our voice in Government. She is now one of the most influential and respected chief executives in the country, and the city has never been better represented.
Joanne has driven the growth of the city for the last four years and she will continue to do for many more.
Speculation about her leadership is nothing less than gratuitous and wilful disrespect to her achievements.
In the last year alone, Joanne’s influence can be seen in the North Manchester Health Campus – one of the largest redevelopment projects in the country – in the new arena planned for east Manchester, and the transformation of Mayfield, along with accompanied investment to create a huge new city centre park.
With Joanne comes an understanding of how these large-scale programmes of development translate into job and homes. The building blocks of a successful city. Victoria North, the inception of which was on Joanne’s watch, is planned to deliver 15,000 new homes alone over the next 15-20 years.
If it were just these projects, that would be a legacy enough for most to be proud of.
Since Joanne arrived, she has taken the council into Sunday Times’ Top 100 not-for-profit companies – the first local authority to be named in this list. And, as well as sitting on a number of national boards and working groups, Joanne is currently the president of Solace, the organisation that looks to develop the next generation of leaders.
Much of this has happened in the last year while also being responsible for the city’s response to a global pandemic.
For these reasons and many more besides, Joanne isn’t going anywhere. And I look forward to working with her long into the future.
Sir Richard Leese is leader of Manchester City Council