Parliament in Manchester?

Some readers may have heard me on BBC Radio Manchester’s Breakfast Show earlier discussing with Alan Beswick the suggestion put forward by the Member of Parliament for Manchester Blackley that Parliament could be moved to Manchester in order to help close what some perceive as a North South divide. Last year the Labour Peer Lord Adonis suggested moving the House of Lords to Manchester.

It seems this issue has risen up the agenda again following the publication of the 2014 Cities Outlook by the charity Centre for Cities.

The report contains lots of interesting facts and figures but as with all these reports it is worth delving behind the headlines. For example although it is called the 2014 report many of the figures and statistics are based on the period 2010 to 2012. This was when the Government were still putting in place the long term plan to turn round the British economy and the position then should not be confused with the progressing situation now.

Also, the report compares dozens of what are referred to as cities. It is not surprising to find Manchester in the list but it is more difficult to explain why it is that of the ten local authorities in Greater Manchester Bury for example is lumped in with the City of Manchester (as are Oldham, Stockport, Salford, Tameside and Trafford ) but Wigan , Bolton and Rochdale are all given individual billing and treated as separate ‘cities’. Strange but true.

Fracking

I support the concept of making use of the natural resources we have for our benefit. Just as we have done over the centuries with wood, coal, oil and gas. Now there is the possibility that enormous amounts of shale gas could be extracted and used by Britons. Increased energy supply should result in lower prices or at least stabilised prices and more importantly we will have security and control over our own supply of energy. Combined with the use of nuclear power and the wind and solar power we have been developing it could provide us with our energy needs for years to come.

I doubt any Government would not want to proceed with fracking which is why I take the view that if it is going to go ahead and it could affect communities here in Bury in the long term it is essential that those most affected receive some of the financial benefit. It has already been announced that communities will get £100,000 for each test well and 1% of revenues now it has been announced instead of half the business rates local authorities will be able to keep 100% of the business rates they collect from each site. What is essential is that these monies are spent as close as possible to the affected communities and not diverted to other projects elsewhere.