Jonathan Schofield wonders what you would ask the council leader, in office since 1996
Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council leader, is 25 years old. He’s also 70 years old. The latter is his actual age, the former is his term as council leader. This is longest term in a powerful position of any such individual in any British city.
How does Sir Richard Leese look at his 25 years of leadership?
Twenty-five years is a generation-plus of leadership for the country’s totemic city in terms of redevelopment. It’s been a hell of a ride.
Leese became the council leader 26 days before an IRA bomb shattered the city centre, injuring hundreds. He’s seen us through the aftermath and rebuild, the Commonwealth Games, the terrible economic slide after 2008, the 2017 attack and into the days of this cruel pandemic while outlasting five prime ministers.
The city centre has been transformed in that time, effectively doubling in size, becoming more walkable, more usable, more attractive with more spaces open to the public. In the suburbs, there have been many welcome changes. The city has become the bellwether of UK urban reinvention, the object of countless academic and governmental studies and visits.
Yet homelessness remains a scandal, as it does across the nation, and the city has stubbornly poor indices of poverty and health, some of the poorest in the country. People also question planning policy and whether, for instance, there’s been enough emphasis on social housing.
So how does Sir Richard Leese look at his 25 years of leadership? What does he think he has achieved in his 25 years, what does he regret? Does he think he should have gone into national politics and help restore the Labour Party’s crumbling fortunes? What is his vision for Manchester’s future?
On Friday 4 June I will be interviewing Sir Richard Leese and discussing this generation of leadership. If readers would like their own questions to be considered please add them to the comments below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 3 June with the subject: "Richard Leese questions". Let's get beneath the skin of 25 years of leadership in Manchester.
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