Manchester City Council will spend nearly £25m on aesthetic improvements to the Town Hall in order to boost “civic pride.” This money is part of the £165m Town Hall Complex Refurbishment Program. The civic-pride-boosting items include a £3.8m glass walkway between the town hall and the central library, and a £20m face lift to St. Peter’s Square.
In its “Call to Action” the Council listed “retro-fitting Manchester’s Civic Heritage” as its second Catalytic Action, and this – unlike other parts of that report (see MCFly 16, 17 and 18) – has been universally welcomed.
A report by the Council claims that “the refurbishment of the Town Hall Complex will result in a greatly improved physical environment and will significantly contribute to the Council’s objective
of becoming a leading, environmentally sound organisation.” It is unclear just what finanical and energy savings are envisaged or if a cost-benefit analysis has been done, but the symbolism is vital – without getting its own house in order, the Council’s moral authority will be diminished.
That said, the Council is currently approving the 2009-2010 budget, and – as reported in MCFly 18 – although climate change is a listed as a “priority”, no new money is set aside, with projects running on what is left of the previous year’s £1m allocation.