What were you doing when the bomb exploded?
I was in my flat, which is off Tib Street, quite close to where the bomb went off. I got up and I looked out, and I saw the bomb going off. I saw a whole mile of glass and debris being shot into the sky. The sound of a bomb is unmistakable - I heard the Deansgate bomb a few years ago, and I lived in the same place. Then I went down to the Arndale Centre and we had to evacuate our flats. That was June 15th, 1996, and I'd taken on this job three weeks previous in May. From that moment on, my life changed dramatically.
How do you think the city has recovered since then?
Fantastic, because we had a lot of co-operation and partnerships in place, because we'd all come together for the Olympic bid, and we'd come together for various other bids in Manchester. There were a lot of partnerships in place between the private business sector and the Council. But what I found overwhelming in those few days was how many people looked to the Town Hall here in Albert Square to plot the way forward. And I remember chairing meetings with literally thousands of business people flocking in here to the Town Hall, and so we could plot the way forward in that important fortnight after the bomb went off.
What are your feelings about the Trafford Centre?
It will have a very short-term impact on the city centre, because we're in a waiting period now for the new Manchester to get up and going, and in the end the Trafford Centre will be a nightmare to get in and out of, and people will go and look at it, and then think twice about revisiting. My sister, who's from Manchester, and lives in Newcastle, rarely goes out to the Metro centre, because of the nightmare of getting in and out.
How would you like to see Manchester develop in the future?
I'd like the prosperity at the moment to carry on, because Manchester's a tale of two Manchesters. The area where I represent, Collyhurst and Harpurhey, has got massive unemployment, and deprivation, and so my job at the moment is to ensure the upward path of job creation in the city centre. We have over 100,000 jobs in the city centre, and a lot of the people in Collyhurst and Harpurhey depend on those jobs. My four nephews and nieces all work in the City Centre, so for me it's about jobs, jobs and jobs.
Do you think there's any magic formula for the creation of jobs?
No, obviously it's to do with the macro-economy, but you can do a lot locally in terms of promoting yourself and encouraging investment. Thankfully we've got the fastest-growing city centre in the country. When you contrast us with a place like Liverpool, where investment is not flowing in, we're just grateful for all the job creation here.
What role do you think the Council has played in creating jobs?
They've created the environment for jobs to be created. Take the entertainment industry. We know the big factories are not coming back, Manchester's moving like all cities towards a service econonomy, but we've gone from something like 250 licensed premises four years ago to about 450 licensed premises. Now they're not the best jobs in the world, and some of them are unsocial hours, but they are jobs, and it's an indication of the Council's pro-active policies towards the entertainment economy.