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Manchester City Council
Metropolitan district council of the Manchester
Richard Leese, Labour
Seats 96
First past the post
Last election
1 May 2008
Meeting place
Manchester town hall.jpg
Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester

Manchester City Council is the local government for Manchester. Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. It is made up of 96 councillors. There are three for each of the 32 wards. Currently the council is controlled by the Labour Party. It is led by Sir Richard Leese. Much of the council and local civil service is located at Manchester Town Hall and the Town Hall Extension, in the city's commercial centre.


Manchester was incorporated in 1838 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 as the Corporation of Manchester or Manchester Corporation. It gained city status in 1853. It was only the second such grant since the Reformation. Under the Local Government Act 1972 the council was reconstituted as a metropolitan borough council in 1974. The area included in the city has been increased many times. In 1885 (Bradford, Harpurhey and Rusholme), 1890 (Blackley, Crumpsall, part of Droylsden, Kirkmanshulme, Moston, Newton Heath, Openshaw, and West Gorton), 1903 (Heaton), 1904 (Burnage, Chorlton cum Hardy, Didsbury, and Moss Side), 1909 (Gorton, and Levenshulme), 1931 (Wythenshawe: Baguley, Northenden, and Northern Etchells), and Ringway. A new Town Hall was opened in 1877 (by Alderman Abel Heywood) and the Mayor of Manchester was granted the title of Lord Mayor in 1893.

Political makeup

Elections are usually by thirds. A third of the seats elected, three years in every four. In the 2004 elections, due to a lot of boundary changes (which involved the total number of councillors reduced) all seats were contested.

Year Labour Liberal Democrats Green Party Conservative Independent
2008 61 34 0 1 0
2007 61 33 1 1 0
2006 62 33 1 0 0
2004 57 38 1 0 0
2003 71 27 1 0 0
2002 75 22 0 0 1
2000 78 21 0 0 0
1999 82 17 0 0 0
1998 84 15 0 0 0

The council has been controlled by the Labour Party since its reconstitution in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972.

Coat of arms

"Gules, three bendlets enhanced Or; a chief argent, thereon on waves of the sea a ship under sail proper. On a wreath of colours, a terrestrial globe semée of bees volant, all proper. On the dexter side a heraldic antelope argent, attired, and chain reflexed over the back Or, and on the sinister side a lion guardant Or, murally crowned Gules; each charged on the shoulder with a rose of the last. Motto : Concilio et Labore" ".

The Shield : red (Gules) with three gold bands drawn diagonally across to the right hand side. The white (Argent) top segment (the Chief), shows a ship at sea in full sail. This is a reference to the city's trading base. Crest : On a multicoloured wreath stands a terrestrial globe, signifying Manchester's world trade, and covered by a swarm of flying bees. The bee was adopted in the 19th century as a symbol of industry—Manchester being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Supporters : On the left a heraldic antelope with a chain attached to a gold collar, representing engineering industries, and hanging at the shoulder, the red rose of Lancashire, in which county Manchester once was. On the right a golden lion stands guardant (facing us), crowned with a red (Gules) castle (a reference to the Roman fort at Castlefield from which the city originated). The lion also wears the Lancashire Rose. Motto : "Concilio et Labore"--loosely translated "By wisdom and effort" (or 'By counsel and hard work').


  • New Moston
  • Northenden
  • Old Moat
  • Rusholme
  • Sharston
  • Whalley Range
  • Withington
  • Woodhouse Park


  • Graham Stringer (1984–1996)
  • Sir Richard Leese (since 1996)

Notable achievements

  • McKechnie, H. M. (ed.) (1915) Manchester in Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen. Manchester U. P.; "Undertakings of the City Council; Social Amelioration in Manchester; Elementary Education in Manchester; Secondary Schools in Manchester; The Evening School System of Manchester", by E. D. Simon, et al.
  • Manchester City Council. "Concilio et Labore" Series. No. 1-11. (Each pamphlet describes part of the council's work, e.g. no. 4: the City Treasurer.)
  • Redford, Arthur (1939) The History of City Government in Manchester; Vol. 2 & 3: Borough and City; The Last Half Century.
  • Simon, Ernest D. A City Council from Within.
  • Simon, Shena D. (1938) A Century of City Government: Manchester 1838–1938.

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