But Sir Howard certainly continues to excite strong emotions. On Tuesday, Manchester Evening News carried an hilarious interview with Barbara Spicer, chief executive of Salford city council, where she explains how she has become incredibly close to her Manchester city council counterpart (Sir Howard Bernstein, of course), and describes their relationship as "almost like that of a mother and daughter". As she says (with apparently genuine affection): "It's a little like you'd say, 'Mum, what do you think about this?'."
The article is headed "Howard Bernstein is like my mum", which is a bit of a shame really, as the piece is, in all other respects, exemplary. Well, the mind boggles! Ms Spicer gets us into this unfortunate mire of maternalism (which I bet she is truly regretting now) in her attempt to explain that there wasn't a natural partnership with Manchester when she took the Salford job over four years ago. She says: "I'm not saying that the politicians weren't talking, but in organisational terms, there wasn't any real partnership. And to be honest, I think there was some kind of competition. Very early on, I made it clear that any competition with Manchester was over. In terms of developing the core of the conurbation, we take a very singular view and that is one of the things that we will look at in the round: we discuss which sites we are going to bring forward."