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BusinessTributes paid to Sir Howard Bernstein

Tributes paid to Sir Howard Bernstein

Tributes have been paid to former chief executive of Manchester City Council, Sir Howard Bernstein.

Sir Howard, who died aged 71 after a period of illness, was best known as one of the chief architects of Manchester’s resurgence over the last four decades and was knighted for his services to Manchester in 2003.

In 1971, Sir Howard began his career at Manchester Town Hall, eventually serving as chief executive of the council for 20 years until his retirement in March 2017. His deep love and passion for Manchester shaped the city we know today, and he remained committed and active in supporting the city up to his passing.

Sir Howard Bernstein was born into a Jewish family in Cheetham Hill in 1953, the older of two brothers. He was married to Lady Vanessa Bernstein, brother to Russell, a loving father to Jonathan and Natalie, and a devoted stepfather to Danielle, Francesca, and Dominique. Sir Howard was also a proud grandfather to seven grandchildren.

Sir Howard is widely recognised as the driving force behind the transformation of modern Manchester. His notable achievements include:

  • Leading the reconstruction of the City Centre after the 1996 terrorist bomb.
  • Spearheading the 2002 Commonwealth Games and associated regeneration and development, including what is now the Etihad Campus and the wider transformation of East Manchester.
  • Overseeing major commercial, transport, and cultural projects such as Spinningfields, the expansion of Metrolink, the Bridgewater Hall, Home, the Manchester Conference Centre, the City Art Gallery, and the Factory, part of the St John’s development.
  • Leading negotiations for the historic devolution deal between Greater Manchester and the government, which included health and social care.

A lifelong supporter of Manchester City FC, Sir Howard served as its Honorary President. The club even named a footway Sir Howard Bernstein Way in 2017. He was also the president of Lancashire Cricket for a decade, and after retiring from public life, he became an Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester.

Manchester City Council leader, Bev Craig said: “Sir Howard served Manchester with remarkable distinction. He will be remembered as a driving force in the city’s turnaround from post-industrial decline to the growing, confident and forward-looking city we see today.

“He had boundless energy, strategic vision and a passion for Manchester. In 46 years at the Council, serving as chief executive between 1998 and 2017, he played an integral role in the regeneration and economic growth of the city, from the city centre’s resurgence after the 1996 IRA bomb and the 2002 Commonwealth Games and transformation of East Manchester to the creation and extension of Metrolink.

“He was also integral in the establishment of strong working relationships between the 10 Greater Manchester councils, culminating in the establishment of Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011 and a series of historic devolution agreements which transferred power and resources away from Westminster and Whitehall to our region.”


Helen Greaney
Helen Greaney
I'm a journalist with more than 18 years' experience on local, regional and national newspapers, as well as PR and digital marketing. Crime and the courts is my specialist area but I'm also keen to hear your stories concerning Manchester and the greater North West region.
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