The Mancunian Way: Brutalist gem
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Here’s the Mancunian Way for today:
The Toast Rack – that Brutalist gem that oversees Fallowfield – was voted one of the ugliest buildings in the UK earlier this year. That’s clearly nonsense and I hope whoever takes it on next thinks so too.
Things have been quiet at the site since overseas investor Estrela snapped it up from Manchester Metropolitan University for £5m in 2014. A few years later, developer Generation announced plans for the Grade-II listed Hollings Building (its official title) after gaining planning permission for apartments.
Now it’s on the market again, complete with detailed planning consent for 211 homes, a gym and leisure space, commercial space and 154 car parking spaces across the Toast Rack, Horseshoe, Gateway site and Stitching Hall sites.
It’ll be interesting to see how this iconic part of the south Manchester landscape is developed.
On to the rest of the day’s news.
We’ll be looking at a new method to find missing people, the unusual village and town names causing a headache for train announcers and the street left without post for a fortnight. But first, I want to talk about the immigration policy that could seriously impact homelessness.
Asylum policy could impact homelessness
Closing hotels used to house asylum seekers will lead to ‘increased homelessness demand’, local leaders say.
Mayor Andy Burnham and deputy mayor Paul Dennett have written to the Home Secretary and the Levelling Up Secretary to express their concerns about the effects of immigration policy on homelessness.
They say closing all Afghan bridging hotels by the end of the year will lead to increased demand and councils still struggle to house them due to a lack of affordable housing in the city-region.
Local leaders say Greater Manchester has ‘double’ the national rate of people who have become homeless due to being required to leave Home Office accommodation. The mayors want the government to suspend the benefit cap for Afghan families in bridging hotels and extend the 90-day notice period offered to bridging hotel residents in order to better support asylum seekers and Afghan refugees in the city.
In a letter to Suella Braverman and Michael Gove co-signed by the deputy mayor Kate Green and nine of the region’s council leaders, Mr Burnham and homelessness lead Mr Dennett set out their concerns.
“Residents of Greater Manchester’s four hotels have begun to receive their 90-day notices to quit,” they write. “Local teams are working tirelessly with the support of all GM local authorities to prevent any further impacts on homelessness and rough-sleeping across the city-region, just as we are doing with families who have arrived from hotels elsewhere in the country.
“However, the severe shortage of truly affordable housing – especially for larger households – and the short timescales given, makes this an extremely difficult task. It is important to note that this shortage – which affects all of our Greater Manchester communities – is a result of the cumulative impact of a series of policy decisions over many years and reflects the urgent need for more joined-up cross-Departmental thinking.”
You can read the full letter here.
Strike on/strike off
Metrolink staff have ended their dispute by accepting a new pay deal. Workers will get a 6.5 per cent pay rise as well as a £1,000 one-off payment.
Andy Burnham met with union reps in a bid to avert industrial action planned for Parklife weekend – two days which also saw major events across the city. Trade union Unite suspended the strikes after an improved offer was made. But tram services were still severely disrupted when three Metrolink lines were suspended due to damaged overhead cables.
KeolisAmey, which runs Metrolink services, will cover the cost of the pay rise – but the improved offer could cost the taxpayer when the contract is renewed, Joseph Timan reports.
Meanwhile, First bus drivers in Manchester are set to go on strike next month after rejecting an ‘inadequate’ pay offer. Around 360 bus drivers employed by First will take industrial action over six days in July over concerns over chronic staff shortages and overworking.
Drivers voted in favour of industrial action by 96 per cent with a turnout of 75 per cent. Unite say the rejected offer of a 7.4 per cent pay rise is not enough to make up for soaring living costs or help tackle staff shortages that ‘are making our members’ working lives a misery’.
First Group said they are ‘disappointed’ by the decision, which they said will be ‘damaging to everyone’.
Respecting local pronunciation
As a local reporter I can admit to being laughed at for mispronouncing some of our region’s more unusual place names on more than one occasion. As a south Manc, asking a Salford local about Irlams o’ th’ Height resulted in peals of laughter.
And I found myself very lost in Bolton while trying to find Hall i’ th’ Wood. Meanwhile, Ashlie Blakey reporting from Blackley has definitely caused some confusion.
But once you know, you know – which is why Northern are asking customers to tell them if they have been saying the name of your station wrong. Their new on-board announcers have pledged to correct any place names that have been previously mispronounced.
Announcers Peter Corley and Laura Palmer say they will re-record any announcement which passengers believe ‘doesn’t respect local pronunciation’.
“Whilst every effort was made to get them right first time, we know how proud people across the North of England are of their regional dialect,” Peter and Laura said. “Who knows how long these recordings will be in the system – so now’s your chance to correct us if we’ve got it wrong.”
You can read about some of the region’s stranger place names here.
No post for M19
Locals in Levenshulme didn’t get their post for more than a fortnight. And residents on Slade Lane claim they’ve missed hospital appointments, passports and driving licences as a result.
They say the post stopped dropping through their letterboxes during two weeks in June. One neighbour told reporter Maisie Lawton: “My son flies out on 26 June, we were in a panic waiting for his passport to arrive. We could have lost a lot of money on tickets.”
Royal Mail urged anyone experiencing a delay to contact them. They said those in the M19 postcode get deliveries six days a week and all mail is delivered ‘as soon as possible’.
Innovative new scheme could save £££
An innovative new approach to searching for missing people could potentially save Greater Manchester Police £7m a year.
Across Greater Manchester, more than 5,700 missing persons were reported from hospitals last year, costing the police approximately £15.6m. Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), North Manchester General Hospital and Park House accounted for 1,500 missing people in the last year. As such, officers have been working with staff at those three sites to ensure people considered genuinely missing are reported and the quality of initial inquiries is improved.
Many cases reported to police may not require an investigation but can be resolved quickly with effective reporting and partnership working with hospitals. Chief reporter Neal Keeling has been speaking to PC Jamie Acton, who led ‘Operation Ambition’ and provided training to clinicians and police staff to find patients, speak to families and friends and review CCTV footage.
If all these avenues are exhausted, a sergeant works with partner agencies to assess the missing person’s capacity and vulnerability and establish the most suitable agency to provide that person with support. If the individual was deemed to be at risk, a formal investigation would be opened and carried out.
During a pilot using these methods, sergeants were able to resolve 45 per cent of missing persons reports without needing to launch a formal investigation.
PC Acton says: “The results of the operation show just how much police time and resources can be saved by working collaboratively with community and partner organisations like the NHS.”
Revamp for Aquatics Centre
Good news for swimmers – the Manchester Aquatics centre will reopen again next Monday after a multi-million pound refit. Doors will open to the public on June 26.
It’s been closed to the public and operating at a reduced capacity since 2021. But the revamp comes ahead of the World Para Swimming Championships at the venue in late July.
Built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games at a cost of £32 million, the Aquatics Centre was opened by the Queen in 2000, boasting two 50m pools and 25m diving pool. It has been used for events like the Paralympic World Cup and as a training facility for the 2012 Olympics.
Now the pools have been upgraded and there are three new gyms, fitness class studios, a health suite, a new cafe, changing facilities and a new green energy heating system.
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Wednesday: Sunny intervals changing to thunder by late morning. 23C.
Road closures: M67 eastbound entry slip road closed due to long-term roadworks at J2 A57 Hyde Road (Denton). Until December 1, 2025.
Trivia question: Who opened the Aquatics Centre in October 2000?
Sentencing filmed: A television camera was allowed to film a Manchester homicide case in court for the first time yesterday. Judge Nicholas Dean KC, the Honorary Recorder of Manchester, was filmed as he sentenced Shiloh Pottinger for stabbing 19-year-old student Luke O’Connor to death. The sentencing of Thomas Cashman, for the murder of Olivia Platt-Korbel in Liverpool, was the first case held at Manchester Crown Court to be televised, after the trial was moved to this city. But the sentencing of Pottinger, for Luke’s manslaughter, was the first Manchester case to be filmed and broadcast. Unlike in the US, the only part of the court hearing that can be filmed is the judge’s sentencing remarks. You can watch those remarks here.
Fines: Wigan Council has raised nearly £1m from parking fines in the last three years. Wiganers have progressively seen more fines slapped on their cars for incorrect parking since the start of 2020, a Freedom of Information request found. The council claimed this increase was due to the easing of lockdown restrictions and the effort to reduce obstructions of emergency service vehicles. In 2022, the council took in £375,677 from 13,196 fines, the highest in the three-year period. Overall, the council has claimed £930,262 from 33,098 fines between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022, the FOI found. More here.
Closure: A couple who were among the first to open up a business in the Northern Quarter say they simply could not survive for another summer. Wayne Lew and Jane Spindler opened North Tea Power back in 2010 to showcase specialty espresso coffees and loose leaf tea. It paved the way for a coffee house boom. But on Sunday, the Tib Street cafe closed due to a ‘perfect storm’ of financial factors. “Everything seems to have changed, everything is kind of slick – new coffee shops opening now look like hotel lobbies. People now expect something more corporate, people wait to be seated and expect table service, it never used to be like that,” Wayne said. More here.
Banned: Five teenage Oldham Athletic fans have been slapped with three-year football banning orders after violence flared at a derby match. Greater Manchester Police say all five were involved in ‘related disorder that took place between Oldham Athletic and Salford City at Boundary Park in April, 2022’. The force said it came ‘moments before’ Oldham’s relegation from the English Football League in the 2021/22 season. All five pleaded guilty to affray in relation to events on April 23, 2022. They all appeared at Manchester and Salford magistrates’ court last Wednesday. Full details here.
Worth a read
Augustine Tanner-Ihm now works as a priest for three Manchester churches where he says he can ‘just be myself.’ But it wasn’t always that way.
When he first moved to the UK from Chicago aged 23, he knew he was gay. But he had struggled with his sexuality growing up in poverty with religious Jehovah’s Witness parents.
So when he moved to the North West in 2013 and joined a local church in Liverpool he told members and ended up in conversion therapy. He met with 10 to 15 other people, between ‘university age to about 60,’ who were also ‘struggling with their sexuality’ once a week for around seven or eight months.
Though the Government has committed to banning conversion therapy, it has not yet banned the practice. Now 33, Augustine lives a happy life in Manchester, but says: “As a survivor and a minister, I think it’s best that [conversion therapy is] banned for all people in the UK.
“It has caused a lot of pain and suffering, and I continue to deal with the ramifications of conversion therapy.”
You can read his extraordinary story here and here.
That’s all for today
Thanks for joining me. If you have stories you would like us to look into, email [email protected].
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The answer to today’s trivia question is: Queen Elizabeth II.