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A new tool against the ‘continued and evolving’ terror threat
Plus: Avanti awarded £6.5m by government, and the latest update on the ENO
Dear Millers — welcome to our final Monday Briefing of 2022. It’s been a wonderful year here at Mill HQ, and we were delighted to celebrate it with some of you at our festive drinks at the Saul Hay Gallery last Thursday.
Hanukkah Sameach to all of our Jewish readers. For more than 2,000 years, Jews have marked the eight days of Hanukkah — the “festival of lights” — by lighting the menorah, including the giant one currently standing in the city centre, or the one bravely lit in their window by Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner and his wife Rachel in 1930s Germany, right across the street from a Nazi flag. Even in the Nazi camp Theresienstadt, inhabitants found a way to mark the festival in 1942. Into a stolen block of wood “they carved an ornate hanukkiah — the special kind of menorah lit at Hanukkah — with nine candle holders and a Star of David. A Hebrew inscription curves over the top: ‘Who is like you, O Lord, among the celestials?’”
In today’s newsletter we look at Martyn’s Law, the legislation proposed in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack and named after one of its victims, Martyn Hett. Today, the government announced that the law will enter draft stage next year, a significant victory for Figen Murray, Hett’s mother, who has campaigned for it.
But before we get into that, thanks for all your lovely comments under our weekend read, for which we sent Jack Christmas shopping at the enduringly strange Trafford Centre:
In the Orient, the vast central food hall where adverts for the Trafford Centre are played to people already in the Trafford Centre, more kids sit on the sills of raised platforms where families share buckets of fried chicken. The air smells like how ketchup smells when it has already dried on a child’s food-spattered face.
Last week, members got two great pieces in their inbox. On Tuesday, our culture writer Sophie Atkinson reviewed the Royal Exchange’s Christmas production, Betty: A sort of musical. Spoiler: it lived up to its high expectations:
‘One of the strongest aspects of the show is the fact that hers isn't a standout performance — the quality of the cast is so high that it's hard to single out anyone for particular praise. They have a great chemistry, building on each other's energy and riffing off each other.’
And on Thursday we delivered back-to-back scoops: revealing Bury Council’s plans to scrap a low traffic neighbourhood in Prestwich, and breaking an exclusive from Salford Royal Hospital, where the medical director of the Northern Care Alliance has stepped down months earlier than planned, ahead of what is expected to be a damning report by regulators.
This week, we have a slightly slimmed down publishing schedule, with an end of year update from Joshi on Wednesday and a Christmas Eve weekend read.
This week’s weather
Our forecast is from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says “the cold weather is over for now and this week will bring us changeable and milder weather. Despite some uncertainty for Christmas, a white Christmas is unlikely at the time of writing.”
Tuesday ⛅️ Breezy and dry with plenty of winter sunshine. Feeling cooler compared to Monday. Max 10°c.
Wednesday 🌦 Windy with bright spells and heavy showers. More rain is possible later PM and overnight. Max 10°c.
Thursday 🌦 Mostly cloudy with sporadic blustery showers. Max 9°c.
Friday 🌧️ Cloudy with outbreaks of light to moderate rain. Max 9°c.
Christmas 🌦 Remaining changeable with temperatures close to average. Turning colder from Boxing Day and into next week.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: A new tool against the ‘continued and evolving’ terror threat
Top line: Martyn's law, legislation named after Manchester Arena victim Martyn Hett, is set to enter draft stage next spring. Also known as Protect Duty, it will tighten security in venues across the UK and require them to have action plans in place to help prevent terror attacks.
Context: Martyn’s mother, Figen Murray, began campaigning for Protect Duty to become law in 2018. At the time, the proposal document said the law was meant to “honour the life of Martyn Hett and the 35 other people murdered, and hundreds injured, by extremists in the UK in 2017.”
How it will work: The legislation will follow a tiered model — what venues will be expected to do will depend on their size, the type of event they are hosting and how many people are expected to attend. Venues will also, by law, have to complete a preparedness plan and adequately train staff.
A standard tier of requirement will apply to venues with a maximum capacity of over 100 people.
An enhanced tier will apply to those with capacity above 800 people.
The Protect Duty was included in the recommendations for “guarding against complacency” in Volume I of the Manchester Arena Inquiry. The inquiry found that SMG and Showsec, the companies providing venue security at the arena, hadn’t paid enough attention to the risk of an attack or taken sufficient steps to prevent one the night of the arena bombing.
So far, there has been little reported pushback from venues against the law, which aims to avoid putting undue financial burden on operators by making its requirements as cost-effective as possible.
Long time coming: The bill was included in the Queen’s speech in May, but was not tabled. Rishi Sunak has now announced that draft legislation will be due next Spring.
In November, the BBC reported that bereaved families of arena victims were “frustrated” at the pace at which the legislation was progressing. Murray said the delay had “risked lives”.
Not long after, seven ex-home secretaries and multiple senior police officers wrote to Rishi Sunak urging him to bring in the law, saying that “the most important job of any government is to ensure the safety of its citizens”.
The government says the law will “ensure better protection against the continued and evolving threat that the UK faces from terrorism.”
Getting the law introduced would be the capstone of years of campaigning spearheaded by Murray, whose work in counter-terror has seen her awarded an OBE in this year’s honours list. In announcing the plans for the legislation, Sunak said: “The amazing work of campaigners like Figen Murray, who have dedicated their lives to making us safer and promoting kindness and tolerance, is an inspiration to us all."
Home of the week
This three bedroom townhouse in Altrincham has beautiful glass doors, a feature fireplace and a Juliette balcony. It’s on the market for £695,000.
Your Mill briefing
If you are reading this email on an Avanti West Coast train that left long after the service you had originally booked, make sure you’re sitting down before you read this next bit. If you can find a seat that is. The news is: the now-infamous train operator was awarded £6.5m in bonuses last year by the government. Avanti received the money for "operational performance" and "customer experience" between April and September. However, during some of that period, Avanti’s services were punctual just 55.8% of the time.
Has our campaign to bring the English National Opera to Manchester failed already? The Observer reports that the Arts Council is reconsidering its plan to relocate the company. "Speaking to the Observer, a source close to the arts council claims a new plan for the survival of the ENO may be drawn up early in the new year,” we read with horror this weekend. And there’s more bad news. “So far, no mayor of a major northern city is thought to have welcomed the prospect of becoming home to the London company.”
This week will see industrial action from workers in rail, healthcare, the border force and mail. North West Ambulance paramedics will strike on Wednesday. Royal Mail workers will strike on Friday and Saturday. RMT members will strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve through to the 27th. Border force staff across the country will also walk out from the 23rd of December through to boxing day, then from the 28th to New Years Eve.
And finally, residents who live near the increasingly popular West Didsbury and Chorlton AFC seem to be up in arms about the club’s growth and new alcohol licence. One resident says he is “fearful for the future” and says "the quality of life in this area is just going to plummet. This can sound like it's just a whole lot of NIMBYs who live in a nice area, but it really isn't that." A Mill reader who also lives nearby describes those complaints as “bullshit”, adding: “The football club is a massive positive for the area, and for many people a real centre of the community. There is nothing more fun than watching West at Brookburn Road.”
Our favourite reads
For Jan Morris, Staying in One Place Was Never an Option — The New York Times
We enjoyed this review of a new biography of the essayist and historian Jan Morris, who was often described as a “travel writer”, a term she hated. Morris famously covered the trial of war criminal Adolf Eichmann for the Manchester Guardian, delivering this small but powerful detail in her article: “Eichmann was trembling.” The biography is written by her friend, Paul Clements, a journalist who knew her for 30 years and “situates Morris in the literary canon while also acknowledging her status as a ‘transgender pioneer,’ another term she would have probably loathed.”
The Renaissance, Reborn — The Financial Times
Ella Walker, a 29-year-old Manchester-born artist, paints quattrocento-style paintings of Dantesque characters with small modern twists: some of her figures may be decked out in latex. Walker is among a new wave of artists who are looking to the Renaissance era for inspiration. “On one level, the Renaissance makes itself felt in her palette: raw sienna, vivianite (a deep indigo-blue), dioxazine violet, iron-oxide red, caput mortuum (or cardinal purple), sap green. On another, it’s just the ‘gothic, macabre essence of that period’ that she loves. ‘I’m not interested in painting skinny jeans!’”
A new photo essay in i-D Magazine explores the work of British photographer Richard Davis, who began photographing people on the fringes of Manchester society in the 1980s, after being drawn to a community of outsiders in Hulme. “Photography played an important role in highlighting injustices or poor conditions especially for the working classes who normally didn't get a voice or were just ignored.” We spoke to Davis last year for our feature about the madness of Hulme Crescents, which features some of his best photos.
Our to do list
🧑🎄 Manchester Cathedral is hosting an evening of carol singing in support of Home Instead, a charity that creates community groups to end loneliness and isolation in ageing adults. Tickets here.
🥒 The Gaskell Garden Project, a pay-as-you-feel cafe that serves home cooked meals from fresh surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, are taking over the Old Abbey Taphouse in Hulme for a three-course Christmas meal. No need to book. More here.
❓ Common, the New York-inspired bar and pizzeria in the Northern Quarter, is hosting a Christmas quiz in the main restaurant from 7pm. Register your interest here.
🎧 Lupini, a DJ known for her ambient, new wave and postpunk sets, will be playing at Peste, the independent bookshop on Oldham Road, from 7pm. More here.
🍷 Frank Capra’s joyful 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life is showing at HOME this week: a staple of the festive season. Indulge with a mulled wine and a slice of stollen from the bar. Book here.
✡️ Head to Manchester Jewish Museum for How We Belong, a new poetry and visual arts exhibition that explores what it means to be Jewish. This week is Hanukkah, so look out for the lighting of the candles in the windows and make sure to try the special baked doughnuts from their lovely cafe. More here.