A young woman made a harassment claim. Then the man she accused was elected mayor
There is fury among councillors in Rochdale after a man being investigated for harassment is now 'swanning around the borough in his gold chain'
Dear Millers — welcome to our Thursday edition, which brings news from Rochdale. Jack has been speaking to very unhappy councillors in the borough, who boycotted a key meeting recently after being asked by the council’s leader to elect a mayor who is currently being investigated for harassment. And there’s another layer to the story too: was the investigation — which follows an allegation from a young woman — delayed in order to avoid embarrassing Labour before this month’s local elections?
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Our latest podcast just came out and it’s one of our best. You’ll hear Joshi, Mollie and Jack discuss our recent investigation into underpayment in Manchester’s hospitality industry and talk about how the story came about. Jack also describes the situation some of his sources have found themselves in when they weren’t getting paid. He explains:
The owners always have media representation but the workers don’t. So, if the worker is not being paid but he sees the owner in the MEN saying: ‘this is a great place, we’re going to do well’, you’re already going to be disincentivised to speak to the press about this sort of thing.
Listen on the Spotify player below or wherever you get your podcasts by clicking here.
Your Mill briefing
Salford Crescent train station is in line for a facelift under new rail plans but two new platforms at Piccadilly have been pulled. For decades, platforms 15 and 16 were set to help ease rail congestion in the north, but Network Rail bosses say they will now look at alternative options as the government announces £72m in new funding for train stations in Greater Manchester. Tim Shoveller, Network Rail's managing director for the North West and Central region, said: "We’re removing our previous planning application so we can move forward with a new approach, something we’ll be consulting residents and businesses on later in the year."
In very related news, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has come out in support of an underground station at Piccadilly. To recap: as part of HS2, the government wants to build a new overground terminus station at Piccadilly, so trains would have to “turn around” to get out of the station and work their way further north whereas local leaders say an underground option would make for smoother journeys, free up land and ultimately be better for the economy.
Work to pedestrianise Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter will start next month. During the pandemic, the square was fully pedestrianised, and last year the council agreed with bus firms to keep three-quarters of the square traffic-free. The pedestrianisation plans include blocks regulating vehicle access, additional seating and a two-way cycleway. The work forms the second part of the Northern Quarter Walking and Cycling Scheme, the aim of which is to create “a joined-up network which runs between Piccadilly and Victoria Railway Stations.”
Understaffing at three Greater Manchester probation services could be leaving people at risk, according to inspectors. So-called probation delivery units in Manchester, Wigan and Tameside were each rated as requiring improvement. A lack of resources in these units has had “an impact on their ability to properly manage people on probation, specifically around issues such as risk of harm," according to the HM Inspectorate of Probation.
The recruitment campaign for the drivers of Manchester’s Bee Network buses has started. It’s all very Top Gun, with Go North West — one of the service’s franchisees — looking to hire 300 people to train at their “Elite Bus Driver Academy”. Know anyone looking to apply? We’d love to chat with them for a story we have planned — please email email@example.com.
And finally, MUSU is “back with a bang” according to an email sent out today by Manchester Confidential. The high-end sushi restaurant has been shut for a month with a gas leak, and Confidentials — who do promotion for MUSU — are encouraging readers to “go and see what makes MUSU one of Manchester’s most talked about restaurants”. Most talked about indeed.
A furious row in Rochdale
Councillors are in uproar after the election of a new mayor who is being investigated for harassment against a young woman. And they have suspicions about the timing of that investigation, too. Jack Dulhanty reports.
Last Wednesday, Rochdale Council held its annual general meeting, standard practice in the wake of a local election, to hand out portfolios and cabinet positions to councillors.
But there was a conspicuous lack of Labour councillors at the meeting. Odd, seeing as Rochdale is a Labour-dominated council. The local democracy reporter live-tweeting the evening’s events, Nick Statham, observed: “There are several apologies for absence tonight, noticeably from the Labour group,” and that the room seemed “unusually sparse” for an AGM.
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