Discover more from The Mill
Can the council break Manchester's driving habit?
Plus: Could Manchester City face expulsion from the Premier League?
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing. As ever, it is bursting with analysis, updates, recommendations and a tasty dose of gossip. Here’s what to expect:
News of Manchester City being charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of financial rules.
A look at the council’s new “active travel” plans for Manchester, which aim to get you on yer bike (or at least out of your car).
And a beautiful two bedroom barn conversion in Bolton with sweeping views of the countryside.
Over the weekend, we published this great piece by new writer Leah Aaron, who delved into the origins of the Manchester Bee symbol.
After I moved away for uni, I noticed how every time I returned to the city there seemed to be a few more Bees around. You’d see them in trendy coffee shops or graffitied around the Northern Quarter. In 2015, The Manchester Shop in Afflecks palace, which sells mugs, badges and t-shirts, primarily with the Manchester Bee on them, seemed to signal its arrival as a symbol for the city. But at that point, the council was still on its I <3 MCR schtick, trying to make New York happen.
Last week, Mill members got an edition curated by our staff writer Jack Dulhanty, who looked back at the war-hero great uncle he didn’t know he had. Plus: we published a great piece asking why Tim Heatley — the outspoken developer of Manctopia fame — thinks the next phase of Greater Manchester’s property boom is in… Farnworth. “I think the opportunity now is for Bury, Oldham, Stockport, Rochdale and all these Greater Manchester towns to gentrify, and that's what we are shifting our focus to,” he had told us two years ago. Is he now going to make it happen?
If you want to read those stories, and our vast back catalogue of in-depth features — covering things like Chorlton’s hummus-eating football yobbos, how a local uni student became addicted to virtual reality, plus our peerless cultural coverage — take out a subscription below for the criminally cheap price of £7 a month.
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🌥️ This week’s weather
Our forecast is from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says this week’s weather will be dry and chilly with moments of bright sunshine.
Tuesday 🌥️ Most of the day will be cloudy with limited brightness. Feeling chilly too, with the odd spot of rain later. Max 7°c
Wednesday 🌥️ Mostly dry, but it will feel cold with a lot of cloud cover. Best chance of any sunshine will be PM. Max 6°c
Thursday 🌥️ Brightening up with sunny spells developing after a cold and murky start. Turning breezy. Max 8°c
Friday 🌥️ Breezy and relatively mild with bright spells. Dry. Max 10°c
Weekend 🌥️ Remaining mostly dry and settled with variable amounts of sunshine.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Manchester’s active travel plans need less carrot and more stick
Top line: Manchester City Council has launched its Active Travel Strategy, an ambitious plan to make it easier to walk, cycle and wheel around the city. It is the latest in a collection of strategies, plans and schemes to make active travel the dominant mode of transport in Greater Manchester.
Why this matters: Increasing active travel is critical to Greater Manchester’s plans to be net zero by 2038. But it’s not just about carbon emissions — the push for less driving is also about having a healthier population, less air pollution and creating a more liveable and welcoming city.
The strategy looks to double the proportion of journeys in and out of the city by bike by 2028 — which is an extremely ambitious target in a short timeframe.
Over the longer term, by 2040 to be precise, it aims to halve the proportion of morning journeys made into the city by car, reducing it from 21% to 10%. By that point, it wants 90% of morning commutes into the city centre to be made via public transport or active travel, up from 61% in 2019.
The changes will also make Manchester more friendly to pedestrians, something we argued would improve life in the city centre.
In fact, a hierarchy of road users outlined in the strategy puts walkers and wheelers first, followed by cyclists then service vehicles and finally private cars.
The proposed changes range from widening footways and reallocating road space for active travel, reducing the default city centre speed limit to 20mph and removing barriers from walking and cycle paths that stop non-standard cycles, like those used by disabled people, from accessing them.
Who’s paying for this? Most active travel developments have been funded by the Mayor’s Challenge Fund up to now. The network of active travel routes outlined in the strategy will move away from that and be funded using local authority budgets, bolstered by national funding from Active Travel England.
Insight: The strategy took a survey of residents which asked what they felt the main barriers were to them using active travel. At the top of that list was the speed and volume of traffic in the city centre, followed by busy junctions and worries surrounding personal safety.
Harry Gray, an urbanist and active travel campaigner, tells The Mill that while active travel is good in areas where infrastructure has been implemented — like the Chorlton Cycleway — it needs to be more broadly applied.
“On the infrastructure, it’s great. And it's a game changer, it really makes a big difference. But if I'm not on the infrastructure, there's a huge drop off in standards and in the way that it feels the cycle.”
Gray recently posted a video on Twitter of how close drivers were coming to him while he cycled near the Mancunian Way, where the lanes are only marked out with paint. In the new strategy, the council says these lanes “do not meet current design standards”.
Campaigners like Gray argue that getting active travel to work isn’t just about making it easier to walk and cycle around the city, but also making it harder to drive. An example would be a workplace parking levy, with the money going to fund public transport. “We see in places around the world, the evidence is that you can't just have the carrot, you really also need the stick,” he told us. “You need to disincentivize driving because people will just stick to what they know and stick to what's convenient. To make the switch from driving into something else takes a bit of a push.”
Home of the week
A two bedroom barn conversion in Bolton just went on the market for £525,000. It’s accessed via a large garden with sweeping views of the Edgeworth countryside, with wooden beams, exposed stone walls and a log burner.
Your Mill briefing
Manchester startup Social Chain, the social media marketing agency founded by University of Manchester drop-out Steven Bartlett, is set to be sold for £7.7m. Which might sound like a lot, but it’s actually causing the Dragon’s Den star Bartlett a certain amount of aggravation on Twitter, where people are now questioning prior claims that he built a business worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Timothy Armoo, a founder of a rival marketing agency, has described Bartlett’s claims as “disingenuous at best” and the young tycoon has tried to clarify the situation by saying that the company now being sold “is essentially a struggling Manchester office.” Prompting one person to ask: “Isn’t the struggling Manchester office the business you built?”
In other business news: Daikin, a Japanese manufacturing company worth around £40bn, has chosen Manchester as the test bed for its green heat pumps and cooling systems, installing them in some of our public buildings. Manchester’s plans to become carbon neutral by 2038 reportedly factored into Daikin’s decision to test their technologies here. Andy Burnham said: "Obviously with that ambition around 2038, we're a place that's going to move faster. In doing so, that presents opportunities to organisations like Daikin.”
Manchester City have been charged by the Premier League with more than 100 breaches of financial rules. The club has been under investigation since 2018 and have been accused of not cooperating with the probe. The violations are alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2018 and if proven, they could elicit sanctions ranging from point deductions to expulsion from the league. Reacting to the news, veteran Times sports reporter Martyn Zeigler tweeted: “This is unprecedented”.
CAZ delay: The government is asking Transport for Greater Manchester to plug “a number of underlying gaps” in the Clean Air Zone plans it submitted last year. A government spokesperson said: "It is not yet possible to understand how the proposed approach will achieve compliance with NO2 limits in the shortest possible time.” To jog your memory: the original roll-out was halted by public backlash last February, revised plans were submitted in July and more evidence will be submitted by TfGM this summer. There is still no CAZ, despite £60m being spent on it so far.
And finally, a surprise in the race to be the Labour candidate (and very possibly the next MP) in the key seat of Bolton North East. We hear that frontrunner Leigh Drennan has been kept off the long list of candidates, sparking anger among local activists. Drennan painted himself as a left-winger and it has cost him, says one source, who told us: “It shows the leader’s office is absolutely ruthless in keeping people they don’t like out of parliament.” The constituency is a target seat for Labour at the next election after they lost it to the Conservatives in 2019.
Our favourite reads
The invisible women struggling to make ends meet — The Conversation
In this long read about the “invisible women” of Greater Manchester, two lecturers interviewed 100 women aged over 50 about the difficulties of finding secure full-time employment. According to the Centre for Ageing Better, there are many advantages to hiring and retaining older workers, but some of the women said they felt undervalued and precarious. Many of them work in kitchens or as cleaners, and some expressed concern about whether they would ever be able to retire.
A night at The White Hotel and the future of alternative venues — Salt Magazine
“You’d get boozers in town that had these posters saying ‘no tracksuits, no hoodies, no football tops,” says Austin Collings, artistic director of the nightclub and arts space White Hotel in this great piece. “We just had anybody in there from the off — it’s all inclusive really.” The writer Alex Croft spends a night at the venue, which is a gem of the city’s nightlife despite being (or perhaps because it is) tucked away on an industrial estate in Salford. “It’s very hard to get barred from The White Hotel,” Collings continued. “It would be like winning an Oscar.”
The MEN recently spoke to several Evri delivery drivers about what life is like on the road. “Craig”, a local courier they met at the depot in Wythenshawe, says that drivers get paid for every parcel they deliver rather than every hour. “For a standard parcel you might get 60p,” he said. Last week, drivers arrived at the depot to find there were only a few dozen parcels allocated to each driver, meaning they’d earn less than £20. “Sometimes it feels like we are slaves,” another driver said.
Some thoughts on the TV housing crisis — The Newsletter of (Not Quite) Everything
To buy a home on Coronation Street, you’d need a £36,000 salary and £18,000 in the bank. This clever piece illustrates Manchester’s house price inflation — and the national housing crisis more generally — via the property values of homes in major TV shows and soaps. “TV’s failure to get to grips with the housing crisis has rendered it ever less realistic,” writes John Elledge. “Why are there no bankers or hipsters on Albert Square? No annoying London refugees on Coronation Street, banging on about how the north is surprisingly nice?”
Our to do list
👂 Quiet, an exhibition made up of writing, visual art and protest sculptures, was created by deaf young people as a way of showing how they express themselves without speaking. It’s showing at the People’s History Museum until November.
📱 Screen Time, a collection of minimalist prints of skeletons examining the impact of technology on the human condition, is on exhibition at Kerb Wines in Ancoats. Visit here.
📚 Nina Jankowicz, an extremism researcher who writes about the harassment of prominent female figures in online spaces, is speaking at Blackwell’s on Oxford Road. Tickets are £5.
🎻 The Hallé’s Artist in Residence, Dobrinka Tabakova, is curating a show based on her interests in science, folk music and the Renaissance at 1pm and tickets are £16.
🎧 The Listening Conclave, an ongoing series of listening events at Peste on Oldham Street, exhibits audio essays against a backdrop of ambient sound, based on the political theories of Mark Fisher. This week, the theme is “endcore”, exploring the possibility that we are living in an era after the end of eras. More here.
💃 At Contact Theatre, there will be live music, cabaret performances and drag from The Cocoa Butter Club, a performance company showcasing the work of performers of colour. Tickets start at £10.
For our glitteringly well-informed weekend to do list — which we send out every Thursday — hit the button below to join us as a member.