Is this the scariest cat in Greater Manchester?

And the other important stories you need to know about this week

Greetings Millers - welcome to this week’s Mill briefing.

Before we dive in: Sophie Atkinson’s long-read this weekend about Burnage Garden Village has already become one of our most talked-about and tweeted-about stories to date. If you missed it on Saturday, I highly recommend you make time for it today. And if you want to talk to us about the village or similar stories in Greater Manchester, please email or DM Sophie on Twitter.

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A request: We are publishing a story this week about overspends at Manchester City Council on capital projects, and would like to speak to a couple of people who know about project management on big construction projects to give us an expert view. Preferably on the record, but it’s fine if this is anonymous too and we just use it as background info. If that’s you, or someone you know, please hit reply to this newsletter or email

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New tiers | The three-tier system of local restrictions will be back when England comes out of lockdown next Wednesday (December 2nd) but the rules will be slightly different. “While parts of the tier system will be tougher, the 22:00 GMT closing time for pubs and restaurants will be relaxed, alongside gyms and shops reopening,” reports the BBC, adding that mass testing will be rolled out in all Tier 3 areas. We should hear on Thursday which tier GM will fall in.

Covid data | Covid deaths in hospitals are still falling in Greater Manchester albeit gradually rather than sharply. NHS figures show that in the week to last Thursday, just over 30 patients died each day after testing positive for Covid-19, around 5% down on the number we reported last week. There were 160 Covid patients in critical care beds last week, up from 129 the week before, but the total number of Covid patients in non-critical beds fell for the first time in almost two months - from 1,208 to 1,184. Infection rates are still falling and no part of GM is now in the top 10 worst-hit local authority areas in the country. Rochdale is 15th in England with a rate of 472 new cases per 100,000 residents and Oldham is 17th. Trafford has the lowest rate in GM - 238 - which is close to the national average.

Campaign | Gary Neville launched a campaign this weekend to get us using the city centre again, in a Sunday Times interview that suggested he might have political ambitions. Also heading the UnitedCity campaign are business figures like Chris Oglesby, CEO of property firm Bruntwood, and PR supremo Lisa Morton. Will it work? One suspects the question of how quickly city centres repopulate will come down to factors way outside Manchester’s control, like which tier GM goes into and how quickly vaccines are rolled out this winter. But it’s an interesting foreshadowing of a debate that will be prominent in the next couple of years - about how much workers should return to their former routines, and how much freedom they will be given to make that decision.

Gary Neville, Lisa Morton and other figures from the UnitedCity campaign.

Spending review | On Wednesday the chancellor Rishi Sunak will outline the government’s spending for the next year, and eyes in the North will be firmly fixed on the government’s “levelling up” pledges. How much money will big capital projects in the North and Midlands get? Which bits of government will be relocated out of London? Prioritising left-behind communities is much harder when the public finances have a Covid-shaped hole in them, and this week’s speech will signal the government’s priorities.

Plane wreckage | The mountain rescue team at Glossop is urging members of the public not to hike to the site of a crashed plane wreckage in the Peak District. “The crash site at Higher Shelf Stones, on moorland between Manchester and Sheffield, contains large sections of a US military plane that plunged into a ridge in fog in 1948, killing all 13 men on board,” The Guardian reports. “During lockdown it became a popular check-in site on social media, with hikers flocking to take pictures of the debris.” But after having to make two rescues in one day, the rescue team wants hikers to think about poor weather and the tough terrain before setting out.


Worth a follow: If you like the photography on The Mill you should follow us on Instagram, where Dani posts extra photos from our reporting trips. This portrait of a woman and her terrifying cat (below) was inexplicably left out of our long-read about Bury Market last weekend and turned up on the Instagram account yesterday. To make up for this error, Dani will be posting an Instagram story at 6 pm this evening about the cat, what breed it is, why it was at the market and how Mill readers can meet it post-lockdown. Tune in for that.

A woman and her cat at Bury Market. Photo: Dani Cole.

Worth a read: The MEN has an interesting piece about people who have lost their jobs and businesses because of the pandemic and the lockdowns. It includes a young man called Kieran from Rochdale, who lost his pub and now works as a nighttime order picker at Iceland. He lives with his gran, who has sold some of her old jewellery to help him out financially.

Worth a look: The Guardian has a gallery of brutalist buildings in the North, including WA Gibbon’s buildings for UMIST and Preston’s central bus station.

Things to do this week

Books | Spend your Thursday evening with the authors of Manchester: Something Rich and Strange, a new book about “the city’s rich history, hidden spaces and neglected stories.” They are running an online event in collaboration with The People’s History Museum bookshop. You can book your place here.

Musical theatre | Hope Mill Theatre is starting an online run of RENT, streaming a recorded version of live performances of the show. Availability is in-line with the venue’s capacity, meaning tickets are limited. Get yours here.

Music | The BBC Philharmonic is playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 12 in A major and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D major live from Salford on Radio 3 this week. Tune in at 2 pm on Wednesday for an afternoon concert conducted by the thirtysomething Hungarian Gergely Madaras.

Quiz | Manchester’s Jewish Museum is hosting a virtual quiz night on Thursday at 8 pm, fronted by the very funny Chanukah Lewinsky. She hosts queer Jewish cabaret Homos and Houmous (“think Julie Walters on speed,” says the listing) and will be beaming campy quiz rounds direct to your living room. Book your ticket here.


Before you go: If you would like to read all of our journalism, getting stories in your inbox five days a week and having full access to our archives, join The Mill as a paying member today using the button below. You will get your first members-only story in your inbox tomorrow. Last week our members-only stories included:

  • News of Manchester homes being advertised on billboards in Hong Kong.

  • Our second explainer on the GMSF and details of the drama at Stockport council.

  • A historical piece about the little-known fight for the right to roam Winter Hill.