Welcome to Mayfield: What to expect from Manchester's new city centre park
'It is not the Tigris or the Euphrates, nor even the mighty Irwell, but its new environment is enough to attract kingfishers, and much wildlife unfamiliar with the Mancunian Way'
Dear Millers — today, Mayfield Park opened. This is huge news, since it’s Manchester city centre’s first new park in 100 years.
To cover this occasion, we sent two writers along: Dani Cole, who previously wrote about green spaces for us in her ever-popular Piccadilly Gardens longread. Plus, the architecture critic Phil Griffin, who has written a warm, witty account of what makes Mayfield Park so important. Our paying subscribers will get the full account, while our free subscribers will get just a tantalising taste of the elysian delights that could await them, should they get their wallets out.
But before we get there: football disorder hits an eight-year high. Plus we hear from readers and Labour members about the tensions in Stockport’s Labour group.
Your Mill briefing
We've had plenty of readers getting in touch about the state of Stockport's Labour group since we examined the tensions between its left and centre-left factions last week. "Branch meetings are dominated by the same hard-left members who seem to revel in opaque bureaucracy and needless pedantry, or worse shout down others who voice disagreement," says one resident and Labour member. "It can be a fairly hostile atmosphere and has put off many new members from attending, including myself." Edgeley residents have also come out in support of their local councillor Matt Wynne, who was prevented from standing in next year's election on dubious grounds. "Many of us consider ourselves lucky to be served by someone who not only lives amongst us and understands our concerns, but someone who is seen to be constantly striving to improve our lives," commented David Miller. "The Stockport Labour Party, by de-selecting Matt Wynne, do not seem to have 'the common good' as their first priority. They should be ashamed." Know more? Email email@example.com.
Academics and local leaders gathered in Rochdale this week for the launch of a major new report written by experts from the University of Manchester. On Productivity seeks to understand and address gaps in economic performance across the UK. For example, 2019 research found that Greater Manchester’s productivity was 89% of the UK average, falling from 92.2% in 1998. The report talks about “concerns about the unusual weak productivity record of second tier cities”, which include Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds. For example, “the level of output per hour in both Greater Manchester and Birmingham was 68% of that in London, but also almost a quarter or more below peer cities in Western Europe.”
It's worth reading this insightful piece from the BBC about alcohol addiction centres, and the rising pressures they're under. Deaths due to alcohol sharply increased over the pandemic, especially in the early months of lockdown. Reporters gained access to the largest inpatient detox unit in the UK, the Chapman Barker Unit in Prestwich, and spoke to new patients and staff. "It's the bravest thing they'll ever do" says ward manager Clare Hilton. "Take that step forward and say 'I need help — please help me'."
Football disorder is at an eight-year high, according to the Home Office. In the 2021-2022 season, there were 2,198 football-related arrests. The pitch invasion after Manchester City's final game is probably the most obvious example of this increase, although it has become evident in leagues across Greater Manchester. Earlier this month, an eight-year-old was hit by a flare while watching a match in Bury.
A nurse has admitted to having an "inappropriate relationship" with an inmate at HMP Manchester. Elyse Hibbs, from Manchester, became involved with the inmate between May and July last year, pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office, and faces jail.
A 100-year wait
by Dani Cole
The banks of the River Medlock are fringed with lush water plants and swaying willow trees.
This isn’t a scene from a bygone era, before Manchester’s industries polluted its waters: it was today when Mayfield Park – Manchester's first city centre park in 100 years – was finally opened to the public. Historically home to a network of print and dye works, breweries and bathhouses, the park now houses an impressive quantity of plants and shrubs, walkways along the River Medlock and the city’s largest play area.
Groups of schoolchildren from around the city were bussed in to provide the ambience – they kicked footballs, enjoyed some yoga, and perhaps most importantly, were given free rein over the playground, of which there is a distinct lack. Using children to demonstrate the park makes sense: the results of the most recent government census showed that in the borough of Manchester, there has been a 36% increase in children aged 10-14 and a 28% increase of kids aged 5-9. Clearly, more parks like this are required.
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