Manchester’s hottest ever day - until tomorrow
Plus: a three-bedroom cottage with a lake view, and the rest of your weekly briefing
Dear Millers — as we put the finishing touches to this briefing, the temperature is smashing past Manchester’s 1976 record of 33.7°. The Met Office expects 37° between 5pm and 7pm, enough for a red warning for extreme heat. “Substantial changes in working practices and daily routines will be required,” is the advice in such circumstances. Transport for Greater Manchester says we should only travel if necessary today and tomorrow, and says temperatures like this can cause rail tracks to buckle, so trams and trains will be moving more slowly. “Carry plenty of water with you and, if possible, a fan,” is the advice from them.
What’s really striking about this heatwave is the forecast temperatures at night — the Met says we can expect 32° at 10pm, a brutal number in a city where few people have air conditioning at home. Our weatherman Martin is urging everyone to “keep cool and carry on” as temperatures are expected to hit 38° tomorrow. In this week’s briefing, we take a look at how the weather is affecting the region’s infrastructure, and what local authorities are doing to tackle climate change.
As usual, we have a packed list of things to do this week, including a visit to RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, some Japanese pop music and the Didsbury Family Fun Day.
On Saturday we published a great long read by Alex King about why Prestwich’s plans for a low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) have collapsed. In the areas they’ve cropped up, LTNs have divided communities. The piece echoes one of our most popular pieces from last year on the same topic, a low-traffic neighbourhood in Levenshulme. (‘Residents asked for 'low traffic' streets. They got a neighbourhood war’). There were some interesting comments from readers over the weekend, including this one: “It’s unfortunate; after decades of car-centric planning these are a massive step in the right direction. Maybe they’d have been better starting with areas with lower car ownership and engaged councillors?”
Last week, our Mill members were sent a thought-provoking piece by Jack Dulhanty asking whether local media coverage unfairly cast a group of young black men as members of a gang by giving undue weight to the arguments of a controversial prosecution.
On March 9th this year, the Manchester Evening News reported on the opening of a major criminal trial at Manchester Crown Court. The headline read: “Gang planned to murder rivals following death of leader, 16, in revenge attack, jury hears”. Within hours of publishing the story, the newspaper was taking heat online.
Mill members also got our Thursday edition, which took a different look at the criminal justice system, this time told through the eyes of a junior barrister, who has less savings in her bank account than when she worked 50 hours a week at Costa Coffee.
This week, our members-only stories include a look into the conditions inside one of the Serco-run asylum seeker hotels in Manchester; plus our Thursday edition will feature a fabulous south Manchester home renovation with a “living wall” in the kitchen.
If you would like to get those stories in your inbox, please sign up as a member and support independent journalism today.
This week’s weather 🌤
Our forecast comes from local weather man Martin Miles, who says “keep cool and carry on!” as Tuesday is set to reach record-breaking temperatures. Rail travellers are being advised to check for updates as disruption is expected across the country.
Tuesday 🌤 Hot and mostly sunny. Sunshine will turn hazy later. Max 38°.
Wednesday 🌧 Much cooler with spells of rain. Humid. Max 22°.
Thursday 🌥 Seasonably pleasant with occasional bright spells. Max 20°.
Friday 🌦 Dry and bright at first, showery rain later in the day. Max 20°.
Weekend 🌤 Mostly dry and bright with pleasantly warm temperatures.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook. Daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story - Is GM doing enough on climate change?
Top line: This is the hottest day Greater Manchester has ever seen. At least, that is, until tomorrow, when it is set to be hotter still. Temperatures in Manchester could reach almost 40°, smashing the 1976 record of 33.7°.
We’re already seeing the impact on infrastructure. Today, multiple trains have been cancelled from London to Manchester because of heat and buckling lines. TfGM and Northern have told commuters to only travel tomorrow if essential.
Today, the weather has stopped train services between Manchester Piccadilly and Crewe, and damage to overhead lines has suspended services on Metrolink’s Bury line.
For a taste of how far it can go, the east coast line between London and Yorkshire will be entirely closed tomorrow between 12pm and 8pm.
Media excitement abounds, the dust is likely getting blown off those “top ten lidos near you” articles, and you’ll surely have plenty of recommendations on where to get ice cream. But the extreme temperatures should compel us to ask another question: is Greater Manchester playing its part in tackling climate change?
Context: This isn’t normal. The average summer maximum temperature in the UK is about 24°, with temperatures rarely reaching 35°.
In Manchester, our average high is usually lower, around 20°.
So when it was 28° this time last year, it was well above average. But we’re up another 8° today.
Impact: Last year an estimated 1,600 excess deaths were caused by a heatwave nowhere near as hot as the one we are currently experiencing. For the first time, the UK government is warning people about the likelihood of deaths happening which are a direct consequence of global warming.
So, what has GM been doing? In 2019, GMCA declared a climate emergency and had its climate commitments reviewed by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at the University of Manchester.
The combined authority developed a five-year plan laying out how it would reduce carbon emissions by 50% across the region by 2024/25, the first step to being carbon neutral by 2038.
And how are things looking now? Not great. Manchester City Council, for example, is updating their citywide framework this Thursday, and admit that they aren’t on track to hit the 50% target. In a statement, they said:
Manchester is currently not on track to meet the framework’s initial 50% reduction target and the draft update focuses on the actions needed to reduce direct emissions from the city’s buildings and ground transport [...] urgent action is needed to ‘catch up’ and get back on a pathway which will enable the city to become zero carbon by 2038 and stay within its scientifically-based carbon budget.
Climate Emergency Manchester, an activist group, released a briefing note today saying that for the council to get back on track with its carbon budget, it would need to reduce emissions by 16% a year.
They could do this by creating more sustainable transport programmes that use electric vehicles.
Or, by building homes that have more effective insulation and less reliance on gas boilers.
But that 16% number isn’t outlined in the council’s plans. “The framework identifies a phased scenario where the city’s emissions reduce by just 10% a year until 2025,” reads the note. This would mean that Manchester would have to reduce its emissions by 29% per year onwards to become carbon neutral by 2038, campaigners say this would just store up bigger challenges for the future, and likely take the city further off track.
Home of the week
This delightful 3-bedroom cottage in Firwood Fold, just outside of Bolton is situated in a beautiful conservation area and overlooks a lake. It’s also a stone’s throw from a train station. It’s on the market for £399,950.
Your Mill news briefing
A 16-year-old's body was recovered from Salford Quays on Saturday evening. Officers say the teenage boy was seen "struggling in the water" and his death is not being treated as suspicious. Over the weekend, firefighters attended two serious incidents in the water at the quays. In a statement to the public, deputy fire chief Ben Norman, said: “we do not want people entering the open water in and around the quays area, cold water shock is a killer, regardless of how good a swimmer you are.”
Is levelling up still a thing? It doesn't look like it, to be honest. Prospective prime ministers Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have expressed scepticism about the flagship policy of Boris Johnson's premiership and their allies do not see it as an electoral asset, which is a fancy way of saying: traditional Tory voters don't care about levelling up. As it stands, the agenda has made little progress, and sources close to the leadership candidates have said it is confused and "meant different things to different people." Dominic Raab, who is tipped to be Sunak's home secretary if he is elected, is also understood to have reservations.
A spinal surgeon who worked at Salford Royal Hospital has been found to have "directly contributed" to the death of a 17-year-old girl in 2007. An NHS-commissioned report found Bradley Williamson's decision to carry out a complex surgery alone was "unacceptable and unjustifiable". It comes amidst leaked documents show Williamson's colleagues describing him as "clinically incompetent" and his staff calling him a "dictatorial bully." In minutes from a meeting last December, one surgeon claimed Williamson left a patient on the operating table so he could catch a flight.
Police say a moorland fire in Saddleworth, which began last Sunday and took three days to put out, was started deliberately. Firefighters attended the blaze at Dovestone reservoir, a popular beauty spot that has been consistently marred by fire in recent years. Normally, these fires are started by barbecues or rubbish that has been left on the moors. In a recent report, the Moors for the Future Partnership found that moorland wildfires cause emissions equivalent to that of a small town.
The latest episode of our podcast dropped yesterday. Jack talks about his piece on Jayvon Morgan, a 24-year-old from Moss Side, and why he went about reporting and writing the piece the way that he did: "There is a saying in journalism which is: 'don't write about men, write about the man.'" he says. "As in, write about the person that typifies what we want to understand. And that's what this story is. It was about taking an angle on a place that had been written about a lot, and instead of trying to do: 'this is what Moss Side is like'. It has subverted it by going: 'okay, here's the closest portrait, the most zoomed in version of this story that I could give you.'”
Super-fast internet — and some community spirit
Today’s briefing is sponsored by Brsk, a new independent broadband provider, who are are installing lightning-fast internet connections across the south of Greater Manchester. If you live in Stockport, Didsbury, Withington or the Heatons (or anywhere in that neck of the woods) you will soon be able to get your broadband via 100% fibre optic cables, with prices starting at £25 a month. As well as upgrading the city’s digital infrastructure, Brsk has a community-centric outlook and they are helping out local organisations and projects in the neighbourhoods where they are connecting their broadband. For example, they have just sponsored Withington Baths & Leisure Centre and their Silver Circuits group for the next 12 months as part of an ongoing commitment to the communities in Withington, Didsbury and the wider area. Click here to find out more and register your interest, or call 0330 0886947.
Our favourite reads
‘A northern powerhouse’ — The Sunday Times
Leading food critic Marina O’Loughlin visited Hello Oriental, which she describes as a “three-storey temple to Asian food” and “a lot of fun.” Hello Oriental is in Symphony Park, just off Oxford Road, and O’Loughlin comments on Manchester’s growth, which is “not so much a boom as an explosion” and notes that “it seems likely to top league tables for economic growth in the UK, apparently recovered from the pandemic and bouncing along in the rudest, most bullish health.”
Shy Talk – Story Of A Punk Fanzine — Football Addict
Music website Louder Than War is reporting the death of Manchester scene legend Steve Shy, who was part of the late 70s “fervent punk scene”, which was documented in his fanzine Shy Talk. We found a post on blog Football Addict about how Shy Talk came into being. There’s no byline, but we can only deduce it belongs to Steve. We liked his narration of this colourful encounter: “I had the mag on sale at the Electric Circus when they next played there in June 1977 and Stranglers lead singer, Hugh Cornwell, bought a copy off me. Half an hour later, he was all over the place looking for me and wanting a fight after reading what had been written.”
Stalker & Co — London Review of Books
In 1986, Damian Grant, senior lecturer at the University of Manchester wrote a review of Geoff Newman’s play Operation Bad Apple, which was being performed at the Octagon Theatre. The play was based on the inquiry into corruption within the Metropolitan Police, and it enjoyed a successful run “ to appalled audiences” at the Octagon. One of the events in the play focused on Deputy Chief Constable of Manchester, Mr John Stalker. A few months prior to the piece being published, Stalker was temporarily suspended after false allegations were made against him. Grant writes: “John Stalker is in the wilderness. Suddenly the Police Force he has been running in Manchester has run him out of town; and as he mows the lawn at home he has time to reflect on the age-old irony of his situation: the investigator investigated.”
Inside Manchester’s new wave of radical club nights — Huck Magazine
We enjoyed this piece from 2020 about Manchester’s new wave radical nightclubs, which includes a rundown of The White Hotel (though it is, ahem, in Salford) which emerged in the middle of the 2010s and built itself a reputation because of a number of “controversial events held at the venue, most notoriously a full recreation of the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, with a mariachi band standing in for Elton John. Provocative events like this, nestled within a roster of electronic and experimental sounds, are the White Hotel’s way of subverting the traditional club night.”
Our to do list
🖼 It’s the opening night for an art exhibition at 45 Hilton Street called Colure: Painting Autism by Cate Blanchard. Starts 7pm. For other viewings, contact Cate (firstname.lastname@example.org) to book a private appointment. Info here.
🎙 Night & Day Cafe will be welcoming J-pop (Japanese pop), singer-songwriter MIKUROMIKA, whose music has a “chill pop vibe” and “sleek vocals”. Starts 8pm. Book here.
🌺 The RHS Flower Show Tatton Park is returning to bring the joy of gardening back this summer. There will be loads to dig into, including a plant village, a floral marquee and talks from speakers. Starts 10am. Book here.
👩🎨 There’s a beginner’s drawing class at Healds Green Gallery in Oldham. You’ll learn how to draw figures and facial features using pencils, pastels and chalk. All materials will be provided, as well as tea and coffee. Starts 6pm. Book here.
🐎 Family show There be Monsters! is coming to Moss Bank Park in Bolton — it’s an outdoor “heroic romp” from performers The Fabularium. Join hapless but noble knight Don Quixote on an epic quest. The first session is this Friday, and more sessions are available 23, 24, 25, and 27 July. Book here.
🧒 On Saturday, there’s the Didsbury Family Fun Day, which includes performances from Didsbury Theatre School, an arts and crafts tent, bouncy castles and a baby soft play area. Book here.
Letters to the editor
The issue of consultation is an interesting one (‘Plans for a low traffic neighbourhood in Prestwich have collapsed. So what went wrong?’). I live in Levenshulme and was really surprised when so many people complained about a lack of consultation. It felt like it had been going on for ages, with lots of offline engagement (flyers, meetings) as well as online. But I was interested in the scheme, and connected to people actively supporting it, so my experience is perhaps not universal. Tom
Thanks for the article about barristers (‘The barrister with less savings than when she worked at Costa Coffee’). The criminal justice system does seem to be in chaos. But it is barristers themselves who insist on working freelance and prohibit partnerships or cooperatives. These days solicitor advocates can do exactly the same job as barristers within a partnership which gives them much more financial security. The divided profession — which means any case needs both a solicitor and a barrister — seems to favour the lawyers themselves rather than the public. Come on, barristers: reform yourselves and get into the 21st century! Peter
The newspapers call it a gang because it sensationalises the story, and sells more papers (‘Does the Manchester Evening News have questions to answer about its coverage of a controversial trial?’). The police call it a gang because it makes it seem like they caught the “really bad” guys, when in fact the criminals in control are the adults who stay in the background, who never get caught — 16-year-olds are rarely the real leaders. It's a complex issue but those who have influence over the narrative need to face up to their responsibilities and understand the collateral damage they can do — all for the sake of a snappy headline. Ming-Ko