Report uncovers 'serious and widespread failures' in children's care

We take a look at Tameside, plus the rest of your weekly briefing

Dear Millers — we hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed the fireworks.

On Saturday we published a fascinating story about “Saxon Manchester.” Our culture writer Sophie Atkinson visited Chemnitz, a German city that’s twinned with ours — and one that’s struggling with the far-right. Thanks to John, who said the piece was:

An illuminating, even-handed set of interviews in the best Mill tradition — and what a thought-provoking, assumption-challenging way to end.

In case you missed it, our latest podcast episode dropped last week. It includes highlights such as Jack Dulhanty talking to Darryl Morris about old school boozers in the Northern Quarter. Listen here. Here’s an extract from Jack’s piece, featuring four colourful characters in The Millstone on Thomas Street:

Thomas has been regaling John and his friend Charlie about some Rolexes he managed to flip in Monaco to a very credulous man on a yacht. £50,000 in a bag and “no bullshit.” Thomas first started drinking in The Millstone when he was about 16. "This pub is renowned for entertaining villains, let's be honest,” he says. “It’s not,” Katherine shouts as she stacks glasses behind the bar. Thomas laughs but doesn’t speak, he’s anticipating her punchline: “just the one crank.”

Last week, members got stories about adult illiteracy in Manchester, and how a set-making company in Ashton returned from the brink. If you’d like to get those stories in your inbox, hit that button below.

This week’s weather 🌧

Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says “A mild week of weather is on the way. However, sunshine will be at a premium and there will be a little rain as well, especially early in the week.”

Monday 🌧 Mostly cloudy. Patchy light rain will arrive around the middle of the afternoon approx. Max 12°c.

Tuesday 🌧 After a dry start, showery rain will move in, initially affecting the north and west. Very mild for November. Max 14°c. 

Wednesday 🌦 Showery rain should soon clear during the morning. The rest of the day will be mild, with occasional bright spells. Max 12°c. 

Thursday 🌤 Mostly dry with occasional sunny intervals. Max 12°c. 

Friday 🌥 Mostly dry but cloudier than Thursday. Max 12°c.

Weekend 🌤 Remaining largely dry and relatively mild.

For the full forecast, please visit Manchester Weather.

The big story: The state of children’s homes in Tameside

Top line: A private children’s home in Tameside was told to make urgent improvements after an Ofsted inspection found that there were “serious and widespread failures.” It was rated as inadequate, the lowest possible grade.

What did the report say? The children’s home, which hasn’t been named, has had no permanent manager since January, the MEN reports. Inspectors said:

Children are restrained without a detailed record about what the person completing the restraint has done to try and prevent a physical intervention before it is required.

Children have missed medication; medication stock is not always accounted for and children are at risk of being left with no medication because it has not been ordered.

Key context: This isn’t the first time the watchdog has found issues with children’s social care in the borough. In 2016, Tameside’s services for vulnerable children were branded as failing, and caseloads for social workers were too high. Earlier this year, an inspection into council-run children’s services during the pandemic uncovered a “raft of issues” — once again including high caseloads. The report found that:

Some children live in situations of neglect for too long before decisions are made to consider the threshold for legal action.

Following this year’s Ofsted report, Tameside Council Leader Brenda Warrington pointed out that some of the challenges they faced included retaining enough social workers to meet demand, and a lack of funding.

  • Over the next two years, Tameside will receive an extra £1 million funding for their children’s services.

The cost of private children's homes: The Financial Times reports that local authorities such as Tameside “bear the brunt” of the cost of children’s care. Last month the Competition and Markets Authority found that private children’s homes were charging councils an average of £3,830 a week per child. There were also disparities in the number of children in care between the north and south of the country.

  • The north-west of England has 23% of all places in children’s homes and 19% of looked-after children.

  • London has just 6% of places in children’s homes and 12% of looked-after children.

According to the Local Government Association, three-quarters of children’s homes in England are now provided by independent organisations, including private groups.

Because of the cost of private children’s care and worries over the quality of care for youngsters with complex needs, council-run homes are seeing a revival. Some are looking to “family style homes”, which involves smaller numbers of children being looked after — sometimes having as few as one or two bedrooms. The Guardian notes:

New council-run children’s homes will have to improve their approach if they are to offer proper support to young people.

Home of the week

A stunning 3-bedroom penthouse apartment is for sale inside Grade II listed Sandhurst House, Didsbury. It’s on the market for £800,000.

🕵️‍♂️ Grist to The Mill: If you want to tell us about a story or pass on some information, please email, or We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity. Get in touch.

Other local news in brief

  • Andy Burnham writes in the Evening Standard that both Conference of the Parties billionaires and the campaign group Insulate Britain are “out of touch”. “While I agree with what the protestors are calling for I can’t agree with their tactics and you couldn’t help but feel that both were burning public support for climate action rather than building it.” Read more.

  • Stockport’s historic Underbanks area could be impacted by redevelopment plans. Some of the buildings date back to 14th and 15th centuries. In 2017, it was given £1.8 million National Lottery Heritage funding. The council’s conservation officer has said that the town’s heritage could be harmed in the long term, as the design quality included in proposals “falls short” on standards. Read more.

  • A 22-year-old man was raped in Bolton at the weekend. It’s reported that he was approached near Nelson Square. No arrests have been made and police are asking people to come forward with information. A sergeant from GMP’s Bolton division said: "This is a shocking and horrific incident and the victim is currently receiving support from specialist officers.” Read more.

Photo of the week

Female football supporters from Salford attending a match at Old Trafford, 1972. Photo: Randolph Caughie/Mirrorpix/Getty Images.

Our favourite reads

‘Soulful education’The Guardian

A new supplementary school — one that runs on a Saturday or during after-school hours — called Rekindle will open in Moss Side in January. Supplementary schools were set up to tackle the underachievement of black children in mainstream education. This piece provides a nice insight into how these schools are instilling a passion for learning for Manchester’s working-class children. “An essential aspect of Rekindle is that each pupil will receive a hot meal, as well as learning cooking skills from chefs and growing fruit and vegetables.”

Design of the timesBig Issue North

“The closest the north of England came to getting its own Bauhaus building was in 1934, when Walter Gropius, founder of the radical German arts and architecture school, considered a site on the banks of the River Mersey where it winds past Didsbury in south Manchester.” This article takes a look at Manchester’s unrealised Bauhaus dreams, and gives an overview of the German art and design movement.

Has Andy Burnham found the key to beating Boris? — The Spectator

Patrick O’Flynn sizes up Andy Burnham (“the bookies’ hot favourite to be next Labour leader) against Keir Starmer and finds the mayor in a favourable position: “It is undoubtedly true that Burnham has more leeway to behave in this grown-up way because he has at least one precious commodity that Starmer lacks: time. The current Labour leader must prepare for battle in 2023 or 2024, while the Greater Manchester Mayor is clearly intent on creating a prospectus for power to unleash at an election around 2028.”

You feel connected to them forever — The Guardian

While on holiday in July this year, 25-year-old Austin Mellor, who lives in Greater Manchester, jumped into the cold Anglesey sea and saved a woman’s life after she was caught in a riptide. This piece, which is part of the “Guardian Angels” series, offers a small snapshot into the drama as it unfolded. “In the water, Mellor never thought he was going to die. ‘I did think: this is bad.’ But after, he realised how close he’d come."

Our to do list

🎙 Podcast | We enjoyed this “We Built This City” podcast episode featuring Manc illustrator Stanley Chow, who is described here as “The Normal Bloke Who Draws Pictures.” Some of his subjects include Beyonce and Andy Burnham. Listen here.

🎶 Music | On Friday, Salfordian Shaun Ryder — the lead singer of the Happy Mondays — will be in conversation at The Old Courts in Wigan. We liked this Guardian interview with him from earlier this year (“Ryder had taken to calling himself ‘Uncle Fester’ after alopecia struck a couple of years ago.”) There will be some live music and also a chance for a Q&A afterward. Tickets here.

🌹 Remembrance | The annual service of Remembrance will be taking place at St Peter’s Square on Sunday, with a procession starting at John Dalton Street at 10.25am. More information here.

🐦Talk | The Emily Williamson Festival kicks off at Manchester Art Gallery this Friday. It’s all about birds — ornithophiles take note. There’ll be a panel debate about conservation. Get tickets here. On Saturday, author Tessa Boase will be talking about her book The Woman Who Saved the Birds. Get tickets here.

🧗‍♀️ Festival | This one’s for any Millers who are into climbing: The Psychi Festival of Climbing will be taking place at Rock Over Climbing in Cheetham Hill on Saturday. Fine-tune your technique with workshops and a Q&A with the GB climbing team. There’ll also be a film festival in the afternoon. More information and tickets here.

🥬 Eat | Pop-up cafe The Spiral Garden Cafe is back, and has a new home inside the Niamos Centre in Hulme. They do lovely three-course meals, which are pay-as-you-feel. For more information please visit their Facebook page.

Covid-19 update

  • Case rates: The case rate for Greater Manchester is 340.1, down 3.7% in a week compared to England’s 372.4, down 11.1%. Trafford has the highest infection rates in GM, of about 400. Oldham has the lowest, around the 300-mark.

  • Hospitalisations: As of 1st November, there were 58 Covid-19 patients in critical care, up from 51 from October 19th.The total number of Covid patients in GM’s hospitals minus critical care is 432.

  • Vaccinations: As of 10th October, over 1.7m (73%) adults in GM have received both doses of the Covid-19 jab. That’s 93% of over 70s, 86% of 50-69s and 61% of 18-49s.

Letters to the editor

I’m always amused to think people sometimes presume the statue in Tony Wilson Place (‘Welcome to 'Saxon Manchester' — a German city struggling with the far-right.’) is a bearded man called Tony Wilson. Life in GDR cannot but leave a legacy as described here by Sophie on her tour of Chemnitz. I hope passers-by who recognise Friedrich Engles on his Mancunian plinth also acknowledge in some way that our city must continue to be welcoming to migrants of all description, and vigilant of all who wish them ill. Phil, Wythenshawe

When I first started work at the Daily Express on Great Ancoats Street in 1970 (‘This pub is renowned for entertaining villains.') we used to hold our union quarterly meetings at The Millstone. The FOC (shop steward to you) was Bernard Mather who went on to become a manager as most union officials usually did. The longer the meetings went on, the noiser and longer were the speeches. It was a thirsty business! Robert, Rochdale