Discover more from The Mill
‘This is disgraceful’
A pack of kids closes down Piccadilly Gardens as a video spreads of violence on Market Street
Dear readers — we’d like to apologise for absolutely cursing your weekends — and the chances of the England cricket team. On Saturday morning we published a great long read by Daniel Timms delving into the data showing that actually, Manchester isn’t as rainy as everyone thinks. And then it proceeded to rain all weekend, handing the Ashes to Australia and turning Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank into a mud bath. Sorry!
Nevertheless, cricket fans had plenty of time to read Daniel’s expert analysis as they waited for play to begin, including the BBC’s Economics Editor Faisal Islam (a product of Didsbury) who tweeted: “Great piece about the myth of Manchester being worst for rain… I seem to recall a meteorologist on Granada in the 1980s saying that Manchester does though have especially globulous raindrops because of the way in which the rain was formed…& so ‘wetter rain’”. Sounds dubious but we’ll dedicate a few thousand words to that claim in a future edition.
Today, we’re looking at an evening of city centre chaos after young people flooded Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street last Friday. Plus: a Freedom of Information request poses new questions about the way taxpayer money is being loaned to city centre developers. That’s on top of our usual recommendations for things to do this week and our favourite reads from over the weekend.
Last week, we published two great stories for our paying members. Mollie looked into how local primary school children’s lives have been impacted by the pandemic. “The Year 2s are just wild,” one teacher said at a meeting in Stockport. A teacher at a separate school agreed, as did two others. It’s a fascinating piece about how being stuck at home during the lockdowns impeded children’s development.
We also published a great members-only long read about Sacha Lord’s political connections, how he’s responded to deaths at the Warehouse Project and whether he has too much influence. This story was the second part of Jack’s profile of nightlife boss Sacha Lord, based on interviews with his rivals, critics and Lord himself, which received a great response on social media. If you haven’t already, read that piece here. To read the follow-up piece and receive two extra Mill stories every week, please consider joining us as a member for the very reasonable price of £1.25 a week.
And another thing Manchester is best at
From today’s sponsor: The University of Manchester is known for numerous incredible breakthroughs, but it’s also leading the way when it comes to social responsibility. In fact, it was recently ranked number one in the UK and Europe and number two in the world for social and environmental impact. To pick a few examples of the university’s work, its #BeeWell programme is working with schools across Greater Manchester to support young people’s mental health; its GM Policy Hub is informing local policies, such as the 2038 zero carbon target; and local sixth formers whose parents have not been to university get life-changing opportunities through its Manchester Access Programme. You can find out more and get involved in upcoming events via the university’s social responsibility newsletter — sign up now.
📢 We have some sponsorship slots free next month — if you want to reach our audience of 35,000 Millers, and support our journalism at the same time, please check out our advertising page or email us now to set up a call.
🌦️ This week’s weather
This week’s weather forecast is from our local weatherman Martin Miles, who says that after the monsoon that was this weekend, we can expect a slightly drier and warmer week ahead.
Tuesday 🌦️ Warm sunny spells and a few hit-and-miss showers. Breezy during the afternoon. Max 18C.
Wednesday 🌧️ Muggy with showery rain edging in from the west, turning more widespread and persistent later in the day. Max 18C.
Thursday 🌦️ A mix of sunny spells and showers once any morning rain has cleared. Feeling warm in the sunshine. Max 20C.
Friday 🌦️ Warm with hazy periods of sunshine. Risk of a few heavy showers, most likely during the afternoon. Max 20C.
Weekend Remaining changeable as low pressure will be nearby. Average temperatures.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: A chaotic Friday night in Piccadilly Gardens
Top line: On Saturday, the front page of the MEN read: “School kids run riot in city centre,” after hundreds of children flooded Piccadilly Gardens after breaking up for the summer. Eggs were thrown at police, who attempted to control the situation, which lasted for hours.
Impact: A dispersal order was put in place, shops were forced to lock their doors, trams were slowed to a crawl and people were prevented from going about their daily business.
Eventually, tactical aid unit officers were deployed and the situation was calmed.
GMP have promised a full investigation into the incident, saying it “will not tolerate or accept this level of disorder or disruption in Manchester”.
Context: It isn’t the first time this kind of incident has made headlines. Back in November, a group of around 700 children caused “chaos” outside the Arndale, with many drinking alcohol and blocking tramlines. At the time, Harpurhey councillor and senior Labour figure Pat Karney tweeted how lessons needed to be learned after these “intimidating” scenes.
Now, Karney is calling for a meeting with Andy Burnham and the police after a video circulated of a brawl outside the Market Street tram stop on Friday — the same evening as the disruption caused by kids breaking up after school.
The video: Posted by @mcroutlaws on Instagram — an account that mostly shares the registration plates of unmarked police cars — the video shows a group of men fighting, with some beating one another with belts and bats. It has sparked a conversation about antisocial behaviour in the city centre.
“This is disgraceful,” tweeted The Sunday Times’s northern editor David Collins. “Right on Market Street, the main shopping district [...] Manchester city centre’s businesses, the city council and police need a more joined up approach to creating a family friendly environment in the city”.
In a statement appealing for witnesses, GMP said that officers were called to the scene, but “all parties quickly dispersed from the area”. A 16-year-old has been arrested in connection with the incident.
We’re writing about this story this week — if you have some insight, or you are one of the teenagers involved, please email Mollie.
Your Mill briefing
The weather made headlines this weekend, and not just in the form of our own pluviophilic longread. Heavy rain cost England their chance to retain the Ashes and cost Mill staffers Mollie and Jack their admission to the third day of Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank, which was reduced to a “mud bath” and had to cancel all of its Sunday tickets. We’ll leave you to decide which of those is the more significant. This morning, there were still three flood warnings in place across the city region. You can keep up with flood risks here. Fortunately, as our weatherman attests above, things are looking up.
The developer Renaker, a prolific builder of similar-looking towers, has benefitted from 50% of the loans issued by the Greater Manchester Housing Investment Loans Fund, according to a Freedom of Information request filed by BBC journalist James Graham. The fund is supposed to “kick-start housing projects that would otherwise be difficult to fund from elsewhere”. But the question raised by Graham’s FOI is: should £389.5m of taxpayer money be loaned to a single private company? And, if Renaker is now responsible for half of the fund’s target of creating 10,000 new homes by 2025, should city centre blocks with little or no affordable housing really be the focus?
People in certain parts of Bury are, on average, dying seven years earlier than other areas of the borough, according to a new report into health inequalities. A man living in Pilkington Park ward will live nearly a decade longer than a man living in Moorside and the same applies to women living in Moorside compared to women living in North Manor. The report's authors said there are: “higher rates of death from several major killers in more deprived areas including heart disease, stroke cancers, liver disease, and in 2020 and 21, Covid-19".
And finally, Chanel has announced it will launch its 2023/24 collection in Manchester. The show — “a celebration of the savoir-faire of Chanel’s métiers d’art” — will take place on 7 December at a venue that is yet to be announced. An office sweepstake has ensued. Aviva Studios feels likely, The Millstone in the Northern Quarter, less so.
Home of the week
This apartment, in a former Victorian farmhouse in Altrincham, has a balcony overlooking a communal garden, spacious open plan rooms and three bedrooms. It’s on the market for £475,000.
Our favourite reads
Vini Reilly, the reclusive and softly-spoken 70-year-old former guitarist in post-punk band The Durutti Column, says he saw Tony Wilson as “a father figure” who looked out for him during a period of depression after Reilly’s own father died. The death left him living on the streets, where he “got involved in a world of violence and gangs”. He once watched a friend die in his lap and says he would sometimes “deliberately antagonise” Moss Side gangsters in the hopes that they would kill him. The turning point for Reilly was meeting Bruce Mitchell, who would later play drums for The Durutti Column and manage the band. It was clear to Wilson and Mitchell that Reilly was a generational talent on the guitar, but he dismisses that praise. “Go to any bar in Córdoba in Spain and those guys playing there will make me look stupid,” he says. “They’ll never make any albums and no one’s ever heard them but they’re the players, they really are.”
“When I was growing up,” Angela Rayner says, “you were told to know your place and there’s a resilient part of me, a chip on my shoulder, maybe, that still thinks, No, why should I? Why should I be silent, or be changed, or have my rough edges smoothed off as some people might like?” In contrast to Sir Keir Starmer’s “extreme caution” and mild temperament, there’s Rayner, whose “fearless” outbursts in Prime Minister’s Questions and pragmatic brand of politics might go a long way to remind Labour voters that “Labour is still in touch with its traditional roots”. This entertaining profile takes a look at her vision for a Labour government, why Tory ministers are scared of her and her working relationship with Starmer.
How business went mad for Manchester — The Sunday Times
The giant telecommunications company TalkTalk recently decided to abandon the capital and move to Manchester, attracted to the city’s autonomy over key areas like business support and skills. It’s a sign of the way “Manchester is increasingly being seen as the obvious option,” for big companies dealing with the high cost of being based in London. This piece thinks there’s a downside to the city’s success — concerns we are becoming too “inward-looking” as a result of devolution, with proposed technical qualifications like the MBacc, which is intended to align with the local job market but carries the risk of appearing like its not transferable to other cities and other job markets.
Aviva Studios, Manchester review – where’s the joy? — The Guardian
This review takes a critical look at the architecture and aims of Aviva Studios, which was envisioned as “a 1960s dream of flexible architecture, where buildings are equipment rather than objects, instruments for infinite delights”. Instead, the finished product resembles a “functional box” “wrapped in glum concrete” where “the extensive cost-cutting is evident in the flawed details”. Architecture critic Rowan Moore asks: “Did the festival, which, as its organisers boast, thrived in spaces ‘from car parks to concert halls’, really need a lavish new venue by iconic architects? And was the nice-sounding idea of ‘flexibility’, which in practice multiplies the cost of construction, truly thought through?”
Our to do list
🧵 There’s a new public art trail in Eccles filled with colourful textile installations, murals celebrating the history of Eccles market and pop-up exhibitions that showcase arts and crafts from local residents. It runs until the end of September, and you can find a copy of the trail map here.
🎶 Night and Day Cafe are hosting the Local Showcase offering a platform for the best up-and-coming talent in Manchester to perform and build connections in the music industry. You’ll hear four artists perform, with influences ranging from LCD Soundsystem to the National, and tickets are just £5.
🎨 Factory International’s Creative Learnings team is putting on a series of art workshops for kids inspired by the popular exhibition You, Me and the Balloons by Yayoi Kusama. This Wednesday, you’re invited to explore Kusama’s world through African print and mandala. It’s free to attend, just drop in.
🖼️ Salford Museum and Art Gallery hosts a new exhibition highlighting the work of local mental health charity START, displaying beautiful portrait art produced by people who have benefited from the charity’s support services. Visit here.
🪴 There’s a drop-in pottery painting workshop at the Font in Chorlton. It’s free to attend; pay for a pot and get stuck in. Book a place here.
📚 The cycling workshop and cafe Station South in Levenshulme has a weekly book club that is free to attend and is aimed at helping you rediscover the joy of reading. This week, they’re discussing On This Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. More here.
Looking further ahead? Members get our unmissable weekend to do list in their inboxes every Thursday morning.