To eradicate deaths on the road, Greater Manchester looks to Sweden
Plus, your chance to help rewild the city centre
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing, coming at you from the eye of Storm Isha: St Ann’s Square, where our Victorian windows have survived the high winds. We're bringing you the latest on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s plans to completely eradicate deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 2040, using a Swedish model of road management that has seen casualties there drop dramatically. Plus, read about one writer’s nerdy trip to a vintage guitar shop with Johnny Marr, a piece of performance art which features four women hacking at chairs with saws, and a comedy show entirely about crisps.
Over the weekend, we published a gripping long-read about the death of Daniel Burke, a soldier from Wythenshawe alleged to have been murdered by a fellow fighter in Ukraine. Mollie covered the story from here, with additional reporting from Anna Myroniuk in Kyiv. “Brilliant article offering a very personal, real story amidst the big geopolitical reporting of the Ukraine invasion,” said one member in the comments. “Keep doing the good work, and I hope Daniel’s family finds some peace after all the grief.”
Last week, we published great pieces about the art of “irrational recreation” on Boggart Hole Clough Park by the brilliant Ophira Gottlieb, and the relationship between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Fujitsu, the tech company at the centre of the Post Office Scandal. Since we published our piece, the story has been picked up by the Telegraph and the Daily Mail. For some reason, the Mail was able to get an on-the-record response from Andy Burnham about the deal he signed in Japan last month, something we asked for in vain several times last week.
Coming up this week, we take a look at the intense jockeying taking place behind the scenes among Labour figures for Tony Lloyd’s seat in Rochdale (Lloyd sadly died last week), tell another great story about Piccadilly Radio and publish an extract from a book in which a local author considers the essence of Manchester. If you’re not a member yet, join up now to read those stories and support our work. We only need 12 more members to hit our target of 100 newbies this month, which would get our year off to a great start. If you’re not a member yet, hit that button to get us over the line and get access to a cornucopia of members-only stories.
🎧 Our latest podcast episode is out now. In it, Mollie and Jack discuss his recent reporting on the GMCA’s partnership with Fujitsu, a deal that Andy Burnham described as a “massive boost” for Greater Manchester but has been rather quieter about since the Post Office scandal took off. Listen on your preferred listening platform here.
Coming up next week: ‘a magnetically attractive event’
From today’s sponsor: Manchester is globally renowned for its bands and its football teams, but we also have — in the words of The Times — “one of the world's best orchestras”. The Hallé have been entertaining Mancunian audiences for 165 years and they have a sensational calendar of concerts ready for this year, including a three-day celebration of the music of Steve Reich, a living legend from the world of contemporary classical music, starting next week. It will feature world-class artists like “daring percussionist” Colin Currie and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Reich himself says the festival “promises to be a magnetically attractive event.” Book your tickets now.
🌦️ This week’s weather
Tuesday ⚠️ Very mild with heavy rain and increasingly gusty winds. Max 15°C.
Wednesday 🌦️ Windy with bright spells and a few showers during the morning. Max 9°C.
Thursday 🌦️ Mild, breezy and mostly cloudy with occasional showers. Max 12°C.
Friday ☀️ Breezy with sunny spells and predominantly dry conditions but feeling colder. Max 9°C.
Weekend 🌦️ Mild and largely cloudy with sporadic light showers.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Greater Manchester wants to cut road traffic fatalities to zero. How?
Top line: The Greater Manchester Combined Authority wants to reduce the number of fatalities and life-changing injuries on its roads to zero by 2040. That’s a bold claim — but how will it work in reality?
Under the new strategy — named ‘Vision Zero’ after the Swedish approach to road safety — the combined authority wants to change the way people think about road safety. Collisions can no longer be “an inevitable consequence of travelling on the roads,” they have to be viewed as avoidable and ultimately unacceptable. A draft report of the plans will go to a scrutiny committee this week.
Data check: In 2022, 64 people died in Greater Manchester as a result of injuries sustained in road traffic collisions.
Marcus Simmons-Allen, an 18-year-old from Broadheath, was hit while trying to pull his friend out the way of a driver going almost twice the 30mph speed limit.
Frankie Jules-Hough, a 38-year-old from Chadderton, died alongside her unborn child after being hit by a driver filming himself reaching speeds of 123mph.
The combined authority estimates that 2022’s road casualties — that includes deaths and moderate to serious injuries — cost £500 million across medical, police, damage to property and insurance costs, as well as lost output and the human cost of losing loved ones.
Zoom in: Road safety varies across boroughs, and some groups are more vulnerable than others. The graph below breaks down road casualties across road user groups between 2018 and 2022. Pedestrians get killed the most (although of course there are many more of them than cyclists). The graph suggests Trafford isn’t a great place to be a cyclist, and that Salford’s casualties are more evenly spread among types of road users.
The report also finds that some groups are more likely to become road casualties. Between 2018 and 2022, twice as many men were killed or seriously injured on Greater Manchester’s roads as women. People from more deprived backgrounds were also more likely to become road casualties, with over a quarter of casualties between 2018-2022 being suffered by people from the most deprived 10% of households.
Goals: Local leaders want a 50% reduction in road casualties by 2030 and a complete eradication of them by 2040. That target seems to be framed as a moral imperative (any number of road casualties is too many, so the only number it’d be right to aim for is zero). But how will that work?
Looking to Sweden: The Safe System, which was created in Sweden, is the main focus. It proposes a safer road system that separates road users and lowers the chances of collisions; more public safety messaging to encourage people to wear seatbelts, drive at safer speeds and avoid using their phones while driving; and developing quicker response to collisions, and more thorough investigations into what caused them to prevent future incidents.
Evidence base: In Sweden, where Vision Zero was first put in place in the mid-90s, road fatalities have dropped 65% between 1997 and 2022. This is despite traffic volume increasing during that time, although of course other factors outside of this one initiative might have contributed to the reduction.
Dame Sarah Storey, Greater Manchester’s Active Travel commissioner, said:
The benefits of adopting Vision Zero go far beyond the important first reason of ensuring no family has to endure the death of a loved one through road crime. Emergency and health services are too frequently overwhelmed by the aftermath of collisions and the fiscal cost to society each year runs into the billions of pounds.
Bottom line: Vision Zero is still in the draft stages, but it will be interesting to see what kind of action plan the GMCA put together to make this happen. Harry Gray, an active travel activist in the city, said: “It's great to see Dame Sarah Storey outline the pathway to vision zero today. We welcome a more holistic approach to the causes of road danger in Greater Manchester.”
Your Mill briefing
🌹 Speculation is growing about who will stand for Labour in the upcoming by-election in Rochdale, following the death of Tony Lloyd last week. Michael Crick, who runs the Twitter account @TomorrowsMPs, has heard that the i Paper’s political editor Paul Waugh is in contention. “Apparently Labour's thinking is that Waugh could deflect attacks on Rochdale Labour party over failings over local child sex abuse & grooming gangs,” tweets Crick. “Because of Waugh's own reporting helping to expose former Liberal MP Cyril Smith.” That’s the third major theory we’ve heard, with some sources whispering alternative names in our ears, and some talk of Labour insisting on an all-women shortlist. Anyone with any gossip or ill-informed conjecture about this selection or other political dramas in GM, please email Jack.
🧱 The council in Bury has pushed back against claims it hasn’t been investing in one of the town’s most well-known assets: Bury Market. Some of its traders were relocated out of its hall after it was found to have been constructed using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC, remember all that?). The complaints are coming from the traders who are yet to be rehomed, putting their livelihoods at risk. The council say they have spent £700,000 on the market in the last three years, and that claims the market is being starved of investment are “totally false”.
💬 Andy Burnham has now spoken about the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s relationship with Fujitsu, the tech company made infamous for its role in the Post Office Scandal. When we wrote about it last week, we couldn’t get an on-the-record comment from Burnham about how he feels about the relationship, but after we reported our story, the national media jumped on it and suddenly the mayor was able to speak. “Fujitsu is a large, longstanding employer in Greater Manchester, and it is right that we work closely with them,” Burnham said in a statement. “Of course, the public inquiry is bringing new information into the public domain all the time and we will wait for its conclusions before taking any decisions.”
👮♂️ Police were called to a Manchester City Council planning hearing last week, with residents allegedly blocked from sitting in the public gallery to listen to a hearing on the University of Manchester’s application to build more student accommodation on Owens’ Park in Fallowfield. “It felt like we were in a police state, it was ridiculous,” says one resident who attended. During heckles from the public gallery, the chair said: “this is not a pantomime, it’s planning. It’s serious”, the public gallery was then cleared. Residents say the student population in Fallowfield has become untenable, as we reported in our story last year: Where is Manchester supposed to put its students?
❤️ And finally, over £40,000 has been raised in the memory of Luke Howe, a 14-year-old boy with learning difficulties whose body was discovered in the River Bollin after he went missing from his Grandparents’ home in Hale last Thursday evening. The money is set to go towards his school.
Home of the week
This Grade II listed cottage is tucked away in Offerton and has stone floors, a large garden and original wooden beams. It’s on the market for £500,000.
Our favourite reads
Johnny Marr Loves his Axes — The New Yorker
Journalist John Seabrook takes a trip to a tiny vintage guitar shop with Smiths co-founder Johnny Marr. Marr explains that finding the right guitar was his “main concern” as he came of age in Manchester’s punk scene, and learning to play a great guitar “turned my daydreams into sound.” How Soon Is Now seemed to tumble out of a 1963 Epiphone Casino, and the riff to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now emerged when he was alone in a hotel room with a 1960 Gibson ES-355. “A lot of guitar players will tell you, when you go into a store and pick something up, you pretty much know in about three seconds whether that guitar is for you or not,” he says.
In 2006, former surveillance expert Graham Redford was convicted of the murder of Stacey Lloyd and told he must serve at least 30 years. He has always denied the allegations, believing he was framed after tipping off GMP about a criminal boss’s large supply of weapons. “As long as I have a breath in my body I will keep fighting,” Redford told the MEN. “I will never ever back down. I was brought up to be straight and upfront and that's what I have been all along.”
A Psappha Playlist — VAN Magazine
In November last year, Psappha, a contemporary music ensemble based in Manchester, announced they would close for good after losing Arts Council funding. Hugh Morris writes about what the music world will lose without them, with particular reference to their “Composing for…” scheme, which partnered early-career composers with professionals, allowing them to create their first composition. “The range of results from the scheme is enormous, and listening to just a few of over 100 resulting pieces, you can feel the tingly fresh feeling of composers committing things to paper for the first time.”
Our to do list
🗣️ BBC journalist Ros Atkins is discussing his must-read book The Art of Explanation at Manchester Central Library from 6.30pm, which aims to help you express yourself as accurately and persuasively as possible. Tickets here.
🍃 In NOMA, there’s a small but lush urban garden that is kindly maintained by over 100 community gardeners. If you’d like to get involved, they meet outside the Sadler’s Cat pub every Tuesday evening at 6pm. Sign up here.
🎧 There’s a new audiophile listening room in Stretford Mall which features local DJs and is an alcohol-free space, so you can enjoy a hot Vimto or sparkling water without worrying about a midweek hangover. It’s open for two weeks only, find out more here.
📚 Also in NOMA, there’s a new spot called Altogether Otherwise that runs free cooking clubs, pottery and art workshops. There’s a book club on the last Wednesday of each month, where people sit and discuss “radical ideas through the printed word”. Reserve a spot here.
😆 The King’s Arms in Salford presents The Crisp Review, in which comedian Adam Evans dissects what makes the perfect crisp. The show was an audience favourite at the Greater Manchester Fringe 2022 and tickets include free crisps.
🪚 Head to MMU for Future Flares, an experimental performance art festival with a broad lineup, including the contemporary theatre company Reckless Sleepers who are best known for “destroying things, smashing cups, breaking down walls, cutting up furniture”. Their performance at Future Flares follows the same theme, featuring four women hacking at chairs with saws. More here.