'Vast chasm' between Greater Manchester's climate rhetoric and progress so far

Green Summit prompts debate, plus the rest of the weekly briefing

Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing. It’s starting to feel a bit autumnal, so get the knitwear ready.

Over the weekend we published our review of Paul Morley’s long-awaited biography of Tony Wilson, From Manchester with Love. One reader said it was “The most perceptive review of Paul Morley’s biography of Tony Wilson that you’re going to read,” and Terry Christian, who features in the book, tweeted this morning: “Sort of scared to read it.”

Here’s a passage from our piece:

Unencumbered by the limitations of a magazine word count, Morley peppers his readers with dozens and dozens of stream-of-consciousness lists, some of which stretch to half a page. Because Morley doesn't know much about Wilson's upbringing, he is always on the lookout for off-ramps to stuff he does know about, however tenuous the connection is. If there's a chance to talk about another old boy from Wilson's school who created Lenny the Lion and whose show Pops and Lenny featured the second BBC TV appearance by the Beatles, Morley will take it.

The Mill
Tony Wilson gets the biography he wanted
By Joshi Herrmann It’s not clear exactly when and where Tony Wilson cast a spell over the music critic Paul Morley, but it must have been around about the mid-1970s and it was probably in one of the dingy clubs where Manchester’s music scene was feverishly mustering ahead of its epic punk-inspired revival…
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The Manchester Weekly

We now have a weekly podcast, The Manchester Weekly from The Mill. It’s free-to-listen and includes updates on the week’s news, plus an in-depth discussion about one of our recent long reads with the writer who produced it.

Our first episode is now out — tune in to listen to Jack Dulhanty talk to our host Darryl Morris about how a Manchester student became addicted to VR. This link should allow you to listen to it in the podcast app of your choice. The Apple Podcasts version is here and the Spotify version is here.

Please do share the pod with friends or retweet the tweet below. We’d love your support and feedback. Please subscribe and leave a rating, and send your thoughts to joshi@manchestermill.co.uk.

This week’s weather 🌦

Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says “An unseasonably mild but unsettled start to the week will give way to colder weather from Wednesday. However, despite the colder temperatures later, the end of the week will briefly turn drier and more settled.”

Monday 🌧 Mostly dry at first, but showery rain will arrive from the south west during the afternoon. Cloudy. Max 16°c.

Tuesday 🌧 Quite warm and humid with outbreaks of moderate to heavy rain. Localised flooding is possible, and weather warnings may be issued. Max 18°c.

Wednesday 🌦 Much cooler on the back of a cold front. Heavy showers will be frequent, and winds will be gusty. Max 14°c. 

Thursday 🌦 Cold with a bitter wind from the north west. There will be occasional blustery showers, especially AM. Risk of frost overnight as skies clear and winds ease. Max 10°c. 

Friday 🌥 Mostly dry with bright spells. Feeling cold. Max 11°c. 

Weekend 🍂 Milder air will arrive; however, low pressure will also return. Showers and longer spells of rain will feature. 

For the full forecast, please visit Manchester Weather.

The big story: GM wants to speed up carbon emissions plan

Top line: At Greater Manchester’s Green Summit today, Andy Burnham outlined the city region’s plan to reduce its carbon emissions. The mayor wants to hit carbon neutrality 12 years ahead of the national target, which is set for 2050.

What’s new? The 2038 date isn’t new, but now as part of the “Levelling Up Deal” Burnham is trying to strike with the government, there’s a proposal to “accelerate our journey to a net zero” and remove 1 million tonnes of carbon over three years.

  • The mayor says that as the only city-region where buses will be coming under public control, Greater Manchester is “uniquely placed to speed up decarbonisation of transport.”

  • He told the summit: “This is the moment we have to make the change. If we do not act now we are going to be causing real damage for future generations.”

At the summit, the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership launched a new website Bee Net Zero, which signposts businesses to support about how they can reduce their carbon emissions. They want GM to be “the easiest place in the UK” for businesses to go green.

Speaking to The Mill, Adam Pierce from Climate Emergency Manchester said GM was “very good at the marketing side” but that “you can’t hide away from the numbers.” Last July CEM reported that Manchester City Council achieved 4% of its emissions reductions target in 2019. Pierce told us:

We are nowhere near on track when it comes to emissions reductions that are required to be on the Paris Agreement. The rhetoric around what they’re doing and what they’re actually achieving, there is a vast chasm of difference.

How it’s going: Earlier this year, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund was criticised for its “woeful response” to calls for it to divest from fossil fuel firms. It’s the largest local government pension scheme in the UK and invests more than £1bn in oil and gas stocks.

Manchester City Council said earlier this year that it was on course to meet its target of reducing its direct carbon emissions by a further 50% by 2025. But in July 2020, in its Manchester Climate Change report, it stated that it would need to reduce emissions by 14.8% every year — up from the 13% target it originally set.

Trafford’s Green Party councillor Michael Welton welcomed the idea of accelerating GM’s plans, but pointed out that Burnham was restricted by limited budgets and powers. Welton told us that fairer funding should be made for combined authorities because there is “far too much of the begging bowl, cap in hand to the government for money.” He told us:

That’s a matter policy and political will. We can get there [2038 target] if the political will is there. My worry is that we’re not being honest with the people about the changes [we need to make] in our lives to get anywhere close to those goals, particularly when we are not addressing major elephants in the room, such as the continued expansion of Manchester Airport.

🕵️‍♂️ Grist to The Mill: If you want to tell us about a story or pass on some information, please email joshi@manchestermill.co.uk, mollie@manchestermill.co.uk or dani@manchestermill.co.uk. 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.

Home of the week

This delightful 2-bed terraced house in Worsley has a nice sized garden and airy rooms. It’s on the market for £300,000.

Other local news in brief

  • Matthew Moulding, CEO of Manchester-based online retailer THG, is to give up the “golden share” which gives him outsized control over the company, after a torrid week on the markets. Around £2 billion has been wiped off the company’s value since this time last week, partly driven by investor concerns about the group's corporate governance. Read more.

  • Manchester's post-pandemic train timetable has been decided. Manchester leaders and the government have settled on a timetable that will see direct links between Manchester Airport and Liverpool, North Wales and Chester. Read more.

  • Andy Burnham has urged people to wear face coverings on public transport as “the pandemic is not over.” Covid cases have risen in all eight of GM's boroughs. According to a recent report, only 45% of Metrolink users were wearing masks at the end of August. Read more.

The Rumour Mill

Yesterday bibliophiles on Twitter were greeted with the devastating prospect that Manchester’s neo-Gothic gem, the John Rylands Library was “potentially closing to the public” after the popular local account @skylinermcr tweeted:

Heard some rumours about it and their Sunday closure isn't helping with tourism. Our loveliest city centre attraction, the behind the scenes tours are ace too. Really hope it's not true!

Quite where the rumour started is unclear. Earlier this year, independent media publication The Meteor reported that University of Manchester jobs were at risk due to restructuring, including some at the Rylands.

Thankfully, Associate Director of the Rylands, John Hodgson allayed those fears this morning, tweeting:

I can categorically state that this isn't true and will never happen on my watch. We are fully committed to public access and to public engagement with research.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet... Unless it’s on The Mill.

Photo of the week

Our to do list

🎙 Podcast | In the aftermath of the 7/7 London bombings, Guardian journalist Shiv Malik recorded a series of conversations in Manchester with Hassan Butt, a newly-radicalised Islamist. The two developed a friendship, but Malik was later betrayed. The Messenger is the story of how he tried to find the truth about what happened. Listen here.

🖼 Exhibition | The Whitworth is showing ‘Still Parents: Life after Baby Loss’, an exhibition that shares personal stories around baby loss. It’s the first exhibition of its kind and wants to encourage open conversations. More information here.

🎬 Film | Short film festival Kinofilm Festival starts on Tuesday and will be running until 26th October. It’s happening in Cheetham Hill, but some events will be at the Cervantes Institute. It looks very exciting — more information here.

🎭Theatre | Cabaret night Tickle Your Fancy is back at Edge Theatre, presented this Thursday by comedy singing act Doolally. Expect a great atmosphere, music, and a load of belly laughs. Book tickets here.

Event | Corridor of Light is a three-night celebration running from this Thursday to Saturday. It features visual art and live entertainment and kicks off at 6pm. More information here.

Our favourite reads

Among the TalibanFinancial Times

Manchester-based journalist and longtime Miller Adnan Sarwar returns to Afghanistan and takes stock of a country he grew up idealising. Sarwar is from Burnley and recalls what it was like being Pakistani in his hometown. “Jihad had inspired a childhood friend who left Burnley in the late 1990s to fight in Afghanistan. Recruiters could be found praying with you at mosques or talking to you on the cassette tapes on sale in Islamic shops.”

The key thing for me is an authentic expressionWePresent/WeTransfer

Alex Kahl interviews photographer Ton Van Schelven, who grew up in Manchester, and this piece explores his visually sumptuous photo project In Flight. “In Flight is an example of Tom’s love for those candid moments between subject and lens. The project shows a group of acrobats in the desert, backflipping over sand dunes and tumbling through the air against a backdrop of brilliant blue skies.”

'Manchester was my playground'Manchester Evening News

We enjoyed this feature about a man who lived in ‘The Bungalow’, a concrete box in the centre of Manchester. Peter Wright remembers swimming in the canals, which contained pike. It offers an interesting snapshot of the city centre before many people lived there. “As a young teenager, living somewhere like this, this was my playground, other people played in the parks but this was what we did, we went looking in the warehouses, we went in through the loading bays just for a bit of a nosey.”

Hometown gloryThe Face Magazine

This piece from last year is light on text but contains some beautiful portraits of people from Wythenshawe, who were asked about what they thought of Marcus Rashford. Included are two brothers, City and United supporters, who described their rivalry: “It’s a civil disagreement.”

Covid-19 update

  • Case rates: The case rate for Greater Manchester is 415 up 4.8% in a week compared to England’s 435.6, up 21.2%. Trafford has the highest infection rates in GM, around 700. Bolton has the lowest, of about 300.

  • Hospitalisations: As of 12th October, the number of Covid-19 patients in critical care is 45, up from 40 the week before. The total number of Covid patients in our hospitals minus critical care is 322, up from 285.

  • Vaccinations: 73% of all adults (over 1.7 million people) have now received their second Covid jab. That’s 93% of over-70s, 86% 50-69s, 61% of 18-49s.

Letters to the editor

I have just read the article about the state of healthcare in GM. (‘Greater Manchester pledged to cut cancer deaths. Then the promise disappeared’.) The amount of waste in hospitals must be astronomical if my experience is the norm. I have had operations transferred to another hospital, transferred back (because it shouldn’t have been transferred in the first instance) only to be transferred to the same hospital again. Booked in for operations only to be told they knew nothing of it — even when I showed them the letter. l believe letters sent out aren’t sent by the hospital anymore, they are sent by a separate company, and if you need to speak to someone about a letter, you might as well forget it.  The left hand, doesn’t seem to know what the right is doing and those working for the NHS rather than a separate company are constantly mopping up the carnage. Kimberley, Bolton

The Mill
Greater Manchester pledged to cut cancer deaths. Then the promise disappeared
Dear Millers — today’s members-only story is about healthcare and accountability. In 2015, Greater Manchester’s powerful new devolved health body set ambitious goals for cutting deaths from cancer and other diseases. But mysteriously, those targets disappeared when the body reviewed its own performance last year. And when we looked at the numbers recent…
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Joshi has written a not uncomplicated review of a swirling eddying biography of a tumultuous cascading life. (‘Tony Wilson gets the biography he wanted’.) Not many people north of Stockport viaduct would be brave enough to question a misplaced comma, let alone the biographer’s thoroughness and intent. Bracing. Phil, Wythenshawe