Discover more from The Mill
'Wherever you are Tiffany, I hope you’ve found peace'
Plus a look at the latest Covid numbers in GM and the rest of the weekly briefing
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing, which is packed with things to do, a roundup of news from across Greater Manchester, the latest Covid-19 data and a charming 2-bed cottage in Ladybarn for £280,000.
The latest episode of our free weekly podcast is about a murder-suicide in Bolton, which we covered in the coroner’s court recently. Listen by clicking the button below, and please do leave us a rating after you’ve finished. We make the podcast with the brilliant Audio Always in MediaCity, and we’d love to hear your feedback and ideas for how we can develop and grow it.
A murder-suicide in Bolton
Last week, we published a harrowing account of the life and death of Bolton mother Tiffany Stevens, who killed herself and both her children in 2019. Our new staff writer Jack Dulhanty attended the inquest and built up a picture of her life and what drove her to the murder-suicide. Here’s an extract from Jack’s piece.
Tiffany’s childhood abuse, and her interactions with child protection and social services, seem to have cultivated in her mind a deep distrust: of other people; of authority figures; of the institutions that are charged with looking after people with childhoods like hers.
It’s common for people who grow up in care to be anxious about their capacity to be good parents. But for Tiffany this anxiety was sharpened to the point that it became consuming. She developed a preoccupation with the idea that her own children might end up in care.
An antenatal nurse who visited the house noted that Tiffany never wanted to be away from Casey-Lea. They found Tiffany and Liam were loving parents and that Casey-Lea was well fed and well dressed. But concerns were raised about the conditions in the home, described as “grubby,” and the child was put on a child protection plan.
Tiffany was distressed by this. Her relationship with Liam deteriorated after Casey-Lea’s birth, and now the agencies she had long distrusted had started to form an unwanted presence in her life.
If you haven’t yet, join us as a member now to read that and all our members-only editions. Members get four editions of The Mill each week, and last week that included a great one about the massive new engineering campus at the University of Manchester. That edition also included an update on the chaos at Oldham Athletic.
This week, members will be getting pieces about why the authorities are struggling to find adopter parents for non-white children in care; and a piece that asks whether Greater Manchester’s sprawling healthcare system is getting the scrutiny it needs. Join as a member below for £7 a month to read those.
This week’s weather ⛅️
Our forecast comes from local weatherman Martin Miles, who says: “Our weather will remain predominantly settled this week with high pressure always close by. Temperatures will be around the seasonal average, and we will enjoy mostly dry days.”
Monday 🌤 Plenty of sunny spells, although a few areas may get stuck with stubborn cloud cover, mainly rurally. Winds will be light throughout the day. Max 9°c.
Tuesday 🌥 Areas of mist and fog are likely to develop extensively during Monday night. We will find mist, fog and low cloud will be slow to clear on Tuesday, although a few bright spells should develop later. Cold. Max 5°c.
Wednesday 🌦 Early birds will need a brolly as a weak cold front moves down on Wednesday morning, bringing showery light rain. Skies will brighten towards lunchtime, and all areas will become dry. Max 8°c.
Thursday 🌤 High pressure will build back in from the west on Thursday. We will see lots of winter sunshine, especially in the west. Max 6°c.
Friday ⛅️ A dry Friday will follow, although it will be cloudier than on Thursday. Max 8°c.
Weekend 🌥 Winter will remain benign for now with high pressure likely to remain in control.
For the full forecast please visit Manchester Weather. Forecasts are posted daily at 6.15am.
🕵️♂️ Grist to The Mill: If you want to tell us about a story or pass on some information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
The big story: Cases now falling fast, but hospitals remain under pressure
Top line: The Covid-19 case rate is now falling very fast in Greater Manchester — down 52% in a week, bringing us in line with the national rate. That’s obviously great news, but we’re still keeping an eye on whether the people who got infected a few weeks ago during the height of the Omicron surge are going to translate into more problems for our hospitals.
A bit of stress: On Friday, BBC Radio 4 spoke to Dr Dan Nethercott, an ICU consultant and Royal Bolton Hospital, who said:
I wouldn’t say, at the current time, that intensive care in my hospital is overwhelmed. We’re under a bit of stress. We’re often under a bit of stress when trying to do the most good with the resources that we have.
Cases: There has been a marked fall in case rates in recent days. The GM rate is 1,085.4, down 52.1% in a week compared to England’s 1,030.3, down 43.2%. Case rates have fallen in all ten GM boroughs. Rochdale has the highest infection rates in GM, about 1,500. Manchester has the lowest, around the 1,400-mark. See our dashboard below.
Hospitalisations: Last Monday, the number of Covid-19 patients in critical care beds had increased to 65, from 54 the week before. That’s the highest it’s been for months, but much lower than the peak of 170 we saw just under a year ago. The number of Covid cases outside critical care also increased to 1,203, from 1,020 the week before. There were 392 hospital admissions for Covid-19 last week, with 778 in-patient diagnoses — both slightly down on the previous week. For the latest data, head here.
Vaccinations: As of the 11th of January, 54% of adults in GM have had a booster jab. Amongst the over 70s, 96% have had one shot, 94% have had two and 86% have been boosted. Today, booster jabs became available to all 16–17-year-olds in England — until now, boosters were only available to the clinically vulnerable in that age group.
Bottom line: If admissions numbers continue to fall, the focus will begin to turn to the massive game of catch-up that the NHS needs to do. Six million people in the UK are on waiting lists, including many in GM whose procedures were postponed over the past few weeks.
Home of the week
This charming 2-bed cottage on Ladybarn Lane has a lovely kitchen and a nice-sized garden. It’s on the market for £280,000.
Other local news in brief
Texas siege: Two teenagers in south Manchester have been arrested in connection with the siege at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday. It was carried out by Malik Faisal Akram from Blackburn, who was shot dead after taking ten hostages. His family said they were "devastated" by his death, but did not condone his actions. More here.
Clean Air Zone: The furore surrounding GM’s Clean Air Zone rollout continues after Andy Burnham met with Michael Gove on Friday. A report on Thursday “will set out emerging evidence that global supply chain issues could increase the costs and reduce availability of cleaner vehicles,” says the combined authority. Read more.
‘He's a coward’: A focus group of people who voted conservative in Bolton North East, a red-wall seat, turned up a series of bracing verdicts on Boris Johnson’s integrity and performance as prime minister. Voters called him a "buffoon" and a "coward" who can't be trusted. See the tweet thread below.
North-South divide: The State of the North report, from think-tank IPPR, estimated that the North receives £8,125 per person in public investment, compared to £12,147 per person in London. More here, and read the full report here.
Oldham sexual abuse: A leak to the Mirror has revealed failings in the handling of child sexual exploitation cases in Oldham — one passage describes the responses of Oldham council and GMP to victim's complaints as "disappointing." More here.
Our to do list
📚 Talk | Brian Groom, author of the forthcoming book Northerners: A History will be giving a Zoom talk on Wednesday at 7pm. In the talk, he will “lay out the dramatic events that created the North”. Looks informative and fascinating. Tickets here.
🎶 Music | The 2022 NQ jazz season is off to a flying start and The Julian Siegel Quartet is playing at The Yard this evening. Book here.
🖼 Exhibition | The Van Gogh Alive installation at Salford Quays has been extended by another month — and we noticed on Instagram this weekend that Andy Burnham paid a visit with his family. Book here.
🗣 Talk | On Wednesday, there’s going to be a talk about the Fairfield Moravian Settlement, which inspired socialist reformer Robert Owen and the later Garden City planners. Book here.
🎨 Painting | Choose your favourite Picasso painting and get those brushes out. Settle in for an interesting workshop this Saturday at Chapter One Books, in the Northern Quarter. Book here.
🐶 Cinema | This evening Ducie Street Warehouse is showing ‘Hotel for Dogs’ at their dog-friendly cinema. Bring your canine companion along. Book here.
👻 Walk | Head out on a Manchester ghost walk this weekend. You’ll end up under Forsyths’ music shop on Deansgate. Organisers promise that “it will be dark down there, it will be scary.” Book here.
🏫Workshop | A callout for those who work with or research oral histories. On Friday there’s a workshop at the John Rylands Library, with speakers from Manchester Histories Festival and Manchester Museum. Book here.
Our favourite reads
Converted from the art deco offices of the Daily Express, the 27m-tall Connect House “gleamed as a beacon of Manchester’s regeneration when it was completed in 2003,” says the paper. Now it’s known for a different reason. “Michael Gove, the housing secretary, may have declared war on companies that profited from unsafe homes, but for the residents of one Manchester block the battle already looks lost. In one of the worst cases of Britain’s fire-safety scandal, they are on the brink of losing their homes altogether.”
The pigeon among the fat cats — Big Issue North
Longtime Miller and writer David Barnett has written an intriguing piece about a man known as The Killer in New York, despite hailing from Wigan and Liverpool. “Madden had worked the bootlegging gangs during Prohibition, done time in the notorious Sing Sing prison for manslaughter, and ran the legendary Cotton Club. Which was not bad for a lad born in Leeds and raised in Wigan and Liverpool.”
An ex-plumber, a pie maker, a pair of pioneers — The Observer
Jay Rayner has included the head chef of Erst in his pick of rising stars for 2022. “Patrick Withington recognises the appeal of his story: that until he was 27 years old, he was a plumber; that he gave it all up and went into cooking professionally because he loved food more than he loved fitting radiators and calibrating boilers.”
Temporary accommodation in Greater Manchester — The Meteor
This article highlights how the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation is rocketing across Greater Manchester, with Manchester showing the biggest rise of all. “On 31 March 2010 there were 470 households living in temporary accommodation across Greater Manchester. In 2021 that figure had risen to 3,881, a huge 726% increase.”
Book of the week: Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood
A classic this week. Walter Greenwood’s 1933 novel was a response to the crisis of unemployment and depicts an evocative — if not bleak — portrait of the lives of Harry and Sally Hardcastle in Hanky Park, Salford.
The doorsteps and window-sills of the houses are worn hollow. Once a week, sometimes twice, the women clean them with brown or white rubbing stone; the same with portions of the pavement immediately outside their front doors. And they glare at any pedestrians who unavoidably muddy their handiwork in traversing the strip. Some women there are whose lives are dedicated to an everlasting battle with the invincible forces of soot and grime.
You can buy Love on the Dole here.
Letters to the editor
This article reminds me of the time I spent working for a mental health charity prior to my retirement. ('Can you tell me that they didn’t suffer? Please.') Emotionally unstable personality disorder is one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat, and is usually accompanied by severe anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts. Its sufferers are at high risk of suicide or accidental death due to risk-taking behaviour — but don't usually present any risk to others. Congratulations on an article that was well researched and written — and avoided the sensationalist and often hysterical reportage that one sees so often in the mainstream media. Elaine, Bury
I’ve just read Jack Dulhanty’s piece about the unlawful killing of two toddler girls by their suicidal mother.('Can you tell me that they didn’t suffer? Please.') If I live to be a hundred I’ll never write a better piece than this. Or read many that are half so good. Wherever you are Tiffany, I hope you’ve found peace. Phil, Wythenshawe