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Why has Manchester been ‘cut off indefinitely’?
Inside the deepening controversy over Avanti’s reduced timetable. Plus the rest of our weekly briefing.
Dear Millers — thanks for your many emails, messages and tweets about our weekend read, a piece which resulted from six months of work. Working with a team of data science students, who helped us to crunch dozens of data sets, we tried to really understand what is going on with homelessness in this city.
The follow-up piece, an alarming story about the companies who are being paid millions by the council to provide “temporary accommodation”, will be pubilshed for Mill members on Wednesday morning, so join us as a paying subscriber now to get that in your inbox if you haven't yet. Are the property firms contracted by Manchester City Council assisting with the eviction of tenants, thereby contributing to the very problem they are being paid to solve?
Saturday’s piece has had a massive response online. “This is an absolutely stunning piece of journalism from the @ManchesterMill,” tweeted a politics lecturer at the University of Manchester. “Those who teach or are interested in public policy should use this as an example of the unintended consequences of policy (& the difficulties of tackling homelessness).” Jack Barton, a Miller who works in the homelessness sector, described it as “one of the most important pieces of GM reportage in recent times”. Ed Caesar, who writes for the New Yorker magazine, tweeted:
This week’s weather🌦
Our weather forecast comes from local weather man Martin Miles, who says that after Monday, the heatwave will give way to a “cooler and changeable week”.
Tuesday 🌧 Much cooler and often cloudy with slowmoving heavy showers. Max 20°c
Wednesday 🌦 Mostly cloudy and breezy with showers. Max 19°c
Thursday ⛅️ A few bright breaks but predominantly cloudy. Most places will be dry. Max 20°c
Friday 🌦 Breezy with bright intervals and occasional showers AM. Drier with sunny spells PM. Max 20°c
Weekend 🌦 Remaining changeable with seasonable temperatures.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook. Daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Off the rails — strikes see spat between Manchester and government
Topline: Manchester finds itself in the extraordinary position of being “cut off” from London for a second day after Avanti West Coast cut many of its services from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston on Sunday due to staff shortages. TV crews were broadcasting live from Piccadilly this morning, as the London service went down to one train per hour instead of three.
Context: Manchester to London isn’t the only service affected:
Journeys from Chester, North Wales and London via the West Midlands to Edinburgh will also face cuts, according to the Independent.
It’s estimated that Avanti’s emergency timetable is cutting “hundreds of services every day” in total and passengers who try and book online are seeing many tickets are sold out.
On Saturday, a strike by the union Aslef “stopped most intercity trains between London and the Midlands, northern England and Scotland, and into south Wales,” according to the Guardian.
Aslef’s strike is the first of four to be carried out by separate transport unions, including the RMT, which will be staging two 24-hour strikes on Thursday and Saturday.
Some of the lines affected include Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Western Railway, LNER and West Midlands Trains.
Why are workers striking? The lack of a good pay rise as the cost of living increases is one of the key reasons why drivers are striking — and why Avanti drivers are “withdrawing their good will” by refusing to work overtime. Avanti relies on 250 drivers a day working on their rest days, it’s been reported. The number of drivers working on their rest days has recently dropped “dramatically” by almost 90%.
Mick Whelan, Aslef’s general secretary said that “strikes are always a last resort. We don’t want to inconvenience passengers — our friends and family use public transport, too.”
What does Avanti say? In a statement, the rail operator said the cuts to services were due to:
...the current industrial relations climate, resulting in severe staff shortages through increased sickness, as well as unofficial strike action by Aslef members.
As a result of the majority of drivers making themselves unavailable for overtime in a co-ordinated fashion, and at short notice, our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations which has had a severe impact on their plans.
Last week Andy Burnham, Bev Craig and Sadiq Khan issued a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, calling the withdrawal of services a “national outrage.” Craig tweeted: “Without consultation and under the banner of blaming workers – Avanti took a unilateral decision to cut off Manchester indefinitely.”
Today, Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, wrote in the Tameside Reporter:
So far, the Government have remained tight-lipped on Avanti’s actions, instead preferring to sit back and watch while a vital transport link is weakened between London and Manchester. Maybe the Secretary of State needs reminding that Manchester is one of the fastest growing employment centres in the United Kingdom and contributes more than £82bn to the UK economy.
Bottom line: Manchester’s calls to Shapps to restore Avanti’s services have largely fallen on deaf ears, with Mr Shapps telling Burnham and Khan to “take the matter up with the rail unions.” He also said that the rail system needs “reform when it relies on voluntary working to function properly.”
Home of the week
Inside this characterful stone schoolhouse in Bolton is a spacious 2-bedroom flat set over two floors. It has original timber beams and a communal garden. It’s on the market for £200,000.
Your Mill newsbriefing
Following our exclusive report last week about Salford Royal’s A&E being declared unsafe during an unannounced inspection, new NHS figures show that more than 29,000 patients waited more than 12 hours in A&E departments across the UK. The Spectator’s podcast asks if the NHS winter crisis has already arrived: June, July and August are meant to be the health service's slowest period and yet already departments are struggling. “This looks and feels like a bad winter for the NHS,” says Isabel Hardman on the podcast. It’s expected that spiralling energy prices will eat into hospital budgets, and as people turn down heating in a bid to cut costs, hospitals can expect to see more cold-related illnesses, such as chest infections.
A man has died after a shooting in Moss Side this morning. Police were called to Claremont Road at 12.15am after reports of a “firearm discharge”. The man, believed to be aged between 18 to 25, was found with ‘serious injuries’ and was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. The incident is the latest of shootings in the area after a 16-year-old girl was injured in a drive-by shooting in July. GMP said: “Whilst the investigation is ongoing and at its early stages, we’re working extremely hard to understand the full circumstances.” Patrols have been increased and people are being asked to avoid the area.
It’s a tough time for Manchester United fans. The team lost to Brentford 4-0 on Saturday, after losing to Brighton last week. The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson writes that United “were decked out in Stabilo green, as though somebody had highlighted where all the problems were.” Their latest defeat has prompted a string of colourful articles, including one that says the entire team should be cleared out, before asking fans if they are “just going to be passive suckers, getting milked by the Glazers like a bovine herd.”
An endangered mural inside an Oldham church has been granted Grade II listed status after a six-year-long campaign by its creator’s great-nephew. The “one of a kind” 1955 mural in the Church of the Holy Rosary in Oldham depicts the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was created by Hungarian Jewish artist George Mayer-Marton, who fled the Nazis. Historic England said the work was a "striking aesthetic combination of Neo-Byzantine mosaic and modernist Cubist-influenced fresco inventively applied to traditional Christian iconography in a deeply personal evocation of suffering and redemption". You can read our piece about Mayer-Marton here.
A new BBC horror show set in Bolton kicks off this evening. Red Rose follows a group of students who are looking forward to the summer after finishing their GCSEs. Their plans for a few months of fun and partying are shot to pieces, however, after they download a “seemingly harmless app”, called Red Rose, that exposes them to the supernatural and to the “terrifying truth” of the dark web. “This is what good horror should do: make you scared, but not constantly terrified; make you aware of the supernatural but afraid of the darkness of the real world, too,” writes the Guardian’s critic. Starts at 10pm on BBC Three or you can catch up on iPlayer.
The leading economist Diane Coyle joined our podcast this weekend to talk about her fascinating work on our changing economy. “I grew up in Ramsbottom. My dad and my aunties and uncles worked in cotton mills. And by the time that I left, they had pretty much all closed down,” she told us. Coyle is a professor at the University of Cambridge and a longtime Millers. When Joshi asked her “What is your current take on the levelling up efforts made by this government?” she replied with: “What levelling up efforts made by this government? What has there been that you could point to?” Listen to the episode now.
Our favourite reads
After Manchester United’s poor away run at Brentford at the weekend, we thought this was a comprehensive and interesting article about a man who could save the club. Sir Jim Ratcliffe is a Mancunian and has “enduring pride” in his northern roots. “For United’s American owners, gazing hopelessly at the mess of another woefully botched summer is there any other way out of the deepening hole they keep digging than embracing the escape opportunity potentially offered by one of Britain’s richest men?” asks Matt Dickinson.
History with a Soul — John Rylands collection blog
We recently visited the John Rylands Library to hear about its amazing collection of Jewish manuscripts. So this recent blog post on the library’s Hasidic manuscripts caught our attention. Hasidism is a revivalist trend that began in the 18th century in Eastern Europe. This piece takes an analytical look at some of the collections, including how teachings were passed down through generations. We love marginalia, and there’s a little drawing of a bird on one page: “The bird of heaven shall carry the voice, and the winged creature will tell the matter.”
The future of Manchester city centre — Manchester Evening News
As Manchester’s inner city ring road area becomes more saturated, property developers are turning their gaze to pastures new — and east Manchester is looking particularly attractive, writes Ethan Davies. As he puts it: “One stop towards Manchester’s towers is Holt Town. It’s an area flanked by redbrick industrial units on one side, and Ashton Canal Park on the other. It’s also an area which Coun Gavin White, Manchester City Council's executive member for housing and development, says has ‘huge potential’”.
Our to do list
🌋 There’s fiery passion in the film Fire of Love, the story about French volcanologist couple Katia and Maurice Krafft, who were devoted to volcanoes and each other. They died in 1991, after being buried in a pyroclastic flow from Mount Unzen in Japan. Fire of Love is showing at HOME. Starts 1.10pm. Book here.
📖 There’s a storytelling session for kids aged between 7 to 13 at the Jewish Museum. If your little ones are good ryhmers, love telling stories or want to have a go with some creative skills, this is for them. Lunch boxes are available to buy from the museum cafe, and M8 residents get free tickets. Book here.
🎨 Menopause Messages is a series of workshops at the Whitworth about the creative responses to the menopause. You can use creative writing, text and textiles to explore your thoughts and feelings. Starts 2pm. Book here.
✍ Visual arts charity Portraits of Recovery is hosting a creative writing workshop in Beehive Mill to mark International Overdose Awareness Day. If you have been affected by substance use and recovery, you are invited to join. Starts 10am. Book here.
📽 Dunham Massey is hosting a West Side Story Cinema Experience. Get out the picnic blankets and camping chairs and settle in for a night under the stars (weather permitting). Starts 7.30pm. Book here.
🤣 Our very own Jack Dulhanty will be wowing the crowds with his standup comedy routine at the Frog & Bucket’s comedy showcase this Sunday. Book tickets here and laugh uproariously at every single one of his gags. Doors open at 2pm.
Letters to the editor
The problems seem insurmountable and complex in the extreme (‘Manchester has a homelessness crisis. But it's not the one you thought’). I fear it will get worse before it can get any better. Anne
Whilst in-depth analysis of hospital problems is interesting (‘Exclusive: Salford Royal’s A&E declared unsafe after surprise inspection’) it actually all comes down to one thing: lack of funding over the last 12 years. Britain has the lowest ratio of hospital beds, GPs and hospital doctors to the population of any western country. I believe the current government is happy about this as those who can pay will start to do so and we will move to a US system — insurance paid for the better off and lack of care for poor people. Moira