As the Tory delegates descend on Manchester we have a look at what's going on this weekend

Well, this weekend looks busy.

The big headline is the Conservative Party Conference. Johnson, Gove, Patel and their mates will be setting forth the agenda for the party over the next year. There will be rubbing of shoulders and working the room galore, as long as you can afford the £600+ ticket.

So not only do we have ample security, road closure and parking restrictions to keep the bigwigs tucked away from the proles, there will be several protests happening throughout the weekend and into next week to contend with.

Oh yes and a little bit of football too.

24 09 2019 Conservative Manchester Security
Security will be tight for the duration of the conference

The Conservative Party Conference is expected to attract thousands of delegates over the next few days. The main conference will be held in Manchester Central while the Midland Hotel is also a hub for delegates and events.

Greater Manchester Police's codename for the security surrounding the conference is Operation Protector. Planning for the operation usually begins six months before the event and considers a range of functions including firearms, roads policing, search, contingencies, media, communications, briefings, finance, intelligence, logistics and site build to name but a few.

GMP also work in partnership with the military, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service, providing staff to advise on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident planning. Additionally, GMP has to plan for traffic management, security and street cleaning for the protests.

19 10 10 Police Officers
GMP have been planning security for six months

While the bulk of the conference takes place inside the conference centre and Midland Hotel, there will also be fringe events at several locations in the city centre, including the Friends' Meeting House and Manchester Art Gallery.

Local businesses can also hope to benefit on the traditionally quiet days of Monday and Tuesday as local officials wine and dine Conservative dignitaries. Andy Burnham caused a few raised eyebrows when he agreed to speak at a fringe event organised by Transport for the North, while Richard Leese is also taking part in fringe events. 

Conservative Party Conference Protests Manchester 2021
The schedule for the protests

Multiple protest events planned

Meanwhile, on the streets, the People’s Assembly has called a national demonstration, with four days of festival-style events and a traditional march from Whitworth Park past the Manchester Central conference centre and Midland Hotel. The weekend will see a variety of panel discussions and performances featuring big names across the left, such as Jeremy Corbyn, Gary Younge, Maxine Peake and Shami Chakrabarti. 

The protest events combine theatre, comedy and informed debate, taking in subjects such as Kill The Bill, the climate crisis, jobs, trade unions and the social movements, fire and rehire, NHS and social care, education, housing, anti-war sentiment and nuclear disarmament.

The line-up opens with an "Unwelcome the Tories" ceremony followed by a National Drive 2 Survive Rally against the Police Bill in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens at 1pm. 

On Sunday 3 October there will be a national demonstration from 12pm, where all different groups and movements are invited to come together to march in solidarity. Participants from CND protestors to NHS workers will march alongside a horse-drawn Traveller bloc. The crowds will assemble at Whitworth Park and are thought to start moving up Oxford Road at around 1pm. They will then go past the conference centre and then on to Castlefield Bowl for speeches.

Cladding is a serious problem

Manchester Cladiators are hosting a hustings-style event on Sunday 3 October. Manchester MP Lucy Powell and TV personality George Clarke are all set to appear and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has been invited to speak.

Housing Minister Michael Gove has been invited to appear by the group, which was set up to protest the Government's handling of the cladding crisis. It is not yet known whether the MP will appear.

The Cladiators will gather in St Peter's Square at 11.30am and 1.30pm. The crowd will be addressed by David Walker the Bishop of Manchester on the human cost of the failure to address the problems caused by cladding.

The Manchester Cladiators represent the thousand of leaseholders across the region who live in buildings affected by dangerous cladding and are facing huge bills to make their homes safe to live in.

Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Snow
Emmeline Pankhurst in St Peter's Square

Post-weekend: Corbyn, nurses and WASPI women

Monday 4 October will see Jeremy Corbyn in conversation with actor Rob Delaney. He will then join Maxine Peake to discuss the media. Corbyn will also lead a candlelight vigil in the city centre for all the people "who have lost their lives due to the Tories, their austerity, their wealth before health response to the pandemic and everything else".

A group of WASPI women are also planning to hold a silent masked vigil on Monday from 10.30am at the Emmeline Pankhurst statue in St. Peter's Square. The group protests changes made to women's state pensions and are recognisable by their emblematic purple outfits.

Tuesday will see discussions about fair rent, nurses not nukes (hosted by the CND), taking the knee and education. In the evening, there will be events titled "Women will not be silenced – Rebel Women and The Importance of Protest", "Priti Patel vs The People" and a play about boxer Len Johnson called Knock Out Blow. Events are either held in a marquee in Piccadilly Gardens or in St Peter's Square. 

Laura Pidcock, National Secretary for The People’s Assembly, said: “This is such an important moment for so many reasons. We are emerging from an intense public health crisis which we are still trying to navigate, and the effects of which are still being felt. Furlough is ending, Universal Credit is being cut, National Insurance is increasing. The NHS and social care sectors are under significant strain because of privatisation and funding cuts.   

"Meanwhile, the Government has set in motion seriously worrying legislation that will impact all working class people in the form of the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, the Elections Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill. 

"They have an 80-seat majority, so what option do we have other than to oppose them and everything they stand for, in our communities and on the streets? We urge you to come to the National Demonstration at the Tory Party conference, to let them know they will be held to account, that opposition to them is growing - and that, while they hope and work for a divided working class, we will be uniting against them in our thousands.”

Visit for more information on protest events over the weekend and beyond. See below for more information regarding road closures or visit

Travel impact

Road closures

From 29 September the following roads will be closed:

Lower Mosley Street inbound (from Great Bridgewater Street to Windmill Street) except for access to Bishopsgate and Manchester Central NCP car park

  • Mount Street (between Windmill Street and Peter Street)
  • Windmill Street (between Lower Mosley Street and Watson Street)
  • Southmill Street (between Windmill Street and Peter Street)
  • Museum Street

Additionally, from 30 September

  • Peter Street (between Southmill Street and Oxford Street)
  • Mount St (between Peter St and Central St)*
  • Access only to: Oxford Street (between Portland Street and Peter Street)
  • Access only to: Hall Street and Bale Street

Additionally, from 2 October

  • Peter Street (between Deansgate and Southmill Street)
  • Southmill Street (between Windmill Street and Bootle Street)
  • Marron Place
  • Jerusalem Place
  • Lower Mosley Street inbound (from Manchester Central NCP car park and Great Bridgewater Street)
  • Trafford St (Century St to end – access for Deansgate Locks businesses)

After the conference, the removal of road restrictions will begin Wednesday 6 October (afternoon) and finish by Friday 8 October.

There will also be parking restrictions, visit the Manchester City Council website for more details.


From midday on Saturday 2 October until the start of service on Thursday 7 October, the Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink stop can only be entered and exited via Whitworth Street and not via the ramp from Lower Moseley Street. On Sunday 3 October, Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink stop will be closed from midday until 6pm. During this time please use St Peter's Square. Staff will be on-site to assist you.

Protest closures

The following roads will be affected - check Manchester City Council's website for more details: Grt Bridgewater St; Oxford Rd; Grosvenor St; Booth St East; Booth St West; Oxford Rd/St; Portland St; Chepstow St; Albion St; Medlock St; Whitworth St West; Bridgewater Viaduct; Deansgate; Quay St; Young St; Lower Byrom St; Liverpool Rd; Duke St.

Resident's access in the Liverpool Road/Castlefield Arena area and from the Byrom Street area (onto Liverpool Rd via Longworth St and Barton St) between 12 noon and 3pm will be via Castle Street and should be planned accordingly.

Read now: A new Leese of life? The race to replace Sir Richard as Leader

Read next: Tory Party Conference - will it all go ahead and would Manchester ever vote blue?

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