A selective news round-up for Manchester this last week, 24-30 April

A regular column charting some changes and news in Greater Manchester, highlighting stories that interest us and will hopefully interest you.

Manchester’s five-star hotel revelations

We were wondering, so we asked Marketing Manchester, how many five star hotels are there in central Manchester and Salford. They told us there were four; The Lowry in Salford; The Edwardian, Peter Street; Stock Exchange Hotel, Norfolk Street (main picture above) and Hotel Gotham, Spring Gardens. 

If any of these are a surprise then we’re told only a minority of accommodation providers are still signing up to accreditation schemes such as AA and Quality in Tourism and many do self-accreditation now or don’t even mention it. Self-accreditation. Convenient.

That reminds me, I’m by far and away the best news round-up writer in Manchester and the best tour guide in the UK. Five stars all the way. I know this because I have accredited myself so. 

It seems Boris Johnson is following the same model by appointing Lord Geidt to review “JohnLewisisCrap-gate”. It’s a lovely arrangement. Whatever Geidt finds Boris can ignore him and self-accredit as above board and tickety-boo.

30 April The Edwardian Hotel On Peter Street Is A Five Star Number
The Edwardian Hotel, one of Manchester's four five star accommodations

Chorlton Baths and Leisure Centre in the swim

It’s swim, not sink, for Chorlton Baths and Leisure Centre which has been empty for over five years. MSV Housing Group is diving in to bring much needed affordable housing to the site. “The new development will provide 40 apartments (26 one-bed and 14 two-bed) for the over-55s, at or below the local housing allowance level. Lettings will be prioritized to over 55s with a housing priority need, including those wishing to right-size and free up a social rented family home in the local area for the many families on the housing waiting list.” As the press release points out: “Affordable homes to rent in key areas such as Chorlton are much needed”. That is very true. Given all the amenities roundabout, demand should be high. The scheme is set to complete in 2023.

30 April Chorlton Baths And Leisure Centre To Be Transformed Into Flatys
Chorlton to get affordable housing in the former baths and leisure centre

Memorial for 22 May victims underway

Work has commenced on the memorial to mark the deaths of 22 people in the attack on the Ariana Grande concert in 2017. This will be located a little to the north of Manchester Cathedral on Fennel Street and it’s hoped work will be completed by the 22 May anniversary. The memorial is a "Glade of Light", designed to be a peaceful garden space with the centrepiece, a white stone ring "halo". This will bear the names in bronze of the 22 who outrageously lost their lives.

30 April The Memorial To The Dead Of 22 May 2017 Starts To Take Shape On Fennel Street
The memorial to the massacred victims of the 2017 attack is being prepared for 22 May

Ryan Giggs denies it all

Ex-footballer Giggs is still officially the manager of Wales and a co-owner of Salford City in League Two as well as being involved with the Stock Exchange Hotel. He made 963 appearances for Manchester United. This week he made an appearance in Manchester Crown Court and denied assaulting two women at his home. These are Kate Greville, 36, and her younger sister Emma. Giggs was released on bail until 26 May. Court documents indicate he is accused of engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour, which includes "repeatedly or continuously engaged in behaviour which was controlling or coercive, namely, used violence, isolation, belittling, humiliation, harassment, degradation and abuse."

30 April Ryan Giggs Of Wales And Ex Of Manchester United Is On Bail
Ryan Giggs is bailed until 26 May over assault charges

The Midland Hotel full steam ahead 

After a £14m refurbishment, the Midland Hotel is to re-open on 17 May. The grand old lady of Manchester hotels was originally opened in 1903 by the Midland Railway Company hence its rather confusing name given its location in the North of England. Anyway, Confidentials’ publisher, Mark "Gordo" Garner rang me up and stole a load of facts then posted the below video. It shows how the Midland’s looking good again, although one is reminded by this good refurb of one of worst from the 1970s when the glorious entrance was bricked up. What were they thinking back then? Either way, maybe now the Midland can call itself five-star, even if it says so itself.

Have a read of this piece about one of the Midland’s best customers, the extraordinary Ralph Raffles, if you get a chance. 

30 April And A Picture From The 1970S Showing The Osmonds Arriving For A Stay At The Midland Hotel But Who The Hell Created That Facade
The Osmonds arrive in the 1970s and wonder who the hell designed that mad entrance
30 April The Midlands Grand Frontage Onto Peter Street
How the Midland Hotel should and now does look

Tormentosas giving it some 

Over the road from the Midland Hotel and the length of St Peter’s Square you’ve got about a week to get the best of the Pawlonias Tormentosas, aka Empress Trees. These extravagant purple flowering delights don’t flower for very long so get into town to view them now. The full story behind these Chinese trees is told in Purple Flowers in St Peter’s Square

30 April And The Tormentosas In St Peters Square Manchester
Purple wonder in St Peter's Square with Central Library and the Midland Hotel behind

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Read again: Opinion: 'Police presence makes school feel like a hostile environment'