The news round-up for Manchester this last week, 6-12 February

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

Crewe Cut

According to lobby group Transport for the North the fact Royal Assent has been granted this week to HS2 Phase 2a Bill (West Midlands to Crewe) is top notch. Tim Wood, Northern Powerhouse Rail Director at Transport for the North said: "This is brilliant news. It has been a long time coming but HS2 has now been approved up to Crewe, which takes us to the doorstep of the North of England." 

Londoners will be ecstatic, this means they will be able to get to Crewe in 56 minutes, Queens Park is rather handsome after all. Of course, the line won’t reach Crewe until the 2030s and maybe not get to Manchester until our young children now are middle-aged. Or dead. As many commentators have said, we should have done the west-east line from Liverpool to Leeds via Manchester with a line down to Sheffield first. Surely the wise thing to do is get up here better connected. Let us level ourselves up.

Transport for the North's Tim Wood has at least provided Crewe with a new marketing strapline for the town: ‘Crewe, the doorstep of the North of England.’ Now please wipe your feet. 

2021 02 12 News Round Up Queens
Queens Park, set to be only 56 minutes from London

Posh restaurants for construction workers

We’ve written a big article twice and mentioned it last week too but the planning application for the proposed 500ft tower at the corner of Hulme Street and Great Marlborough Street remains a right mess. After the original was found to be full of inaccuracies a site meeting was recommended rather than approval. Much of the application has been re-written. The bit looking at the economic benefits is priceless.

Originally it was thought there would 3,000 workers on site generating £928,500 for the local economy, on butties, burgers, smokes etc… The revised plan appears to concede this was a conveniently bloated figure and that only 1,000 workers would be needed. Yet, oddly, it still states they would still contribute £928,500 to the local economy. 

How? Will we see hard-helmeted, hi-vis knights of the spade and cement mixer nipping round the corner to Wood restaurant or further afield to the glammed-up Ivy, saying: ‘Oh yes, we used to go to Greggs but that’s so vulgar, we much prefer a full three courses and a good claret. Pass the foie gras, if you would?”

2021 02 12 News Roundup Construction Workers
Yes, straight through there, then left, and there's a lovely place with a Michelin star, very reasonable lunches at £90 with matching wines

Nandy spendy money

We have to admit the digging down into the property industry done through Place North West’s excellent Subplot is always worth a look. This week it revealed some big local figures giving support to particular members of The Labour Party. When present shadow foreign minister Lisa Nandy, Wigan MP, stood for the Labour leadership Electoral Commission records showed Bruntwood’s chief executive Chris Oglesby donated £2,000 (in a personal capacity) and former Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, donated £3,000. 

Meanwhile Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton and Deputy Labour Leader, got ten grand from a shadowy company called Intro Developments. Apparently ‘neither mayors Burnham (Greater Manchester) nor Rotheram (Merseyside) have received any donations to their re-election campaigns from the property business’. As yet. Perhaps they need to ask for a contribution from those construction workers in the story above. There’s only so much lunchtime fine dining one man or woman in a hard hat can take. 

2019 12 16 Lisa Nandy
Lisa Nandy got some handy spendy-spendy to battle Sir Keir S

The Boatman of Mumps 

Frank Rothwell, from Oldham, knows how to escape lockdown and get plenty of exercise. He decided to take six weeks out to row the Atlantic Ocean. He nipped over from the Canary Islands to Antigua across 3,000 miles of heaving water. In the process he raised over £1m for Alzheimer's Research. His boat was called ‘Never Too Old’. Like him clearly. Rothwell is 70 years of age. At his age he needs to get out less. Although maybe when he gets back he can help UK fishermen suffering from Brexit problems and smuggle crustacea over to the EU. Show his mussels off. 

2021 02 12 News Roundup Frank
Frank in a Santa hat as he set off to conquer the oceans

Café Anarchy, Burnage-style 

Burnage hit the news with the café that wouldn’t close. That is until Manchester City Council forced it to do so for three months after the owners had ‘repeatedly ignored pleas to trade safely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic’. Those owners, Lucjan Domanski and Katarzyan Korzewnikow Domanska, were very determined and have had at least six closure notices and accumulated £7k in fines and another £3.5k in costs. This burden has been somewhat lightened by a GoFundMe ‘fight for freedom’ campaign which at the time of writing had raised £17,581. Given the owners had broken every lockdown rule in the (increasingly lengthening) book it appears GoFundMe are proving that crime pays. This case aside and no matter how libertarian one is, these types of websites eh? They don’t give a flying fuck as long as they turn a fat profit. 

2021 02 12 News Roundup Burnage
A sign of the times - no, it really is

Cupboard closes on Cheshire party

In other lockdown enforcement news, in Alderley Edge there was a mass game of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Police were called to a house where there was a party taking place. They handed 15 fines to people for breaking lockdown. They also reported guests had attempted to hide in wardrobes and cupboards. Cupboards is a puzzle, how small were these Alderley Edgians (if that’s the right word)? As for the people who hid in wardrobes they were never found although police suspect the White Witch has issued a Fixed-in-stone Penalty Notice. 

2021 02 12 News Roundup Cheshire
Cheshire Police Force has employed undercover fauns to investigate wardrobe party violations

Name that truck

It's the hot new game for councils all over the land. Name that truck. Manchester Confidential received this entreaty from Manchester City Council. 'Feeling bin-spired? Name ideas sought for new emission-free electric refuse collection lorries'. We put this on Twitter and 'Dame Agnes Guano' (we suspect this might not be a real name) wrote: 'I'd go for a Manchester music theme. Lorrissey, Happy Bindays, Graham Trash, Bernard Sumpoil'. Cute. Less cute was 'Matthew's' with 'Buzz Shiteclear'.

2021 02 12 News Roundup
Naming trucks, it's better than going out to restaurants, bars, theatres, galleries...honest

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Read again: Seven days in Manchester: Britney Spears in Handforth, the University of Salford, 50 years a landlady