Saturday, November 10, 2007

The "regeneration" of Manchester

The Guardian reports that the Conservatives have “branded Manchester a divided, failing city”. They are not altogether wrong. For years now the City Fathers have banged-on about the regeneration of Manchester after the 1996 IRA bomb. In reality what happened was that a bigger and if possible even more vulgar Arndale Centre was constructed with Marks and Spencer in prime position. The centre-piece of the whole thing is, God help us all, a huge TV screen, which is routinely tuned to the shopping channel and occasionally hosts gangs of foul-mouthed drunken louts watching football. Yes, there are lots of trendy bars and cafes etc in central Manchester now, and those who can afford it can fork out several squid for a cup of coffee and pretend they are on the set of Friends, but a kilometre or two away are areas of high unemployment awash with drugs, prostitutes, and violent criminals (Meanwhile the police are busy making TV programmes in which a helicopter crew equipped with all sorts of ultra-expensive high-tech heat-seeking devices and assisted by three police cars chase after someone who has stolen a Volvo in Didsbury). In Chorlton and elsewhere what are essentially “gated communities” have sprung-up so that the better sort don’t have to mix with the scum (as reported in Community News Feb. 26 2007); the photo shows Chorlton Green. The “regeneration” has been largely for the benefit of the better-off denizens of Manchester. And, of course, there is no discernable green agenda. Very little of the town centre is pedestrianised. The green paint which is supposed to be a cycle path is used as a car park and bus lane. Walk through town and there is litter everywhere. A third of Piccadilly Gardens seems to have been sold-off and a Kro-bar built on it (almost as if the City Fathers are offended by the sight of grass). And there is another bloody TV screen in Piccadilly Gardens. There it is – the shopping channel – the living testament to the cultural progression of Manchester under the guidance of our enlightened City Fathers.


Blogger skipper said...

I share your Meldrew tendencies P'holic but you're a bit too dismissive of the improvements. I recently visited the 'Northern Quarter' and was most impressed. There are more things to see in Manchester-the Castlefields area is now much better- and a mile or so away there is the Lowry development. But the litter problem is acute in every place: we are such a dirty, untidy bunch of w****** in this country.

7:21 pm  

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