Manchester City Council

A Wayward Pass ?

It's quite common for days to be knocked off course by events, less common for it to happen before breakfast.

6.30am and BBC Manchester are on the phone asking me to comment on a story on the front page of the MEN saying that the National Football Museum is moving from Preston to Manchester. I immediately go on-line to Manchester Online to have a look at the story but the MEN page hasn't been updated from yesterday so I have to get the BBC to tell me what it says and it is largely accurate other than suggesting a level of certainty which is not quite the case. The facts are that the Museum has been considering its options for some time including a possible move to London. The City Council was approached a couple of months ago to see if we could accommodate it in Urbis and we agreed to look at it. We did have some reservations not least because Urbis has established a very successful series of exhibitions exploring popular culture, excellent Education programmes particularly Reclaim, and a successful Bar/Restaurant, The Modern, now listed with a good mark in the Good Food Guide published today. The work we did showed that we could accommodate the Museum without losing the valuable things going on, and that although the Museum would need significant investment to bring it up to scratch, we could accommodate its running costs within our existing budgets, and that it has the potential to attract four times as many visitors in a city centre location as it does currently. It would be good for Manchester to have the Museum but I'd like this to be seen as saving the Museum for the North West, not a competition between Manchester and Preston.

Of course the planned work for the day still has to be done. A meeting on city centre fringe housing issues is followed immediately by a meeting looking more generally at housing policy particularly in the context of the credit crunch. Later I have a presentation on development proposal for a key area of the City Centre, and yes development proposals are still being brought forward. A change of tack later on when I meet with Alistair Cox who Chairs the board of the Zion Centre. This was set up to be a cultural centre for young people across the city but has been struggling to define its identity and fulfil that role. Fortunately Alistair is now able to give a really strong narrative about how the Zion has stabilised and with a strong management team in place is poised to take off as a centre of excellence in Arts and Culture for the young people of the city.

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There are 4 responses to “A Wayward Pass ?”

  1. Jim Mogg Says:

    Credit where's it's due - pitching work with the musuem as a way to save the museum for the North is completely in line with how we should be deconstructing the North / South divide. It's a pity that it might be in the Urbis and I understand your reluctance. The Urbis has been making its mark as a wonderful exhibition centre and the space available is endangered by a full time football museum on the site. What about the fire station on London Road as a location. Very central and very close to Railway links. Also a location in need of a larger purpose.

    I also congratulate you on the Zion Centre arriving at some focus. There are a number of voluntary and charitable organisations in Manchester who are shifting their focus to a purpose that drifts away from their original aims. To have a source of arts excellence in that area goes someway in offering practical solutions to some of the problems there.

  2. Peter Copping Says:

    I support Jim Moss's proposal for the use of the London Road Fire Station site for the museum. It is scandalous that this site remains unused after so many years. Alternatively the site of the now derelict Employment Exchange on Aytoun Street. On both of these we have been promised time and time again regeneration and we now have an opportunity to use this proposal for such regeneration rather than use an existing building which has found in recent year found its own role.

    I would also hope that the Football Clubs and organisations would make a substantial contribution rather the cost both capital and recurrent falling on the tax payer.

  3. John Drake Says:

    I don't know if you're aware of the threads on Manchester Confidential,but while people might be okay about the football museum, they clearly don't want to lose what Urbis does. You've taken enough of a kicking keeping it going, and its been working for the past couple of years. Why let it all go now? Can't Manchester have both?

  4. Dan P Says:

    Keeping the museum in the NW is a great thing, losing Urbis, however would be tragic; after taking a couple of years to find its feet and purpose, it is a great addition to the city providing an alternative attraction to the standard offering from cities across the globe. Why not approach Utd. & City to create a unique themed landmark building to house the footbal museum? An icon to celebrate competition, united in the love for passion, diversity, success and sport.



The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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