Covid-10     The Earth Keeps Spinning

10 July 2020

​The last couple of posts have concentrated on the next phases of managing the Coronavirus crisis including what has so far been a successful and almost universally well-managed reopening of some of the hospitality sector, but this like everything else, is very much dependent on citizens behaving responsibly, and on test and trace to manage any local outbreaks. This week's figures show a further decline in positive tests, but - no apologies for the stuck record - we're not out of the crisis yet.

Although inevitably Covid-19 figured prominently on last week's Council agenda, it wasn't the only item of business, and even though the City Council is facing its biggest ever financial crisis, we still found space to do other things. The capital budget update had a number of school projects. Two schools in North Manchester, Our Lady's and the Manchester Communications Academy, are expanding, and in East Manchester, on the former Showcase Cinema site, we are preparing to build a brand new High School. The areas of the city that suffered most from previous recessions are continuing to grow and we have to believe that there is a bright future for the young people filling those school places.

The same report had an addendum informing us that the refurbishment of the Town Hall is about to move to its next stage and talking about a brighter future, part of that report that caught my eye was that the refurbishment will lead to a 43% per head reduction in energy consumption. No mean feat for a Victorian pile that wasn't exactly built with global warming in mind.

There were also four active travel schemes totalling around £4m. Two were enhancements to existing schemes including improvements to the Fallowfield loop. Another was the next stage of the Northern Quarter Walking and Cycling route, linking Piccadilly and Victoria Stations, a scheme includes very significant amounts of pedestrianisation, much of which has already been implemented, albeit so far on a temporary basis. Finally, there's the Beswick Filtered Neighbourhood scheme, a Bee Network proposal making this residential part of East Manchester much safer.

There were also a number of Strategic Regeneration Framework reports, some reporting back on consultation, others seeking approval to commence consultation. One in the former category concerns the Back of Ancoats area lying between the Ancoats conservation area and Butler Street. Here again, as with the former Central Retail Park, we are seizing the opportunity to create at scale, a zero carbon, mixed-used neighbourhood where the pedestrian, not the car, rules.

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