MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL
Salford citizens may be aware, or not, of the gigantic NOMA redevelopment, an £800million Manc regeneration scheme for the rich. In the planning are 2.5million square feet of shiny glass `prime office' blocks, the obligatory 4 star hotel and car park, a shot of retail space and one million square feet of unaffordable `high quality' Private Rent Sector apartments.
It's being done by NOMA (GP) Ltd, a company joint owned by the Co-operative Group and Britel Fund Nominees, which manages the BT Pension Fund. All the usual routine buzzwords are buzzing around NOMA's PR... `a new approach to placemaking'... `a unique and modern urban neighbourhood'... `a place that captures the soul of one of the world's greatest cities'...
...But at the moment, NOMA (named from a few uninspired initials: NOrth MAnchester) consists of just the big swirly glass Co-op HQ, a barren parade of empty properties and car parks, and some soulless `public realm' (an expanse of concrete and over kempt greenery outside the Co-op HQ) and, across the main road, down the back street, a thing called Sadler's Yard.
Named after James Sadler who piloted the first English hot air balloon flight, it's sited off Balloon Street, the previous tribute. As the hoardings state, it was also the site of Arkwright's revolutionary Mill and the base of the original Co-operative Society...All around the square you are told that this is Where the Modern World Began...
...It's also where the `Modern World' steps backwards. The public realm around NOMA, including Sadler's Yard, was largely paid for with public money – even though it will be enhancing the Co-op/NOMA dream of huge profits and nowt for the community.
A Freedom of Information response from Manchester City Council to the Salford Star revealed that the cost to the public purse totalled £19,411,615 – with cash-strapped Manc Council chucking in £12,679,915, while £6,731,700 arrived from the European Regional Development Fund... "Further investment was provided to complete the project by NOMA (GP) Ltd" stated Manchester Council, without disclosing exactly how many pennies the private companies contributed.
So, almost £19.5million on pavements, `street furniture', a bit of grass, some trees, cycle lanes, some kind of road tart-up and the luscious balloon inspired square.
However, even more shocking is that Sadler's Yard, according to its sign, claims to be a "new privately owned city space" – and prohibits a number of things, including ball games. Indeed the sign states that if you chuck a ball "you risk facing criminal and/or civil proceedings which could have serious consequences for you..."
So, the Manc community and Europe pays for it, the Co-op and NOMA own it – how can that be right? Indeed, during the squatting of the NOMA/Co-op owned Ducie Bridge pub by homeless people, a couple ventured into Sadler's Yard with some protest signs and a sleeping bag – and were promptly kicked out by private security guards.
"I think a load of bricks in the floor is not needed, a load of bricks in houses is what is needed" Chris, one of the squatters explained "Regeneration of communities should start with houses and people in settled homes, not with plush apartments, offices and fancy squares."
Chris began a rooftop protest when the homeless were evicted from the Ducie Bridge pub. He demanded to see Manc Council Leader, Richard Leese, to discuss homelessness and NOMA and stuff - and got a two month prison term in Strangeways for his troubles (see here)
Yep, Manchester Council can find £12.6million for `fancy squares' while cutting services. And can then hand over the `fancy squares' to private concerns that call the shots over who can go in them and what they can do there...
So, ladies and gentlemen, believe there are some ethics somewhere between the ears of the Co-op and Manchester Council...and then imagine a pig flying a hot air balloon...
This first ever Salford Star Mary Burns International Award is well deserved and goes to...
Manchester City Council!
If anyone from Manchester City Council would like to make an acceptance speech please use the comments box below...
Winners of the 2016 Salford Star Mary Burns Awards
*Nice Work If You Can Get It Award – Hazel Blears – click here
* Green Fingers Award - Salford City Council - click here
*Ethical Hypocrisy Award – Co-operative Group – click here
*George Bush Read My Lips Award – Hazel Blears, Phil Mayall and Councillor Derek Antrobus - click here
*Services To Heritage Destruction – Fred Done – click here
* Pimp My Poverty Award - Salford City Council - click here
*Feed The Rich Award – Peel Holdings – click here
* `How The Fuck Did You Manage To Ignore Almost 3 Million People?' Award - Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) - click here
*Services To Social Housing - Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett – click here
*Affordable Housing Hypocrisy Revolving Door Award – Councillor Paul Longshaw – click here
* Uncle Joe Stalin Award for Open and Democratic Government – Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett – click here
* Gary Neville Finger In Pies Award - Salford City Council - click here