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ROLLERBLADING IS TEST OF MANCHESTER AND SALFORD SUCCESS SAYS COUNCIL STRATEGIC DIRECTOR
 

Star date: 21st May 2018

FORGET ABOUT JOBS, HOMELESSNESS AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING – ROLLERBLADERS IS WHERE CITIES' REGENERATION IS AIMED!

'Jobs priority "just doesn't echo in the room any more"...'

Never mind jobs, homelessness and affordable housing, all Manchester and Salford regeneration is, apparently, aimed at attracting rollerbladers, Eddie Smith, Strategic Director at Manchester City Council, told a Built Environment Network conference last week; and that the jobs priority "just doesn't echo in the room any more". At the same conference, the Development Manager for Salford City Council echoed the similar sentiments.

Full details here...


Built Environment Network conference Manchester
click image to enlarge

"Twenty years ago it was 'jobs jobs jobs'...Today that doesn't echo in the room any more..." Manchester Council Strategic Director


That's what Manchester and Salford need – rollerbladers. Not more affordable housing, not help for the homeless...and definitely not jobs...rollerbladers...

Last week, the Built Environment Networking company held a conference called Greater Manchester Development Plans 2018. It was packed with developers, developers' agents, and housing and construction companies – from Capital and Centric (which wants to build houses in Buile Hill Park), to Keepmoat, For Viva and Gary Neville's Zerum.

It was basically a networking event with six speakers, who included Eddie Smith, Strategic Director at Manchester City Council and Kurt Partington, Development Manager at Salford City Council.

First up was Eddie Smith, who said he was going to give "a very clear overview about what our philosophy and approach is to development" and the "central importance of having the right lifestyle offering for our city...

"For me the test is, if I want to go rollerblading in Manchester would it be really easy for me to do it?" he asked "I'm 58 and I don't rollerblade but it's quite an interesting test, and I don't think Manchester would pass that test if I wanted to go rollerblading.

"You see the occasional one or two people rollerblading in Manchester but not a lot" he added "If you go to North American cities, the Seattles and the Portlands, these are places that have a lifestyle offering that really appeals to talent and, ultimately, we're in this talent attraction role as a city.

"When I first started working for the City Council twenty years ago it was 'jobs jobs jobs'; that was the priority that came from the people of Manchester" he added "Today that doesn't echo in the room any more because everyone's assuming that jobs are already here and are actually going to come. And we're seeing different expectations on the city. Younger people have got an outlook which we're now having to adjust to...That's how our thinking is influenced..."

What else is the Strategic Director of Manchester Council bothered about? Homelessness, jobs, affordable housing...more rollerbladers? No. Fast trains. HS2...

"What's occupying my headspace, and stuff that's really important I think to all of us in the room" he mulled "I'm always asked what is the most important development regeneration project within the city...and that is getting the investment right for High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail."

The latter, he explained, was about the redevelopment of Piccadilly Station and the area around it which he said would bring in "up to 60,000 jobs". However, it's "mind numbingly insane dealing with these people" he added, probably referring to Network Rail "By and large they don't get regeneration and just love playing with their train sets. It does my head in; they don't get the bigger picture."

In the meantime, the gist of Smith's talk was that all the effort and public money is being pumped into things like the new £multi-million Factory, Home, and the Manchester International Festival that are, apparently, aimed at attracting these rollerbladers to the city; young, educated and, well, rollerblading...

"We've created a lifestyle offering that's attracting talent to our city and our strategy has always been to attract that talent to come and live within our city" he said.
There was no mention of community anything, although affordable housing did pop up...

"It's not helping matters that the twittersphere is saying we're not building affordable homes within the city, which is tosh" he insisted "We are building significant numbers of affordable homes in the city...but not within the city centre."

He added that Manchester's affordability strategy is based on 'average Manchester wages' - which puts proper 'affordable' housing way beyond the reach of those on low pay.

Smith also talked about an 'invisible boom' in Manchester and Salford... "That's because no-one knows about it yet" he said "There's unprecedented levels in bringing jobs to the city, including Salford..."

This 'invisible boom' is perhaps also 'invisible' because, back in the real world - as the councils keep telling us - there are 'unprecedented levels' of poverty and hardship. But the priority remains; rollerbladers...

Meanwhile, Kurt Partington, Development Manager at Salford City Council, was nowhere near as animated, merely running through a telephone directory of schemes that underpin the Manc attitude...The RHS Garden in Worsley, Middlewod Locks, the Quays, Chapel Street, Port Salford and the Crescent, which, he added, would deliver 40,000 homes and jobs by 2040...

"Our role is how you create the place and environment in which people want to live" he explained "The cultural element is critical to how you create that place..."

He then showed that film of the Crescent Masterplan pushing the 'soul not for sale' line, with American commentary...

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