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Boaters At Breaking Point Following Suspected Arson

David Blake on the continued lawlessness facing New Islington boaters

Written by . Published on August 30th 2014.

Boaters At Breaking Point Following Suspected Arson

A CANAL boat went up in flames following a suspected arson attack at the New Islington Marina in Ancoats just after midnight on Friday 29 August.

“I have already had conversations with the Police and Urban Splash about these issues but the very serious incident which took place yesterday is a clear escalation of those concerns.”

Marina resident Philip McGaw sent us this footage:

Luckily no one was hurt, but some residents have expressed serious concerns to Confidential that next time they may not be so lucky.

It is reported that residents in the Chips development overlooking the marina saw a number of youths running away from the site. 

Police Constable Darren Davenport said: "I do not believe this incident was a random attack or act of mindless vandalism. It was clearly a targeted attack on this particular boat which appears to be well planned.

"The fire could have resulted in serious injuries or worse but thankfully the boat was unoccupied at the time. Regardless of this it put other nearby occupants at risk as well as the attending emergency services.

"Understandably other residents at the marina are concerned however I would reassure them that this matter is being thoroughly investigated."

After the alarm was sounded, a number of other boaters came out to try and save the boat and stop the fire spreading. 

McGaw told Confidential that upon arrival, the fire service had problems accessing the fire.

"They had to run the hose from Old Mill Street," he said.

Worringly, Old Mill Street sits at the far south-easterly end of the marina, around 200m from the blaze.

One concerned resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told Confidential there seems to be some confusion as to whether the fire service found access to the marina blocked, whether they were made aware of the access points, or, more seriously, whether there's adequate access to the marina in the first place.

New Islington Marina %28August 2013%29New Islington Marina - Chips development in the distance

A more tranquil New Islington MarinaA more tranquil marina

Twelve months ago Confidential ran a piece titled 'New Islington Marina Failing'.

Residents of the £20m marina development had approached Confidential to highlight a number of issues they'd faced since developer Urban Splash and partners opened the site in 2011.

The problems included anti-social behaviour involving drink, drugs, verbal abuse, theft and vandalism.

In recent months residents have approached Confidential again, claiming that far from getting better after the first article, things have taken a turn for the worse.

"Get your finger out and give your residents the security they need and are entitled to."

Boaters have told us there has been repeated 'drunken and lurid' behaviour around the marina and Cotton Fields park, swans killed, property stolen and numerous break-ins. One boater reported a beer bottle thrown through their canal boat window, showering the inside with glass.

Earlier this month a gang of up to ten youths went on a crime spree in the Ancoats area, robbing one security guard at gunpoint, attacking a couple and smashing in windows, including some around the marina.

Now it's suspected that residents may be able to add arson to the list. In a bizzare case of premonition, we asked one resident earlier this month what was being done to combat anti-social behaviour.

They said: "The police mostly respond when called, however, the party line seems to be that this is a deprived area, and that being a deprived area we should be thankful there's not much trouble."

Boat vandalism and break-inBoat vandalism and break-in (August 2014)

A meeting was called on 5 August 2014, attended by residents, Greater Manchester Police, the council and representatives from marina developers and managers Urban Splash.

Again, very little seems to have come from it.

We asked residents what should be done to make the marina a safer and better place to live. McGaw said:

"Better physical security, and not leaving the park open till dusk in the summer.

"Families bringing their children down during the day are not an issue, in fact we would like to see more encouragement of responsible recreation, however, the late night opening times gives some an excuse to start drinking mid-afternoon and continue until 10pm when they object to being asked to leave - please also remember there are no public toilets on site.

"This is despite the area being designated no drinking. The police, the park manager and security will not enforce this, so it leads to the abuse of illicit substances."

Marina warning signs are regularly ignoredMarina warning signs are regularly ignored

Following the canal boat fire on Friday 29 August, one resident we've been in touch with for a number of weeks copied Confidential into an email they'd sent to the police, Urban Splash and Lucy Powell, MP for Manchester Central.

It read: 'Here we are two weeks after our meeting when we told you it was only a matter of time before a boat would be fire bombed and also that fire access was not adequate. In fact, it proved tonight bloody impossible.

'Maybe now you will start to take notice of what is being said instead of sticking your head in the sand and hoping tomorrow will be better. Well it won't.

'Get your finger out and give your residents the security they need and are entitled to.'

Following this we contacted the office of Lucy Powell MP, she promptly replied: “I have been contacted by a number of residents at the marina who have been concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour in the area for some time. This is a real shame given that the area is a great and peaceful area to live in.”

“I have already had conversations with the Police and Urban Splash about these issues but the very serious incident which took place yesterday is a clear escalation of those concerns.”

“The local councillors and I are calling for an urgent meeting to take place to address these problems with all of the agencies involved to get round the table and talk about what needs to be done to allow residents to feel safe.”

“I have invited representatives from the Police, Fire Service and Urban Splash to meet with myself, local Councillors and the residents and I hope that this meeting will take place as soon as possible.”

Remains of the boatThe boat was utterly destroyed

A step in the right direction perhaps. Although, these meetings have proved to be unfruitful for marina residents in the past. Perhaps, as concerning as the fire has been for boaters, this incident will shock the authorities and relevant parties into action.

Something clearly needs to be done to make boaters feel safe in their homes, restricted access to the site after-hours is far too easy to side-step, and Urban Splash need to work with residents, the police and the council in beefing up security measures.

As attentions turn to the east Manchester neighbourhoods of Ancoats and New Islington following the joint-venture announcement between Manchester City Council and the Home and Communities Agency to build over 800 new homes in the area (as part of the Manchester Life initiative), the council cannot afford to have a crime hotspot slap-bang in the middle of developments.

Confidential have contacted Urban Splash about the incident and the on-going issues at the marina. They've stated that an official response will follow shortly.

Confidential Editor Jonathan Schofield recently sat down with Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham to discuss a range of topics, one of which being New Islington Marina, we'll soon be publishing the entire interview on the site.

Follow @David8Blake on twitter.

(photo credits to Philip McGaw)

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

New Islington? You can give a place any new name you want, but it won't stop it being 'Scrote Central'.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

There would have been more than enough.If the all the police that were posted to deal with the Palestinian mob on King St were stationed there.Also it's about time adults were made truly responsible for the actions of their kids.If they won't supervise them they should go to jail and have the kids taken off them.

AnonymousAugust 31st 2014.

Cost of 1 child in care for a year - £50,000. Courts cost to imprison one person £60,000 plus £50,000 for each year inside. £30, 000 for a copper for a year...or get some of those YTS bobbies who hang around Asda canteen all day to do the work for free. We pay to be protected, and they're not doing that..it's not good enough.

AnonymousAugust 31st 2014.

You're paying to bail out the banks. Public services are of little importance apparently.

James SmithAugust 30th 2014.

I've got a radical plan. How about sending a couple of £35,000 a year earning, gold plated retirement at 55, police officers to make themselves useful for a change and perhaps police the area? Crazy I know but it might just work.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

Police? In Manchester? Never heard the likes.

AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

Police like the council have suffered drastic cuts to their budget in recent years. You simply cannot expect there to be no impact on services.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2014.

Wow what a truly radical plan! Why has no-one thought of this before! Just explain though whilst these two officers are permanently patrolling here, what happens to the unanswered emergency calls?

mike_aAugust 30th 2014.

Urban Splash, you just wouldn't touch anything to do with them with a barge pole. Talk about the sadim touch.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GimboidAugust 30th 2014.

Based on what, one leaky roof and local scumbags making trouble in one of their developments?

AnonymousAugust 30th 2014.

Whatever Urban Splash faults they are not responsible for law and order.Its the police and the council who should have dealt with these feral youth.Whatever the faults of American policing,at the least the criminals are scared of the police.

AnonymousAugust 31st 2014.

Urban Splash's failure to come anywhere near to finishing this development means we are left with wide open spaces bereft of life, community and informal policing. That and the insufficient security measures at CHIPS. They are as culpable as any other party.

Friends of Angel MeadowAugust 31st 2014.

It’s not just residents of New Islington who are battling for anti-social behaviour to be addressed within their community. The Angel Meadow residential estate is similarly blighted by GMP and MCC’s failure in eradicating significant amounts of crime (especially drug dealing and usage), and have been since the “regeneration” of the area began 15yrs ago. This included a supposed Resident Forum organised by FOAM in 2009 when various responsible parties including Councillors and the Police all sat down and wrote notes on what needed to be done before disembarking for their desks. When we still consistently find pink hypodermic needles in the middle of a public park where children play; where drug users await their dealers in cars outside peoples homes 5 or 6 times a day on the same streets; where semi-naked drug users openly inject themselves and use the park as a public convenience; where evening alcohol abusers/rough sleepers regularly smash glass and litter an area local residents have sought to improve themselves; where criminal damage is regularly perpetrated with impunity then we are “regenerating” nothing. All the more ironic when the historic Angel Meadow and Ancoats are watchwords for failed neighbourhoods.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2014.

I may be being cynical but now the Co Op have moved into their shiny new HQ building overlooking the park, apart from their past CEO of the banking sector, they won't want this going on in full view of their windows. And the rest of the NOMA scheme could be taking off soon. With that in mind could the Co Op be involved? They have a lot of clout with the powers that be in the city. Having them on board with the residents could make a big difference.

Friends of Angel MeadowSeptember 3rd 2014.

Except the Co-op have occupied their new HQ for 18months now and have actually exacerbated the problems including litter and smoking outside people’s homes. More pertinently it is the ring road associated with the NOMA site which has had the negative impact residents said it would back in 2011; increasing antisocial behaviour and crime. Objections were made to locating the ring road so closely to the residents’ side of the road without effective landscaping and good design to protect the adjacent apartments. We objected to the pedestrian crossing linking the city with the residential estate so directly and highlighted the evident weaknesses in the design which brings non-residential traffic and pedestrians through the area. The exodus of owner occupiers taking an interest in their neighbourhood (because the quality of life in certain apartments has suffered) impacts on the security of the whole area and there is a lack of community engagement in tackling the ongoing problems. FOAM proposed valid solutions based on residents knowledge of our neighbourhood to MCC and the Co-op to address the rat-running (which makes drug dealing from cars particularly easy) which would have easily have been funded by the £20m public handout for the NOMA scheme; but, this city is being build and managed by people in sat in offices lacking complete understanding of localised issues, urban human behaviour and ultimately how to eradicated problems. “Broken Window Syndrome” proliferates in Manchester City Centre because of it. It is also the obsession of MCC Executive with continually “Master Planning the city” whilst endorsing speculative construction like NOMA and New Islington (without properly connecting up the sprawl of previously half-finish residential estates) which makes management and security of them virtually impossible for those on the ground. Ultimately this city needs to finish what it started if it is to move on from 200yrs of failed urban planning.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2014.

Awful. I love the community down there and often speak to the people living in their boats when walking my dogs. So sad this happened and the area deserves better and more protection. I am glad meetings are arranged and hope these criminals are caught for destroying someone's home. So upsetting to see the damage when gone by. What a truly awful act that no-one can be responsible for other than the criminals, though risk assessment and better protection is vital.

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2014.

I don't get the mentality of the kids that would do this - how did they know no one would be on that boat? Or have we just reached the stage now where we could just casually murder each other "for the lolz"?

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2014.

Lipstick on a pig, but IS STILL A PIG...Would NOT want to live so close to SO MANY LOW LIFE...

AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2014.

The cause of most of the vandalism/graffiti/drinking/ in these areas is a gradual decline in youth clubs in the area one left within 20 mins walk of the marina, The ones who are drinking there now are the kids of the past twenty years when the council started closing them down, it is a problem that will take the will of all the services together with conversations with the local community to try and get back to people pulling together, it needs to be a top down approach to this problem otherwise it will only get worse and stop others from wishing to live here which will be a shame because of what Ancoats ( New Islington ) has to offer, we need to act now.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousSeptember 2nd 2014.

The cause of it is a bunch of little scumbags thinking it's a laugh to damage and destroy other peoples property. The lack of youth clubs may be a factor, but it's hardly an excuse for the behaviour of those involved, and their families.

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