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Sir Howard Bernstein Replies To MCR Citizens

Jill Burdett puts the questions you asked

Written by . Published on March 17th 2014.

Sir Howard Bernstein Replies To MCR Citizens

DURING MIPIM, the international property conference last week, Jill Burdett asked Manchester City Council's Chief Executive ten questions supplied by Confidential readers. 

Anyone who saw Library Walk after dark as an attractive boulevard is living in a different world than I am.

You can see the mighty response to our call for questions here in the original article. 

Below are the answers she received to the questions YOU requested and we selected.  

Sir Howard Bernstein at last year's MIPIM


Sir Howard Bernstein at last year's MIPIM

As a Beta level global city does Manchester place enough importance on the maintenance of public realm? And is there an acknowledgement that Piccadilly Gardens has been a failure and needs a complete redesign?

Sir Howard Bernstein (SHB): There is always room for improvement but the budget constraints we currently have make it more difficult. Initiatives like the Clean City Fund with £14 m to spend on projects are trying to redress that.

It is not just the street scene, another important aspect is about creating place and that’s not just the responsibility of the Local Authority. The land owners and the occupiers have obligations for creation and maintenance which is being done successfully at Spinningfields and is something we would like to see replicated in other parts of the city centre as well.

And residents need to take responsibility as well.

Piccadilly Gardens is an undoubted success, look at the levels of use, the footfall. As for the wall, some people like it some people hate it. Personally I like it.

Sir Howard likes the concrete wall in Piccadilly

Sir Howard likes the concrete wall in Piccadilly. Most people like it when these trees are hiding it.

What is your opinion on the relative merits of a top-down vs bottom up regeneration strategy and do you believe the city has struck the right balance? Is there any sense of frustration over the sale of the BBC site to the current owner - was there any more the Council could've done to influence the sale?

SHB: Regeneration is a two way process. I think there are a lot of things we have been doing over the last five years that have been creating platforms for growth which are now being taken advantage of by entrepreneurs and developers. We launched the Evergreen Fund four years ago and can now say that it is starting to make a difference.

We heard in MIPIM from Bruce Katz of the Metro Revolution Report that North American cities are now filling the vacuum left by its central Government which has to concentrate on welfare and security. Is that not what we have been trying to do here for the last 20 years?

There is a great sense of frustration over the BBC site from all the team. But at the end of the day, in all these cases, we have to try and work as positively and constructively as possible with whoever owns the site.

What steps is the Council taking to rebalance the demographic of the city centre resident population away from students and younger short term lets to include families and older people?

SHB: Having a population that is mixed - socially, economically and generationally is a challenge which all successful cities have to meet.

One of the key factors is providing the right mix of housing and with the residential market just starting to regenerate the developers have to seize opportunities.

St John’s Quarter (the former Granada site) is one of the most exciting projects that is coming forward, a new place to live and work with a full range of housing. For me it is a great fillip to be working with a developer like Allied London who actually understands that.

The next wave of development must reflect the best principles about quality of place and developers will have to up their game if they want to be successful. They have to embrace the challenge.  

St John's Quarter - old warehouse filled with Granada props, soon to provide housing solutions?


St John's Quarter - old warehouse filled with Granada props, soon to provide housing solutions

The Timber Wharf debacle - should we be holding the developers to account? (Read about the problems at Timber Wharf here and here and here.)

SHB: Yes, of course they should be held to account. Ultimately it’s a contract issue. It is a fundamental principle that anyone who buys a property should expect it to meet standards. If it does not then those responsible should be held to account. 

HS2 - why should we bother?

SHB: We have to bother. Unless we improve connectivity the link between business and jobs is lost.

HS2 is not just about fast trains between north and south it is about creating more rail capacity as a whole. And we should be looking at accelerating its delivery. There are growing calls for work to begin at each end simultaneously and we hope the David Higgins report will talk about delivering all parts of the network and route sooner rather than later.

We are not looking at this in isolation. We have already started work on the Northern Hub which will increase capacity between Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds particularly for freight traffic.  

Bring it on


Bring it on

Fracking – Do you support it?

SHB: We should not, just for ideological reasons, say no to something without making a properly informed decision. 

Part of that information process needs to be to explore the contribution it can make to the UK’s long term fuel needs and how it could help people out of fuel poverty.

Can you explain why council tax payers are funding the £3.5 million redevelopment of Library Walk with a complete white elephant that nobody wants and is not needed, yet cutting services to Mental Health, Parks and Leisure etc? Why the insistent refusal to pay any attention to public opinion about Library Walk?

SHB: Anyone who saw Library Walk after dark as an attractive boulevard is living in a different world than I am.

It is not being blocked off. You will still be able to walk through during the day. And if there is demand to walk through beyond those times then we will look at that. The glass link is money well spent and it has to be viewed in the context of the wider St Peter’s Square regeneration which will be a remarkable space.

We listened to the community around swimming pools and libraries but we have to have a factual base for making or changing a decision. The council has responded to some of the parking issues after representations from the public. It is a constant process of balancing and rebalancing.  

Library Walk as it was. The Council still isn't listening


Library Walk as it was. The Council still isn't listening


Has any analysis been made of the potential impact of selling the Airport and investing the proceeds in one vast transformational capital spending programme compared to what is achieved with a few million in dividends each year?

SHB: Of course analysis has been done and of course it makes more sense to hold onto it as an asset rather than sell any of the MAG portfolio and make a quick hit now.

In fact we need to expand the asset business including dividends and revenues and values.

One of the most brilliantly executed strategies of recent years was the acquisition of Stansted and East Midlands Airports. 

 Manchester Airport


Manchester Airport - and its expansion plans. Why sell off the family silver? 


What are your plans upon your looming retirement? Would you like to sit in the House of Lords?

SHB: I have not thought about retirement. 

What would you say has been the biggest single mistake of your career? If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

SHB: The Transport Innovation Fund (aka The Congestion Charge referendum in 2008). It was not a mistake but it was a low moment about a particular failure.

London Road Fire Station – it’s not personal but it is a regret that we have not been able to deliver this major redevelopment. I am passionate about it because I think it is such a waste. Their argument that there is not a demand for more hotels is ludicrous; we are deluged with hotel operators desperate to find sites in the city. It is still appalling that this site has not been brought forward and wrong that we are still not clear what the structural condition of the building is actually like.

The Supercasino loss – not because I am pro-gambling but because of how it would have generated so much value around the stadium area. There is still a development to bring forward that would underpin the current offer and generate significant investment and jobs.

You have to be resilient.  

London Road Fire Station - a regret


London Road Fire Station - a regret

What is the objective of going to MIPIM in Cannes? We have the buildings, we have the developments, we have the infrastructure, in fact Manchester does have almost everything. Now it seems we just need some sensible things to fill them with.

SHB: What would it say to the world if we were not here? That Manchester has no ambition? That we are no longer prepared to confront challenges and progress?

This week has not just been about flag waving and self congratulation. It is about self challenge and talking to leaders from other cities who face challenges too. We can learn from each other but one of the virtues of MIPIM is that people look to Manchester for examples of best practice.

We know that given the infrastructure plans we have in place we are going to continue to create jobs and we have to ensure that the people who want those jobs have a place to live. How we respond to the residential challenge, how we accommodate people who want to live and work in Manchester is one of the factors of economic success. Twenty years ago it was how can we arrest decline, now it is how do we cater for people and give them access to amenities. It is a hugely exciting opportunity,

One of the most important aspects of this week has been to introduce the Chinese delegation from the Beijing Construction Engineering Group BCEG with Mr Wang Weibo speaking at a stand event focussing on Airport City and its potential. It was useful to help them understand Manchester and its place at a European and international level. It has been hugely positive.

You can follow Jill Burdett on Twitter @jillburdett.

It's thumbs up to the future

It's thumbs up to the future

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

Alex24March 17th 2014.

Quite an interesting interview and I generally think Howard Bernstein has done a good job for the city...but I don't know where to begin with some of the things said in answer to the first question - clean up the streets yourself, Picc Gardens is an 'undoubted success' because of footfall!? Also, if you looked at the numerous posters on here who were concerned about Manchester's lack of emphasis on beautifying the centre, this issue still doesn't look like it's being taken seriously at the top - just the usual whinging about cuts despite the relatively low cost such improvements would require.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
espoirMarch 17th 2014.

predictably arrogant and complacent, he built on Piccadilly Gardens, so he's going to defend this disaster. "some people like it" what a joke. Closing the iconic Cornerhouse and Library Theatre other achievements. Spending £3.5m on Library Walk that nobody asked for is another but keeping the city clean or providing litter bins, well that won't be an achievement will it? The city needs to move on from this man asap.

Mark FullerMarch 17th 2014.

Some really vacuous and dismissive replies from Sir Howard here. He claims that he likes the "Berlin Wall" at Piccadilly Gardens. Worryingly, he might be telling the truth! How can anyone with any aesthetic sense like this abysmally dull,oppressive and soulless piece of Soviet brutalism? Piccadilly Gardens,lying at the heart of our regional capital, should be a source of pride and pleasure to residents and visitors alike. Instead it is a source of embarrassment and bewilderment:how did this self inflicted wound come about?Hopefully, the council will listen to the people for once, instead of Ian Simpson and various Manchester School of Architecture psueds and trendies, and reconsider their plans to destroy the beautiful and elegant Library Walk.

TomMarch 17th 2014.

In fairness Mark, several MSA staff and students were involved in the Library Walk campaign.

Mark FullerMarch 18th 2014.

Sorry if I gave the impression that I was criticizing the students at the MSA:I wasn't.

ktfairyMarch 18th 2014.

I like the Piccadilly Wall, it creates a layered sense of space with the building behind it when walking through or sitting on the benches - and would you rather have the smelly, noisy buses in plain sight? Picc Gardens are a success if you take the time to sit a while and watch the world instead of just doing what you think everyone does and use it as a cut through for the station. Plenty of people do sit and spend time here and until you become one of them and try it out you will not be enlightened on the experience.

Mark FullerMarch 18th 2014.

Reflecting on how such an ugly place ,i.e. Picc. Gardens came to be:perhaps it says something about the collective psyche of the city as a whole,or as it was when it appeared at the end of last century. The conventional view is that these sort of developments are simply imposed from on high.But perhaps also, the elites/decision makers reflect the general consciousness back to the masses. Whenever I've sat in Piccadilly Gardens,I've really tried to like it. I'm intensely pro- Manchester, and by and large love the city. But Picc. Gardens is not a pleasant place to be. Where there should be natural beauty there is a concrete wall, where there should be greenery, we have barren, sterile earth. And although we do see the eclectic mix of people that makes Manchester such a great city, I see far too many predatory types hanging around looking for easy pickings. A debased environment will attract debased and insensitive people.

Ivor ButlerMarch 17th 2014.

Follow-up questions and comments, probably not to be answered. "Anyone who saw Library Walk after dark as an attractive boulevard is living in a different world than I am." If LW is problematic, why was making it inaccessible at night time apparently the only solution considered? Would better lighting and CCTV not have been viable options? The implied logic would be that any adopted highways or footpaths considered dangerous by the council (of which there are surely many in the city centre) should be made inaccessible at night time. Is this a reasonable assumption? "It is not being blocked off. You will still be able to walk through during the day." So it will in fact be blocked off SOME of the time. "And if there is demand to walk through beyond those times then we will look at that." How and when will you assess demand? Would it not have been rather more sensible to assess demand before building the new structure?

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

Agreed, I cannot understand his arguement

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

His argument is, like with the concrete wall in Piccadilly, is, if you don't agree you're wrong.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

Manchester suffers from the same kind of pseudo democratic accountability that Lord Myers identified last week with the Cooperative group.In reality the small clique who run things can pretty much do what they like.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

Amen to that. There is a shocking, suffocating 'do what we want attitude' and contempt of the public that is disgusting and dictatorial from the cronyistic ranks. A real problem for Manchester that kills talent, potential and its betterment. And yes I vote 'Old' Labour values before I get accused of being anti 'establishment'.

Kevin PeelMarch 17th 2014.

I'm glad to see support from the top for what city centre councillors are constantly advocating - a more family friendly city centre with more diverse housing options and appropriate amenities.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

Not sure I want the City Centre to be more "family friendly" if it leads to an iunflux of NIMBYs opposing every bar licence.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

Predictable careerist Peel sucking up again. Why don't you surprise us and actually say what you feel and dare to criticise the 'top'? Didn't you support the redevelopment of Piccadilly Gardens? Didn't you, before you were a councillor have a petition for it? Weren't you anti-library walk? So why such are you a suck-up? Tiresome & disingenuous.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

Kevin your attempts to persuade us you have the best interests of the people who put you on the council fools no one.You are only concerned about your own interests in the Labour Party.

AnonymousMarch 19th 2014.

Kevin Peel disagree with the Labour hierarchy????......read his twitter feed. Sycophantic nonsense. twitter.com/kevpeel… No doubt this will be removed.

GetMarch 19th 2014.

Really? How far back do you have to read to get to the sycophantic nonsense? Cos I've had a quick look and apart from one retweet from Labour HQ, mostly all I can see is Kevin dealing with the concerns of city centre residents and stuff from his social life.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

I knew he would answer the Piccadilly Gardens question with how many people use it. It's the middle of Manchester City Centre for gods sake. It's going to be busy! Ask the people of Manchester what they think of it 98 out of 100 will say its a dump. Ask tourists what they think and 98 out of 100 will say its a dump. It's an embarrassment, It's dirty, horrible, grubby and depressing. The cleanest things there are the pigeons. Why don't you listen to the people who are telling you what you are saying is wrong?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

Completely agree. Collective myopia about just how bad the whole place is. The gardens are busy because hundreds of buses and trams pass through there every day NOT because those scruffy bits of grass or the hideous office block were well planned. A bit of humility and some indication the city had learnt something from the debacle would have been good to hear.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

Lets not forget too, that there was a huge public outcry & campaign at the time against those redevelopment plans for Piccadilly Gardens. Well this is "New Labour" Manchester, so the views of the public were completely ignored of course. In fact, I think one particular insulting Labour councillor, dismissively referred to the protestors as "middle-class to***rs from Cheshire" didn't he?

TimMarch 23rd 2014.

I remember the old Piccadilly Gardens, which had become a haven for a few tramps and drunks and was hardly visited by anyone- despite being in the middle of Manchester, so the argument that this site would be busy just because it is in the centre of the city isn't true. The fact the new Piccadilly Gardens is constantly full in stark comparison to the old gardens is a sign of its success, Bernstein is right about that. It does, however, need cleaning up- maybe the grass needs removing and replacing with trees, benches and large plant tubs, the wall hung with flowers or painted.

Ghostly TomMarch 17th 2014.

I think Sir Howard must be living on a different planet from me and most of Manchester if he thinks Piccadilly Gardens is successful. The 3.5 million spent on the unnecessary, silly, glass box blocking Library Walk could have better been spent on renovating the gardens or at least keeping suburban libraries open.

ShybaldbuddhistMarch 17th 2014.

If we had a poll and it asked if £3.5m was to be spent on trying to sort out Piccadilly Gardens or on Library Walk, i'd guess almost 100% of people asked would vote for Piccadilly Gardens to get the money. I hate the place. HATE IT. But just ignore what the people want and make a mess of things, as per usual.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

It is massively remiss of Sir Howard to claim it will be purely the responsibility of developers to ensure the demographic of the city becomes more sustainable and better balanced. It is his Planning Committee who has applied zero quality control on much of the recent residential development which is undermining the investments already made or placed obligations on developers to contribute to create real communities with added schools and parks for families & children or medical facilities & crime policing for older people. It is he who needs to formulate a strategy to finish the numerous half-stalled residential communities across the city before celebrating the start of another “Masterplan.” Much of the proposed new development is being sold off-plan to foreign buy-to-let investors who care not one jot about building maintenenace or green space or litter or high pollution rates- how sustainable is that? Allied London have hardly covered Spinningfields in a pleasant "green" neighbourhood so the St. John's Quarter may need more than just shiny architectural renders with the green space value-engineered out in the future. It will be the taxpayer who pays for this short term greed as it always did and any legacy Sir Howard thinks he is creating could be filed in the same box as Angel Meadow, Fort Ardwick, Hulme Crescents, Cardroom Estate, et al.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMarch 18th 2014.

If only the rest of the city looked as good as Spinningfields. Allied London really do look after their area. I walked past lush lawns there on Sunday afternoon compared with the balding, mud patches of Piccadilly Gardens. Allied London have worked hard to turn what might have been a soulless office area into a vibrant part of the city that people want to visit.

Calum McGMarch 19th 2014.

Tom, good shout. Allied London have shown what can be done. They regularly re-lay the lawns when needed and keep it spic and span. They are good neighbours to Castlefield and the footfall through Spinningfields, even at the weekend, keeps it feeling lived in (as opposed to commercial ghost town).

SquirrelitoMarch 17th 2014.

Oh how predictable. Piccadilly Gardens is used simply because its the largest open space in the city, not because it's popular. Its a dump, we all know it's a dump. And if he thinks it isn't, he's the one on another planet to anyone you could chuck a stick at from the town hall clock. And as for Library Wlak, the usual old flannel. "We want it, it will happen, stuff you lot"

Voice of the Ironing BroadMarch 17th 2014.

I challenge the council to stream the planning committee. Let residents see what a bunch of muppets currently hold power. I think people making decisions should a) be awake b) be able to read a set of plans c) be able to tell the differences between developers froth and properly submitted comments.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
CrassMarch 17th 2014.

You've made the same point here before - have you ever made it directly to the committee? The chairman is Mick Loughman, cllr.m.loughman@manchester.gov.uk

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

If you've ever attended a committee meeting, which I have on many an occasion, you will note how streamlined they are with applications that have been given the nod from on high. There is usually a pre-planning committee meeting (which no member of the public can attend) where the party-line is issued and members are expected to row in during the 'public' meeting. It's all for show and televising it would shed no more light on the odd decisions these elected members take. SHB is an extremely powerful man in the town hall.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

If the meeting is suposed to be public premeetings like you describe should be banned as undemocratic.

DavidMarch 17th 2014.

The answer to the question about the idea of selling of the airport to fund a Big Bang of infrastructure projects is very unsatisfactory.He admits research has been done about this.but then rejects the idea without providing any of this evidence from the research to substantiate his view. I am sorry but for all his past achievements he comes across as a man who has been in power for too long and is disconnected from the concerns people have.

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

David - the voice of Peel Holdings. Selling the airport is simply a ludicrous idea. Assets like this can only be sold once.

DavidMarch 17th 2014.

Are you the voice of the council anonymous?Like them you offer no evidence for saying something is self evidently true. If assets sales are wrong I take it you opposed the council selling anything of in the past ?.

CrassMarch 17th 2014.

David, seeing as you're the only one constantly banging on about it, how about you provide some evidence that it WOULD be a good idea?

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

David no I am not but as a local council tax payer and citizen of Manchester keeping a valuable dividend-paying asset with growth potential in public ownership, managed for the benefit of the city is surely better than letting those benefits accrue to a private company with no obligation to invest and manage that asset for the long term good of the city.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

EDITORIAL COMMENT. Anon you've asked that question once so I've deleted it. The comment thread here gets boring when it comes down to you repeating the same question. In this instance I think David was simply articulating a point of view which you and I might not agree with but he was entitled to state. Jonathan Schofield

crisbyMarch 18th 2014.

As one who put that question I'd like to see the sums too. I'm not convinced that a few million a year in dividends outweighs the long term benefits that might be achieved from a sale yielding a 'big bang' worth hundreds of millions. As a local I derive pride from Manchester owning its own airport and in an ideal world wouldn't like to see it sold, but I'd like to know why it makes financial sense to hold onto it. Sir Howard isn't saying.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2014.

What strikes me about SHB's answers is that running through them seems to be a belief that regeneration is synonymous with property development. Little room for a more organic, bottom up vision involving community groups or small businesses. In fact the excellent work carried by the like of Friends of Ancoats Dispensary in the aftermath of the dismal failure of the sort of top down property led regeneration he espouses, perfectly illustrates the weaknesses of this approach. Sure strong leadership and a clear vision can attract investment, but when too little regard is paid to community interests it can be disempowering, suffocating and counter productive.

Ghostly TomMarch 18th 2014.

Are we going to have one of these Library Walk boxes in every dodgy alley and unlit back street to make them safe?

Jonathan SchofieldMarch 18th 2014.

The whole point about this Tom is that Library Walk was not a dodgy alley

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMarch 18th 2014.

I agree entirely, Library Walk was one of the most elegant spaces just about anywhere and now it's been ruined at great expense.

George KennyMarch 18th 2014.

Some of this criticism is intemperate, Sir Howard Bernstein has been superb for this city, a leader of the highest calibre. But people get out of touch. What maybe the Chief Executive should do is once a week spend a couple of hours walking the city. Then he'd see that Piccadilly Gardens is not all right but especially with the over large raised planting beds and the fountain with its trough that captures rubbish not working at all in the way he wants.

Rachel MillerMarch 18th 2014.

Really picadilly gardens is a success? Personally I fell threatened there day or night is a haven for drug use and alcohol use. Last time I went through I thought I'd get high so much marijuana smoking going on. How is that a success?

Eugene Spain)March 18th 2014.

Sir Howerd Bernstein reminds me of people you meet and in conversation say I do not regret anything in my life.In other words you have never made a mistake.How on earth can anybody defend what must be the most unimaginitive , lacklustre. slum like,boring,embarrassing public square in all Europe.Can you imagine Lyon,Bordeaux,Dusseldorf,Cologne,Milan,Barcelona with a public monstrosity like that in the centre of their cities.I was in East Berlin before the Wall came down and did not see anything approaching the pathetic Piccadilly Gardens.With his travelling Sir Howerd can see in any European City fantastic public squares.We need to copy one and reproduce it in Piccadilly Gardens.In Spain we have thousands of them,which puts my own city to shame.In general his tenure as Chief Executive has been quite good,and his criticism of London Road Fire station is spot on,it is and has been a total disgrace for many years.A fantastic legacy would be to deliver a world class square for Piccadilly.

Peter BirdMarch 18th 2014.

How can anybody consider a grey Wall being a success. Let us have greenery and flowers in Piccadilly Gardens, after all it is called a garden not the concrete jungle!!

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

A positive legacy could be to invest in a clean city. It's a disgrace. As are Piccadilly Gardens. How can this be a success?

maxwhite65@gmail.comMarch 18th 2014.

On top of the design problems with Piccadilly Gardens they are seemingly endlessly relaying the grass and replacing cobbles which have broken or sunk, presumably at the taxpayers expense. Why? Poorly installed, cheapest contractor? Either way, it's a mess and an embarrassment, for many people this is the gateway to our fine city and first impressions count.

John HarrisMarch 18th 2014.

Politician in not answering question shock

4 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMarch 19th 2014.

SHB is an employee of the Council, not a politician

AnonymousMarch 19th 2014.

Yup a civil servant

John HarrisMarch 19th 2014.

Just because he isn't elected doesn't mean he's not a politician

DavidMarch 19th 2014.

He is a public servant but he is so clearly associated with Labour you could not imagine him performing the same role for a Lib Dem or Tory council leader.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2014.

At least he regrets LRFS. But what are they going to do about it NOW? As for Library Walk, the argument is insulting to the austere times and services being cut. I know have gates perhaps, that coast far less than £3.5 million! Saying Piccadilly Walls "I love it" means as we all know if SHB or SRL loves it or wants it, it stays regardless. A success on what planet? Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to vote in a Major for set terms and not see these shysters clogging up the arteries of talent, fairness and potential? Well an interview in an exercise in the predictable and lacklustre we could only expect.

DavidMarch 18th 2014.

On this occasion a lot of credit must go to the journalist who asked the questions and Manchester Confidential,because for once the local media asked a local political figure the the tough questions the public wanted them asked.Can we please see more of this ?

1 Response: Reply To This...
MGSMarch 19th 2014.

well said

Reader HubbleMarch 18th 2014.

Whoever likes that wall has to go.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Humble citizenMarch 18th 2014.

I love the wall. Best thing about the gardens. They can bin the rest though.

Jeremy ShineMarch 18th 2014.

I agree the wall in Piccadilly Gardens is ugly and there could have been more attractive ways of masking the bus station. However, as someone who has presented numerous street performances in the City over the past 30 years I can vouch that the old Piccadilly Gardens were hardly used at all by the public and now it is packed whenever the weather is fine.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Nick NameMarch 18th 2014.

Yeah but we didn't have numerous metrolink lines stopping there in years gone by have we? We didn't have as many tourists back in the day. We get more people in the centre these days. More people live there. It's a case of a lot more people and some flat ground to sit on. It's not nice in any way.

Eugene Spain)March 18th 2014.

Humble Citizen says he likes the wall,obviously a wind-up unless he lives facing Strangeways and has is sometimes the case accepts this as the norm (Psychology theory).The wall is a disgraceful very very cheap way of pretending to hide the noise and seperate different environments. Would Manchester confidential along with other local voices of opinion strongly back the OBVIOUS benefits of starting HS2 in the North.The benefits are painfully obvious.we have already lost the battle with London.The activation of a start in the North would go a little way to counterbalance the RIDICULOUS two nations we have become. The rest of the country owes Manchester and the Northwest for their contribution since and starting the Industrial Revolution.This should be made in no uncertain terms to London.London concentricity is a national disgrace,and only makes the UK look ridiculous in the eyes of the modern world. Please no more nonsense about selling the airport.It is obvious they are not businessmen.Remember Gordon Brown selling the gold? that was a good idea (NOT).

3 Responses: Reply To This...
CrassMarch 18th 2014.

Jesus Allmighty, anything else you could've shoehorned in there? The price of milk maybe?

DavidMarch 18th 2014.

Stand upto London?.Not very likely when the council through MAG owns London third airport,and so has a interest in seeing further transport spending in London,and Sir Howard has another job as chairman West End Commission in London,so he is hardly likely to be a champion of switching transport spending from London either.

Mark FullerMarch 31st 2014.

Eugene, I think that you may be surprised by how many people, particularly in academia, do like brutal,harsh,concrete structures. The brilliant Jonathan Meades makes a case for brutalism on a video entitled: Bunkers,Brutalism and Bloodymindedness- Concrete Poetry; it's on you tube. James Kunstler,puts the opposite case equally well in; How Bad Architecture Wrecked Cities. My guess, is that Meades would argue that the Piccadilly wall doesn't work as a piece of brutalism, because it's too small,merely ugly ,innocuous and drab. Brutalism should be ugly on an heroic,gargantuan scale, inducing awe and even fear.

AnonymousMarch 19th 2014.

Im glad the Timber Wharf issue got highlighted as Bloxham was one of HB's little clique in the golden era. I hope he echos his sentiment to Urban Splash and take this into account when recruiting future board members!!

David Michael EvansMarch 19th 2014.

I agree with him about Library Walk... a windswept, soul-less passage. Like why was it so fantastic?!...the glass link is fine. I too like the 'wall' in Piccadilly. People who criticise it, never have an attractive alternative idea, other than to bemoan the loss of the old gardens. They are long gone,and I prefer the current modernist design of Piccadilly Gardens.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
SquirrelitoMarch 31st 2014.

I criticise it and I DO have an attractive alternative. Trees. Not that hard, love.

AnonymousMarch 31st 2014.

They won't listen to you .Every major European city which Manchester is always claiming to be one of manages to have trees and parks and nice squares.But not us.

SmittyMarch 19th 2014.

I like Piccadilly Gardens. It's great during the summer when it's packed and it's really good for events. It is popular with people, albeit perhaps not the well-heeled types that rant on here. The wheel's given it a nice new dynamic, albeit cutting some of the space. The Berlin Wall serves a purpose, but let's be honest it's pretty hideous. Are there not plans to cover it over with grass? That would surely solve the problem of its ugliness, whilst still retaining its purpose? On the other hand, that glass monstrosity for Library Walk is horrible. I love a bit of modern architecture as a counterpoint to traditional, for eg the Rylands works beautifully. But this looks like the cheap entrance to an expensive, but classless, shopping centre in London. More Westfield than The Louvre. Overall though, this is a pretty good interview. I think it demonstrates why anyone who thinks that Howard Bernstein hasn't been a force for good in Manchester needs their heads examining.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMarch 31st 2014.

...please don't cover it with grass, they can't maintain the horizontal patches of the stuff, so what chance does a vertical lawn have?...

Mark FullerMarch 31st 2014.

Perhaps the wall could be adorned with gigantic portraits of our ruling triumvirate Bernstein, Leese and Karney?

AnonymousMarch 21st 2014.

Howard Bernstein has been an unmitigated disaster for Manchester, ruining the best parts, the latest being Library Walk, but a little further back building on Piccadilly Gardens. Who else has built an office block on a park. He is like an incompetent headmaster who just carries on to the bitter end regardless, supported by some duffer governors. A mayor who would build on Central Park would get dumped in the East River. Last not least his legacy is litter. An incompetent manager who cannot organise a few teams of litter pickers to sort out the problem, especially in the evening when it is worst, but spends millions on crackpot schemes. Please, please just go!

C HannimanMarch 22nd 2014.

That is ridiculous, Sir Howard Bernstein has been very good for the city. Ask other civic leaders and ask government ministers, ask about his worldwide reputation. He helped drive a huge remodelling of the city largely for the better.

1 Response: Reply To This...
DavidMarch 22nd 2014.

Sir Howard WAS a good leader.He is living of his past achievements. If you want to mention successful cities.Then they refresh the leadership, so it does not get stale,so they have new thinking.New York has revived itself under a succession of innovative mayors while we are stuck with Leese and Bernstein.

AnonymousMarch 30th 2014.

How can wanting to keep the Cornerhouse, the Library Theatre in the Library, Library Walk as it is and so on be ridiculous? How can wanting clean streets be ridiculous? Piccadilly Gardens was nice but they didn't get maintained by Bernstein, they just needed updating and cleaning but he couldn't manage it and he used the state of the gardens (his own fault) as a pretext to build on them. We've had years of utter contempt for the public from this arrogant man.

5 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomMarch 31st 2014.

...agreed both those institutions functioned perfectly well where they were and Library Walk needed no additions. If there was any cash sloshing about it should have been spent on the mess and embarrassment that is Piccadilly Gardens...

DavidMarch 31st 2014.

But then people say Leese and Bernstein were responsible for reviviving Manchester.Except they were not,it was the previous leadership and Bob Scott who did that.These two are in power for two decades,stopping other more creative people in Manchester aspiring to run the city.Nobody should be allowed to stay in these jobs for more than a decade.

AnonymousMarch 31st 2014.

Yes David, how on earth Bob Scott got us all believing that we could win those Olympic bids, I just don't know. The guy was inspirational. Sure, Graham Stringer's leadership of MCC at the time was extremely important too. Unfortunately though, I think the relationship that Manchester had built up with the then Tory government, really would up rival cities and the London hierarchy of the Labour Party? So by 1997, all of that "regenerative energy" that Manchester had stormed into the 1990s with, was brought to a shuddering halt by Prescott, Blair and their utterly vile New Labour government. Centralist politicians who obviously saw London as a special case, but Manchester as no different to say Blackpool or Burnley?

DavidMarch 31st 2014.

Any city should have ambition.If you stand still in life,then you eventually find other people overtaking you.Manchester should be aiming to be at the least the best non capital city in Europe.It should be competing with Barcelona,Lyon and Milan. To do that you need people at the top with both vision and ambition like Bob Scott had.The current leadership just seems satisfied if we are slightly better than Liverpool or Leeds,that's not good enough.we should be aiming far higher.

AnonymousMarch 31st 2014.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhh. Stuck record. I can't stand it anymore. David's driven me to Barton Viaduct and the long jump into the inky Ship Canal - an efficient bridge he will no doubt note that was not the work of Leese or Bernstein.

AnonymousMarch 31st 2014.

....awaiting soundbite from Councillor Carnival....

AnonymousApril 5th 2014.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhh. Stuck record. I can't stand it anymore. David's driven me to Barton Viaduct and the long jump into the inky Ship Canal - an efficient bridge he will no doubt note that was not the work of Leese or Bernstein." Will you marry me?

AnonymousApril 5th 2014.

I hope Mr. Bernstein has read all these adverse comments about "The wall" and is ready to admit that he and his advisors are wrong but I doubt it very much!!!!

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