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The Debate: Let’s abolish Stretford

Charlie Butterworth grows Manchester

Published on October 31st 2007.

The Debate: Let’s abolish Stretford

Over the weekend Tory proposals to block Scottish MPs voting on English matters in Parliament were mulled and mashed over in government and in the press. To many this would eventually mean the dissolution of Britain as it would effectively separate the countries. If that happened then England might remain a major European nation, by virtue of its economic muscle and its population (around 50m, as opposed to Scotland's 5m) but collectively we would all diminish.

The Nationalists in Scotland would love this, for them small is beautiful. Others prefer Britain as a broad-minded concept rather than a narrow-minded conceit.

At last we would physically be Britain’s second city as well as spiritually and at the same time a mighty European economic unit, better able to project itself to the world.

There’s something for Manchester in this debate. But instead of thinking about splitting, let’s turn the argument on its head and think about Manchester growing.

A week or so ago the city was described as the seventeenth worst place to live in the UK in Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location. The reasons for this were revealed in an hour and a half run-down by hapless presenters Phil Spencer and Kirsty Allsop.

Essentially those boroughs which had high crime, deep poverty and poor health were bad places to live. Those with low crime, little poverty and good health came top. A simplistic equation: leafy suburbs good, ex-industrial cities bad. It was nothing to do with the best and the worst places, it was a measure of the richest and the poorest.

Yet Location, location, location had a point, particularly with regard to Manchester. Manchester is odd. The administrative area is, in the context of its residents, poor. Aside from pockets of wealth in Chorlton, Didsbury, and sporadically elsewhere, the rich have flown the nest.

Through various historical and geographical accidents rich Manchester now lives over the border, still connected to the mother lode by arterial routes, accent and built up streets, but not counted in the 450,000 population. Yet the townships just over the border are as much a part of Manchester as Moss Side in their origins and influences. Most of them would still be a huddle of houses round a duck pond if the metropolis at the heart of Greater Manchester hadn’t developed.

Manchester needs its rich back, it needs a more balanced demographic.

Here’s a suggestion.

Everywhere within the M60 (most of Salford, parts of Oldham, Bury, Tameside and Stockport) and the whole of Trafford, on both sides of the M60, should unify with Manchester. Trafford would disappear because Sale, Timperley, Urmston and Altrincham were never substantial centres historically, they grew because a commuter railway line was slung south west from the city in the 1840s.

Like London boroughs the incorporated areas would keep some powers and thus retain identity – we’d have to be very careful with Salford here - but their population would be subsumed within that of Manchester, and the main authority would lie with Albert Square. The costs saved by the dissolution of the two administrations of Salford and Trafford could be deflected back into providing better micro-management. Take it back to the old way of little town halls in the districts, down on the ground, looking after the bins, litter, graffiti and parks.

This measure would instantly give the city a population of well over the magic million. At last we would physically be Britain’s second city as well as spiritually and at the same time a mighty European economic unit, better able to project itself to the world.

Nor would the expanded Manchester be much of a surprise to other Brits, most of whom have no idea that places such as Stretford and Old Trafford aren’t technically in Manchester anyway. It wouldn’t be too much of a shock for the locals either, most people from, say, Prestwich think of themselves as from Manchester rather than Bury. Nor does a foreign visitor flying over the city pick out where one district ends and another begins, and say, “ah yes that must be Tameside and that Manchester”.

The new supra-Manchester would only be formalising administratively what’s happened geographically.

The Manchester Imperium, Manchester Rising. Wonderful. The opposite of the narrow-minded Scottish Nationalists.

When shall we start the formal unification talks?

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

whalleystrangeOctober 31st 2007.

This would mean that Manchester United plc would finally realise their dream and become part of Manchester and as a City fan I cannot accept this. I can just picture Gary Neville becoming dizzy with excitement at the prospect of becoming a real Manc instead of a plastic from Bury!

Bring it onOctober 31st 2007.

Ian, but Bowdon and Hale have always been the West End of Manchester. Pevsner the architectural guy not from anywhere near Manchester wrote in his acclaimed guides that 'Altrincham, Bowdon, Hale, Timperley, Sale are all Manchester's outer suburbs'. This selfish 'Cheshire' pride is ludicrous: it's vile snobbery with narrow minded people ignoring the history of their districts and also the bigger picture of the need for Manchester to expand.

Jonathan Schofeld - editorOctober 31st 2007.

Mr 'Prof Rob Right', you have an amazing chip on your shoulder about Manchester. Of course you got annoyed about Birmingham being considered less than Manchester in those national features last year. But let it go would you. You get things so wrong as well. You posted earlier on this site about gun crime and 55 victims in Manchester this year, that was a figure over the last decade. You don't know what you're talking about. Unless you change these ridiculous postings - the ones on miscarriage were extremely insensitive, and by the way, the article was not advertorial at all - then we're going to have to start removing them."

Old Glossop's WarlockOctober 31st 2007.

Salford, Manchester etc, no difference! You are all Townies or 061er's to us lot.

proud of stretford, manchesterOctober 31st 2007.

It's just a re-hash of GMC (Greater Manchester Council) which was abolished - at much cost - in the mid 80s because it didn't work then, so what would make it work this time round? The main point is that if you're proud of being a Manc, that's where you say you're from. The author of the article appears somewhat confused. Just because a Stretfordian lives in the MBC of Trafford, doesn't mean they are not 'technically from Manchester anyway' [sic]. If that's the case then would that mean someone who was born within the sound of the Bow Bells is not a Londoner because they grow up and pay their council tax to LB Tower Hamlets? Don't be so stupid. Changing boundaries doesn't change your identity nor will it make the likes of Kirsty and Phil change their minds and I wouldn't want them to. They're welcome to the overpriced properties daaan saaaf anyway.

JamesOctober 31st 2007.

No it hasn't been done before. Greater Manchester was a disaster because it tried to get places such as Rochdale and Wigan, ancient boroughs in their own rights, into one whole. Croydon for example is definitely not London, but is part of Greater London. This odd, but strangely enticing idea, would bring in those areas that are actually contiguous with Manchester and don't have that type of identity. They are logically part of Manchester more than say Prestwich is part of Bury or the Heatons part of Stockport.

About TimeOctober 31st 2007.

Sensible and obvious idea.Would provide greater identity to the outlying borough towns (Bury, Wigan, Bolton, oldham etc) who are not in the new manchester area by re designating their suburbs and producing smaller and more independent towns.It would therefore sensibly associate areas like prestiwch with the administration which they easily fit in to and which, to the untrained eye, they already belong to.Surely this would also result in more coherent policies, such as town planning, education budgets etc.

Mike Cordingley (Trafford Councillor)October 31st 2007.

Perhaps surprisingly for a Trafford councillor I'm drawn to the spririt of this proposal although not to the headline. The Gorse Hill ward I represent contains the football ground. When I was campaigning against the proposal for a Salford and Quays constituency, I encountered a lot of residents who said they had far more in common with Manchester than Altrincham (from whence the proposal had come from).

bit of senseOctober 31st 2007.

being a (plastic) scouser living in this city since 2000, I have always been bemused by the setting of the boundaries. I worked on Talbot Road yet had trafford town hall opposite lancashire cricket gound and when working in tameside, I quoted a cheshire postcode! I dig this fine city and see it common sense to refer to everything within M60 as 'Manchester'...most people outside the area think that way (trafford, stretford and salford smaller parts of the whole - manchester). However, if there is a fierce debate against from those who are from the area - that leave it as it is. Who took any notice from that programme anyway??

Spelling & GrandmaOctober 31st 2007.

Hmm... "proud of stretford, manchester" - your grammar is wrong too!! If you cannot see the faults within what you wrote, you really shouldn't be slating other people's grammar. <<< note the correctly-used apostrophe

GregOctober 31st 2007.

With reference to the Stretford/Old Trafford point in the article, it is a complete joke that this isn't part of Manchester already- how the hell can the home of Manchester United not be in Manchester?! It makes us look a joke when other fans find out about that. Better still, United should up sticks and move back to their spiritual home in Newton Heath; they won't have any problems building a 100,000 seater stadium there, and won't have to build it near a railway line, which means the council can't poke their bureaucratic noses in and stop them expanding.Its the same for the cricket ground. Its meant to be the home of Lancashire cricket club, but since the mid 1970s its not even been in Lancashire due to gerrymandering. It makes you wonder why politicians decided there was such a desperate need to introduce new boundaries when the old ones were perfectly fine. As a Mancunian born in the 1980s, am I meant to be from Manchester, Lancashire or Manchester, Greater Manchester?Some people have a lot to answer for!!Hows that for a 'going off on a huge tangent' rant! Anyone on my side about the points raised?

BarneyOctober 31st 2007.

itsa deliberate move by London to make manchester sem smaller than it it is....Manchester according to official figures is the 8th biggest city in the UK with 450 000 residents,....London has 7 000 000- a nice bit of editing by the powers that be!

AnonymousOctober 31st 2007.

I agree with the sentiments of this article but for the important reason that Manchester, like other British cities outside of London, on almost all measures lags seriously behind our European equivalent cities (Munich, Lyon, Barcelona etc) because it cannot speak with a powerful voice to attract real inward investment on the scale of these rivals. We live on scraps from London. We need a city of well over one million citizens, an elected powerful mayor (a la London) to speak with one voice (and to hold to account more effectively when its doesn't) and more powers devolved from London. Then Manchester can really recover its past granduer. Viva la republica!

AdamOctober 31st 2007.

I live in Sale and work in Altrincham and have always considered myself to come from Manchester. It is crazy that a city of Manchester's stature is listed as having a population of only 450k. I wholeheartedly agree with this suggestion. I am, however, not surprised by the vain myopic rantings of those of Hale/Bowdon - they should realise that their postcodes will remain just as exclusive when those areas are known as, say, the Holland Park of Manchester...

CheshireCatOctober 31st 2007.

As for the Salford/Manchester Debate - isn't Salford Cathedral Roman Catholic? Anyway all these boroughs don't make a lot of sense - I'd happily give up the Cheshire postcode for that.

soniaOctober 31st 2007.

Excuse me, I won't have Old Trafford downgraded nor should it be removed. I was born and raised in Old Trafford. Despite some areas being dragged down by residents who have brought the criminal activity with them, Old Trafford is a fantasic area to live. It is very vibrant with people of all races who blend and mix well together.Come on!! Everyone knows Manchester United and Lancashire Cricket Ground.Nothing is nicer than being in Jamaica watching Manchester United play football and you can pin point places to other people in the bar about Old Trafford/Stretford.Big Up all the residents of Stretford and Old Trafford. Fight against abolishion

WasserOctober 31st 2007.

Maybe Oldham can be re-branded with a capital O as in 'O my God did a neutron bomb fall here'.

Ian YOctober 31st 2007.

As a relatively new Trafford resident and as somebody who has worked in both city centre Manchester and Trafford' main settlement of Altrincham, I can see the merits of getting rid of the 1974 creation of the Borough of Trafford. My postal address says Cheshire, my postcode and hence insurance says Manchester. Go back to natural boundaries, The Mersey at the top of Sale just before the M60 has been historically and should be again the boundary. "Alty", Bowden and Hale would probably revolt at any suggestion to be regarded as Manchester. Stretford and Old Trafford are fine areas that need some major investment in certain areas which should probably be led by a city council. Despite council squabbles over land sales leading to sackings and resignations of elected executive members of TBC they do have several services of very high quality such as education.I'm also sure Manchester would love the business rates from the Trafford Centre and to claim the "theatre of dreams" as their own

MilesOctober 31st 2007.

It's been done. It was called Greater Manchester - but Thatcher abolished it.

simmoOctober 31st 2007.

Leave things as they are. Anyone who thinks that money would be saved if the local authorities merged is living in cloud cuckoo land with no knowledge of how local government works. Any reorganistaion they ever attempt ends up with hugely generous redundancy for some staff followed by massive recruitment as the new council empire builds and dreams up new job titles for new staff. In the end there are no savings, just costs.

soniaOctober 31st 2007.

Excuse me, I won't have Old Trafford downgraded nor should it be removed. I was born and raised in Old Trafford. Despite some areas being dragged down by residents who have brought the criminal activity with them, Old Trafford is a fantasic area to live. It is very vibrant with people of all races who blend and mix well together.Come on!! Everyone knows Manchester United and Lancashire Cricket Ground.Nothing is nicer than being in Jamaica watching Manchester United play football and you can pin point places to other people in the bar about Old Trafford/Stretford.Big Up all the residents of Stretford and Old Trafford. Fight against abolishion

Point is....October 31st 2007.

Ian S - point is that most of rural Cheshire thinks of you as Mancunians anyway. And Mancs of a rude crude money obsessed variety. Trafford (I am a resident) is a terrible council, which does bugger all except empty the bins and mismanage the parks and ruin an education system - I'm in favour of 11+ but the way Stretford Grammar School is dying on its feet whereas those in the South of the borough aren't is disgraceful. Relatively low council taxes doesn't justify the lacklustre performance of the council. Trafford uses Manchester as the play ground for its middle-classes so it doesn't have to spend a penny on itself and keep the council tax down. Let's merge with Manchester, the sooner the better.

JamesOctober 31st 2007.

Salford isn't older than Manchester. Manchester is Roman Salford is medieval and has a market charter literally a couple of decades older than Manchester's. But Manchester has always been bigger. The Salford Hundred might have included Manchester but the Parish of Manchester included Salford. And it's the reality on the ground which is important.

simonOctober 31st 2007.

I was born and raised in Stockport never has it been part of Manchester although they have tried on numerous occasions to pinch certain areas, I work and go out in Manchester I have nothing at all against it but we have nothing to thank Manchester for Stockport is what it is due to Stockport not Manchester. I live within the M60 and like all others that do we would fight to stay as we are.

Current Trafford MBC EmployeeOctober 31st 2007.

I would just like to reply the post by the former trafford employee - how long ago is it since you left? Whilst Trafford MBC may have been backwards then, it is moving forward rapidly now. Maybe this is because you left? Only joking! Anyways, from what i have heard, some manchester city council departments are even worse than Trafford. Anyways, I vote to keep the borough's etc as they are!

Rich from Salford (ie: manchester)October 31st 2007.

Thwack - hit me right in the face! Wicked idea. Merge the lot and give it a new name. Hmmmmm. Salford and Manchester. Hmmm. Manford! I won't be a Mancunian any more, I'd be a Manford Man. Or we could just go with abbreviation and the be great northern City of S&M. Thwack - hit me right in the face!

DianeOctober 31st 2007.

There's an amazing debate in Chadderton about whether it's a township, part of Oldham, or should be independent. Oldham was created from a number of townships,It was created by the merger of the County Borough of Oldham along with the Chadderton Urban District, Crompton Urban District, Failsworth Urban District and Lees Urban District from the administrative county of Lancashire and the Saddleworth Urban District.There's also a debate on whether to spend 50k on rebranding Oldham. I seem to remember Manchester got rebranded as a capital M. Did that make people think more kindly of Manchester?

Karen the realistOctober 31st 2007.

we need to stop faffing around and decide whats what once and for all. Theres been too many border changes you'll always get the postcode snobs - was funny when they changed the Altrincham postcode to a WA14 one etc!! i know people who live just on the edge of the Manchester border cos they pay less council tax in Chadderton and Failsworth cos its part of Oldham MBC not Manchester.....and for the Old Glossip idiot? what do you know? Youre in Debyshire! bloody sheep******r! you wouldnt last 5 minutes living in the city!

AnthonyOctober 31st 2007.

All pull together for Manchester....don't let these 'Cheshire' snobs pick and choose when to belong! They are all part of the conurbation of Greater Manchester whether they like it or not!

Jimmy MacOctober 31st 2007.

Does it say more about me or this article that I read the title as 'Let's demolish Stretford'? (This from a proud Stretfordian now exiled in the North East)

Former Trafford MBC employeeOctober 31st 2007.

To current Trafford MBC Employee - I left in October 2005 - around the same time that Trafford Officers were busy telling the female Lord Mayor that she couldn't feed her baby soon in the Mayoral vehicle and would have to travel in her own car to do that.... Very enlightened. Pleased to hear that she won her case - perhaps that has helped drag the council kicking and screaming into the 21st century, although from the comments the new Chief Executive made at the time, I very much doubt it. He didn't seem to think they'd done anything wrong! lol.

Darren ScottOctober 31st 2007.

I vote to merge!And make Manchester an all conquering mega city it is anyway! Then we can really start to give London a run for it’s money. DO IT!!

Ian SOctober 31st 2007.

Don't be ridiculous, we had 11 years of Labour rule in Trafford and they nearly bankrupted the borough. Why on earth should residents of Trafford want to join the Labour voting heathens in Manchester. I'd rather be a part of Cheshire, like the good old days.

True TrotterOctober 31st 2007.

As a proud Boltonian, I say downgrade Gtr Manchester to Administration area status, similar to the Fylde District, and all within Lancashire.

Kev POctober 31st 2007.

Fantastic idea! Salford and Trafford are pointless places in themselves and I can't understand why anyone would fight for the right to say they lived in Salford?!

annieaOctober 31st 2007.

The city center of salford used to be cross lane area,Trafford rd, Regent road eccles new rd etc right up to the flat iron market at Salford cross. come to think of it it was all center, until so called developers pulled the lot down and put up those awful flats blotting the sky line. Now i would say it was the circle near the new market and the shopping hall. The heart has been ripped out of the 'Royal borough of Salford'I knew as a kid. Now we are seeing the council allowing the center of Manchester to become over crowded. The sky line diminishes every week,we see apartments going up all over, which means more people more cars more conjestion hence a valid reason for this council to slap us all with charges. Dont say we didnt see it coming. As for Stretford there has not been the investment in to it that Manchester has been given. I lived there for 20yrs and when i go through it find that its looking shabby. United comes under Old trafford by the way not Stretford.

Prof Rob RightOctober 31st 2007.

Manchester will always be a lesser city than Birmingham and we, along with the rest of the country, think your claims to the second city title with a population of 450,000 are laughable!No one in Cheshire would ever dream of calling themselves a Mancunian, so nice plan but it would never work and you shall forever be in our shadow!

MancmanOctober 31st 2007.

A bit puzzled about the figures saying Manchester's population is 450,000 - I always thought it was somewhere round the 250,000 level. Anyway, the current system following the local government reorganisation is widely misunderstood. Many folks who were in Manchester prior to 74, still don't accept the change. Then you've got the ridiculous differences between the authority where you live and your postal address. Incidentally, many databases still seem to think Manchester is either in Lancashire or Greater Manchester! The idea of redefining the boundary as the M60 seems eminently sensible.

Former Trafford MBC employeeOctober 31st 2007.

Well, I'm all in favour of getting rid of Trafford MBC - it's by far the most old-fashioned, backward looking, 'can't do' local authority I've ever been in contact with. I was mighty relieved to get a job with Leeds! It might be 35 miles away from my home, but it was a helluva lucky escape.

proud of stretford, manchesterOctober 31st 2007.

....oh forgot to say, Current Employee of TMB, who says that MCC's departments are worse than their own. I doubt it, at least they can spell. Check your grammar and random (incorrect) use of apostrophes before you slate others. The one without fault cast the first stone eh?

DamoOctober 31st 2007.

This is a decent idea but unfortunately it could never happen, because as you rightly point out, there would be significant opposition particularly from Salford. And Salfordians would have a valid point. Salford is a city in its own right and the origins of Salford lie much earlier than Manchester. It has its own cathedral and University and in the River Irwell there is a clear physical boundary between the two cities.Perhaps the proposal should be to implement all of your suggestions, but rename it Salford rather than Manchester?

baggioOctober 31st 2007.

i'm starting the campaign 'keep un!ted out of manchester!'oh, and damo, can you please advise me where the city centre is in salford. i couldn't find it last time i looked. it's only a city by virtue of having a cathedral. it doesn't resemble one in any other way.

Steve (Middleton)October 31st 2007.

I live in Middleton and would really prefer not to be in Rochdale. What a terrible borough Rochdale is, we give it a quarter of it's income but get relatively nothing back except for scraps. I wish we were back in Manchester again...

Ian SOctober 31st 2007.

Point is -- You may have a point. Lets leave the boundary at the M60 and the south of the borough can continue to enjoy low council taxes and improved services.

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