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Sleuth 02/05/2008

Doing it with vicars, having blondes, election no-show and is the Village incapable of tip-top dining

Published on May 2nd 2008.


Sleuth 02/05/2008

Cut up...by congestion charging
Roger Jones, chairman of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, came third in the Salford ward of Irlam with his opponents making the proposed congestion charge the main election issue. The seat was won by the sinister sounding Community Action Party, with Jones coming third behind the Conservatives. Jones said: "I am now looking for a job for the first time since I left school". A politico observer told Sleuth, "he best get on his bike and look for employment. That way he won't be blocking up the roads. Meanwhile Manchester Council Leader Sir Richard Leese held onto his ward easily and was in a bullish mood over whether there had been an anti-congestion charge vote in the region. He told the MEN: "I have won my seat with a majority of 1,200. If people want to talk about referendums on congestion charging, they should talk about that vote as well."

Cheshire set
As Labour councillors were biting the dust all over the place, the party held on to Manchester. In the city centre it was as you were, with Marc Ramsbottom holding onto his seat with a majority of 89. Labour's Anthony McCaul came second, the Conservative's Rob Adlard third. Again the centre had the lowest turnout with 15% - the lowest in the city, and an indictment of the apathy of this allegedly well-off ward. The result was a bitter blow to the Conservatives. Indeed one of their number texted Sleuth with,I'm moving to Cheshire.' That might do it for them.

Campbell hams it up
Sleuth was tucking into a meat pie this week in Greggs opposite the BBC on Oxford Road when in walked the lubricious Alistair Campbell, ex spin-chief for Tony Blair. He ordered a ham baguette and ready salted crisps. Or as he described it: "a cured meat mobile eating experience with energy giving carbohydrate from potatoes which have had far more opportunites since 1997.

Dental Convention

Driven out of the Village
Gastros, the excellent Village eaterie, has closed after a mere five months of trading. This is sad. Based on Sackville Street in the Village this place seemed to have everything going for it, good reviews, very good chef, excellent Modern British menu, decent coffee shop and foodhall in a generally, smart, well kitted out venue. Can the Village just not hack it when it comes to ambitious dining experiences? Mash and Air, Sarasota and Lush have all bitten the dust here for various reasons. Neighbourhood restaurants do well, such as Taurus and Velvet, but it seems it's unwise to try and push food in the area up to the next level. Does the party reputation put foodie types off?

Top Chef leaves Manchester
Ecyk Zimmer the executive chef at the Lowry Hotel has announced his intention to leave Manchester. He will be taking up position in the Four Seasons restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. Sleuth thinks this is a crying shame as Eyck was his favourite German anywhere. He's also as mad as a fish.

Behind bars
Sleuth knows people who go hunting for interesting old pubs. One of these on Sleuth's recommendation sought out the Eagle which lurks between the River Irwell and Trinity Way in Salford. As well as enjoying a drink she was looking for some of the old landmarks she remembered as a child. I'm trying to find Birtle Square near Strangeways, do you know it? she asked a regular. "Very well, came the reply. "Oh good because I'd thought Birtle Square had gone, she said delighted. "I was talking about knowing Strangeways, said the distinguished gentleman, "I've been sent down twice.

Taking the piss
After our story last week about the future Lord Mayors of Manchester showing too much in Piccadilly Gardens, click here, we have a photograph showing the consequences. Here are the portable urinals being taken away for extensive counselling and trauma therapy - still being tormented by the pair of likely lads.

Dogging collar
Sleuth was out and about with the editor of Living Edge magazine this week. Living Edge is a steady sort of publication which needs a bit of oomph to bring it into the twenty-first century. "You know what, said the editor of that esteemed organ to Sleuth, "I've always wanted to do it with a vicar. "Excuse me, said Sleuth. "Yes, I've always fancied a man of the cloth, I even had a boyfriend dress up as a vicar once but it wasn't genuine enough, I need the real thing. Seems like Living Edge is going to get the re-vamp it needs. Vamp being the word. Look out for a regular Vicar of the Month feature in Living Edge: top off, oiled body, just wearing a playful dog-collar.

Beer bother
Sleuth was in lovely Pennine Lancashire on a press shindig this week. Lot of good work going on up there with the Elevate programme to give this area pride and a sense of identity. Sleuth met Yvette Livesey who with Tony Wilson came up with the name Pennine Lancashire: she was bearing up well and looking great despite her loss. One of the visits was to Moorhouses Brewery.

David the boss showed Sleuth one of his bottled beer range for the USA. "Is it really called that? asked Sleuth looking at a beer called Blond Bitch, complete with a picture of a buxom girl, "It's a bit unreconstructed isn't it? "We had a meeting in Texas, said David, "and that was the suggestion from a cigar smoking local. We'd all had a few and thought it funny. Indeed, thought Sleuth wondering if he could slip it onto a shelf in Chorlton and then sit back and enjoy the ensuing riot. Sleuth would like to ask readers if they've ever had a blonde bitch.

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

Kevin @ M4May 2nd 2008.

The Village has not got a decent eaterie at all. Taurus used to be good, but even Sunday Lunch is a poor re-heated affair.Velvet is ok if you are a couple of a group smaller than 4; anything more is an unmitigating disaster (don't book a birthday party - it will be ruined).Villagio tries it's best, but to be honest is there purely for the pink pound, and doesn't have that special touch. And the food is only ok.Eden is surprisingly the best of the lot (I know, I can't believe I'm saying it either). OK, the ambience can sometimes be overpowering, the music too loud, and the clientele strange to say the least, but the food has always been good, unfancy fare. Just don't eat on the barge in the summer (or at all, really; it's frightfully common).Gastro's was never going to work. It couldn't make up it's mind whether to be a restaurant or a deli. Who's going to eat downstairs in a dark room with little light. And I think it was overpriced as well (or maybe I'm stingy). It didn't help that the opening was delayed by so long, and they missed out on some crucial time for sales.

Michael WestMay 2nd 2008.

Marc Ramsbottom triumphs yet again sigh. Turnout was pitiable (apparently helped by our good returning officer siting a polling station on the 3rd floor of a hither to unknown building?) Marc is a great community activist albeit in Newton Heath. He managed to get former disgaraced Labour (Surely some mistake Independant, sorry UKIP) Cllr Damien O'Connor elected to his former seat. Damien O'Connor is a very affable gentleman but the two phrases "civic duty" and "civil honour" seem to blend into one in this instance. Good luck focus team, hopefully keeping the reigns on this 'un will keep you busy when you should be paving your path to Westminster.

AlanMay 2nd 2008.

"As City centre Councillors we hold regular Meet Ups"... Yes, I had arranged to attend one to discuss an issue with one of my councillors but unfortunately said unnamed Lib Dem councillor cancelled because he/she had 'been out last night and got p*ssed' (their words)... Keep up the hard work Marc.

AnonymousMay 2nd 2008.

You get sent Popbitch as well, then?

JohnMay 2nd 2008.

Kev P. It hurts me to say, but you know as well as everybody else does, that locally, yes, Labour may be ok, but come the general election, they're screwed.You can carry on with the upbeat propaganda, but it'll do no good. Sad-but true

MattMay 2nd 2008.

I hope Councillor Ramsbottom learns to condense his absolutely fascinating thoughts into one sentence of less than 30 words in future, otherwise I will lose the will to live. Lib Dem tosspot.

ktfairyMay 2nd 2008.

If only it had champagne extract in it I'm sure the wannae WAGS would love blonde bitch!!

johnthebriefMay 2nd 2008.

I'll say one thing for Councillor Ramsbottom, you don't only hear from him at election time.

Kevin @ M4May 2nd 2008.

The Village has not got a decent eaterie at all. Taurus used to be good, but even Sunday Lunch is a poor re-heated affair.Velvet is ok if you are a couple of a group smaller than 4; anything more is an unmitigating disaster (don't book a birthday party - it will be ruined).Villagio tries it's best, but to be honest is there purely for the pink pound, and doesn't have that special touch. And the food is only ok.Eden is surprisingly the best of the lot (I know, I can't believe I'm saying it either). OK, the ambience can sometimes be overpowering, the music too loud, and the clientele strange to say the least, but the food has always been good, unfancy fare. Just don't eat on the barge in the summer (or at all, really; it's frightfully common).Gastro's was never going to work. It couldn't make up it's mind whether to be a restaurant or a deli. Who's going to eat downstairs in a dark room with little light. And I think it was overpriced as well (or maybe I'm stingy). It didn't help that the opening was delayed by so long, and they missed out on some crucial time for sales.

The Liverpool teamMay 2nd 2008.

"Yes, I've always fancied a man of the cloth, I even had a boyfriend dress up as a vicar once but it wasn't genuine enough, I need the real thing." So reads your item on the sexual pecadillos of the new editor of Living Edge Magazine. Could this perchance be Penny Fray, girlfriend of Mark Thomas, editor of the esteemed Liverpool Daily Post? We imagine that his heads of department and staff will see him in an entirely different light come Monday morning. All together now "Crikey, it's the vicar!"

AnonymousMay 2nd 2008.

Oh Phil - are you really the best authority to be commenting on eating establishments? As valued as your peals of wisdom are, 4 words - Taurus, three weeks, fired.It's a real shame about Gastros. I went a few times and it was great. Cracking food and staff.

johnthebriefMay 2nd 2008.

If Mr Jones has been in politics since he left school, he's probably unemployable. But I'm sure someone somewhere will find him a nice taxpayer-funded non-job

AnonymousMay 2nd 2008.

Phil, thanks for labelling this 'typically hypocritical group'. Do you take your share of responsibility for all social and cultural ills in areas outside the village then? Thought not. Wanker.

Cllr Marc RamsbottomMay 2nd 2008.

Firstly, a big thanks to the people who did come out and vote, whether they voted for me or not. I am delighted to be re-elected and thanks to the many good luck messages and congrats that I have received. Of course, it's disappointing the turnout is not higher, but there are a number of particular factors in the city centre that means it will always probably be one of the lowest in the city. There is a very high student population, who vote in general elections, but don't see local elections as relevant to them. There is a high number of short term renters, or people who may live in Manchester temporary and therefore appear on the register but move out after a short time here. There are also other who work in Manchester and live elsewhere. In my experience those permanent residents who have made the city centre their home do vote and care about their local area. There is also the ongoing problem of not being able to access some blocks - I'm sure all candidates found problems with some obstructive managing agents who refused to allow any information about the elections to even be put in letterboxes, mistakenly equating election material about our local democracy with flyers on mobile phones and take aways! I will be speaking personally with some of these agents in the coming weeks (on behalf of all political parties) to try and make sure that we are all given access and allowed at leat to ensure that publicity from the parties is distributed. If residents don't hear from us then why should they bother to vote. To those who have posted here before alleging that either I don't not or don't do anything for city centre residents let me say a couple of things. Firstly, anyone who has ever contacted me about any issue whether it be by phone, email or attended our regular meet ups, knows that I have also without fail follow up any issue brought to my attention. My public service contract for the past 4 years shows my work record (opne for inspection at the Town Hall by anyone) shows how hard I have worked for city centre resident. I have a full time job, and juggle my Council duties with a my work and try to manage a personal life as well. I don't mind people having a good at me because they don;t agree with my politics, that's fair came, but suggest I have not done the work to deserve my re-elect, is plainly not the case, ask any resident who I have worked on behalf of and they will tell you the same. Of course, I will help some of my political colleagues in nearby wards to help them get elected, all poltical parties do this, and I am proud to help boost the numbers of Lib Dem councillors in Manchester, but I have never neglected my electorate, they have and always will come first. Finally, I was the only candidate in this election that ran a positive campaign on my record. I didn't resort to smearing any of the other candidates, nor publish lies or distortions about them personally in my leaflets at the last minute so they could not respond. My actual vote increased in this election compared to when I stood last time in 2004, and the Lib Dem share of the vote went up from 32% in 2007 to 36% this time. I will carry out campaigning on the issues that matter to city centre residents, keeping in touch all year round, not just at election time. As City centre Councillors we hold regular Meet Ups at the Art Gallery cafe 11am to 12 noon. They are on the first and third Saturday in every month. Come along and have chat and coffee and tells about how we can make our city centre event better.

MikeMay 2nd 2008.

Oh dear Phil, looks like someone has a chip on their shoulder. Is someone having a bad day/week/life? What a stereotypical and uneducated rant that was. Tosser.It's a real shame about Gastros, having eaten there a couple of times I would easily say that it was the best place to eat in the village. I didn't think it was too expensive either. I agree with Kevin in that it couldn't make up it's mind whether to be a restaurant or a deli. A real shame!

Kev PMay 2nd 2008.

PS, don't most of them already live in Cheshire anyway?!

AnonymousMay 2nd 2008.

Does Paul Horrocks dress up as a vicar too "in the boudoir", do you think? Or is this peculiar to editors of scouse newspapers?

CubbyMay 2nd 2008.

Thanks for the stereotyping and low level homophobia Phil.1) People who go to Canal Street (many of whom are straight) don't represent all gay people.2) Gastros failed because there's just not enough passing trade on that side of the city. It probably would have done better in the Summer when people are looking for a light lunch, but it was never going to compete against the lure of greasy chips for those out drinking.As for Velvet I don't know why people eat there because the food is terrible.

Gordon BrownMay 2nd 2008.

Damn shame about gastros , check out the manc confidential blog at the end of the food review earlier on this year , I swear to God its the funniest blog on earth.......trust me

Kev PMay 2nd 2008.

It was indeed an incredibly disapponting result for the tories in the city centre, I've never seen them work so hard! Yet despite the number of beautiful coloured postcards with negative and misleading information on, they barely moved from the number of votes they got last year, whilst Labour doubled it's lead over them and increased it's turnout by 20% or so. Bring on 2010.

TrevorMay 2nd 2008.

Shame about Gastros..shame on you Village , you get what you deserve

PhilMay 2nd 2008.

Like all things Gay Village, change is simply not good and anything that may ask anyone to step outside the comfort zone of drugs and dance is simply rejected: typical hypocritical behaviour from a typically hypocritical social grouping.Gastro would have done well had it comformed to type and had an all banging all drugged up basement bar!!

Kev PMay 2nd 2008.

Propaganda? I was talking about locally! I don't even wanna think about what is going to happen nationally unless Dear Leader bucks his ideas up!

Kev PMay 2nd 2008.

Turnout was nothing to do with the fact that thanks to action by the city centre Labour team, we got 3 new polling stations cited much closer to residents. The fact is that people don't care and don't see how voting makes a difference to them. Especially in the city centre with it's constantly shifting population. The Lib Dem success was nothing to do with the fact that the Lib Dems are the best representatives for the city centre (when none of them live here and as you rightly said the councillor up for re-election spent all his time campaigning for a corrupt former LIB DEM councillor to get his seat back). I think a majority of people probably voted on national issues and nationally the Labour Government isn't doing too well at the moment. Despite this we managed to increase Labour turnout in the city centre by 20%. We'll continue doing the work for residents that should be carried out by the current Lib Dem councillors who can't be bothered and in 2010 people will again exercise their democratic rights and hopefully by that point we'll have convinced them that the Lib Dems aren't fit for purpose and the only people listening to them and working on their behalf is their local Labour team. Then we should so a whole different picture.

Michael WestMay 2nd 2008.

f**k me Marc, thats some heavy stuff you were on. Can just imagine you pounding that stuff out without vitherign (bothering) to check what you'd written. The O'Connor business leaves a very bad taste (a) because he stood against you in 2005 (b) he is everything you say you are not. I have emailed you with congrats, look forward to your reply.

Michael ColemanMay 2nd 2008.

A real shame about Gastro's. As per previous comments the deli side of the business was probably unwarranted considering Olive is well established and only a couple of doors down. I had visited for coffee and a sandwich/pizza on several occasions and have to say the staff were always very friendly and service was excellent. It is disappointing that the village cannot seem to sustain a decent eaterie compared to Soho which has the excellent Balans and many a thriving coffee and sandwich outlet that all seem to be busy day and night! Maybe the venue, which had already failed as a restaurant and a bar as Gaia, wasn't right for the venture? Thanks Gastro's; it was nice while it lasted.

MochamanMay 2nd 2008.

RIP Gastros. A refreshing change in the bland world of eateries in town. Top food, original menu, dead friendly (unlike most places round there) and yes, it was a little on the pricey side but you get what you pay for and only ever had great stuff in there. Thanks to all staff and chefs...let me know where you move to and I'll be first in the queue.

Kev PMay 2nd 2008.

Labour have been getting leaflets out since the candidate was selected last August and we'll continue keeping residents updated on what's going on throughout the year, showing the real work being carried out by your local Labour team in getting things done for residents.

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