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Sleuth 07/03/08

Castlefield row scoop, Ocean Colour Scene implode and the most tasteless headline this week award

Published on March 7th 2008.


Sleuth 07/03/08

Making a scene
Part of Ocean Colour Scene were at Hard Rock Café on Wednesday for an unplugged acoustic session on behalf of the charity Nordoff Robbins. Simon Fowler, singer songwriter, and Steve Craddock, guitarist, were plainly the worse for alcoholic wear when they appeared. They played half the set, had a row and Craddock walked out for a fag on Withy Grove. Then he came back smashed his guitar, threw the bits in the audience and left. Moments later he grabbed the other guitar off Fowler and invited the audience on stage and they played out the set amidst ocean colour scenes of rare chaos. Still it was all in a good cause.

Most tasteless Manchester headline
This goes to the South Manchester Reporter on the death of the marvellous Sunny Lowry aged 97. She was the first British woman to swim the English Channel. The headline in the paper (otherwise known as the South Manchester Blur and Smudge because of its 1972 print quality) is scanned below. ‘Swimming legend takes her last breath’. Sleuth wonders, what other working titles they had: ‘Legend drowns in the ocean of life’, ‘Sunny takes final plunge into the great unknown’? If there’s going to be any media tastelessness in this city that’s Confidential’s job surely?.

Winner and losers
Meanwhile following the story in last week’s Sleuth about Michael Winner’s antics at the Lowry, Sleuth was informed by readers that the Manchester Evening News literary lunch had invited him to promote his book The Fat Pig Diet. A classic - put it on the shelf next to the Joyces and the Conrads would you? Also as one eagle-eyed Sleuth fan noted, in Winner’s review the title was: ‘Restauarant review: Michael Winner at the Lowry Hotel’. Confidential can hardly complain about typos (or trypis as wi usuallly cawl tem) but then again the Sunday Times probably has about 50 sub-editors. Confidential is perhaps unique in having four times more food reviewers than subs. Or rather four food reviewers.

Industrial smogasbords
Meanwhile news reaches Confidential of a similar word problem at our friends, the trendy city centre private members' joint, The Circle Club. An e-flyer this week plugged next Thursday’s Circle Connoisseur, the first of its food and drink nights. The evening was described as a ‘delectable delight for the pallet.’ Would that be a wooden pallet or a plastic pallet? Either way Sleuth thinks it beats a plate, and will definitely try to make it along.

Castlefield conundrum
Serious one this one. Sleuth hears that there’s a bit of a row brewing in Castlefield. This is over the formation of committee to make sure this hugely important city centre district performs to its strengths. The measure follows Confidential highlighting the problems in the area last year – click here.

The city Conservatives claim that Councillor Pat Karney, who has responsibility for the city centre (although he’s a councillor for the Harpurhey ward) is setting up the committee on party lines at a sensitive time for Labour in terms of electoral support in the city centre. They’re also concerned that would-be committee members where asked to email his May 2008 campaign to join the Castlefield body.

A Conservative party member wrote to Confidential with these comments, “The committee should be cross-party and chaired by someone apolitical, with experience of the area and no vested interest in party politics. We feel very strongly about this matter and believe that we should open the process up before it travels too far down partisan lines. Also it won't achieve what it needs to unless it’s broader: it needs to include local business, developers etc. Karney's campaign isn't interested in this because they can't vote for him, or his colleague Anthony McCaul.”

Councillor Karney told Sleuth, “the committee is to be made up of those local residents who have volunteered either at a public meeting we held or who have wrote to me particularly when we stopped the Jackson Wharf development. I couldn't give a monkey’s about their political views. It will be non-party political and after the first meeting [which took place this Monday] will be entirely run by the residents. I bring the Town Hall to the table - its officers, its support and its commitment.”

Sleuth agrees that it should be broader than just residents to really affect change. This may happen as well, as Pat Karney steps aside and let’s the locals take over (with help from the city centre management company). But Sleuth has to also give Karney a slap on the back for the energy behind creating the committee. Sometimes it doesn’t matter where change comes from rather that it actually happens.

City stops on Wednesday
Sleuth was looking at listings sites across the city the other day. Wanted to know what to do on Wednesday 5 March. He found Key 103’s new listing device which allows venues and promoters to add in their own listings. Sleuth’s not sure it’s working. In the Greater Manchester conurbation of 2.5m people Sleuth found that his Wednesday choice was limited to the British Legion in Pendlebury for a Robbie Williams tribute, or the Highland Laddie pub in Rochdale for a psychic night. He stayed in.

Sleuth’s worst name of the week
Julian Thick, the Managing Director of Aintree Race Course, as profiled in new fluff mag Manchester Live.

Sleuth’s achievement of the week
See the story above. The award goes to the journalist of Manchester Live managing not to ask Julian whether being called Thick had been a problem. She must have been stuffing her fist in her mouth to prevent herself saying: “So was being Thick a problem growing up?”

Critical Mass
Critical Mass stop critical care to leave a casualty mess – or that should have been the headline. Sleuth’s Confidential colleague was walking down Oxford Road when he saw Critical Mass putting their big carbon foot into it. This lot aim to stop global warming by blocking roads on the last Friday of every month with bikes (apparently it was a toss up between that and whistling in the wind). Anyway on this occasion they were blocking the road and deliberately stopping an ambulance getting through. Bless them. That really makes us safe from high tides washing over the land as the polar ice cap melts.

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

Champagne SocialistMarch 7th 2008.

Green space for Manchester city centre? Absolutely. Please no more mox boxes, and if there's the merest whiff of, say, an up market shopping development with Harrod's Lite at its 'heart' to 'anchor' the development of Castlefield, I fear I shall go stark staring MAD. We don't all want to shop all the time, some of us like a pleasant park to walk in of a Sunday afternoon.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 7th 2008.

Jez absolutely. Confidential sees Castlefield as a place that should be maintained to the same standards as a central London park. This would, given the areas available, be set out as a series of beautiful garden spaces like an old knot garden, or something like Walkden Gardens in Sale - a series of 'rooms' with flowers and shrubs. Maybe we should take the cobbles up south of the viaduct at the Arena and plant that area too, as well as use the redundant viaduct. Certainly Promenade Plantée in Paris would be an obvious parallel. I've already had some residents tell me that they would maintain the gardens in the same way other people maintain allotments. That would save money. We need to think big here, as big as the world-beating history of the area: prove that the ambition which delivered the structures isn't dead in modern Manchester. And at the same time we can finally nail this no green spaces whinge about central Manchester. As for events, just forget about booze driven ones, some of the ideas about a Music Live weekend (accoustic musicians in ones or twos dotted around the area) maybe combined with a second hand book fair seem perfect. Castlefield has reached rock-bottom, its current state, mostly down to the private owners, is a scandal. The city has a real opportunity to produce something amazing here from the wreckage but we do need to think big. Castlefield should be treated as special because it is, the issues here are too big to be handled by the residents alone.

Jeremy BrightMarch 7th 2008.

I told my brother to change that surname.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2008.

we always let emergency vehicles through critical mass. we are not there to annoy car drivers but to experience what it would be like with car free roads and to encourage them to join us.

millhouseMarch 7th 2008.

dude some went across the ambulances path not all the mass, I like the way you dont state the ambulance didnt have its lights or sirens on, pretty one sided I'd say

Rob AdlardMarch 7th 2008.

Anonymous - thats quite funny, hadn't noticed it would read like that. Naturally its the originaly site of the fort, but it was uncovered, parts re-created at that time.

Rob AdlardMarch 7th 2008.

Chris, I'm going to avoid your usual petty remarks. The point is that as part of city life to a far greater extent than other parties, we're trying to do the best for the city rather than simply score points against other political opponents. Castlefield needs a serious approach to it, as it did when the Conservatives Central Manchester Development Corporation teamed up with developers, the council and other parties to create the Roman Fort, the Castlefield Arena, open up the tow paths and basins, build foot bridges, a vistors centre, and information boards (now barely readable). One Labour councillor setting up a group of supporters (who had to email your election campaign team to join the Castlefield group) just before local elections does not constitute a serious approach to Castlefield. Its a shame we can't target all 32 wards, but who can? Only Labour with its huge financial resources (from the Unions and residential property developers) perhaps can, but we have far more campaigns than previously, helped also by Labour and Lib Dem councillors and activists leaving and joining the Conservatives.Our activists in the city are residents, there was no 'bussing', Conservatives elsewhere are too busy doing good work in their own communities.Until I stood for election last year, I'd never ever seen any activity from Labour in the city centre. As you mention Conservatives in other areas, the Conservatives took Trafford from an under-performing 1 Star rated council under Labour in 2004 to a top performing 3 Star council today. With Manchester's Labour council receiving the lowest scores in Greater Manchester for value for money, use of financial resources and financial transparency its surprising you're so comfortable with your current position.Rob Adlard - City Centre Resident and Conservative Campaigner

whoevaurMarch 7th 2008.

As a member of the critical mass ride in feb i am unaware of the incident mentioned but I know that we would not have deliberatly blocked an ambulance from using the road.If an ambulance had been caught in a jam etc and not been noticed by any of the riders it need to have only put on its siren and we all would have moved for it to pass, if one was caught in the traffic i can only imagine it either was carrying no patient or was not being used for any matters of urgency.and on a small side note, the critcal mass is not another of your envrionmentalist action groups, though some members may have related interests in these areas but more of simple celebration to the age old bicycle.

AnonymousMarch 7th 2008.

"...when the Conservatives Central Manchester Development Corporation teamed up with developers, the council and other parties to create the Roman Fort..." And there was me thinking that the fort was from the time of the Romans. Now I've found out that it was a tourist attraction built by the Tories!

Rob AdlardMarch 7th 2008.

Stephen, although what you say is right about the number of votes, Labour only had 40 something votes more than the Conservatives! Our candidates and activists actually live in the city centre, unlike the Lib Dem councillors for the city centre who live some distance away. The councillor in question is not only not a Castlefield resident or an elected representative for the City Centre, but he doesn't even live within the ward boundary either; so you'll find that we're much more integrated into city life than any other party.I believe the point is that in order to really achieve whats needed in Castlefield we'd suggested a much broader steering group is needed, and it shouldn't be chaired by an outsider, and exclude key stakeholders in the area otherwise nothing can be acheived, it will simmply be a talking shop. Neither myself (who had signed up for the group) or the current councillor for the city centre was notified about the meeting. We simply believe in trying to achieve the best for our residential city rather than creating a talking shop to try to squeeze votes out of residents.

JezMarch 7th 2008.

I've been tumbling through Castlefield since the late 80s and still enjoy the place. It started going down hill when Catalan Square, Barca and the inevitable short lived commercial wing arrived. Once Deansgate Locks was up and running - Castlefield was only going to be a place for weekend events. Do we have to turn it into another commercial development? Manchester as a city must have the lowest proportion of quiet pleasant green areas in the UK. How about applying that wonderful continental idealism the council have been so keen on in recent years? Although instead of encouraging a Café culture unfit for our climate, how about just keeping Castlefield clean and well looked after, a place for tourists and locals to chill out, somewhere for lovers to take romantic walks, for young families to play with their kids. Let the place develop naturally with an overseeing eye of Mcr Council looking after the place. Our own Regent’s Park. Alternatively, we could slap up a tonne more overpriced, underused, investment opportunities (alternatively known as apartments), and sack off the idea of Manchester being anything other than a concrete annex to Salford’s greenery.

jimjamMarch 7th 2008.

+ 1 for jez + green.some grass to sit on in a peaceful area without having to drive to didders, please

whoevaurMarch 7th 2008.

critical mass is NOT an environmental group, we are in no way eco terrorists. I get on my bike to feel free and enjoy buring off some energy, not to make a statement of anykind.taking part in a critical mass makes me feel impowered (for a brief time till im cycling solo again), and gives me an oppotunity to meet other people who may have similar interests, the only thing i am trying to prove by taking part is that their is an alternitive and if (if) the oil crisis takes hold maybe car drivers will have to adopt the bike inorder to get around.plus if we wanted to cause major havoc and make a statement (A. we would have a huge banner stating our cause and possibly megaphones and B.) we could cycle at rush hour but instead choose to do it at a time when they should be less traffic around.

Stephen NewtonMarch 7th 2008.

Just 348 city centre residents voted Tory in 2007 (out of a population of 9,472), so they can't have that many activists in Castlefield anyway.

whoevaurMarch 7th 2008.

Critical mass amongst other reasons is a chance for cyclysts to get together, socialise, etc, its a chance to get alot of cyclysts in one place to show that there are a good number of us about and in doing so maybe encourage some more to get on a bike, its a chnce for us to feel safe while cycling for just one time a month and i think it acheives these pretty well.

City Centre DwellerMarch 7th 2008.

I have to whole-heartedly agree with the above comments on turning Castlefield into a green space. Having recently contemplated a move from leafy west dids into the city centre, the lack of city centre park or gardens was a major factor in my decision to stay put. When I visit friends in London I'm always envious of the many local parks they have at their disposal. Surely the major increase in people living in the city centre that's occured over the last few years warrants some investment in a green space and to leave a place as historically significant and as beautiful as Castlefield in it's current state is just wrong.

CragalahadMarch 7th 2008.

The biggest monstrosity in these parts is the one leading the residents group, or failing that, the one his Labour council approved for the Harry Ramsdens site. One would have expected better of one of Manchesters larger landowners - mainly the Labour led council itself. What an eyesore! The planners need their heads feeling if they think that it's going to sympathetically fit into the surrounding area!

DescartesMarch 7th 2008.

Millhouse, was that outside Odder last Friday cause I saw the guys Sleuth mentions, unless stopping in front of the ambulances is more common for the mass? Anyway, I spotted a few guys stop in front of the ambu', raise their arms and cheer, not exactly just passing. Fight the power and that eh ;)

AnonymousMarch 7th 2008.

Re Ocean Colour Scene - It was like the heady days of Rock and Roll! - Not mentioned in the article was the throwind of drinks and breaking of glasses as well during the fight - But you have to laugh, they did sing we don't want to fight no more!!!!

GordoMarch 7th 2008.

Jonothon' isnt ri'ght in the' ****in'' 'ead when it come's to them,,,,'''

wayneMarch 7th 2008.

The Tories in the city centre are an ineffectual group who can but whinge. If Castlefield gets sorted that's all that matters. Although that may be easier said than done.

RobMarch 7th 2008.

Re castlefield - it's all about action - at least something is happening and in motion. It's thanks to Pat & Anthony and the lovely people at Man Con who have forced the issue with Jackson's and come together to publicise the coalition. Nice one!

SleuthMarch 7th 2008.

To be fair Confidential does take the piss out of ourselves...hence the comments on the Winner piece. But we will change straight way Ms Artangel.

Critical MashMarch 7th 2008.

Critical Mass are Eco Terorists not enviromentalists, They cause havoc in every town for no valid reason. There is no valid point to what they are doing. What makes me laught is the fact that there bikes have rubber tyres and inner tubes. Paint,sticker decals and made of assorted metals joined together by welding equiptment. Crash helments and clothing which i am sure are not organic or fair trade, which are probably manufactured in a 3rd world country. Which i doubt made from recycled material or paid for on a fair trade basis.

ArtangelMarch 7th 2008.

Before Manchester Confidential itself rants on about poor sub-editing, can somebody there please take a lesson in how to use - and how not to use - apostrophes - or, as you would probably put it, apostrophe's (re your Conrad's and Joyces', neither of which attract an apostrophe in any position).

tim nice but dimMarch 7th 2008.

you should worry

Chris PaulMarch 7th 2008.

Rob Adlard's comments are ridiculous. He clearly has no idea how many Labour people live in the City Centre. These do include Councillor Karney, albeit 50 yards over the ward limit due to boundary changes. The Tory vote was quite strong of course but poor when you consider the work that went into it, including Tories bussed in from miles around, not good. Making a serious effort in just two of 32 seats and placing third is pretty pathetic actually for a party that claims there are no no-go areas.Don't you think Rob?

AnonymousMarch 7th 2008.

Talking about Castlefield, its not Potato Warf that you want to worry about. Its the massive monstrosity that they’ve somehow received planning permission to build on the old Harry Ramsdens site (Also within the prized Castlefield ‘conservation area’). This is going to cause some serious city centre congestion when built. If anyone reading this knows the major crossroads at the end of the Mancunian Way and Water St. they will understand what I’m saying. Watch this space Manchester, it WILL add major disruption to our fine City.

EcoboyMarch 7th 2008.

Whoeavaur is right. Critical Mass isn't all about climate change or socialising: sometimes it makes up for the dangerous behaviour of some motorists. For example: I was badly run over and left bleeding in the road (not on Critical Mass) last August. Critical Mass helped me get my bicycle confidence back in a supportive environment. If it wasn't for that, then I would have remained miserable and become yet another car driver clogging up the road.

JamesMarch 7th 2008.

What is the point of Critical Mass anyway? What does it want to achieve?

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