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Sleuth 31/07/2009

FYI, the official swine-flu advice plus cruel treatment of wheelchair users, Bloxham's prediction, and frightening evidence on how dogs are becoming more intelligent

Published on July 30th 2009.


Sleuth 31/07/2009

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.


Swine flu, plain English and alphabetti spaghetti
Sleuth has got his disinfected mitts on a communication to Greater Manchester’s offical swine-flu reponse team.

This is a typical question and answer sequence:

Q: What advice can you provide to resilience partners on the use of facemasks?

A: CCS have collated a Facemasks FAQ document with input from DH, HPAand HSE. This document was issued to RRTs on 13 May for onwardstransmission to local and regional resilience partners. We are aware that there was a potential conflict between the advice given in the Facemasks FAQs and algorithms (S5 and P5) previously issued by HPA to medical practitioners. The HPA algorithms have now beenchanged and are now in line with the advice set out in the Facemasks FAQs.

The rest of the document is apparently just as clear.

Sleuth reckons it means that either we’re all going to die, or that we’ve nothing to worry about. Or maybe we’re fully prepared or possibly we aren’t. FYI: Sleuth is contacting the NHS ASAP for some Tamiflu PDQ.

Sleuth loves people who use acronyms and abbreviations. He loves pushing them off tall buildings into cauldrons of boiling Alphabetti Spaghetti.


Dogs learn to Tweet
Sleuth often gets people wanting to be his Twitter pal. Some of these are very welcoming, some are from lunatics, but none has worried him. Not until this message popped into his inbox. ‘Belle Vue Dogs is now following you on Twitter!’ The dogs are following Sleuth - help. The first tweet he got from them was: ‘Jeez, those mechanical hares are fast. I'm knackered. I'm back to the kennels for a kip.’ Or he hopes it will be.

Developments in Uncertainty
Speaking of tweets Sleuth was pleased by the one from millionaire property developer Tom Bloxham of Urban Splash. It was about a headline in Crains, the Manchester business mag. This read: ‘Bloxham predicts upturn by Christmas – but isn’t sure which one’. Sleuth thought it very self-effacing of Mr B to admit of his own uncertainty on Twitterland following the rather unkind Crains headline. Very self-effacing indeed. Especially as his Twitter sign-in is somewhat less modest: it’s 'TomBloxhamMBE'.

Cheshire lives up to its reputation
Wilmslow saw the opening of a top new venue last weekend. This is ST Lounge on Grove Street. Sleuth is intrigued by the press release which reads: ‘Because of its fantastic location, it’s set to appeal to the great and the good of Manchester and Cheshire. Stars of both soap and pitch, as well as the local and business community, are already geared up to frequent the establishment. Champagne is all top brands and the environment has been designed to be as conducive as possible, with a private entrance to the VIP area which features a champagne bar, and a hot-tub, for those who want to turn themselves into a human cherry in a fizzy, Jacuzzi drink.’ It’s sort of perfect thinks Sleuth: soap stars, footy players, champagne, VIP area. Yep that’s a full Cheshire checklist.

The cruel, cruel Jazz Festival
Sleuth couldn’t believe what he saw down at the Jazz Festival area in St Ann’s Square. Look at the signs on the picture below. As if disabled people don’t have enough difficulties in life - now this?

Sign-language lets side down
Sleuth recently had a drink with a buddy, Greg, outside Via bar on Canal Street. Greg wondered why the Gay and Lesbian section on Confidential was inactive? Sleuth explained that Confidential is launching a re-design soon and there’s an on-going debate about whether we need a dedicated Gay and Lesbian section at all. Should gay and lesbian life be separated out? We wouldn’t do the same for any other section of society, be it for women, or an ethnic group. Sleuth’s buddy thought for a while. “I think there are reasons for a dedicated section,” he said. “As long as it wasn’t written in that camp cliché of Village life, you used last time, full of innuendo and bitchy queens. We've moved way beyond that as a community." At that precise moment Sleuth and Greg locked eyes on the poster pictured below. This is promoting the work of the Gay and Lesbian Foundation and features messages such as 'Free Gay Men's Safer Sex Packs': it leads with the words 'Proud To Be Behind You!" Greg sighed, narrowed his eyes and said, “Sometimes though we really don’t help ourselves, do we?”

Offiah wants higher offer
So Sleuth catches rugby league legend Martin Offiah on Sky Sports News talking about what Salford City Reds must do to be more competitive. The team had just lost 64-20 to Warrington Wolves. “They have to keep hold of their better players for next season,” he said firmly. Salford’s biggest asset is Richie Myler, who, on the advice of his agent, has turned down the offer of a new and lucrative contract to stay with Salford and help them be more competitive. But guess what? When not offering his opinion on Sky Sports News, Martin Offiah makes a living as an agent. His star client is Richie Myler. How odd, thought Sleuth.

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

secret squirrelJuly 30th 2009.

Sleuth, I think you missed the point about the wheelchair position...it was obviously for electric wheelchair users, a handy charging point...415 volts would give you some zip...;-)

LouJuly 30th 2009.

I hear that the developer want the chips building to be the most photographed building in the UK. no chance. the 'newspaper' effect is awful. And if the reason for the shed which I heard is true then the whole building was badly thought through.

AvoJuly 30th 2009.

"...the environment has been designed to be as conducive as possible," As conducive as possible to what?

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

I'm glad Tom thinks there is going to be an upturn around christmas, can all 90 of us that he made redundant have our jobs back then?

Urban Trash - Im mean SplashJuly 30th 2009.

If bloxham is earning so much maybe he will fix the door system that has been broken for months in hos apartment block.

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Think the problem with Chips is not so much in the design but in its realisation - the finish is really poor. And can anyone shed some light on the, er, garden shed?

Una PlannerJuly 30th 2009.

US took risks that were underwritten by the tax payer in developing in most of these areas, that is why they could make them stack up. More emphasis was placed on design as that it what the public funding bodies demanded.

WayneJuly 30th 2009.

I think that sign about about the spas-chariots is great. If they got electrocuted would they be chariots of fire.

secret squirrelJuly 30th 2009.

^^ Una Planner. Absolutely spot on.I know loads of builders, sparkies chippies etc. and they all have plenty of horror stories about the reality of flat developments nationwide. If planning really wanted to clamp down on it they could, they just don't have the political will, and the developers know this.

CasJuly 30th 2009.

Are you being paid by Urban Splash?

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Again, buyers don't really care about behind the scenes. What I don't understand is that if it was such a ball ache to do it all, then why not make the finish to the correct standard.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 30th 2009.

I've got an architectural piece going up about Chips on Wednesday next week. I agree with John Mcr, it's a splendid addition to Ancoats - to Manchester. The finish is an issue though. As for the garden shed....all will be revealed. As well as the 'northernness' thing.

Una PlannerJuly 30th 2009.

Ermm....John Mcr - I don't think many 'poor developers' came here to make a quick buck - most of them were home grown (or from Cheshire) - it was just the money to finance these developments that was imported - much like US in fact.

JinkiesJuly 30th 2009.

So Chips looks great, but the finish inside is sub par? Are you saying it's worth buying, or avoiding?

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Losing my initial love for Urban Splash (about 10 years ago) Hate the hideous Chips eyesore, maybe an idea to put a giant bottle of Daddys Sauce next to it to really up the ante on the northern cliche. TOMBLOXHAMMBE - I wasn't aware he had one til he crowned himself on Twitter. Quite amusing on The Culture Show were he told the nation we love Bold & Bwassy...no, we don't Tom, we really don't like these hideous monstrosities.

GooseJuly 30th 2009.

Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of non-pc comedy as much as the next man, but 'spas chariots'? Really? Apart from which it should be 'spaz' surely anyway.

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

The hot tub is for all the mermaid girls.

CasJuly 30th 2009.

Urban Splash no doubt have done good things but having lived in the city centre for over 10 years, I think you're over-egging their influence a bit. Nice to see they look after the staff when it goes tits up - isn't that just the same as building when it's going well and pissing off to your haven when it's not?

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Okay then where are Dandara at the moment? They have built their fair share of volume and have now retreated away, no more Jackson Street Masterplan for the Southern Gateway of the city.From a consumer point of view I have to live next to a disgrace of a building called Springfield Court by Bellway, which months after completion still lies near empty and is blot on the landscape next to my 1900era terrace, So I know all too well of a developer building utter toss and leaving it to rot.

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

There is a lot of things that went on behind the scenes with getting the whole thing built, which made things very difficult indeed hence the delay on completion but again compared to Artisan's disgrace of a development next door Chips looks and feels like a contemporary building should, challenging and always open to different opinion.The whole New Islington masterplan if completed would change the whole landscape of Ancoats and US have done wonders with local residents needs where other developers wouldn't care less and just build any re-brick crap.You can knock some things US do but no one can doubt the impact they have had with regenerating areas others wouldn't touch, true some of their buildings are not to everyones taste but then not everyone wants to live in a bellway off-the-shelf construction for the same price!

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

'the finish in places isn't up to a really high standard' - says it all really. Customers don't care about 'uncontrollable factors'. In a climate like this they won't pay an inflated price just because it's Urban Splash.

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Are you for real? not skint? they had to shed over 3/4 of their workforce, stop all work on all but 2 of their sites and even lease out their beloved Hotel as they couldn't afford to run it anymore.Speaking from someone who saw desperate Directors working their hardest to keep the company afloat I can honestly say US like most property developers who take risks are not cash rich.As for planning demanding that I totally agree, then we wouldn't have half the crap apartments that litter the city from poor developers who came here to make a quick buck only to leave a mess behind.

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Maybe they left the D out of the title of the name. That would give us a better hint of what it might be conducive to.????

BeaJuly 30th 2009.

Just been passed Chips again - I love it, it talks to the city and doesn't turn it's back on it like so many buildings

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Lets face it, Urban Splash and Bloxam aren't exactly skint. However if they couldn't afford to finish it to a good standard then they should have mothballed the thing. Why don't our lovely planning department insist on a company comitting to finish a building to a high standard before they start - and to prove they have the funds to do so!

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Conducive to the business of tarnishing the North West with the unfortunate reputation of being nothing other than a tacky watering hole for those god awful soap 'stars' and passing footballers.The last thing we need is more 'exclusive' VIP bars full of weekend millionaires from Bolton.A hot tub in a bar....hahahahahahahahahaha.

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Cas, read the comments above and you'll get your answer.Every day I walk past and live next to utterly disgusting new buildings, poorly built, poorly positioned and empty because developers have whipped them up at the height of the boom and then pissed off back to their tax-havens... One thing US have done is stuck to their guns and took risks in areas no one else would, without them you would'nt have the style of city living we have now especially in the Northern Quarter...so what's wrong with supporting that?

Una PlannerJuly 30th 2009.

Well it is supposed to be a business, not a public service that beautifies the city. The planning system is suppposed to exercise some restraint but when it comes to regeneration, bad development is seen as better than no development - investment, jobs, new homes, new council tax payers etc etc feature higher up the list of priorities than design.

mark mJuly 30th 2009.

ST lounge is described by its owner as a gentlemans club and champagne bar. "It will be a full-time lap dancing club but will not cause disruption in the area." So says Mr Tapper. I can just imagine the reaction of the town's older residents...

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

C'mon Urban Trash you know Mr.B isnt' going to actually do some work and fix it... thats what his staff are... erm were for!

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Well one thing I will stick up for was the developments we worked on and Chips being a really tough one to build due to many uncontrollable factors, the finish in places isn't up to a really high standard but visually I think the building stands high above any of the boring dull crap around Ancoats.As for the daddy's sauce.. that was actually going to happen once as a red apartment at the top of the building!

scoteeeJuly 30th 2009.

this place is bang opposite theapartments that I live in.God help anyone that goes in there if they dont have great security!

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

Easy to be self affacing Mr Bloxham when you give yourself a 67% payrise to £717.950 in 2008 - perhaos the following article may provide some balance - www.building.co.uk/story.asp…

AnonymousJuly 30th 2009.

I used to have a lot of time for Tom and Urban Splash but the fact that through his [and I mean his and not his staff] failure to repay outstanding debts [covering over 8 months] to a supplier [also a friend] which had devastating consequences renders such positive sentiments somewhat redundant. The bleeding heart posters above clearly haven't had to endure the prospect of losing their home through the failure of a multi-millionaire MBE to meet his obligations.

KarmaJuly 30th 2009.

My heart is bleeding for poor Tom, but when you spend your life building poor quality flats funded by grants while you skim off massive profits and employee a huge team of egotistical over paid droids then what do you expect to happen. I'm sure Tom didn't lose any sleep as Urban splash served papers on commercial tenants in hospital , Somebody once said 'you reap what you sow. Karma !

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Anon: I think the main reason for that is pretty obvious... no mortgages, no buyers, no money and no staff to do it.

John McrJuly 30th 2009.

Una Planner thats kind of my point though that developers place less emphasis on design and more on profit, I would rather see a well designed, or contemporary designed building around the city than most of the drab stuff that has popped up over the years.As much as I have been personally hit hard by the recession and have worked for some big developers and architects I would have a 100 Urban Splash's as opposed to a lot of other bland developers.

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