Keep Manchester Pride in the Village

Marching with the Liberal Democrats at Manchester Pride

Every year, Manchester Pride is one of the biggest festivals in support of the LGBT+ communities in the UK and around the globe. It takes place in the Village, at the heart of Manchester City Centre – until now!

The private car park which forms the main stage area for the Big Weekend is now a building site, and Manchester Pride have announced that the stage will instead be at Mayfield, the decommissioned railway terminal just south of Piccadilly Station. This is about half a mile and across some busy roads from the Village, which is quite a lot for out-of-town visitors in a festival mood! 

This is also only a temporary solution – Mayfield itself is scheduled for re-development. Other possible future venues for the Big Weekend include Castlefield Bowl and Heaton Park.

The Village is an important part of Manchester’s history, and LGBT+ history. There are a lot of businesses there who benefit from the Big Weekend and the trade it brings, and moving the main event out of the Village will have a huge impact on an area already hurting from pressure over business rates and Manchester Labour’s betrayal over preserving the LGBT+ character of the area.

It looks like there may be a solution – the land on which Chorlton Street bus station stands is owned by Manchester City Council, and there are plans afoot to redevelop it. Creating a two or three storey high indoor venue, like the Manchester Academy, would allow the Big Weekend to stay in the Village, and keep revellers dry during the wetter August bank holidays.

There’d be space on top for not only offices or flats, but also more accessible LGBT+ venues which could open up the Village to a wider range of clientele who are currently excluded from it.

Let’s keep Manchester Pride in the Village – but make it bigger, better and more inclusive while we do!

Levenshulme Public Meeting on Policing, Crime, Safety and Security

Superintendent Arif Nawaz and Jeremy Hoad of LCA.
Superintendent Arif Nawaz and Jeremy Hoad of LCA.

Last night I attended a meeting at the Klondyke organised by the Levenshulme Community Association with local police. It was a busy meeting with hundreds of local residents.

The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss three recent rapes in the local area – one in Crowcroft Park, one in Cringle Fields and one on Chapel Street. However, a lot of anger was expressed at policing in the local area more generally. This ranged from a lack of visible presence despite more resources being allocated to the area, to peoples’ experiences of crime reports not being taken seriously, recorded properly or followed up.

The GMP representatives present admitted that they had let Levenshulme down, and promised better communication from the police to local residents in a variety of ways. Campaigner Sarah Brown pointed out that the Levenshulme policing priorities on the GMP website read “No priorities”.

The response from the police was a little clumsy at times, with Supt. Nawaz mentioning “stranger rape” to howls of protest from the crowd who were keen to point out that all rape is rape. However, the Superintendent later made it clear that people should be free to walk the streets and parks of Levenshulme at any time, which was a very positive message.

Some of the practical measures mentioned, other than more visible policing at peak times such as the evening school run, include Inspire running self-defence and safety classes, and the possibility of the police making rape alarms more readily available to the public. There was also talk of the council providing more funding for lighting in the parks.

It’s clear that this is the start of a process of reconciliation between the police and the community of Levenshulme. And there are still three criminal investigations into horrific crimes ongoing. But it was a valuable opportunity for people to demonstrate their strength of feeling and frustration. I look forward to future meetings organised by the Community Association, and updates on the investigations and policing in the area more generally.

There’s a write-up in the MEN too.