Building a World Class City, Section 6 now online

Outside view of Bridgewater Hall

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester CC-BY-SA Alan Stanton

It may seem like I haven’t been doing much on the site lately, but I have been working on the chapters in the final section. These are now showing in the chapters list. The summaries of these chapters are below. I’ve also been working on the timeline, which is still a work in progress. I’m not sure why I was drawn to work from the end backwards. Maybe because that is nearer to things I remember? But mostly it was because I was easing myself into the task by picking off some shorter chapters, which allowed me to hone the method of working and layout of pages using the collapsible sections.

Chapter 24 covers the relationships forged by the leadership of the Labour administration with the private sector that enabled significant projects such as the Trafford Centre and Bridgewater Hall to be built. The unwelcome imposition of the Central Manchester Development Corporation by the Conservative government, nevertheless brought government money into the city and actually there was a partnership working to achieve key projects that the Council aspired to and had been working towards. The City Challenge programme, another government funded scheme, enabled the problem area of the Hulme crescents to be redeveloped into low level housing. There were clashes when the principles of the design guide for Hulme were to be applied across the city, which ended in the resignation of the Chief Planning Officer.

Chapter 25 is an account of continued conflict between Arnold Spencer and Graham Stringer (and also Cath Inchbold). Arnold Spencer as a champion for the environment favouring bikes and pedestrians and wanting clean air. Graham Stringer seeing cars as necessary for a thriving economy and jobs, and so wanting to have improved motor access into the city centre, not restrictions on it. Cath Inchbold as Chair of Highways and Cleansing Committee opposing a scheme that would restrict parking and traffic flow on Wilmslow Road. The battles were inflamed perhaps by press coverage from leaked information. Stringer and Spencer were in agreement in relation to trams, though, and co-operated when putting in place measures to demonstrate that Manchester was working towards an action plan for Local Agenda 21, so that it made a credible host for Global Forum ’94, which was the follow up to the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

Chapter 26 is a relatively short account that covers the period from 1984 onwards, when the first idea of bidding for the Olympics came up, through lessons from the unsuccessful bids for the Olympic Games to be held in 1992, 1996 and 2000, leading to the successful bid for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The major sporting facilities that Manchester gained of The National Cycling Centre Velodrome, Manchester Aquatics Centre Olympic Pool, Manchester Arena and Manchester City Football Club’s ground, the Manchester Stadium, are a testament to the vision of the people who persevered through the many setbacks.

Chapter 27 is the final chapter and it covers the period in 1996 when there was a change of leadership of the Labour Group. Graham Stringer was selected as parliamentary candidate and Richard Leese was elected as Leader of the Labour Group and the Council. Just 6 weeks after he became Leader, the IRA exploded a bomb in the centre of Manchester. The experience in the immediate aftermath of this terrible event and then how the city recovered is also covered.

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