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EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER UPDATE MONDAY 8 FEBRUARY 1999 10pm GMT (WEEK 6)

"FOOTBALL THUGS WENT ON THE RAMPAGE" - Oh dear, I was hoping I wouldn't have to start off with a headline like that, but Saturday's outbreak of violence at the City vs Millwall match is today's main story. In fact, there was trouble before, during and after the game, which was played at City's Maine Road ground, in Moss Side. But the first clashes took place 5 miles away in Stockport, where Millwall fans who had got off a train from London crossed paths with Manchester United fans on their way to Nottingham, with violent results. There was also trouble inside the ground, where fans ripped out seats and threw them at opposing supporters. I'm told by someone who was there that the trouble was caused by Millwall fans. After the match, fans ran through Rushome, smashing shop and restaurant windows. I was in the city centre at the time, and on our way home, at about 6pm, we saw flashing lights and mounted police officers on Cambridge St, near the Royal Northern College of Music. They were escorting a long column of Millwall supporters back to the station. The fans looked like soldiers returning from the wars. The result of the match was Manchester City-3 Millwall-0 which might explain, but not excuse the fans' behaviour. A number of them were charged today in connection with the violence, and an enquiry is to be held. And at boardroom level, Manchester City chairman David Bernstein continues the search for a suitable share ownership deal for the club. And, disregarding the trouble, it was a very good result for City.

OTHER RESULTS (accuracy not guaranteed!): Notts-1 Man Utd-8; Grimsby-0 Bolton-1; Macclesfield-0 Wrexham-2; Bury-0 Ipswich-3; Norwich-0 Stockport-2; Shrewsbury-3 Rochdale-2; Oldham-2 Lincoln-0. Rubgy League: Swinton-10 Hunslet-21. Rugby Union: Sale-7 London Scottish-23. Basketball: Chester Jets-84 Manchester Giants-98.

THE LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE took place at the Bridgewater Hall over the weekend, bringing many famous names to the city, including Tony Blair, John Prescott, Jack Cunningham, Frank Dobson and others. They stayed at the hotel regarded as Manchester's number one - the Crowne Plaza Midland. Security was tight, due to fears of a possible terrorist attack by renegade Irish republican terrorist groups. No problems were reported - in fact on Saturday, the police were busy elsewhere - see above.

ON FRIDAY TWO GOVERNMENT MINISTERS helped to inaugrate new buildings in Manchester. Health Secretary Frank Dobson went to Wythenshawe to lay the foundation stone for a new 113m development at Wythenshawe hospital. And Deputy PM John Prescott climbed onto the roof of the new Marks and Spencer building for the "topping out" ceremony.

CHRISTIE HOSPITAL IS TO BENEFIT from Lottery funds. The government has decided that help from the New Opportunities fund - the "sixth good cause" will go to hospitals, in order to pay for new equipment. Much of the equipment currently in use in NHS hospitals is said to be "worn out" - not very reassuring if you're a patient, but this was admitted even by Health Secretary Frank Dobson. Hospitals have been under extreme pressure, caused by an increase in patient numbers and decreasing money levels. My father was treated at Christie Hospital in the late fifties - he recovered and lived another 20 years.

RIVALRY BETWEEN LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER was the topic of Granada TV's "The Late Debate", shown in the Granada region on Tuesday night. Presenters Lucy Meacock and Tony Barnes presided over a lively bunch of participants. Scouse and Mancy accents were very much to the fore, and it didn't take long before the conversation turned to football - luckily the rivalry was good-natured. Tom Bloxham was there - his company Urban Splash redevelops old buildings in both cities, so he's more qualified to talk than most: In response to the question "Which do you prefer?" he said Manchester has a more buoyant economy, but Liverpool has more development opportunities. Personally, I think Liverpool's great. More pictures in the "northern England" picture section, currently taking shape.

STAGING THE COMMONWEALTH GAMES is turning into a big financial headache for the Council and for the body set up to organise them, Manchester 2002 Ltd. The projected cost has now gone up from 58m to 85m - it's not certain than the event can be staged without a big loss. The Council argue that because this is a national event, the government should provide additional help. But Deputy PM John Prescott has ruled out extra government funds. Somewhere, somehow, the shortfall has to be made up, without compromising the quality of games. This is the job of 2002 chairman Robert Hough and his team. Let's hope they manage it. I have a feeling they will.

TWO STORIES FOLLOWING ON FROM LAST WEEK - The British Olympic Association has told Manchester it shouldn't pursue any compensation claims against the International Olympic Committee. BOA chairman and IOC member Craig Reedie said Manchester would have to justify in what sense it "lost out", raising many difficult questions. He said it would be a mistake to pursue any claim. And after Jenny Cupit was jailed for life, her husband Nick said on Saturday he wants a new name, a new life and a divorce.

THE PROPOSAL TO BUILD AN INDUSTRIAL ESTATE on land next to the M60 motorway near Denton has gone to a public inquiry, as reported in last week's newsletter. Following a reader message, I went along there yesterday to check out the area. Just four miles east of Manchester city centre, we have an amazingly green and pleasant area of water, trees and parkland, with Fairfield and Denton Golf courses on either side of Kings Rd - more of a track than a road, leading to Debdale Park, where it becomes a bridleway and is closed to traffic. Audenshaw reservoirs are to the east, and Fairfield, Abbey Hey and Gorton to the west and south. The M60 motorway cuts along the eastern perimeter of Denton Golf Course, then turns north west across Audenshaw No 3 reservoir, which has been drained. It's very unfortunate that Denton Golf Course now finds itself at the intersection of the A57 and the M60 - prime industrial development land. I'll be following what happens at the public inquiry. In the meantime, here are two pictures - more to come.

BUILDING WORK HAS STARTED ON the Manchester International Convention Centre, situated in a strategic location adjacent to the Great Northern Warehouse Experience, G-MEX and the Free Trade Hall. The Centre will cost 21m , and should attract well-heeled business people who will attend conferences, using the 800 seat main hall and banqueting facilities, which can cater for up to 1,200. Work continues on the conversion of the Great Northern Warehouse into an entertainment and leisure complex. Along the line of Peter Street, a new wedge-shaped structure is appearing where not so long ago, there was a row of old buildings with a kebab shop, an alternative magazine shop and a night club "the Gallery", where I once made an on-stage appearance. Talking of which, "the Boardwalk", one of Manchester's most famous live music venues, is up for sale for 850,000. It's situated on Hewitt St, behind Whitworth St West near Deansgate.

A PROMINENT LANDMARK ON THE EAST MANCHESTER SKYLINE is to disappear, it was reported in an article on Friday's MEN. The Bradford Road gasholder (right), which has been unused for 10 years, is to be demolished. It's one of 80 gasometers around the country to be removed by gas pipeline company Transco. Trying to capture the legacy of the past using what I see today is becoming increasingly difficult, as more and more features disappear. I'd better keep snapping before it's too late. On the left is The Palace, Stalybridge, an old-style cinema still going even in the age of the multiplex.

THE HUDDERSFIELD CANAL which links Huddersfield and Ashton Under Lyne, is to be restored. The project will cost 30m and be ready by April 2001.

A FATAL ACCIDENT OCCURRED on Simonsway in Wythenshawe on Friday night. Neil Jones, 17, and his passenger Raymond Black, 25 were killed in the accident, which involved another car, whose passengers were taken to Wythenshawe hospital.

MANCHESTER CROWN COURT has been hearing the chilling account of how a girl was burnt to death and left on waste ground near Crumpsall last year. Aaron Nicholls, 18, told police he poured barbecue fuel over Lauren Carhart, 12 and flicked lighted matches at her to scare her. Unfortunately, the fuel caught fire and she was burned to death. He denies murder.

THE DEATH OF KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN has affected a village in the Peak District. In 1995 he visited Tideswell, Derbyshire to see his friend world hang-gliding champion Judy Leden and also shook hands with some of the local people there. A Book of Condolences has been opened at the Jordanian Embassy in London. Are there any expat Mancunians in Jordan reading this?

THE GIMBERTS AUCTION started today, and was featured on BBC1's North West Tonight. The sale included the table and chairs used by Matt Busby, which were sold for £5100. Thousands more film and tv curios are there for the taking. The auction continues - more details at the Charles Taylor website: www.auctioneers-ct.co.uk. And a painting by Salford Artist L. S. Lowry depicting a Whit walk in Manchester is to be auctioned next month. It's being sold by an anonymous owner, and could fetch 160,000.

THE TRAFFORD CENTRE WAS THRONGED with shoppers on Saturday afternoon. They obviously needed no persuading that this was the place to be at the weekend. There were many families with small children, as well as people in wheelchairs who evidently find this an attractive place to go. There are some excellent shops, and I love the UCI cinema (comfy seats, good sound and a completely dark auditorium), but my resident shopping expert remarked that the lack of a supermarket or food store such as Marks and Spencers, plus prices higher than in the city centre, make the Trafford Centre less attractive than it might be. The decorations, particularly the statues, still look to me like they were bought at some gigantic DIY garden centre. After two hours I felt claustrophobic and longed for the city centre's shops, streets, squares, air, rain and Big Issue vendors!

MANCHESTER BAND HAPPY MONDAYS, who achieved cult status during the 80's but split up in 1993, are to reform and will play four gigs, includingone at the Manchester Evening News Arena,. The band's lead singer Shaun Ryder, whose broad Mancunian speaking voice is often heard on radio and tv, said he was doing the tour "for the money". All but two of the original line up will play, with two others standing in.

STONE ROSES LEAD SINGER IAN BROWN has been savouring the joys of freedom since Christmas Eve, but a piece of graffiti on Dickenson Road Longsight, still cries out for his release. This is a classic piece of work, splashed on in bold capitals with true campaigning fervour - I wonder if the unknown artist is also responsible for the pro-cannabis message on the wall at Rusholme - the writing looks vaguely similar - As for Bowie and Numan, they've been on the railway bridge near the top of Kingsway since my Bowie-Roxy heyday in the early seventies, and are seen by thousands of commuters every day. Another I remember seeing from the bus home is the "schizoid octopus" on Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield just down from the 'Toast Rack' building - Anyone remember this one? It was scrubbed off many years ago, but I've done a reconstruction of how I remember it. Oh, and I didn't borrow a paint can and brush from Mr "Free Ian Brown"- I wrote the letters onto the photo using my Wacom ArtPad.

PERFORMANCES THIS WEEK INCLUDED the Phoenix Dance Company at the Royal Northern College of Music, The Halle at the Bridgewater Hall, Pucho at Band on the Wall, Evolution: Body at the Royal Exchange Studio, The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Royal Exchange, The Corrs at the MEN Arena, and many more. And one piece of good news for theatre-goers: Bolton's Octagon theatre has been saved with a 250,000 cash input.

FRIDAY'S M.E.N. WEIGHED IN AT OVER 250 grams - by my reckoning - over half a pound - and all for 10p. The local paper I spend so much of my time perusing is certainly crammed with stuff from cover to cover. Of particular interest to Mancunophiles is a new daily historical account by Tom Waghorn and others, documenting the history of Manchester. In Friday's "Girl About Town" writer Tania Branigan visits a different local district, this week it was Mossley. The guided walks by John and Anne Nuttall provide interesting and informative ideas for days out on foot. Saturdays' article featured a walk around Elton reservoir, near Bury. "Memories", also on Saturdays covers local history, with letters and pictures sent by readers. And if you're looking for long lost relatives or friends, "In Touch", on the next page, may help you to find them. "In Touch" also appears on Manchester Online.

A DINNER LADY WHO TOLD SECRETS OF HER SEX LIFE to a magazine was moved from the Roman Catholic Mount Carmel School in Alderley Edge. Cath Irvine, 27 revealed to the magazine "Chat" how she and her husband Stuart, 36, attend sex-swap parties. But when senior staff at the school heard about the article, they made their disapproval clear, and the contract catering firm who employed her decided to move her. The story received a lot of publicity, which is probably the opposite of what the school bosses intended. I can't imagine any of the dinner ladies at my school (Xaverian) getting up to stuff like that.

SNOW FELL IN THE MANCHESTER AREA last night, and I saw cars this morning with the white stuff on the roof, but here close to the centre of the city, we saw hardly any at all. Yesterday was the best day of the week, with lots of sunshine - I was out with my cameras all day, finishing up at Harthead Pike near Mossley, where there was an icy wind blowing in from the north. The rest of the week was mostly cloudy and misty, with milder temperatures. In the latter part of last week, strong winds tore the roof off a building in Ashton. The cold weather is going to continue, so say weather forecasters, I'm hoping for more snow.

Please bookmark this page so you can come straight into the newsletter. The new screensaver is nearly ready. Please note - the Manchester Online directory structure has been simplified - the "webspace" has now gone. Please change your bookmarks accordingly. Maps maps maps, sorry, I still can't make them live, due to Crown Copyright matters - I will inform you via the mailing list when they're live - Yes, please sign up for the mailing list and claim your high-resolution photo. It's waiting there for you to "grab" but I'll be removing it soon, so act now! If you'd like to see my new home page, inspired by night views from Werneth Low, Hartshead Pike and other points, please go to my home page www.aidan.co.uk.




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