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EYEWITNESS IN MANCHESTER UPDATE MONDAY 1 MARCH 1999 2100 GMT + SUPPLEMENTARY UPDATE TUESDAY 2100 GMT (WEEK 9)

WELCOME TO MANCHESTER - HOTEL CITY: You'd think that with the Midland (full name Crowne Plaza Midland), the Palace, the Britannia, the Portland Thistle, the Piccadilly, the Ramada, the Malmaison, the Victoria and Albert, the Dolby, the Campanile, the Mitre, the Rembrandt, Monroes, the Oxnoble, and all the other hotels in and around Manchester (in no special order - sorry to the ones I've omitted), that there would already be plenty of accommodation for visitors. But "you aint seen nothin' yet" it seems. So many people are coming to Manchester or will be in the future, that a number of new hotels are being built. Many hotel developers are confident, though others fear over-saturation of the market.

Last week I mentioned Manchester United's new hotel. Here are some more: A new 369 room hotel to be built on Portland St, on the site of Telephone House (the smaller office block next to Portland Tower) another, named "The Circus" on the corner of Portland St and Oxford St; "The Piazza", with 167 beds to be built in St James St (that's the street just to the right of the Odeon Cinema, on Oxford St); A 196 room hotel at Medlock Street and Mancunian way (on the other side of Mancunian Way from Princess Rd), a 126 room Ibis Hotel to occupy an existing building in Princess St. Plus, behind the Bridgewater Hall, next to the Briton's Protection pub: Jury's, which will be opening soon, and further up Mosley St, across from the Midland: the 147 room Greenall's Premier Lodge, currently under construction.

WHAT HAVE AMERICANS been saying about Manchester? Deborah Haile reports in the MEN Tuesday 2 March that American travel website Kroll Associates has been giving negative reports about our city. Travellers are advised to avoid the Metrolink late at night, as well as the whole of Moss Side and Eccles, districts which, they say, suffer from "drug dealing and petty crime". Metrolink bosses and local people think that the criticisms are unjustified, but aren't Kroll Associates right to warn foreign visitors of a crime problem, even if their information isn't fully up to date? I've had a look, but I can't find the report in question. Can anyone help?

And there's a possiblity that the Free Trade Hall may replace the Crucible in Sheffield as the home for snooker champions. The proposal is only under consideration at the moment. Here are three familiar Manchester hotels.

A 2 KIT TO DIAGNOSE MENINGITIS has been tested by doctors at Withington Hospital. The technique was demonstrated on BBC1's Tomorrow's World, and was originally developed by researchers at the University of Cardiff. In view of the recent spate meningitis cases, it should provide vital help, though it's not reported when it will be available for general use.

BONEHEAD, alias Paul Arthurs, of Oasis, was taken into police custody after a "bust-up" at a celebrity party in London. The Bowdon resident, described as "foul-mouthed" was arrested for being druink and diosorderly at the launch party of the Tommy Hilfiger shop on New Bond St. Hmmm, I wonder how he got that nickname... ?

CELEBRITIES AND SENIOR sporting, commercial and political figures are to be brought in to help promote the 2002 Commonwealth Games. As previously reported here, the costs have risen dramatically, and there are fears that the Games will make a loss. But once the Millennium has passed, Games organisers will throw the spotlight on the 2002 event, presenting it as an important national event.

SALFORD ROYAL HOSPITAL may be converted into... you guessed it... a hotel. The development, if approved, will also have apartments, and the unique facade, which I photographed recently, is to stay, along with a plaque in memory of 14 nurses who died there during the Blitz. Friday's MEN mentions another tragic case - that of four workmen killed during construction of the Barton Bridge 40 years ago. And recently a man was killed in an accident on the Second Runway site.

OTHER LOCAL LOTTERY BENEFICIARIES include the National Museum of Labour History - 82,200, Quarry Bank Mill - 103,500 and the National Museum for the Blind in Stockport - 12,300.

NEXT MONTH IS THE START OF THE NEW TAX YEAR and the inequalities of different local authority council tax levels will become clear. Most remarkable is the potential difference between Trafford and Manchester - the boundary of which meanders through the Old Trafford, Chorlton and Hulme areas. Residents on the Manchester side of Upper Chorlton Rd in a D band property may end up paying 300 less than those across the street in Trafford. Trafford is the district with the lowest council tax in the region: the payment of for a D-band property is only 689.

THREE MILLION POUNDS of Heritage fund cash is to be given to a four year project to capture photographs of England's finest attractions and place them into an online photo gallery. Members of the Royal Photographic Society are going to take 360,000 listed buildings and other attractions, many of which can be found in and around Manchester. The site can be found at http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk and will be free. Now where have I heard of something similar to this for the Manchester area?

PRIVATE COLLECTOR Gerald David has been enjoying his recent purchase of the table once used by Sir Matt Busby. Gerald bought it at the Gimberts auction, featured recently on this page. Further auctions are coming up - more details at http://www.auctioneers-ct.co.uk. And if you fancy a tuft of Old Trafford turf you can buy some encased in a glass paperweight, and the money will go to Christie Hospital. More details on the Manchester United official website: http://www.manutd.com

THE BSKYB TAKEOVER OF MANCHESTER UNITED may jeopardise their chances of playing in the Champion's League. BSkyB and the French media organisation Canal Plus may merge, and if so, the company would own two clubs - Paris St Germain and Manchester United - according to UEFA rules, only one team can be entered by a single owner.

A DISTURBANCE TOOK PLACE in Oldham on Saturday night, in which one man died. Fans had come from London to watch the Commonwealth middleweight bout at the Oldham Sports Centre, but Dean Fisher, 31, from London died, despite attempts by paramedics to revive him. He had been punched and beaten and was then accidentally run over by a coach. Paramedics told how how rival fans broke the windows of the coach as they were trying to save Dean Fisher's life.

A BABY HAD A LUCKY ESCAPE when an advertising hoarding fell onto passers by in Stretford. Six month old Chloe Sheehan was with her grandmother Pauline when the hoarding came crashing down. John Gedroge happened to be passing, and pulled the baby and others from under the hoarding, which it is believed, was brought down by strong wind. Right is a picture of the Stretford Rd entrance to the Arndale Shopping Centre, where the incident occurred.

A POLICEMAN DIED DURING AN INCIDENT on Oxford Street in the centre of Manchester in th early hours of Sunday morning. PC Robert Nathans was driving a police transit van and it's believed he suffered heart failure at the wheel. The other officers were taken to hospital.

AN EX-SOLDIER with only weeks to live has agreed that his body should be used for research into Gulf War Syndrome. Richard Walker (30) of Warrington, fought in the Gulf War and subsequently developed health problems, including cancer. It's not clear whether the cancer is linked with Gulf War Syndrome. Members of Gulf support groups have praised him for his courage and dignity.

THREE SINN FEIN MEMBERS were detained by police at Manchester Airport on Tuesday afternoon of last week as they were about to fly back to Northern Ireland. There were demonstrations by Irish Republican supporters and protests of "harassment of Irish people". The three men, named as Pat Coyle, Sean McGonagle and Tony Miller were released without charge after spending several days in police custody.

THE TRIAL OF DARREN VICKERS has commenced at Manchester Crown Court. The former bus driver is accused of abducting and murdering 8 year old Jamie Lavis. The murder happened on or about the 5th of May 1997. Mr Vickers, from Openshaw, pleaded not guilty to abducting and murdering the child.

THE STEPHEN LAWRENCE INQUIRY has dominated this week's national headlines. The more extensive and all-pervasive the media coverage, the more there is a sense of frustration and powerlessness when confronted with the problem of racial prejudice. MP for Gorton Gerald Kaufman spoke on Radio 4's "Any Answers" on Saturday, giving his full support to the recommendations in the Lawrence inquiry, particularly the decision to "get tough" with racist offenders.

But race relations here in Manchester are considered to be better than in other areas. And the place where you come into contact with ethnic minorities is likely to be the corner shop, a large number of which are now owned by traders from Pakistan or India. I often do my shopping in Rusholme - with the Arabic writing and pictures of Mecca, it's a bit like being back in the Middle East. We also go to the Chinese supermarkets, where you can buy lots of weird and wonderful oriental foodstuffs at wholesale prices. There's Afro-Caribbean food available from cafes and stalls around Moss Side. We also discovered Cebu City, Manchester's only Filipino restaurant - well, more of a kitchen with a front door onto Tib St. It's authentic and great value. So maybe the key to racial harmony is food!

And Carl Palmer in the Diary reveals that Doreen Lawrence, mother of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, will be appearing at an anti-racist fashion show in Manchester next month.

THE PRIMARY SCHOOL LEAGUE TABLES were published on Wednesday. Here are the chart-topping schools in some local districts: Stockport: St Philip's RC Primary Offerton; Salford: Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary; Tameside: St John Fisher RC Haughton Green; Oldham: Thornham St James CofE Thornham; Rochdale: St Michael's Bamford CofE Primary; Cheshire (Wilmslow) Lacey Green County Primary; Bury: Holly Mount RC Primary Bury; Bolton: Walmsley CofE Primary Egerton, Trafford: Brooklands Primary. So it seems that religious schools, irrespective of denomination, are top of the form.

GENTEEL BOWDON is the place where you'll find many wealthy professional and retired people, Loreto Convent, a croquet club, Bonehead, and Morrissey (so I heard) but it's also home to the Vegetarian Society - they're the ones that put the "V" endorsement on foods. They've been receiving many enquiries concerning genetically modified foods - needless to say they're totally against them. They also had a complaint from Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport after a vegetarian menu there was found to include tuna fish. The Society defines "vegetarian" as "without fish, flesh or fowl". More info about Manchester vegetarianism on the On the Eighth Day Collective website (By the way, my favourite food is crispy bacon and chicken)

LILAC COURT tower block in Salford is to be demolished. Few people will mourn the building described by local councillor John Warmisham as "the biggest pigeon coop in Europe". Here's the view of Salford from Castlefield, where City Central was filmed recently. On a more cheering note for homeowners, house prices in the Manchester area are on the increase, according to Edward Mellor estate agents. The flats in these tower blocks are all owned and let by Salford City Council.

THE FIRST EDITION OF "QUEER AS FOLK" was screened for the first time on Tuesday night, and reactions were... mixed. Predictably, there was an outcry among moral campaigners, though I'm told a recent Channel 4 survey indicates that just over half the population thinks that gay sex scenes are OK: 66% of 16 to 24-year-olds, 70% of those aged 24 to 34 and 67% of those aged 35 to 44 found gay sex scenes acceptable. Among those aged 55 to 64, 45% thought they were acceptable. (Figures provided by a reader who contacted me) MEN columnist Andrew Grimes, never afraid to speak his mind, didn't like this "seedy drama", but wouldn't want it banned either. On the other hand, many people here are very happy to walk through the city and see billboard posters for the first all-gay TV drama, especially in view of the fact that it's set in Manchester.

Much less controversial, though rather sad, was the comedy drama Mrs Merton and Malcolm - on again this evening. City Central on BBC1 Saturday night was both entertaining and gripping: It's a great show with lots of gritty realism mixed with humour. And I recognised practically every location. The wide horizontal pans remind me a bit of "Ironside" currently being shown on BBC1 during the day. I notice the fictitious force is named the "South East Lancashire Constabulary". Tragically, Paul Nicholls' character was shot dead, reflecting the danger faced by every real police officer every day. Another Mancunian-interest tv item was the return appearance of Middleton secretary Sara White 28 to ITV's dating show Blind Date, along with her date Stacey.

BILL ROACHE may face bankruptcy. As previously reported here, he incurred debts of 300,000 due to legal action - He sued the Sun newspaper after they called him "boring". What must be so frustrating is the fact that he won the case - and was awarded 50,000 damages. But if the amount had been just one penny more, then his legal costs would have been paid. If made bankrupt, the 66 year old stalwart of Coronation St may lose his home and car.

THE HISTORY OF MANCHESTER has been the subject of a series of articles appearing daily in the MEN - recent subjects include pop music, Old Trafford legends and this evening, trams 1900-1910. There has been a great response I'm told - it would make an interesting local interest book.

LOCAL RAILWAYS CONTINUE TO BE FEATURED in a daily stream of negative headlines - delays, cancellations and overcrowding are many of the shortcomings of today's rail network- and it turns out that the definition of "on time" as used for monitoring purposes can mean 'up to ten minutes late'. 78% of respondents to an MEN pool said they were in favour of nationalising the railways again. And in Wednesday's MEN Postbag, EM Allen suggests reinstating the old Fairfield loop line from Chorlton via Fallowfield and Levenshulme to Gorton. I say reinstate all the old railway lines and bring back steam trains

LOCAL SHOPS ARE EXPERIENCING A SLUMP in trade, and they say it's because of the Trafford Centre. Now traders want a reduction in their business rates, and Manchester firm of chartered surveyors Story Sones and Parker, are fighting on their behalf. Many traders in Eccles, Altrincham, Warrington, Chester, Cheadle, Rochdale, Macclesfield and Stretford are complaining that business dropped by up to 20% just at the time the Trafford Centre opened. A reduction in rateable value may be justified in view of the change of circumstances brought by out of town shopping centres.

BUGSWORTH OF BUXWORTH? Should this High Peak village be called by the former - its original name, or the latter - adopted in 1935 due to the indelicacy of the older name. Some people want the old name restored, and there are plans for a referendum, though the decision may be made by a Lottery ball. In a new feature, yes or no decisions will be decided by the National Lottery bonus ball - and the people and places involved will feature on the TV programme. Luckily suggestions to change our city's name the non-sexist "Personchester" never got off the ground, along with equally light-hearted calls for a change to "Salchester" and "Manford". The Manchester conurbation does have a name problem - there's just no local equivalent to the all-encompassing "West Midlands" "Merseyside" or "Teesside", unless you fancy "Irwellside". "Selnec" (South East Lancashire North East Cheshire) was adopted as the name of the merged bus company in 1974, but for obvious reasons wasn't applied to the conurbation, which became "Greater Manchester".

WHAT HAS THE NAME DODGE got in common with Stockport? The name synonmyous with the American City and car originated in Stockport - at a house owned by Mike and Julie Wilson to be exact. Many members of the Dodge family have been visiting their ancestral home, Lucy Palmer reports in Friday's MEN. The US visitors will also go to the investiture of Stockport's new mayor - the Dodges were mayors of Stockport in the 17th and 18th centuries.

CINEMAS are the subject of a new book by Derek J Southall named "Magic in the Dark". It's available from the Local History Publisher, 88 Ringley Rd, Radcliffe, M26 1ET. Price 4.25 plus 60p p&p. Here are a couple of shots of old cinemas. The art deco style above on Chester Rd Stretford stands empty and waiting for a new use. I'm intending to do a bit of Photoshop magic on it to bring it back to life - watch this page. The one below, on Oldham Rd Miles Platting was demolished last year. It's the Playhouse (thanks to two EWM readers - Reader Messages update coming soon) I'm not sure what if anything, is going to take its place.

before...
after...

THE MEN LETTERS PAGE on Wednesday featured a letter by Eyewitness in Manchester reader David Boardman, who's looking for pictures for a website he's putting together about Longsight in the 1950's and 60's. So if you need to contact people in Manchester, you can e-mail the Manchester Evening News - it really does work.

SPORTS RESULTS Manchester United-2 Southampton-1, Bolton Wanderers-1 Crewe Alex-3, Tranmere-4 Bury-0, Preston NE-2 Oldham Athletic-1, Chesterfield-1 Manchester City-1, and the big sports story this evening, Manchester Storm have won the Superleague.

PERFORMANCES THIS WEEK included: "How the other half loves", Octagon Theatre Bolton, Opera North at the Bridgewater Hall, Harry Beckett Quintet at Band on the Wall, "Making Noise Quietly" at the Dancehouse Theatre, and Neil Diamond appeared at the MEN Arena. Tomorrow and Wednesday, Robbie Williams appears there. Incidentally, Robbie Williams is involved in a courtroom dispute over commission payments to his former manager, Nigel Martin-Smith. The new musical "Oh What a Night", starring Kid Creole, will run from 8 April to 19 June at the Opera House. And PR company Spin Media have been appointed to help with the publicity. Spin Media was founded by Andy Spinoza, who used to do the MEN's "Diary".

THERE'LL BE "NO MERCY" at the MEN Arena , as the World Wrestling Federation stages its the roadshow, a sequel to a sell-out tour in April. The flamboyant grunting and groaning heavies will be manhandling each other on the 16th of May, and I can assure you I won't be there to see it!

THE WEATHER THIS WEEK has been mostly cloudy, with rain and high winds on Saturday and Sunday. I haven't been out with my camera, so this week's pictures are mostly dug out of the archive. Current EWM temperature 8 degrees celsius, 47 fahrenheit. Tuesday night 6.5 celsius 44 fahrenheit.




 





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