The government has announced it will be contributing tens of millions towards a new park being built as part of the Mayfield development.
The new park is set to become the city centre’s first park in over 100 years, and is part of a series of investments into outdoor spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mayfield development is said to deliver 14 acres of new public space, including the six and a half-acre park, as well as 1,500 new homes, 1.7m sq ft of office space, shops, a 650-bed hotel and a car park opposite Manchester Piccadilly Station.
The scheme is set to cost £1.4billion and has been brought forward by a public-private venture comprising of U+I, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and LCR, called the Mayfield Partnership.
The development will also create 10,000 office, retail, leisure and construction jobs.
The government has pledged £23m for the project, from the ‘£900m Getting Building’ fund that has been designed to increase jobs, skills and infrastructure in England in the light of the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of outdoor spaces for communities and pressured the government to increase resources for existing parks, following a decade of local authority budget squeezes.
Unison obtained figures from UK councils in 2018 to find that more than £15m had been cut from the parks and green spaces budget between the period from 2016 to 2019.
The chair of the National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces, Dave Morris, said: “Under the current public health restrictions, there’s been a massive increase in the usage of public green spaces, but there hasn’t been a comparable increase in the resources that is put into managing and maintaining these spaces.”
He added: “We need to ensure that the whole population have access to a quality local public green space within walking distance of where they live. In many areas there’s a need for additional green spaces.”
Aimee Stimpson, the national lead for healthy places for Public Health England, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has made many of us more aware of how much we value and rely on our outdoor spaces to support our health and wellbeing.
“Spending time in green spaces such as public parks can help us maintain a healthier weight, reduce our risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and boost our mental health.”
Historic England’s national landscape advisor, Jenifer White, said many councils have attempted to diversify their incomes to increase funding for park maintenance and management through events, but social distancing measures brought this to a dramatic halt.
White said: “The Manchester park is wonderful because I think we only really get a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new parks.
“What we desperately now need to do is make sure that the funding for public parks is adequate and secure to make sure they’re well looked after and are still providing that public service.”
A study from Public Health England found that £2.1 billion a year’s worth of public health costs could be saved if everyone in England had access to green spaces.
Furthermore, an average of £2,500 is added to the price of houses and flats that are within 100 metres of public parks and green spaces in England and Wales.
White adds that public parks and green spaces were recognised as improving living conditions in densely populated towns back in the 1840s, following the industrial revolution.
“There was a really clear association early on that parks were there for the health and wellbeing of the community,” she said.
Are you excited for the park!? Let us know!
Around 20 people involved in mass brawl ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens
The violence spilled out into the street
A large group of people were involved in a mass fight ‘with knives’ in Piccadilly Gardens last night.
Around 20 people were caught up in the large brawl on Monday evening, and according to reports some were armed with knives.
The fight took place outside Morrisons on the end of Oldham Street, and happened around 9:30pm.
Witnesses reported seeing some of the suspects carrying knives, although police didn’t recover any from the scene, and busses were forced to stop as the violence spread out onto the road.
Someone who witnessed the fight said on Twitter: “Piccadilly gardens is the roughest place on earth… a lovely night out helping ruined by a group of young kids kicking each others faces in”.
Officers responded to the incident, but no arrests were made or serious injuries reported.
This incident was the third of serious violence in just a few days.
Saturday afternoon saw another incident outside Morrisons in Piccadilly Gardens, in which a man was slashed in the face.
And on Sunday a brawl involving two tables at Barca bar in Castlefield happened, with some involved arming themselves with weapons like bar furniture and a baseball bat.
Leading scientists call for end of face masks and social distancing by June
Do you agree?
Leading scientists have written to the UK government calling for social distancing and face masks to be scrapped from June.
In total 22 scientists have signed the communication, saying that these measures should finish on June 22nd – the same date limits on social contact are set to be scrapped in England.
One of the scientists who has added their name to the letter is Dr Roland Salmon, the former director of the communicable disease centre in Wales.
Dr Salmon told BBC Radio Wales: “I am not venting my frustration but I do think some dialogue is well overdue.
“I have always felt that there has been little credible evidence benefit for many of the measures that we take.”
According to him, the letter was written to encourage the government to focus on protecting vulnerable people rather than the masses as we move forward.
Dr Salmon said we need to deal with the ‘here and now’ when asked about the threat of variants, going on to add that the vaccine has shown it helps prevent severe disease and death.
He added: “We can’t stop living forever while we wait for things to happen”.
Scientists who’ve signed the letter include Prof Robert Dingwall from Nottingham Trent University, who sits on the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).
There’s also Prof Anthony Brookes, a geneticist and health data scientist at the University of Leicester, and Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University.
The letter reads: “We are being told simultaneously that we have successful vaccines and that major restrictions on everyday life must continue indefinitely. Both propositions cannot be true.
“We need to give more weight to the data on the actual success of the vaccines and less to theoretical risks of vaccine escape and/or surge in a largely vaccinated population.”
It continues: “Covid-19 no longer requires exceptional measures of control in everyday life, especially where there have been no evaluations and little credible evidence of benefit.
“Measures to reduce or discourage social interaction are extremely damaging to the mental health of citizens; to the education of children and young people; to people with disabilities; to new entrants to the workforce; and to the spontaneous personal connections from which innovation and enterprise emerge.”
Boris Johnson is regarded as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters
It follows weeks of allegations against the PM
According to a new poll Boris Johnson is seen as ‘untrustworthy’ by six out of 10 voters in Britain, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seen as more trustworthy.
The poll from Ipsos MORI was shared by the Evening Standard, and comes after weeks of leaks and allegations about sleaze aimed at the prime minister.
The research found that Mr Johnson is trusted by just 35% of voters and deemed untrustworthy by 59%, while Sir Keir is seen as trustworthy by 42% and is untrusted by 41%.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “On honesty Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him.
“However, his own supporters still trust him, and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes … and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections.
“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”
The poll was taken following weeks of reports about murky donations being used to refurbish the prime minister’s flat, as well as disclosures about covert lobbying.
However, it was undertaken before the most recent allegations that Mr Johnson said he’d rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than have another lockdown, so those reports won’t have been taken into consideration by those polled.
Despite all the recent controversy, the prime minister and government’s net satisfaction hasn’t changed much since March, with both Mr Johnson (44 satisfied/50 dissatisfied) and Sir Keir (36/46) having net negative ratings.
Ipsos MORI interviewed 1090 adults across the UK by telephone from April 16th to the 22nd – you can find full details here.