Leese: City centre services not fit for Manchester’s growing population

The appearance and feel of the city centre has not kept pace with its rapid growth, council leader Sir Richard Leese conceded as he unveiled a package of spending on measures to tackle a range of issues.

Manchester City Council’s executive will consider the findings of a major city centre review when it meets on Wednesday 8 February.

Leese said: “Manchester city centre has experienced remarkable growth in jobs, visitors and residents in recent years and is in many ways a success story. But that dramatic growth brings its own complex challenges and, combined with cuts to government funding to us and our public sector partners, it is fair to say that services have not quite kept pace with some of the issues created.

“The council is committed to improving people’s experience of the city centre. We believe the proposals emerging from the City Centre Review, based on what a wide range of people have told us, will have a positive impact and increase pride in – and a shared sense of responsibility for – Manchester city centre.”

The review was commissioned to understand the challenges facing services in the city centre, examine the issues concerning the public about the appearance and feel of the city centre and look at how public services can be strengthened and how other organisations, businesses and individuals can play their part.

The council said “extensive engagement has taken place with city centre residents, employers, town centre workers and other stakeholders to home in on the key issues.”

Manchester’s growing pains are perhaps best highlighted by the rise in population of the city centre ward, up 63% from 12,374 in 2006 to 20,176 in 2016, and predicted to reach 31,719 in the next four years.

There has been a 7% increase in jobs in the city centre between 2009 and 2015, from 110,500 to 118,600, despite a challenging economic period. The annual number of domestic visitors has gone up by 316,000 since 2006-08 to 2.68m in 2014-16 and the city is the third most visited in the UK for international visitors. The number of licensed premises in the city centre has gone up from 604 in 2010 to 758 in 2016, a 26% increase.

A spokesman for the council said: “Participants in the review identified many strengths of the city centre including its cultural offer, diverse communities, architecture, transport infrastructure and independent retailers in areas such as the Northern Quarter. But with the level of resource to manage and maintain the city centre reducing at the same time as this growth, it is recognised that the quality of the city centre environment and experience has not kept pace. Themes which emerged from the review included issues with anti-social behaviour, litter and waste, homelessness, begging, peddling, specific locations causing concern and the condition and maintenance of some public realm.”

An implementation plan stemming from the review sets out how it is proposed to make improvements.

These are focused on three main themes: management of city centre, visibility of public services and guardians, links between services and partners.

The proposals include £4.6m of council investment in improving public services in Manchester city centre. Measures include:

  • £1.5m to strengthen services for homeless people including a new Emergency Hub and more community-based support to stop people becoming homeless
  • Greater litter enforcement and a campaign to encourage those who drop it to change their behaviour
  • More visible guardians in anti-social behaviour hotspot areas and increase in enforcement staff to 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Stronger management of city centre and improved use of technology to help identify and respond to issues, improve co-ordination between services and encourage people to respect their environment
  • New city centre public services manager to lead and co-ordinate improvements and new cross-sector City Centre Accountability Board
  • Encourage businesses to help influence and share in the management of the areas where they are based
  • Lobby government, together with the Core Cities and other cities and towns for greater legal powers to better combat environmental issues such as littering from cars, vehicles blocking junctions and flyposting
  • The £4.6m of investment between 2017 and 2020 will be funded through £3m of business rates surplus – used to establish a City Centre Reserve. A further £1m will come from the existing Our Manchester Reserve to boost support for rough sleepers and together with £0.5m of external funding will help prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place and help tackle begging

The council spokesman said that although it is one-off funding for now, its impact will be evaluated with a view to finding further sources of funding for future activity where success can be demonstrated.

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So the Council Tax Revenue from an increase of almost 20,000 new Residents doesn’t seem to be benefitting the City Centre Residents. So where does MCC allocate it to? It must be circa £20million per annum.

By Stuart

Positive words. Good that it has been acknowledged.

No mention of green space at all though? >30,000 people with no green space to stretch out into? The city’s attitude to green space is embarrassing. They have have surely just chosen to ignore that as any survey of city centre residents would have flagged green space as a priority.

They expect families to move here without a park to play in or a school to go to?

When you live in a city centre you still need easy access to green space. You expect it to be smaller perhaps and more congested but you still need there to be some green space. There are countless studies proving that people need easy access to green space in order to be healthy.

By .

As if people come for the architecture!

By Rooney

The best way to improve people’s experience and perception of the city centre would be to do away with the Arndale Centre. Somehow, and it may be very long term, but the council need to grasp this nettle and put a strategy in place to completely overhaul it. It’s just not good for the business of the wider city in the way that a more permeable, more open and more connected shopping core would be.

It’s also a thoroughly depressing place and drags the area down.

By Wilson

The lack of green space is an issue mentioned by others and is not addressed in this statement, probably because the city council have already burnt all their bridges. Not only have they allowed every central available space to be developed but they also sacrificed a chunk of our only large space on the altar of commercialism. No turning back the clock now but a sad indictment of what went on under the much praised Leese regime.

By Ian Jones

The Arndale Centre is to be demolished and replaced by a new central park. You heard it here first.

By Rooney

Pomona was the great opportunity for a decent green space and that has now gone. The RHS could have cultivated that land and given Manchester a stunning attraction. Green space is essential to city centre living. I would have moved to the centre years ago from my leafy suburb, if there was somewhere decent green to walk. Piccadilly gardens is beyond redemption. Nobody decent ever uses it for leisure and it has become a tatty indictment to the ineptitude of MCC. The new fountain is ghastly and that whole area is filthy and unwholesome. Someone suggested making Piccadilly into a huge paved square and get rid of the grass, opening it up . At first I wasn’t sure, but now I feel that this is the only way forward.

By Elephant

This is fine, but the area at the back of Piccadilly station is disgusting with unkept areas where the grass has not been cut for 2 years, for visitors going to Man City ground near piccadilly village is a real mess.

By tony cooper

The problem with areas in Manchester looking like middens is because of Mancunians. it isn’t compulsory to turn grass into a rubbish tip. There is no pride. Has anyone been down Cheetham Hill road recently?Or Stockport road? There is a pile of rubbish on Stockport road I have walked past since October last year. How do people live like that?

By Elephant

Two years overgrown grass?! Which bit exactly? Is it public land or private?

I live near there and I really don’t think that is the priority – the built-up areas of the city centre are grotty and need a change of outlook.

By Rooney

The largest Municipal Park in Europe is on your doorstep – even the tram stops there…

A great place to go and stretch out and enjoy yourselves – run by MCC

By Green Space

It wouldn’t matter if the Lake District was a tram ride from the city centre, the point is that green space and high quality, walkable open space needs to be INTEGRATED into the environment where people live and work. People’s psychological health and well being isn’t improved by the knowledge that greenery exists somewhere else, it’s improved by being able to experience it in our daily lived experience. All modern, enlightened cities with the best reported quality of life understand this and shape their planning policies accordingly.

Unfortunately MCC have a typically complacent tick-box approach to the issue as they do towards matters of design and heritage generally. They don’t truly understand the link between the physical environment and our wellbeing and the comment from “Green Space” is typical of the sort of platitudinous, unenlightened response you’d get from MCC.

By Anonymous

It wouldn’t matter if the Lake District was a tram ride from the city centre, the point is that green space and high quality, walkable open space needs to be INTEGRATED into the environment where people live and work. People’s psychological health and well being isn’t improved by the knowledge that greenery exists somewhere else, it’s improved by being able to experience it in our daily lived experience. All modern, enlightened cities with the best reported quality of life understand this and shape their planning policies accordingly.

Unfortunately MCC have a typically complacent tick-box approach to the issue as they do towards matters of design and heritage generally. They don’t truly understand the link between the physical environment and our wellbeing and the comment from “Green Space” is typical of the sort of platitudinous, unenlightened response you’d get from MCC.

By Comment

Agree with Anonymous. Its a flimsy argument to say the least to say that we don’t need any open space in the city centre because Heaton Park is a mere tram ride away. Its about making green space part of citizen’s daily experience

By Rooney

Heaton Park is in Prestwich,not Central Manchester. There needs to be a rethink on the brownfield sites we have. St Stephens Green in Dublin would be an excellent blueprint for a Manchester park,but where do we landscape a new park? First street would have been a good place,as it was a large central empty space, but that has been ruined by third rate buildings.A sky park on the metal bridge in Castlefied could also work,with some imagination.They could even landscape the car parks around GMEX,or whatever it is called these days.

By Elephant

Have not had their eye on the ball.I love the city centre, but it IS a mess and am ashamed at times…Litter etc….Market Street?! The FOUNTAINS?! We need a proper GREEN SPACE in the centre..Can not all shlep out to Heaton Park etc…

By Schwyz

Are you sure about Heaton Park being the Biggest in Europe, I am led to believe it is not even the biggest in the UK.

By Green man

Regarding the green space issue, what MCC fail to understand is that you can put all the money you want into social programmes but ultimately they’ll be limited by the infrastructure within which people and economy operate.

If time and again you allow property developers to dictate the form and quality of the built environment and the spaces in between, excluding the legitimate concerns of the public, you are limiting the ability of the citizens to live well and maximise their potential. The effects might not be obvious, concentrated or short term but over time the city will be worse off as people suffer worse health, lower educational attainment or they simply move elsewhere to a place that offers better quality of life.

Putting money into better management and maintenance of the city centre is welcome and well overdue considering it’s a basic function of the council.

By Comment

Plot G in Castlefield is an excellent example of a place which should stay as a green lung. The city planning can’t seem to see the need. And meanwhile seriously consider giving permission to modern slums. The standard of some of the new housing is awful. Bedrooms have no windows; construction of modern slums! Look at the proposals for Plot G.
Yes, the council needs to stand back and look more clearly at what it is doing. It is raising millions of pounds more for itself and ignoring the issues of the new residents who don’t yet exist and so have no vote.

By Xyzrabbit

Heaton park is the biggest municipal park in Europe.Not sure whether this is apocryphal or not,but it is bigger than Hyde park.There must be country parks even in GM bigger though.

By Elephant

Possibly are Country Parks bigger than Heaton Municipal Park. Its irrelevant anyway: the question is over city centre parks. Heaton Park is 4 miles from Manchester city centre.

By Rooney

The issue with Manchester is its legacy as an industrial city as opposed to a city of affluence and commerce. In cities like London, Paris, Liverpool and other European cities which were commercial, there are beautiful avenues, lots of trees, squares, parks and elegant uniform style in the buildings. The issue with Manchester is that to its east, it is largely contaminated sites, warehouses and just generally dirty estates that have no place in a modern city. To its west there are also swathes of filthy undeveloped sites. The train from Liverpool into Manchester exposes much of the grottiness under the viaducts and in the crevices.

Residential development should take a backseat in the next 3 years with a transitional allocation of construction resources going into making Manchester more aesthetic where people are happy living.

By jk

If you Google you might find that Leeds and Birmingham among others have bigger municipally owned parks.I am not being too pendantic about this, but there seems to be lots of “alternative facts” on this site and that one place is always “better”than an other.

By Green man

JK has articulated my historical Manchester-bashing into a well-defined constructive point.

Sadly, is it going to happen, or is just more and more and more resi just going to be piled in?

By Rooney

Manchester was an incredibly wealthy commercial as well as industrial city as the towering warehouses, banks, hotels and exchanges bear testament and it is this diversity in its economy that has served it well to this day.

But the inner city areas were overwhelmingly industrial as the affluent residential areas moved further and further out into Cheshire or High Peak leaving a legacy that is plain to see. I agree that it would take some enlightened long term thinking to zone some land for a central green space. Or maybe we need to be better at looking after our existing assets. Why are we allowing new development hard up to the riverbank with little meaningful public space? Why are our pavements so narrow and in such a shocking state? Why are the council endorsing building on green space at the former UMIST campus? Why are new residential communities planned at such low densities, discarding the legacy of Hulme which incorporated medium densities, walkable streets and quality open green space? Why are we subsidising rubbish new build at Pomona? Everywhere, lost opportunities, sacrificed to satisfy commercial demands. It’s only when you get enlightened developers like Bruntwood or Coop that you see significant green space incorporated into plans. This is not good enough, MCC need to be more proactive and assertive. We desperately need a city architect, or simply raise the status of planning in the machinery of our local government.

By Comment

As a long-time city centre resident I’ve seen a lot of council promises re green space come to nothing. After the bomb in 1996 the council had a competition to rebuild the city centre and the winner had to put in a great swathe of green space running down from the cathedral to the Irwell – this never happened. Also the Castlefield site was initially meant to be a green ‘lung’ for the residents of Hulme and Moss Side – instead we got more and more ugly flats for single or retired people. There has been a significant lack of sensible planning; if you are young and single and who have children after moving into the city centre you have to move out because of the lack of facilities such as schools, NHS doctors and dentists as well as green space to walk prams and exercise. MCC only needs to look at the likes of London, Paris etc to see living in a city centre wrks very well.

By Retired resident

A lot of areas in the inner city which were once attractive are now scruffy ghettoes.Victoria Park once had its own police force.Cheetham Hill had canopied shops. Whalley Range,gracious mansions.The deterioration of these areas is down to the Middle classes moving out.The students,and I am being kind ,have not enhanced anywhere down Wilmslow road,turning it into another ghetto,where unscrupulous landlords let the houses go to rack and ruin for a quick profit.Plattfields and Whitworth parks could both be stunning,but are just neglected and full of litter.I can think of no other city in the western world,so devoid of a wealthy central residential area.This will not change without houses and open spaces,plus some decent schools.

By Elephant

You can always move out of the City Centre to Heaton Park, then you can walk through it every day.

There are some great places on the outskirts of Greater Manchester, and Lancashire.

City = Work
Outskirts = Home

Everyone is sorted.

By Green Space

Heaton Park is the biggest Municipal Park in Western Europe. FACT

By Green Space

Saying ‘fact’ after an unsupported statement doesn’t make it true. FACT

By Rooney

Mr Green Space: the point is about city centre living.

By Rooney

Roundhay Park Leeds is 700 acres, and owned by Leeds City Council and it’s only 3 miles from the City centre, HP is about 600 acres. Then there’s Sutton Park in Birmingham and the German and Spanish ones, maybe they had the grass cut and look smaller?

By Rosie York

Heaton park is not even the biggest Municipal Park in the UK never mind Europe. You have Richmond park in London which is bigger and then you have Sutton Park in Birmingham which is the seventh largest in Europe at 2,400.0 acres compared to Heaton Park which stands at 650 acres.

By Flan

Why are we discussing suburban parks?

By Rooney

We are discussing Parks because green spaces and lack of them was mentioned in conjunction with this article. It was merely pointed out that the poster may be wrong in their assumption the HP was the biggest in Europe. So why bother? Well if posters qoute a fact or make a statement that is wrong, it could be assumed that other parts of their post is incorrect or misleading. After all this is a great site and we only want genuine views and facts.

By Green man

Not everyone wants to or can afford to move to the outskirts of the city. It also doesn’t benefit people whose everyday experience is living or working in or around the city centre – which is many hundreds of thousands. It’s just not a sensible policy.

By Comment

Richmond park is a royal park.Never heard of the Birmingham one so I accept that you are right.

By Elephant

Parks is a worthwhile discussion – in the context of Manchester city centre.

Discussion of whether Heaton Park is the ‘biggest X in Y’ is irrelevant to the article. It isn’t in the city centre.

By Rooney

Which City has a Park in The City Centre – ?

By Green Space

Mr Green Space:

New York, London, Liverpool… and Manchester (just not enough of them).

By Rooney

London = NO
Liverpool = NO

New York = Well Central Park, north of the actual City Centre…. so NO

An assumption on a Mr too………..

If you want parks then move to a park simple

By Green Space

Indeed, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Prof; please excuse my assumption if incorrect.

In response:

– Chevasse Park is a park in Liverpool city centre.
– London: not willing to get into a debate about where constitutes ‘London city centre’ Its big, its dense, many of the densest areas have parks.

No, not simple. Inhabitants of, and as importantly, visitors to, the city centre deserve some open space. Its called liveability.

By Rooney

London is a very green city, surprisingly. Loads of trees and formal gardens and informal spaces

By Nordyne

Chavasse Park is nice in Liverpool and they may be royal but they are still parks on London.

By Green man

@ Mr Green Space: Liverpool City Centre: Abercormby Square (Listed), Falkner Square (Listed), Chavase Park (Purpel Flag Awarded), Pall Mall Park, St Johns Gardens (Listed) St James Gardens (Listed) St Nicks Gardens (Listed) Great George Square. Plus the new green space that will be created in the new Pall Mall, Paddington Village and Bi-Health Campus areas…Oh and all the space, hard and soft landscaping we have down at our beattiful UNESCO Water Front…Sorry that we do not suffer with the same problems.

By Mr Green Liverpool

London’s parks are amazing.It is embarrassing coming back to Manchester when you have walked around London’s parks.That tip Piccadilly gardens,wouldn’t even warrant being in a rundown suburb in South East London.It is shameful.All those lovely rose trees that used to be in it,in the 80s to what it is today.A nasty,dangerous swamp.

By Elephant

Green spaces add so much to the quality of a city, peace and quiet,fresh air and pleasent views, it’s a shame Manchester does not have much to offer?

By Soapy

Roman Gardens, Castlefield Arena, St John’s, Angel Meadows, Sackville Gardens, Parsonage Gardens, All Saints, add to that numeous squares throughout the city, this no parks theory is a myth.You can walk miles in NYC before you reach a park.


Manchester needs more open space. Formal parks or otherwise. Why the ridiculous debate about numbers and acreage of municipal parks compared to others.

By Rooney

Because a statement was made at least twice that was inaccurate and it was merely pointed out to those who made this statement that they should verify their facts or should we accept everything in this ” Post truth ” and alternative fact world?

By Green man

AF – a great list of open and green spaces in Manchester City Centre, there are also walks along rivers and canals too.

“Manchester is Great”

By Green Space

None of those places AF lists are particularly pleasant,with the possible exception of Parsonage gardens,but I have seen back gardens bigger than that. We want a park,not a postage stamp with grass. As for the canal walks.It wouldn’t be on my to do list,to look at 5 years of tin cans floating in water and litter and graffiti on the towpath. The Irwell is improving a bit,but it isn’t the Danube,is it.

By Elephant

it great to see some much negativity!

By Green Space

I am uncomfortable with the blatant racism in Elephant’s comments on this site

By Secc

No matter what you do with Manchester it will always be one ugly city !!!
Leeds forever


Whilst Manchester keeps throwing them up Liverpool keeps showing them up.

By Developer

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