As Manchester continues with an unseasonably warm Autumn following record-breaking temperatures for the planet, the country and locally during the summer, the climate is not the only reason for a feeling of uncertainty in the city. And yet, anti-vax and climate change conspiracy theorists seemed undeterred at their demonstration in St Peter’s Square in early November, despite all the evidence against their beliefs.
While the Christmas markets and festive lights have kick-started the annual shopping rush, many Mancunians will be considering their finances in the light of the delayed autumn statement and the result of ongoing pay disputes with an understandable degree of financial trepidation.
Nurses, teachers, civil servants, ambulance workers, the fire brigade, university staff and Royal Mail employees could contribute to the biggest strike action seen in the UK since the winter of discontent in 1979. This, along with the escalating cost of living crisis, can only serve to unsettle both Manchester’s traders and their clients. A recent GMCA survey of residents showed that 58% of respondents already feel either a high or marginal degree of food insecurity.
This level of financial worry seems a world away when walking past the mushrooming new apartment blocks that continue to proliferate across the city’s skyline. Dwayne, who was practicing basketball in Hulme Park felt, however, that these towering new developments seemed “remote” from other areas of the city.
3 November also saw the release of the second report into the Manchester Arena Bombing on 22 May 2017. This report focused on the emergency response and was highly critical of the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme.
It is a testimony to Greater Manchester’s spirit that many aspects of city life and community still thrive amid this background of such adversity. City based artworks emerge, urban cohesion continues with individual, community and local authority initiatives. The city grows, albeit with some heartache, setbacks and sideways steps along the way.
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All images: Gary Roberts