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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Beth Abbit

The Mancunian Way: A honking pudding

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Here's the Mancunian Way for today:


As the political pantomime continues in Downing Street, the world keeps turning and people go about their day to day lives. Part of that world here in Greater Manchester includes a National Health Service under vast pressure. Those pressures were exposed when a patient died in the back of an ambulance outside Fairfield General Hospital this week.

We’ll be discussing that story, a 700% price hike on a local toll bridge, and the runners and riders to be our next Prime Minister. Let’s begin.

They didn't even make it through the door

There have been concerns for months that ambulances up and down the country are ‘being treated as extra wards’.

And the lack of beds inside hospitals is an issue that reached crisis point this week when an elderly patient died in the back of an ambulance outside Fairfield General, sparking an investigation by the North West Ambulance Service.

Helena Vesty reports that the patient, who died on Tuesday, was given antibiotic treatment for a chest infection by hospital staff, but went into cardiac arrest and died.

It’s understood a ‘do not attempt resuscitation’ (DNAR) order was in place, meaning that paramedics would not attempt the action to restart the patient’s heart.

Shocked paramedics say the incident highlights the ongoing issue with bed shortages.

“Every hospital is holding ambulances outside. I’ve had occasions where I’ve taken over from the night shift and the patient hasn’t even made it through the door,” one paramedic told Helena.

“They’ve been in the ambulance for eight hours, treated there and sent back home. Every hospital is really struggling to get patients through the door. Some hospitals will treat us as another ward.”

Dr Chris Brookes, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Fairfield General Hospital, has apologised. He said the patient died 'approximately three hours' after first arriving at the hospital after being triaged, examined and treated by doctors while in the ambulance.

A poisonous wake

An inquiry which examined allegations of abuse by the late Rochdale MP Cyril Smith has published its findings.

It has recommended that it should be illegal for people in positions of power to fail to report child sexual abuse. A national compensation scheme for victims should also be set up, according to the seven-year-long Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse.

Damon Wilkinson has been looking at the final report of the IICSA, which describes the sexual abuse of children as an 'epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake'.

The £186.6 million inquiry looked at 15 areas scrutinising institutional responses to child sexual abuse. It found the Westminster establishment turned a ‘blind eye’ to child abuse allegations against former Cyril Smith for decades. Smith and other high-profile MPs were protected from police action by their parties as their whips tried to avoid damaging ‘gossip and scandal’, the IICSA found.

Read more: 'Three Girls', Cyril Smith and Knowl View - why did predators have free rein in Rochdale?


"Oh thank God for that, I thought she was never gonna do it! I think she's been disgusting but I never vote Conservative any way.”

That was Christine O'Kane’s reaction when she heard Liz Truss had resigned yesterday. The pensioner was out shopping when reporter Tom Molloy broke the news about the outgoing Prime Minister.

Tom hit the streets (not the ground) in Bury to gauge opinion following yesterday’s antics in Westminster. He found locals were less worried about the drama in London and more concerned about how they would feed themselves and heat their homes in the coming months.

Christine O'Kane, 73, of Bury (Manchester Evening News)

Honking pudding

Meanwhile, the list of politicians hoping to succeed Liz Truss as Prime Minister is still unclear. Penny Mordaunt has been the first to throw her hat in the ring.

There’s a list of the potential runners and riders here, but bare in mind Ben Wallace had already ruled himself out at the time of writing.

Those of us shuddering at the thought of a Boris Johnson return might take comfort in this hot take from an unnamed Labour source, who told The Times’ Henry Zeffman...

OPINION: Tory MPs may cry tears of humiliation and shame. For their constituents, tears are nothing new

Why 12p though?

Warburton Toll Bridge is a bit of a curiosity. It costs 12p to cross the structure, in Cheshire, and it’s been that way since 1890 thanks to the original 1863 Act which identified the maximum one-way toll at two and a half old shillings.

It’s thought to have been the only private toll facility across England not to have asked for a toll increase since its original founding legislation. But now there are controversial plans to increase the charge to £1, which will be examined at a public inquiry beginning next month.

It would be the first price hike in more than a century, and is part of plans for a £6.5m upgrade to roads, footpaths and the tolling system by The Manchester Ship Canal Company. If approved, the new toll would include discounts for local residents and frequent users.

'Absolutely essential'

Rochdale Council is calling for free school meals for every child, regardless of background, while the cost of living crisis persists.

A motion urging the government to ‘ensure universal provision for all school age groups’ was unanimously backed at a meeting on Wednesday night, as Nick Statham reports.

Labour’s Coun Rachel Massey noted that one in three school-age children living in poverty were already missing out on free school meals because of the ‘restrictive eligibility criteria’ - and many more were now struggling.

“No child should go hungry while in school, we know that there are increasing numbers of struggling families that don’t qualify for free school meals,” Coun Massey told the meeting. “School meals are not an optional extra, they are absolutely essential to ensure that our most vulnerable are fed, healthy, cared for and thriving.”

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Weather etc

  • Saturday: Sunny intervals changing to cloudy by lunchtime.
  • Road closures: A57 Snake Pass in both directions closed due to roadworks between A6013 (Ladybower Reservoir) and Hurst Road (Royal Oak Inn) until October 23.
  • A6044 Sheepfoot Lane in both directions closed due to roadworks from Meade Hill Road to A576 Middleton Road Between 9.30am and 4pm Mondays to Sundays until October 28.
  • Trams: No service on Manchester Metrolink between Eccles and MediaCityUK due to engineering works. A replacement bus service will operate for the stops affected until October 22.
  • Trains: Special timetables operating on Transpennine Express and Avanti West Coast due to shortage of train crews.
  • Trivia question: The career of which Crumpsall-born, Grammy-nominated singer was kick started in 1980 when she won the singing competition Search for a Star?

Manchester headlines

Above all he was kind: Tributes have been paid to Paul Dockery, a barrister and legal advisor for Coronation Street, who died this week following a stroke. The 73-year-old’s extraordinary legal career spanned six decades and he was a well-known figure in courts across Greater Manchester, where he prosecuted and defended thousands of cases involving serious crime including gangland murders, drug smuggling and complex fraud. Paul also made 19 appearances in Coronation Street as an extra and performed the role of a straight-talking usher when Gail Platt's son David appeared in the Weatherfield dock for pushing her down the stairs in rage. His son Daniel told crime reporter John Scheerhout: "He had a sharp brain and a wicked sense of humour but above all he was kind. He was quite mischievous and just enjoyed having conversations and spending time with people."

Late night Spar: A shop surrounded by student accommodation in Manchester will be allowed to sell alcohol until 4am every day despite strong opposition from neighbours. Residents of the Aquarius and Loxford estates in Hulme have branded the Spar, which already opens until 2am on Saturdays, as a 'beacon of badness'. They fear the later opening hours means they will be woken up by loud drunk people from outside of the neighbourhood looking to buy booze late at night. More here from Joseph Timan.

Christmas Markets: The Manchester attraction will be back again from November 10 and they’re already taking shape. James Holt has had a sneak peak and reports that a drinks van offering festive cocktails such as a Chocolate Orange Espresso Martini and the popular ice rink are already in place.

Worth a read

Andy Burnham is the most trusted metro mayor in the country, but other parts of the North feel they're losing out because of his success, according to a new report.

Focus groups found the high profile of the Greater Manchester mayor in particular ‘was thought to have contributed to regional inequalities, in that it enabled them to lobby effectively for increased funding, which came at the expense of neighbouring areas, furthering intra-regional inequalities’.

One member of a focus group in Nottingham told interviewers: "I am sick to death of money being put into metro areas. So, it always goes to Manchester but what about Burnley and Rochdale and Bolton and all. They get left to become complete sh**holes because everything goes into the centre."

Northern Agenda editor Rob Parsons has been looking into a survey about the public’s levelling up priorities. It reveals 87% of voters in the North West feel their area gets significantly less government spending than it deserves, in stark contrast to the 44% of Londoners and 50% in the South East.

That's all for today

Thanks for joining me. If you have stories you would like us to look into, email

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The answer to today's trivia question is: Lisa Stansfield.

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