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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Beth Abbit

The Mancunian Way: An odd boast

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Here is today's Mancunian Way:

by BETH ABBIT - Fri Aug 5, 2022


Leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak is continuing in his quest to endear himself to Tory members - this time by boasting he has taken money from ‘deprived urban areas’ to help wealthy towns.

That might go down well in Tunbridge Wells, where he made the claim, but Conservative voters in some of the most deprived boroughs here in Greater Manchester might not be quite so chuffed.

More on that story, the Oldham mill investigation and Andy Burnham's blokey DJ set, in today's newsletter.

Pork barrel politics?

Labour's Lisa Nandy has demanded answers after Rishi Sunak told Conservative members he started 'changing the funding formulas to make sure that areas like this are getting the funding that they deserve'. He was talking about affluent Tunbridge Wells.

The New Statesman's Rachel Wearmouth uncovered video of the former chancellor's comments during which he said: "Because we inherited a bunch of formulas from the Labour Party that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas, that needed to be undone. I started the work of undoing that.”

Lisa Nandy (PA)

Ms Nandy has written to Levelling Up Secretary and Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark about Mr Sunak’s ‘deeply concerning’ claim. “It’s scandalous that Rishi Sunak funnelled public money away from deprived areas and gave it to affluent Tory shires,” the Wigan MP tweeted: “The Levelling Up Secretary needs to urgently investigate what changes were made to funding formulas and what justified the changes.”

Meanwhile Manchester Council leader Bev Craig tweeted: “Sunak confirms what we’ve known all along: the Conservatives unashamedly favour the rich in this country. Openly admitting that cutting over £400m from Manchester’s budget and overlooking us for our fair share has been a intentional political choice”.

Back in March, Worsley & Eccles South MP Barbara Keeley accused the government of ‘pork barrel politics’ when Salford was listed in category 2 on the Levelling Up Fund Index of Priority Places for the second round funding - despite being one of the most deprived areas in the country. Mr Sunak’s constituency of Richmond, in Yorkshire, was among those in category 1 - considered most in need of levelling up and first in line for funding.


More than two thirds of Greater Manchester people surveyed by the combined authority cite finance as a current concern. A third said there were times over the past year when they couldn’t afford to eat a balanced meal.

The CA has launched online resources to help people manage bills. Andy Burnham, who says leaders can see ‘the situation deteriorating before our eyes’, has committed funds for an extra 220 prepaid Emergency Food Cards in each borough., with around 12,500 already distributed.

The mayor says residents are ‘feeling the weight of pressures unlike anything they’ve seen before’. “All of this is compounding the stresses of the pandemic, which hit more deprived areas harder and exacerbated existing inequalities.”

Amanda Chadderton, Oldham’s council leader, is in charge of efforts to tackle the cost of living crisis. She says more people will fall into poverty in communities ‘already scarred by entrenched deprivation and the impact of the pandemic’.

The missing men

A father, a husband and two young men looking for work - these are the missing people feared to have died in a mill fire in Oldham.

Cuong Van Chu, Uoc Van Nguyen, Duong Van Nguyen and Nam Thanh Le are at the centre of a major police investigation into the blaze.

All Vietnamese nationals, they were reported missing to Greater Manchester Police on July 21. It’s feared they died during a fire at Bismark House Mill in May.

Cuong, 39, arrived in the UK in June 2019 and kept up regular contact with his wife and children - but they have not heard from him since the day of the fire. The same is true of 31-year-old Uoc - a married man whose wife last heard from him that day when he told her he was in a mill.

Duong, 29, arrived in the UK 12 months ago and last contacted family three months ago, telling them he was living in ‘an abandoned house’ while looking for work.

Nam, 21, arrived in the UK in January of this year and last contacted his family on May 4 - three days before the fire. He said he was living in ‘a derelict house’ in ‘Dam’, believed to be Oldham, while looking for work.

Fire crews believed nobody was inside the mill when fire broke out, but human remains were discovered by demolition workers ten weeks later. Police say the remains of three people have been found so far.

Detectives are understood to be exploring the possibility that human trafficking could have played a part in the tragedy. Multiple sources have claimed that a section of the mill was being used to farm cannabis.

Weather, etc.

  • Saturday: Sunny intervals changing to cloudy by late morning. 20C.
  • Roads closed: Ashton Road in both directions closed due to water main work between Copster Hill Road and Scottfield until August 8.
  • Trams: No service on Metrolink between Eccles and MediaCityUK due to engineering works until October 21.
  • Today's Manc trivia question: What is the full name of the city centre building best known to Mancs as 'Gmex'?

Answer at the bottom of the newsletter

Bee bikes

A quarter of Greater Manchester's Bee Bikes have gone missing since the launch of the scheme last November. And transport bosses say they are looking to 'reduce bike numbers' in areas with high rates of anti-social behaviour.

As Nicole Wootton-Cane reports, of the 201 bikes active up to 23 June, 58 have gone missing and have not been retrieved. There were also 306 reports of damage.

The Mobike scheme was famously pulled out of the region in 2018 following high levels of theft and vandalism.

Harking back

The mayor says Greater Manchester’s new ‘Bee Network’ buses will be painted yellow and black to reflect Manchester’s 'worker bee' heritage.

However he recognises that some Mancs would prefer a return to the old orange livery. “I know the M.E.N has got many traditionalists amongst its readers that will say, 'orange and white' and scream when they read that, but you do have to look forward and you can't always hark back,” he told reporter Ethan Davies.

DJ Burnham

Speaking of harking back, have you seen the mayor’s playlist from his DJ set at Ramona this week? The 1980s and 90s featured heavily. And with all those maraca-wielding bands, you’d be forgiven for forgetting Mr Burnham is a Scouser.

My only real gripe with the set is it was perhaps a bit... blokey. Where were M People? Cleopatra? Where was ‘Flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude? Thankfully, it all ended with TLC’s 'No Scrubs'.

Manchester headlines

Botch job: Angela Rayner and fellow Tameside MPs Andrew Gwynne and Jonathan Reynolds are urging the government to reconsider the suspension of the Ashton Metrolink line during HS2 construction. In a joint statement they said it will have a ‘serious impact’. "The Government's current proposals are just not up to scratch. They'll sever a vital transport connection, and waste taxpayers' money in the process. It's a botch job and it won't wash."

Shooting: Police have ramped up patrols in Moss Side as they continue to hunt a gunman who opened fire on two teenage girls. A week on from the drive-by, police have promised to do all they can to bring the offenders to justice. The girls, aged 13 and 16, were both injured during the attack on Quinney Crescent last Friday night, though not seriously.

Worth a read

Buzzing streets, cosy pubs and a bakery with massive queues - that’s Didsbury in a nutshell. What’s On editor Jenna Campbell has written this guide to enjoying yourself in one of Manchester's most beloved suburbs. But be warned, those fancy cocktails will eat up your cash pretty quickly.

Folk on Burton Road in Didsbury (Supplied)

That's all for today

Thanks for joining me, the next edition of the Mancunian Way will be with you around the same time on Monday. If you have any stories you would like us to feature or look into, please contact me at

And if you have enjoyed this newsletter today, why not tell a friend how they can sign up?

The answer to today’s trivia question, what is the full name of the city centre building best known to Mancs as 'Gmex', is Manchester Central Convention Complex.

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