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Manchester – Britain’s No 1 city

It’s more than 100 years since Friedrich Engels wrote about the poverty and squalour in which many inhabitants of Victorian Manchester were living in The Condition of the Working Class in England and twelve since an IRA bomb exploded outside Marks and Spencer. The bomb did not quite rip the heart out of Manchester city centre, but gave it a bloody good hiding and left it for dead.

Twelve years after the bomb and the centre of Manchester has undergone a transformation worthy of Trinny and Susannah. The bomb has been a catalyst for its redevelopment and reinvention.

A few yards from where the bomb exploded there’s a Selfridges, a Harvey Nick’s and a street of designer shops including one which charges hundreds of pounds for brown handbags you can buy on most markets for less than a tenner.

A huge ferris wheel which looks a lot like the London Eye has been erected outside Selfridges and a bit further away there’s Urbis, a museum of modern something or other and The Printworks which used to be a printworks but is now full of bars and restaurants and a cinema.

‘This isn't Milan. This isn't Barcelona. This is Manchester’ went an advertising campaign not long ago. Milan or Barcelona it certainly isn’t but why not enjoy a cafe latte or tapas in the pouring rain and howling wind outside one of the many pavement cafes?

Manchester now has the fastest growing economy in the UK, with levels of investment second only to London. Regeneration of Manchester’s city centre has helped to make it the second most visited city in England and the number one choice for further education students. It sees itself as one of the UK’s greatest cities, second only to London.

Manchester may think of itself as Britain’s second city but in many ways it’s actually Britain’s number 1 city.

Manchester is the crime capital of Britain. It has the highest per capita crime rate and more homicides and burglaries than anywhere else.

Greater Manchester has the highest number of ASBOs issued to 10-17 year
olds in the UK.

Manchester’s teenage pregnancy rate is almost double that of England with
one in fourteen girls between the ages of 15 and 17 becoming pregnant.

In 2004/05, Greater Manchester had the highest number of children under
15 (238) admitted to hospital for alcohol-related problems.

In 2005 Manchester topped the league table for ‘harmful’ drinking, with
9% of over-16s falling into this category. This is 80% higher
than the national rate.

Manchester has the highest number of people on incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance with alcoholism as the main medical reason for claiming in England.

These are some of the facts they don’t tell you in the tourist guides but which a report called Breakthrough Manchester from The Centre for Social Justice recently highlighted.

This may come as something of a surprise to people who fall for the PR hype but it won’t to people who live in Manchester. Manchester may no longer be the place Engels described in The Condition of the English Working Class but it’s definitely A Tale of Two Cities.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Adrian   31/07/2012 at 12:57

The IRA bomb was on 15th June1996, sixteen years ago, murders are rare, I know this because I live in Manchester, it makes the news if there is one When notorious drugs gang the "Gooch Street mob" where jailed for life murders dropped by 92% according to the Chief Constable. We have the biggest University campus in Europe 39,000 students which will explain some of the drinking; the other is down to celebrating our local football teams Man City Champions & Man United runners up. "The brown handbags you get on most markets for a tenner” are fakes not the real stuff you can get from Harvey Nicks. I have two daughters (26 &30) who grew up with a large circle of friends and no underage pregnancies amongst them or their friends Manchester is an amazing City, it has some of the best footballers in the world, plus there are Four Nobel laureates – Sir Andre Geim (Physics, 2010), Sir Kostya Novoselov (Physics, 2010), Sir John Sulston (Physiology and Medicine, 2002) and Joseph Stiglitz (Economics, 2001) working at the University. The nightlife and restaurants are second only to London. As to the dodgy weather is appears to be the same in the South judging by the massive floods. Your bile ridden article is not what I would have expected from a publication of this standard You should try visiting our wonderful City you would be surprised by what it is really like

Editor   01/08/2012 at 11:34

Hi Adrian, just to be clear, this was a guest blog written back in 2007, and although you may disagree with the blogger's views, they were based on facts and statistics. However, we don't need to try visiting Manchester to find this - our offices are in central Manchester, we all live in the city and love it just as much as you!

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