Whose ‘Manctopia’?

By Tina Cribbin (@tinacribbin)


Greetings from Hulme. Apparently we are part of Manchester’s “donut of deprivation” or so says Tim Heatley. Yes, the hand-in-glove mate of the lord mayors of Manchester and Salford and those sellers of souls at Manchester City Council.


First let me start by saying that the so-called “donut of deprivation” is caused by greedy developers, who have taken every available piece of land, community space, church, pub, schools. Our areas were not deprived until structural inequality became rampant; through austerity, and as purposely run down land and buildings were put on sale in a move to destabilise our communities. All of this was done in order to build unaffordable tower blocks for “city dwellers, who like to live differently” i.e. living 35 floors up looking down. Note that — they’re looking “down”, on us.


As someone who in Manctopia has been described as ‘disadvantaged’, ‘poor’, ‘deprived’, I take great offence. I am more than your labels. By not showing communities actively engaged in fighting against gentrification, like most communities are, it was left for the viewer to assume we are all just sitting passively as our lives disappear. WE ARE NOT.


The fundamental message of Manctopia was a capitalist understanding of housing, where gold may drip from the shiny new tower blocks and trickle into our begging bowls and empty pockets — but only if you are under 30.


Because in this ‘Manctopia’, no old people can live or visit the city centre. The monstrous developments are solely for investors to rent to young people. Anything outside of that population does not seem to exist in that world.


It does not show a community worn out with constant development. Nor does it show the cost of that on peoples mental, emotional and physical health, as you see your community being redeveloped, year in year out building, but not for the likes of you.


It does not show the fight at the coalface every day, when you must force yourself to the letterbox filled with dread at the thought of yet another development or absolute meaningless consultation. It does not show the anxiety and fear of people in the communities who have to fight for the basic human right of having a stable home.


Our reality has become the city centres dirty little secret.


I cannot express my absolute disgust that this was considered intelligent documentary. It completely missed an opportunity to discuss important questions, such as the irony of a greedy developer working hand in hand with the council whilst smirking that he doesn’t have to provide “affordable” housing.


Somehow airtime was given to the greatest ego that ever walked — walked on water, really believing he was God, and the absolute rubbish that he was helping the poor. Dry your eyes mate you’re shameful.


Tina Cribbin is a poet, playwright and community organiser from Hulme. She is the author of Classphemy a poetry anthology about working class life in Hulme, and her latest book, Thirsty Scholars, is available to buy now.
11 September 2020