The restoration of the Manchester Town Hall could take ANOTHER two years to complete, and requires an addition £29m, council bosses have said.
The mighty Grade I-listed building has been closed for an extensive renovation since 2018, and was due to reopen next year.
But now the Manchester landmark may be looking at delays up to two years, as well as another budget increase.
The pain-staking work to restore the Victorian building in the ‘construction’ phase is now 60% complete, but ‘further challenges’ have been discovered as parts of the 146-year-old building are uncovered.
That’s included corroded, cracked or split cast iron drainpipes and gutters that need replacing; installing four new lift shafts around the building’s historic layout and idiosyncrasies; and a delay in the necessary testing of materials following new fire safety standards post-Grenfell.
Back in 2022, a report found that ongoing factors like hyperinflation in the construction industry and knock-on costs of delays from the pandemic meant that additional funding may be required to complete the project.
That update also confirmed that the completion date of July 2024 would need to be revised.
It’s estimated that these delays and rising costs (material prices increased 44% across the sector in the space of one year alone) have had a £67m impact on the project.
On 26 July, the Council’s Executive will be asked to approve an extra £29m interim funding to complete a key part of the construction phase. This will be funded through borrowing and will not impact on service budgets.
Despite this, the Our Town Hall project is performing strongly against its objective – more than 57% of its spending is with Manchester businesses (its target was 40%) and 47% of those working on site live in the city (again, ahead of the 30% target).
The reopening of the Manchester Town Hall and the completion of the project will be confirmed in January 2024.
Deputy Council Leader Cllr Luthfur Rahman said: “This is the biggest heritage project currently being undertaken in the UK.
“It is benefitting Manchester people now, through job creation and spending with city businesses and it will continue to benefit them for generations to come by safeguarding and improving access to this wonderful building and its artefacts, as well as delivering a transformed and enlarged Albert Square as a world class events space.
“There has been considerable national interest in what we are achieving here, including from the team working on the similarly challenging restoration of the Houses of Parliament.
“The length and complexity of the project is such that it has been buffeted by some unprecedented challenges, the cost impacts of which are magnified because of the sheer scale involved. Nobody is pretending this has been easy but the end result will be something truly special, a source of pride and a remarkable asset for Manchester.”
The Irish star, who just landed his first UK number one album, wants to make customers ‘feel like a big deal’, apparently.
And seeing as he shot to fame with his viral flashmob stunts, he seems like a good choice to be popping up from behind Amazon lockers as people pick up their online shop.
Cian Ducrot comments: “My flash mob performances are all about spreading joy and music, and I loved helping shoppers feel like a big deal at the Amazon Lockers.”
Amazon’s Prime Big Deal Day sales event, which is taking place on 10 and 11 October 2023, will also see the brand hide hundreds of items in Amazon Lockers around the UK.
Over those two days, Prime members who are collecting shopping will be given the opportunity to pick a code, which will open a locker containing a free item to take away.
Surprise locker locations will be in London, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester on 10 and 11 October.
The giveaway runs alongside a Prime member exclusive shopping event, featuring deals on everything Prime members need for Autumn, from making an early start to festive shopping, to stocking up on seasonal essentials.
Council Tax in Manchester could be raised to support the city’s ‘poorest households’
Manchester City Council has laid out plans to potentially raise residents’ Council Tax to help support the “poorest households” in the city.
Councillors are proposing that, under the city’s current Council Tax Support scheme, the amount owed by a household is reduced by up to 100% for pension-age residents with the lowest incomes, and up to 82.5% for working-age residents with the lowest incomes from April 2024 – with the maximum reduction for working-age residents increased by 2.5% to 85%.
This means the maximum that those eligible for support would have to pay is just 15% of the bill, according to Manchester City Council.
At the same time, it’s being proposed that rules allowing reductions to be backdated, in instances where someone “has a good reason not to have claimed sooner”, are extended to allow up to a year’s back payments, rather than up to six months as is currently the case.
With the proposals all laid out, a consultation has been opened and residents living in the Manchester borough are now being asked for their views.
The Council Tax Support scheme currently provides around one fifth of Manchester households with help paying their Council Tax, but it’s estimated that these proposed changes would cost the Council around £770,000 in 2024/25.
This proposed raising of Council Tax also comes after the Council revealed earlier last month that £50 million in funding will go towards upgrading and improving social housing in Manchester over the next two years – with thousands of tenants living in social housing and Council-owned residential complexes across the city and wider borough set to benefit.
Residents in these properties are set receive what is being dubbed “transformational investment” to their homes before 2026.
“We are acutely aware that some residents are really struggling due to cost of living pressures,” admitted Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, who is the Executive Member for Finance at Manchester City Council on the proposals, “and this is why we’ve already introduced a range of measures to help people access food, advice and support.
“As part of this wider response, we want to go even further to help the poorest households in Manchester with their Council Tax, and that’s what these proposals are all about.
“We’re keen to hear your views on what we’re suggesting before we make a final decision.”