Here’s a fact you probably weren’t expecting to read today – the scaffolding that’s been covering an office block on Newton Street is celebrating its 16th birthday.
Maybe ‘birthday’ isn’t really the right word, but that’s besides the point.
Whether you can believe it or not, the wrap-around scaffolding that was erected all the way back in 2005 to support a multi-storey building that houses office facilities on the corner of Newton Street and Piccadilly in the heart of the Northern Quarter, has now been a mainstay of the city centre for over 16 years.
Manchester is a city that is ever-changing, with more developments, construction works and improvements happening at any given time than we can usually count on one hand, so it’s fair to say that the sight of scaffolding isn’t uncommon.
But it’s hard for 16 years to go unnoticed.
In this case, it is uncommon for scaffolding to still be standing well over a decade after its initial installation, so what’s going on here then?
Well surprisingly, given how long it’s been there, not a great deal is known about the nature of the scaffolding other than the fact it was installed by the building’s owners, Eastern Green Ltd, back in 2005 after being instructed to do so by Manchester City Council.
Owners were told to install the scaffolding because the building was deemed to be unsafe and a threat to the public.
“The scaffold is ongoing and is providing stability to the building,” a spokesperson for the company confirmed in such few words to the MEN back in 2016.
Over its 16 year residency in the Northern Quarter, attempts to make the scaffolding part of the furniture have seen countless billboard advertisements of various sizes plastered over the side of the building, but instead of distracting from the issue, you could argue it makes the presence of the scaffolding more noticeable.
That’s probably part of the reason why so many Mancunians have branded it an “eyesore”.
Luckily, it’s not set to be an eyesore for much longer though as it was confirmed back in November 2020 that a £27 million luxury four-star hotel backed by former Manchester United player and football megastar Cristiano Ronaldo has been given the go ahead to take over the site by city planners.
The 151-room hotel that will “further diversify Manchester’s vibrant hospitality and tourism offer” will be part of the CR7 brand when it opens in 2023, and the current “unsafe” building as it stands, will be demolished.
Although work is yet to begin on the hotel’s construction, one thing we do know is that the scaffolding’s sweet 16th birthday could very well be its last.
It’s a stretch, but after all this time, maybe we’ll miss it when it’s gone?
Featured Image – Google Maps
‘Significant risk’ of UK gas shortages this winter, regulator warns
Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the UK faces a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter.
According to reports in The Times, the regulator has unveiled concerns that the country could face blackouts over the coming months thanks to an undersupply of gas to Europe caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Warning that a “gas supply emergency” could be looming ahead, the energy regulator has said that some gas-fired power plants could see their supplies cut off, which in turn would stop generators from producing electricity.
The alert comes just days before an expected update from the National Grid on the likelihood of countrywide power cuts this winter.
Responsing to arequest from SSE, which owns several gas power stations, Ofgem outlined what is set to be a huge issue of concern given that the UK relies on large gas plants to produce the biggest share of its electricity supply.
The regulator also pointed to rules that could see power plants penalised as a result of shortages, warning of a worst-case scenario that would see the “potential insolvency of gas-fired generators” caused by rules that require plants to pay huge charges if they fail to deliver on promised quotas.
Adding that the issue must be addressed to prevent a “significant impact on the safety and security of the electricity and/or gas systems”, the regulator echoed concerns now widespread in Europe as its comments followed a similar statement made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this morning.
Europeans are already being told they must lower their thermostats and boilers in preparation in case gas supplies are cut off, with Paris-based agency IEA warning today that the EU must focus on getting underground gas reserve levels to 90% of capacity in case of a complete Russian supply shut-off.
Preparation are already being made in Europe with the German government having approved a set of energy-saving measures for the winter to limit use in public buildings. In France, meanwhile, companies have already been warned they may face energy rationing this winter.
Whilst the UK government is yet to announce any energey saving measures, Ofgem has said that it expect s“this winter to be more challenging than last year” and that it is taking “reasonable regulatory steps to mitigate and reduce the risks”.