Rochdale and Wigan named among 54 ‘priority places’ by Arts Council England

Arts Council England has named the Greater Manchester boroughs of Rochdale and Wigan among 54 priority places across the country where it wants to develop new opportunities for investment, collaboration and progress.

Unveiling a three-year delivery plan to implement the vision of its Let’s Create strategy, the national development agency for arts and culture said it would now work with the priority places identified to develop new opportunities for investment, both from the Arts Council itself and other partners.

The publication of the Delivery Plan follows the Government’s £1.96 billion Culture Recovery Fund, administered by the Arts Council and other bodies.

Home to key cultural organisations such as Touchstones and M6 Theatre, and well-established venues including Middleton Arena, Rochdale is an area where there is significant potential for arts and culture to thrive.

Building on its heritage as the home of the very first modern co-operative movement, Rochdale has ambitious plans to work with partners, artists and local communities to increase access to culture through new co-operative leadership, delivery and co-production models and to grow cultural opportunities locally.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Rochdale has received £1,137,509 investment from the Arts Council through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.



Councillor Neil Emmott, leader of Rochdale Borough Council said:

“This is more welcome news for the borough. We know how important creativity and culture are and I’m sure residents will appreciate this investment.

“There is hard work ahead, but with Arts Council support we are determined to do all we can to maximise the opportunity, bringing exciting events and projects across the borough and making our communities feel as engaged as possible.”

Wigan’s new Cultural Strategy, The Fire Within, demonstrates a significant ambition to maximise the benefits of culture and creativity to build upon the borough’s rich cultural history and sense of place.

Although currently an area of low cultural engagement and investment, it is home to the Turnpike Gallery, The Old Courts, Wigan Pier, the Royal Court Theatre and Haigh Hall.

It has the potential to continue the growth of the borough’s creative industries and increase opportunities for local communities to access a high-quality cultural offer.

Since the beginning of the pandemic Wigan has received £2,219,062 investment from the Arts Council through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.



Alison Mckenzie-Folan, Chief Executive of Wigan Council, said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity for Wigan and I am thrilled the Arts Council has identified our Borough as one to work closely with to increase cultural investment.

“We have already laid out ambitious goals for enhancing Wigan’s cultural offering through our Cultural Manifesto, The Fire Within, and a partnership with the Arts Council is really valuable in helping us reach those goals.

“Cultural experiences connect people, improve health and wellbeing and encourage visitors to come to our town centres and learn about our heritage. We hope to make Wigan one of the most exciting places in the country for the arts and culture sector.”

Find out more about the 54 priority places online at Arts Council England. Read more on the Delivery Plan in full online at Arts Council England.


Greater Manchester partners with global health company Novartis on pioneering cholesterol study

Community study builds on global sector strengths in health and social care innovation

Patients in Greater Manchester are taking part in a pioneering study as the NHS brings a new cholesterol-lowering injection into use, further emphasising the city-region’s strengths as a global centre for health and social care innovation.

The study is a collaboration between global health company Novartis, NHS England and Improvement, NorthWest EHealth, Health Innovation Manchester, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborative (ARC) Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester-based organisations are collaborating as part of a new study involving 900 patients testing the implementation in primary care of inclisiran, a new drug to reduce LDL cholesterol. Up to 20 GP practices in Salford and Manchester will participate in the trial.

Building on the city-region’s frontier sector strength in health and social care innovation, Greater Manchester’s industry partnership with Novartis follows the signing of a first-of-its-kind ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) between Health Innovation Manchester (HInM) and the pharmaceutical industry in 2017.

The MOU aimed to create an environment for collaboration between industry and healthcare in Greater Manchester to improve health, create a sustainable healthcare system, address challenges within the system and unlock the region’s economic potential.

High levels of LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol make people more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Inclisiran, a first-in-class small interfering RNA therapy, received a licence from the European Commission in December 2020 following the results of a robust clinical development program.

Inclisiran also gained NICE approval on 1 September 2021, recommending the drug for people with high cholesterol who have already had a previous cardiovascular event to reduce their LDL cholesterol, which is a key risk factor for them having another.

Trials showed that inclisiran lowers the level of the fatty and harmful substance called LDL cholesterol found in the blood by using RNA interference (RNAi) to boost the liver’s ability to remove it from the blood.

Inclisiran is part of the first NHS “population health agreement” between the NHS and Novartis to make the drug available to thousands of NHS patients and increase the treatment options available to patients to help control their cholesterol levels.

Chinmay Bhatt, Managing Director of Novartis UK, Ireland and Nordics and Country President UK, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to invest in and partner with Greater Manchester. Greater Manchester is in a prime position to collaborate, co-develop and accelerate innovative solutions to solve some of the city region’s more complex and chronic health needs.

“The study forms part of our broader population health management collaboration with NHS England and will provide valuable insights into the successful primary care implementation of inclisiran.”

Dr Tracey Vell, Clinical Director of Health Innovation Manchester, said:

“Health Innovation Manchester and the Greater Manchester system are delighted to be partnering on this study which will allow us to identify at risk groups digitally, and then deliver innovative long acting cholesterol lowering therapy alongside other holistic care objectives.

“This is pioneering in many ways, including researching a population health approach for new pharmaceuticals, delivering them immediately in a primary care setting and looking at integrated delivery models with NHS England and Improvement and Novartis as partners. Through this we are hoping to deliver better outcomes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease as well as care close to their home and community.”




140 mature trees to provide green lung at Mayfield Park

Diverse species to transform an area previously inhospitable to trees in a former industrial area awarded Government funding directed by GM LEP

A collection of 140 mature trees of 43 different species have arrived in the UK ahead of being moved to their forever home at Manchester’s new Mayfield Park, the city centre’s first new park in 100 years.

The diverse species, including eye-catching, 12-metre tall Austrian Black Pines, will help to create a stunning, biodiverse natural landscape in an area of the city where few trees have ever been grown before.

As the epicentre of the textiles industry during the industrial revolution, the high levels of pollution from coal-burning cotton mills and workers’ homes at Mayfield meant the area was inhospitable to trees. Now, in a major step forward for green space in Manchester, Mayfield will be home to both UK native and non-native trees procured by the Mayfield Partnership from across Europe.

Mayfield Park was one of seven projects in Greater Manchester to receive a share of £54.2m from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund.

Projects were chosen that would support the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy agreed with Government by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and GM LEP in 2019.

The Government pledged £23m of investment from its Getting Building Fund – one of the largest investments in any single project – to Mayfield Park.

The trees are currently being nurtured by local experts at Specimen Trees in Knutsford, Cheshire before being relocated to Mayfield in late autumn as part of a massive planting operation that will also introduce around 120,000 plants and bulbs of 250 different species to the Park.

When it opens to the public in autumn 2022, the Mayfield Park will feature open lawns, riverside walkways, three new bridges over the River Medlock, play areas and a variety of seating options, ensuring all members of the community have spaces they can visit and enjoy.

Arlene van Bosch, Mayfield Development Director at developer U+I, said:

“The arrival of the trees in the UK is such an exciting milestone for the creation of Mayfield Park. After many months of excavations, ground works and efforts to bring Mayfield’s hidden river back into view, we can’t wait to introduce these mature trees to their new home, alongside the thousands of wildflowers and plants that will bring the park to life as a vibrant, stimulating, sustainable and safe space for people to enjoy.

“We are thrilled to have been able to procure such an interesting and diverse collection of species to populate an area where few trees have ever grown before, turning what was once a hotbed of pollution into a ‘green lung’ for the city.”

Mayfield Park will be home to a variety of sizes of tree, ranging from three metres to upwards of 12 metres. Among the diverse collection of trees being brought to Manchester are the Quercus Rubra, or the Northern Red Oak, Slyphnolobium Japonicum, or Japanese pagoda tree and the Metasequoia Glyptostroboides, or the dawn redwood, which currently has endangered status.

Trees such as the Carpinus Betulus, or European Hornbeam, which are renowned for their climbing form, will be planted tactfully throughout the development to encourage people to engage with nature along the newly-uncovered River Medlock, which meanders through the heart of Mayfield.

The trees have been carefully selected by landscape architect Studio Egret West (SEW) working closely with Manchester City Council, the Environment Agency and the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit.

Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment for Manchester City Council, said:

“Mayfield Park will be a fantastic green addition to the city centre and help contribute to our policy of planting thousands of new trees across the city.

“As well as looking great, they help improve air quality, reduce flood risk and counter the effects of climate change by absorbing and storing carbon. Trees have an important role to play which is why we have launched the £1m Tree Action MCR planting programme.”

Duncan Paybody Associate Director & Landscape Architect at SEW, said:

“Trees are a crucial feature of the park design. We have chosen a variety of native and non-natives as we think it’s important that the first park of its kind in the city centre should provide a botanical collection to enlighten people’s knowledge and awareness of tree species.

“Climate resilience has also influenced our choices so species such as Catalpas and Gledistisas represent trees tolerant of slightly warmer climates.

“We have planned for time. Seasonal autumn leaf colour, spring and summer blossoms will signal different times of the year while long-lived species such as Metasequoia and red oaks will continue to grow and provide impressive scale for future generations.”

The new park is being created by the Mayfield Partnership, a public-private venture comprising regeneration specialist U+I, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and developer LCR.

Overall, the Mayfield regeneration scheme – one of the largest in the UK at 24-acres – is set to transform a gateway brownfield site next to the city’s mainline Piccadilly Station, into a stunning mixed used neighbourhood, delivering 1,500 homes, 1.6m sq ft of market-leading commercial space and 300,000 sq ft of retail and leisure facilities.

In 2020, the UK Government pledged £23m of investment from its Getting Building Fund – one of the largest investments in any single project – to Mayfield Park.  This investment, delivered through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, is part of the Government’s strategy to support ‘shovel ready’ schemes that will help to drive economic recovery following the COVID-19 crisis.

Specimen Trees of Knutsford are supplying mature trees for the Mayfield Garden, pictured Mike Evans from Specimen Trees

Global guide Time Out ranks Manchester as world’s third greatest city

Global guide Time Out has ranked Manchester at third place among the world’s greatest cities, acknowledging its resilience and achievements during the pandemic.

Manchester sits behind only first-place San Francisco and runner-up Amsterdam in Time Out’s list of the 37 best cities in the world in 2021.

Alongside questions about food and culture, Time Out’s poll of 27,000 city-dwellers sought opinions on factors core to the resilience of major cities during the pandemic and beyond, including community projects, green space and sustainability.

The publication states that it was interested in “not only thinking about the now, but also the future”.

Time Out’s poll mirrors many of the themes at the heart of the Greater Manchester Economic Vision, which outlines how Greater Manchester is now poised to lead UK economic recovery with a plan for innovation, green growth and addressing inequalities.

In an article for Time Out, Mayor of Greater Manchester and GM LEP board member Andy Burnham, explained why he thinks Manchester is the greatest city in the UK, emphasising the city’s sense of community, engagement with the Black Lives Matter movement, support for the homeless, music, and its response to the pandemic.


Lou Cordwell, Chair of GM LEP, said:

“The people and culture of Greater Manchester are among its greatest assets and it’s fantastic that they are at the heart of TimeOut’s decision to rank Manchester in third place among the world’s greatest cities.

“This honour means that many more people will now be made aware that Greater Manchester is a brilliant place to live, visit and invest, supporting us in achieving the ambitions at the heart of the Greater Manchester Economic Vision.”

Cllr Elise Wilson, GM LEP vice chair and GMCA economy portfolio lead, said:

“A top three ranking among TimeOut’s greatest cities in the world is a hugely significant achievement for Greater Manchester, reflecting the characteristics which make it such an incredible place to live, work, study and invest.

“TimeOut’s research acknowledges the resilience, culture and sense of community which have been evident throughout the pandemic and during other challenging moments in our recent history. These strengths are core within the Economic Vision for Greater Manchester, which seeks to ensure that no-one will be left behind as we tackle inequalities and build a fairer and greener economy.”


Mike Blackburn, GM LEP board member and Chair of Marketing Manchester, said:

“It’s incredibly exciting that Time Out has recognised Greater Manchester’s strengths as a region of culture, creativity and resilience, ranking Manchester in third place among the world’s greatest cities.

“The pandemic has presented incredible challenges, particularly for the tourism and hospitality sector. With the economy now reopen, we cannot wait to welcome people from across the world as they discover the city-region for themselves.”

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said:

“We’re delighted that Time Out has recognised Manchester as the third best city in the world to visit in 2021. There has never been a better time to come and explore the city, with a host of exciting new attractions, hotels, and dining options recently opened, alongside a programme of world-class cultural and sporting events taking place throughout the year.

“Like many destinations globally, Greater Manchester has felt the devastating effects of Covid-19, however, we are now in a strong position for recovery, with our top 21 things you can do in 2021 to look forward to, including new outdoor experiences, rich new cultural developments, refreshed and refurbished hotels; all of which expand on Greater Manchester’s already vibrant visitor offer – we are excited to welcome visitors back to offer our famous Mancunian hospitality.”

GCHQ and HOST launch ground-breaking innovation programme to help North West businesses develop cutting-edge technologies

GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and cyber agency, is looking for five ambitious businesses to join its pioneering innovation programme to apply trailblazing technologies to national security challenges.

The GCHQ Innovation Co-Lab, developed in partnership with HOST, the Home of Skills & Technology, based in Media City, Salford, is aimed at UK-based digital companies or a consortium of companies with innovative approaches to technology and analytics, or a vision to reach alternative markets for their products or service.

Businesses can apply to take part in specific challenges as part of the Co-Lab. These include:

  • Dealing with uncertainty: Products and services which utilise open-source information to help people make sense of current events and plan for the future; and
  • Re-imagining morse code: Technology that will help improve automated translation and transcriptions, supported by advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning – re-thinking traditional morse code technology for the future.

Another challenge is a wild card option, where businesses will have the rare opportunity to showcase to GCHQ an innovative and unique approach to technology that helps shape the future for the better.

While applications are open to all, they are particularly welcome from entrepreneurs in the North West, who are from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Kate, GCHQ, Head of Research and Engineering in Manchester, said:

“We’re excited to be collaborating with the thriving technology ecosystem in Greater Manchester, connecting diverse entrepreneurs and creative technologists with the mission of GCHQ to bring fresh perspectives to our challenges.” 

Mo Isap, CEO of IN4.0 Group, operator of HOST, said:

“As a dedicated innovation partner of GCHQ, we are privileged to continue to support founders with this specialist programme, ensuring innovation is inclusive and accessible for businesses and individuals across the region and the UK.

“The Co-Lab offers emerging technology businesses access to technologists and innovators from GCHQ as well as valuable innovation and business growth support from the HOST community and its industry partners.”

The programme will be delivered in a hybrid style, both in-person and virtually over five months with companies benefitting from collaboration with technologists and innovators from GCHQ and invaluable mentoring from innovation hub HOST and its investor networks.

This follows two previously successful innovation programmes that involved participants such as Bellrock Technology, which was included in the G-Cloud 12 framework as a data analytics supplier for the UK government. As well as Journey Protector, a developer of technology that helps prevent cargo theft and human trafficking in the logistics industry, led by CEO Anne Lawlor, which has secured significant funding since completing the programme.

Cyber security is among the strengths of Greater Manchester’s fast-growing £5bn digital ecosystem, influencing GCHQ’s decision to open a base in Manchester city centre.

The Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy and Economic Vision include plans to build on Greater Manchester’s position as a leading European digital city-region, building assets in cyber security and other sub-sectors of the digital economy.

The deadline for applications is 13 September, with successful applicants being announced by the end of October, and the programme beginning in November. For further information, visit:

This programme does not offer a specific solution or product validation, or cyber security solution expertise or validation. We encourage applications to the NCSC-led NCSC for Startups for companies looking to gain traction in the cyber security sector or seeking cyber security expertise.




Plans for Manchester’s first hydrogen fuel hub moving forward

Planning application submitted by Trafford Green Hydrogen  

Plans for Greater Manchester’s first low-carbon hydrogen fuel hub have moved a step closer with the submission of a planning application for the hub at the Trafford Low Carbon Energy Park, which is being developed by Carlton Power subsidiary, Trafford Green Hydrogen Ltd.

The pioneering scheme, announced in March 2021 and set to be one of the largest in the UK to be developed, will provide businesses in the Greater Manchester region – for example, those with transport fleets or with heating requirements – with easy access to hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen is expected to play a major part in reducing the UK’s CO2 emissions, helping the country’s journey towards Net-Zero.

In the commercial transport sector, government support for hydrogen fuel is expected to make it easier for transport fleet operators to make the switch from diesel.

The proposed 200MW commercial hydrogen hub at Trafford Park is being brought forward following the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between Carlton Power and local stakeholders, comprising Manchester Metropolitan University, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Trafford Council, Cadent Gas and Electricity North West.

The planning application, made by Trafford Green Hydrogen Ltd, coincides with the upcoming publication of the UK’s Government’s Hydrogen Strategy. The Trafford Green Hydrogen project is Carlton Power’s first hydrogen scheme and it has plans to develop as many as 10 other similar projects in the UK over the next 2-5 years.

Subject to the outcome of the planning process and financing, the construction of the hydrogen hub at the Trafford Low Carbon Energy Park will start early next year and enter commercial operation in 2023. The proposed hydrogen hub facility will produce and store hydrogen at scale and help integrate renewable energy on a regional scale through the storage of solar and wind energy. It will be located next to one of Europe’s largest energy storage facilities based on liquid air storage: the 250MWh Carlton Highview Power project (announced in June 2020).

Keith Clarke, Chief Executive of Carlton Power, said:

“The hydrogen hub is an important component of our Trafford Low Carbon Energy Park. Trafford Park is set to become an exemplar of clean energy technologies being put to commercial use, placing Greater Manchester at the forefront of the green revolution and the UK’s energy transition.”

The planning application will be determined by Trafford Council, the local planning authority. Further information can be found at