Manchester Pride parade in 2011. | Photo: Wiki
Manchester Pride festival is being forced out of its Canal Street location in a bid to make way for private development.
The four-day event, which will take place from 24 to 27 August this year, has been around for more than 25 years. Over this time, it has traditionally taken place only in Manchester’s historical LGBTI village around Canal Street.
The committee has confirmed its annual August bank holiday festival will go ahead in 2019. However, it will look different from previous years.
Property developments in the area, in fact, mean there won’t be the space to deliver the usual celebration. Those include a substantial risk of development on the Sackville Street car park which currently houses the main stage.
The new location for Manchester Pride
‘There has been speculation about the developments in the Portland Street and gay village area for some time,’ said Manchester Pride’s chief executive, Mark Fletcher.
He confirmed ‘a number of developments are now underway in spaces that were previously used for event infrastructure’.
‘It’s becoming increasingly difficult to plan and deliver The Big Weekend in a space that is decreasing in size. Next year there will be more developments taking shape that will further reduce the space available for us to deliver a safe event to the current scale.’
Manchester City Council reassured Pride-goers.
‘We’ll be sitting down with the team at Manchester Pride to see how the city council can help in the planning for the future of the festival,’ Manchester City Councilor Pat Karney said.
‘We are very proud of what Pride brings to the city and we intend to offer maximum support.’
This ‘will rip the heart out of Manchester’
The leader of the opposition on Manchester City Council John Leech said the plans might ‘rip the heart out of Manchester’. Leech is also the LGBTI rights campaigner who led the successful initiative to pardon Alan Turing.
A few weeks away from the festival, recommendations for four sites have been approved by Manchester Council, meaning the annual festival will be ousted from its world-famous Canal Street venues next year.
The Liberal Democrat opposition has slammed the Labour group for being in ‘complete confusion’ over the plans. Lib Dem said plans are vague and lack any clarity on finding a solution to rehome the festival.
‘Manchester provided a home and a sanctuary for the oppressed to express their love, and begin their long fight for equal rights,’ Leech said.
‘Removing this international celebration from its home will rip the heart out of Manchester.’
He also highlighted the decision didn’t take into account local businesses. Particularly, removing the main Pride stage from Canal Street will have an impact on independent traders.
‘Labour have not properly consulted local people at any stage of this process. They have disregarded the views of those that have raised concerns and are themselves in complete confusion, unable to guarantee any firm home for the festival next year just weeks before this year’s is due to begin.’
He urged the council to think of a feasible solution.
‘They must halt these greedy plans until they come up with something concrete they can propose to the community.’
Manchester Pride will provide an opportunity for the city’s LGBTI people to have their say on the 2019 festival. Head to manchesterpride.com/haveyoursay to register your interest in the next Listening Group in October.