Event Report: Corridor of Power?

Manchester’s “Oxford Road Corridor” came under an academic spotlight today at the University of Manchester (on Oxford Road). “Corridor” is, in its own words, “the first partnership of its kind in the UK. It brings together Manchester City Council, the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to build on the partners’ investments in the 243 hectare area running south from St Peter’s Square to Whitworth Park along Oxford Road, Manchester…”(2)

Give it to me straight, Doc
Drs James Evans and Andy Karvonen have been looking at cities that are proclaiming themselves as “laboratories” for generating useful information for climate change action. (1) Speaking at an academic seminar entitled “Transforming Manchester,” Dr Evans (who did the presentation solo) started by pointing out that the 21st century will be urban; as of 2008, more people live in towns and cities than not, with the raw numbers expected to double in 30 years. Cities will be (directly) affected by flooding, disease and heat waves. At the same time, they are also regarded as sites of innovation. (Examples include Baltimore, Phoenix, Songdo in South Korea, Masdar, Zaragoza etc. (No-one speaks of remarkable Dongtan.)

This is where Corridor – pretty much consisting of the Universities, the Hospitals and various cultural outfits, comes in. Apparently it generates approximately 22% of the wealth of Manchester (though these figures are, imho, always rubbery). As part of the Low Carbon Economic Area for the Built Environment, there could/should be loads of moolah (£1.5bn!?) invested in this “key growth pole.”

i-Trees, you Trees, we all must be out of our flaming trees if we think this is calling anyone to action
So, there’s all sorts of schemes for micro-measuring environmental impacts and generating “useful information.” MCFly’s favourite slide in the presentation came in here – a Manchester City Council figure is quoted on the subject of the risk involved; “An awful lot of money has gone down the drain trying to set up pilot schemes that weren’t that successful. It’s the price you pay for chasing an innovation approach? Is Corridor Manchester going to save the world? Not sure.”

So, asked Dr Evans, “is this a novel form of innovation or just another public/private partnership?” Probably a bit of both, he answered. It’s more than just PPP, “because of the formal element of learning built in.” And, as he concluded, what kind of ‘knowledge outputs’ are used by whom to do what are still questions to be answered…

Redemption Song
As are the questions we sent to Corridor Manchester before Christmas that they never got back to us about – questions around what they achieved in 2011, what was challenging and what their plans are for 2012. To the PR flak who is doubtless reading this post at some point in the weeks following publication – it’s not too late to redeem yourself!

Fringe event
There are always fringe benefits at these events – not just the schmoozing and wine and olives – but the scurrilous gossip and unvarnished opinion that no-one dares publish in academic journals. Fr’instance, today MCFly jotted down all the hilarious but sadly unprintable stories (the libel lawyers would have us strung – or stringered – up) about the 1994 Global Forum. This, as older readers may recall, was Manchester’s winning entry, against stiff opposition, in the contest for “the most underfunded and counter-productive international summit of the 1990s.”

Marc Hudson

(1) See their excellent chapter “Living Laboratories for Sustainability: Exploring the Politics and Epistemology of Urban Transition” in the excellent and soon-to-be-reviewed-in-MCFly Cities and Low Carbon Transitions, ed. Harriet Bulkeley, Vanesa Castán Broto, Mike Hodson, and Simon Marvin, 126-141. London: Routledge, 2011.
(2) The Corridor “about page” continues in similar breathless vein – “the partnership is committed to generating further economic growth and investment in the knowledge economy for the benefit of the city region. Corridor Manchester is home to a wealth of knowledge intensive organisations and businesses. These operate in the areas of health – with particular concentrations of bio-medical, pharmaceuticals, clinical trials, medical devices and oncology related healthcare – education, creative industries, communications technologies, financial services and information communication technologies.”

Concepts worth pursuing

Experimental Governance Matthias Gross
Truth Spots
Public Ecology


About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in academia, Adaptation, Event reports, Manchester City Council and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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