Aditya Chakrabortty presents a singular version of Manchester city council’s role in reviving the postindustrial basket case of east Manchester (How a great English city sold itself to Abu Dhabi’s elite – and not even for a good price, 21 July). In the late 1990s, the council began a major regeneration project following residents’ demands to improve their blighted area. Residents participated in the reforms, which improved the community’s health and wellbeing. Improvements included rehousing projects, work support schemes and community sports facilities.
In the post-2010 austerity years, the financial taps were turned off and regeneration curtailed. It was in this context that the council negotiated the deal that Chakraborty understandably condemns. It was not a satisfactory substitute for the initiative advanced by public funding and managed by local government. Yet this should not lead to the sterile conclusion that political action can’t arrest the decline of deprived areas. We develop this case in a forthcoming book on city-region mayoral combined authorities.
Prof Georgina Blakeley
Prof Brendan Evans
University of Huddersfield