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A 2002 pride planning meeting was told that charging to enter public streets was unlawful

Minutes of a pride planning meeting that was held at Marketing Manchester in 2002

Campaigners have uncovered the minutes of a pride planning meeting that was held in November 2002. Read the full minutes here (PDF).

The meeting was told that two methods could be used to close the roads but that a charge could not be made to enter either way.

Despite this, the following August, the public were locked out from the streets of Manchester's gay village if they didn't purchase a wristband for Europride. That continued every year until 2014 when the campaign group Facts About Manchester Pride blew the whistle on the unlawful practice. The following April the Local Government Ombudsman ruled (PDF) and the game was up.

We have yet to find or hear any explanation about why they went ahead.

The method they went with was the second described in the document: a Temporary Traffic Restriction Order (TTRO) which allows the streets to be closed to vehicles for three days, once a year.

The key thing is that a TTRO only applies to vehicles, not pedestrians. However the City Council even mentioned wristbands in the Orders they drew up each year. In 2015 the Local Government Ombudsman ruled that this had been "unlawful."

Because Pride lasts for four days over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the Secretary of State has to give permission for an extension to the TTRO each year.

There were more shenanigans in 2018. The City Council didn't apply to the Secretary of State until the Friday Pride started. The Order was never approved and the roads were closed to traffic unlawfully for all, or some, of the four day event.

Present at the meeting in 2002 were representatives of Marketing Manchester, Manchester City Council, George House Trust, The Lesbian and Gay Foundation (now known as the LGBT Foundation), Greater Manchester Police and the organising team of Europride (which was renamed Manchester Pride in 2004).

Why was the advice, which seems to have come from the representative of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), ignored? Why didn't GMP stand up for the rights of the public and defend the law?

The misery these organisations and businesses inflicted on residents and some members of the LGBT community is hard to measure. For 12 years those who couldn't afford to buy a ticket or couldn't justify the cost were unlawfully locked out from the streets of the gay part of Manchester during a so-called "pride" event.

It's laughable for this same crowd and others who have ignored this since 2015 to bang on about Tories and Section 28 when this cruelty and mental anguish (and that is no exaggeration) was inflicted upon us by members of our own community and a (neoliberal) Labour council for years.

From 2011, the campaign group Facts About Manchester Pride raised concerns about what was going on and faced an onslaught of abuse. And still it isn't over, as many organisations, media outlets, politicians and public figures continue to stay silent about this.

In their untruthful back-to-front PR and fake news they talk about "inclusion" and the gay village being a "safe haven" when the complete opposite has been true for years. Recently Bloom Street was named as the joint 15th most crime-ridden street in England and Wales and an incredible 61 violent and sexual crimes were reported for the village area during June 2018.

Are these individuals really friends of ordinary LGBT people? Whose interests do they represent?

A treasure trove of documents. The background to this discovery

Some years ago G, one of our campaigners, asked Manchester City Council whether it still had the financial records for Mardi Gras 1999. The year when the event was run from the town hall, headed up by a couple of city councillors, and it raised nothing at all for charity. In fact there's a rumour that it made a loss which was quietly paid off by the Council...

However the City Council replied that the documents had been disposed of. It was within its rights to do that after so many years. Unknown to G, Julia Grant had asked the Council too and received the same response.

A few years later, P, another Facts campaigner, discovered a box at the library archives. Apparently deposited by someone who had a connection with the event. Inside were hundreds of documents spanning several years, including financial records from 1999 and the minutes of the meeting in November 2002.

We made copies in case that box disappears in the future too.

Mardi Gras Finance Report - discovered in a box of documents at the Library Archives

The documents provide a fascinating insight into the spending in 1999. One invoice to Mardi Gras is from the Manchester Evening News for a photograph of Councillor Pat Karney — the chair of the event. It's hard to believe the City Council couldn't provide a free photo of one of its own councillors so an extra £75 could go to HIV and AIDS good causes instead of to the MEN.

£1,221 was spent on the design of "16 Council pennants", £3,590.50 on catering for a civic reception, £718.38 on balloons and £21,600 on the rental of a video screen. When a rainbow flag flew from the town hall, most of us had no idea that £45 had been billed to Mardi Gras for the purchase of it. And so it continues.

This is why there was nothing for charity in the end.

Factsheet 2022/23

2022 factsheet Our 2022 Factsheet (PDF) about Manchester Pride is available (there won't be a new factsheet for 2023). Read about your right to access the Gay Village without buying a wristband, history & opinion .

Download the PDF version.

And here it is as two images (handy for sharing on social media): page 1 | page 2

Our factsheet from 2021 is still well-worth a look. It has four pages of facts, gossip and fun. Download it as a PDF here. See our factsheets page for other years.

Useful reading

The ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman in April 2015 (PDF). The Ombudsman decided that Manchester City Council had exceeded its powers by mentioning wristbands in a traffic order and that it was unlawful to restrict access to premises (businesses and homes).

Minutes of a meeting at Marketing Manchester in November 2002. These show that those present were told they couldn't charge people to enter public streets. However some of them went ahead and did so from 2003 onwards for a decade.

At the meeting were: Manchester City Council, GHT, the LGF (now known as the LGBT Foundation), Marketing Manchester, the organisers of Europride 2003. The advice seems to have come from the police. Yet the police apparently then turned a blind eye...

This document was unearthed at the Library Archives quite recently by a FactsMCR campaigner.

The media

Since the ruling by the Local Government Ombudsman in 2015 the media — both LGBT and mainstream — have stayed silent about the decade-long wristband fiddle and your rights. So some people continue to pay unnecessarily.

All your favourites know: GayStarNews, Pink News, Manchester Evening News, The Guardian, BBC and many more. In a letter to us, the BBC defended its journalist right not to report this. The same BBC that championed consumer rights at one time now prefers to cosy up to the civil-rights-infringing Manchester Pride, as a "sponsor" (the BBC says it doesn't give money).

These organisations don't need to lie. They simply ignore an issue completely. Or, they report some of the facts; perhaps popping in just one or two bits they don't like, to add a fake impression of balance. That's how they manipulate opinion in the direction they think it should go.

The veteran ITV reporter John Pilger says that "not reporting" is the most powerful form of censorship.

What else aren't they telling us?