This summer Manchester city council were planning to put an urban beach on the grass outside Urbis.
Anyone who knows Manchester will know that this would be right on top of the hundreds (really, hundreds) of teenage emos who come to hang around on a Saturday afternoon like a black clad Biblical hoard.
(Don’t let that sound like I’m sneering, I think they are a fantastic sight to behold – they’ve taken over a place and made it their own, and they don’t do any harm except wear out the grass (and the contrast to the official “euro pavement latte” image Urbis perhaps wants to project is enjoyable and instructive.))
This was played out on two Myspace pages, and, by the sound of some of the posts, some bad feeling in person.
In the end, the British summer put paid to the beach, but this blog post (whether true or hoax) gives a taste of the arguement:
"We received this in a mesage:
my dad works for Manchester Council, and he said that whatever petitions are going on or w/e, the beach is definately going ahead. Apparently part of the reason they're building it in the first place is to try and get rid of people making the Urbis area look untidy, drinking and basically just being nuisances on Urbis.
The council are basically just seeing it like "The people who sit on urbis don't own it, and they have no say in the matter". Work starts really soon i think." "
If nothing else, all this reminded me of how much of teenage life is spent hanging around, and that we all needed somewhere for that purpose.
And just to prove I haven’t quite recovered from my own Bonkers One Man Crusade:
it’s worth contrasting the activism of the Urbis Beach Battle with the spurious tosh peddled by the government’s e-petitions site. Which one seems more vital?