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MANCHESTER CITY COUNCIL has been accused of selling out to despots and oligarchs by removing references to United Arab Emirates human rights abuses in a play commemorating the Peterloo Massacre.
The work, entitled From the Crowd, was commissioned by the council to commemorate the events of August 1819, when 18 protesters were murdered at the hands of the yeomanry.
The Sunday Times reported that it had seen a “before” and “after” script in which references to rights abuses and the UAE’s growing influence in Manchester were removed by council suggestion.
The council has long been criticised for its close relationship with the UAE after the authority struck a 2008 deal with the country’s leader Sheikh Mansour to establish Manchester Life, an initiative to gentrify east Manchester and expand Manchester City Football Club.
Now community groups have urged the council to distance themselves from the UAE and to take affirmative action on building new council houses for Mancunians.
Greater Manchester Housing Action spokesman Isaac Rose told the Star: “The censorship of activists commemorating our city’s radical past by the council is just another sorry episode in Manchester Council’s sellout of our city’s people to despots and oligarchs abroad.
“We call on the council to withdraw from its Manchester Life deal with the UAE and repurpose the vehicle into a local development company to build council housing again.”
A Manchester Momentum spokesman said: “This partnership is the selling-out of our public assets to a regime with an appalling human rights record in order to further gentrify our city with luxury flats.
“Even though this deal is done by our council, and sells out public land — there is no transparency, as council leaders rebuff freedom of information requests from campaigners.
“We call on the council to scrap the Manchester Life deal and turn it into a vehicle for the construction of council housing.”
The council told the Sunday Times: “Given the work was commissioned by the council, it was perfectly normal to have conversations with the creative director and perfectly reasonable to question whether the script’s perspective on a number of different elements was entirely fair and accurate.”
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