The ‘trendy’ Manchester neighbourhood that could start losing people to Didsbury and Withington

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“While we’ve lived here it’s been improving, but a lot of those places have now shut.”

Maria White has to raise her voice to be heard above the constant hum of traffic and car horns on Stockport Road in Levenshulme.

As a lone cyclist weaves between the parked cars and traffic, 44-year-old Maria shares how she’s sad that the road feels so dangerous to use. It’s one of the reasons she and her husband Tim White, 55, are moving to Denmark in a few weeks – Maria’s homeland.

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The couple live in Levenshulme and have seen it transformed into an up-and-coming neighbourhood over the years. The area is one which has become known for its trendy cafes, with places such as Station South attracting custom from the area and beyond. But it’s not a place the couple feel they can settle down.

Maria White and Tim White, residents in Levenshulme who will soon be leaving the areaMaria White and Tim White, residents in Levenshulme who will soon be leaving the area
Maria White and Tim White, residents in Levenshulme who will soon be leaving the area | LDRS

Maria said: “While we’ve lived here it’s been improving, but a lot of those places have now shut. People might start living here but going to Didsbury or Withington for food, we need more restaurants around.

“Another issue is that no one wants cyclists here. I want to cycle more but this area doesn’t feel safe for it. People around here don’t have a great feeling at the moment. It’s something negative passed from parents to children, you can feel it.”

With the general election approaching, the neighbourhood will become part of the newly-formed Gorton and Denton seat. Maria and Tim said that while the area has gotten better, some issues have been constant.

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“People worry about kids on their bikes, and teenagers”, Tim says. “They wear balaclavas and can be intimidating, we see a lot of them. There’s not much for them to do so that’s where they end up. I do see the police doing stuff about it, but I just don’t think there’s enough of them, everything’s been cut.”

Street art in Levenshulme Street art in Levenshulme
Street art in Levenshulme | LDRS

Maria jumps in to say that the closure of Levenshulme Market has had an impact on the community. The couple used to visit often and bump into neighbours and friends, but that doesn’t happen anymore.

She said: “It just feels like politicians don’t care about the people that live here. If they gave the businesses a chance to do well they will, but many of them can’t now.”

Across the road Ali Shah Malik, 40, is a shopkeeper who has lived in the area for the last four years. He opened his business in Levenshulme recently because of the footfall, but rising rent prices are making it difficult for him to get by. He’s worried he’ll soon be priced out of the area as landlords keep hiking prices. It’s an issue which he says is having a big impact on the whole community.

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“People are really in trouble around here, especially students and young people,” he said. “Many people come to me in my shop asking for a job. One boy called me at 11pm one evening, I don’t know how he got my number. He said he has no food to eat.

Ali Shah Malik, 40, is a shopkeeper who has lived in the area for the last four years.Ali Shah Malik, 40, is a shopkeeper who has lived in the area for the last four years.
Ali Shah Malik, 40, is a shopkeeper who has lived in the area for the last four years. | LDRS

“He only had 31p in his bank account, he showed me the statements. This is happening every day, it’s many people. Sometimes, six or seven people come to ask for a job in a day.”

Mr Malik is a Labour member and plans to vote for the party in the general election. He brought up the issue of Gaza. He thinks it will have an impact on the outcome.

“People come here every week protesting about Gaza,” he added. “I think people from the Muslim community are all thinking about Gaza now. They will have this on their mind when they go to vote.”

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Since George Galloway won the Rochdale by-election in February and declared his victory ‘for Gaza’, the issue has taken hold of politics across the country. His Workers Party of Britain is aiming to win more seats in Parliament on July 4, and the Palestine flags draped around some of the shops on Stockport Road show the issue is an important one to voters.

Elaine Brass, a resident in Levenshulme.Elaine Brass, a resident in Levenshulme.
Elaine Brass, a resident in Levenshulme. | LDRS

Outside Levenshulme Antiques Village, 55-year-old Elaine Brass is walking her dog. As people pass they stop to say hello and give the dog a stroke. “People are really nice around here”, Ms Brass says.

She’s from the area and has a great knowledge of which cafes are worth visiting. But as the standstill traffic creeps past, she says the area needs more spaces for people rather than vehicles if it is going to improve in future, and keep hold of the nice places bringing people to the neighbourhood.

“I think it could have more areas without cars, a pedestrian space,” she said. “They could do something about rubbish too. There could be more types of shops, ones that we can go in and have a mooch about and buy something there. But we do have some trendy places, we are really lucky to have them – I just hope they don’t go.”

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