From Peter Okell MANCHESTER
PROPOSALS to abolish
Manchester's week-long holiday festival at Whitsun are seen by the city's Catholics as a possible threat to their annual "Whit Walk" procession through the city.
On Whit Monday, Manchester's Anglicans hold a procession which has been going on since 1801. Four days later, the Catholics hold their procession, a 119-year old tradition, on Whit Friday, a local holiday. On the intervening days, factories and businesses should open as usual, but Manchester businessmen say that the effect, on a working week, of having a holiday at either end, is one of "chaos and confusion".
The proposals to transfer the Whit Friday holiday to a more convenient date are contained in a report issued by the Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce, which sent a questionnaire to 1,600 firms in the city over an 18-month period. The report concluded that "firms would prefer generally to take two days holiday together in one long weekend".
The report refers to a plan, before the present Parliament, to fix Bank Holiday Monday as the second Sunday in lune, and says that, whenever the Monday holiday falls, the Friday holiday (and, therefore, the Catholic Whit Walk) should come before, and not after.
"Manchester has been the cairntry's foremost commercial centre outside London for many decades," says the report. "Is it necessary to have such confusion of interests in a modern city?"
It points out that on any particular working day in Whit Week, up to 30 per cent of Manchester firms are operating at reduced efficiency, that seven different Whitsun holiday arrangements operate in the vicinity of the city, and that massive traffic dislocation is caused throughout the area.
Parish priests in the Salford Diocese have condemned unanimously any suggestion that Whit Friday should be moved. They give as their reason the fact that for thousands of Catholics in Manchester and Salford. the procession is inseparable from Whit Friday. The Anglican clergy have agreed to assist any general rationalisation attempt "provided that all sections of the community agreed".
Assurances that the Junior Chamber of Commerce is not trying to put an end to the Whit Walks have been given by the Chamber's president, Mr. Alan Parker, a cotton magnate. "We are all in favour of them," he said. "All we want is to get an agreed holiday." The Chamber will now initiate discussions with Manchester Corporation and the transport authorities, with a view to obtaining a basis of agreement with the Churches.
Evidence Guild's seaside mission SOUTHWARK Catholic Evidence Guild is organising an Open-air Mission Week on the front at Brighton, June 23-30. Priests and lay speakers will address the crowds and answer questions on the Faith. All meetings will begin at 8 p.m. On the weekday evenings, they will be held between the two piers at the Fish Market. On the two Sundays they will be held on the Prom at the Brighton-Hove boundary.