Once Seen, Seldom Ventured: 2. The National Centre for Popular Music, Sheffield

A Silver Timpani Based White Elephant

Sheffield has a proud musical heritage. From Joe Cocker to Jarvis Cocker, and Cabaret Voltaire to the Human League, it, along with Manchester and Liverpool would have been good places for a musical archive of some description. Whereas Liverpool and Manchester is world famous for its popular culture, few people outside of Northern England may be familiar with the Sheffield scene. Continue reading “Once Seen, Seldom Ventured: 2. The National Centre for Popular Music, Sheffield”

They Believe in Cheaper Fares and Free WiFi!

First Greater Manchester cuts day saver tickets and introduces free WiFi on trunk routes

Volvo B5HL hybrid, First Greater Manchester BN61 MWE, Church Street, Manchester
First, hybrid buses and a cross-city route. Now, free WiFi and cheaper tickets… First Greater Manchester seem to be upping their ante, given competition between other bus operators and the Metrolink.

After the 08 April, the price of travelling in North Manchester by bus could be cheaper for some passengers. First Greater Manchester, the biggest operator in North Manchester, Salford, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, and Tameside, is set to reduce the price of their day saver tickets. Continue reading “They Believe in Cheaper Fares and Free WiFi!”

Farewell Quay Street, Hello MediaCityUK: Homage to Granadaland

Historical link with Granadaland broken next week

Awaiting new occupants: Ralph Tubbs' iconic Granada Television studios.
Awaiting new occupants: Ralph Tubbs’ iconic Granada Television studios. Photographed in 2005 when the red illuminated sign remained in situ.

Each time I returned home by train from deepest Lancashire, particularly during the long winter nights, there was always one thing which meant ‘I was on my way home’. Continue reading “Farewell Quay Street, Hello MediaCityUK: Homage to Granadaland”

Praise For Bus Routes By Greater Manchester Bus Users

Survey sees 84% satisfaction, though room for improvement is required

Solo SR hybrid interior view
The last year has seen some improvement in the quality of rolling stock on Greater Manchester’s buses, some of which reflected in the latest Passenger Focus survey. Seen here is the interior of an electric hybrid Solo SR, owned by Transport for Greater Manchester and operated by First Pioneer on the 41 route from Dukinfield [Tennyson Avenue] to Ashton-under-Lyne and Crowhill estate.
Out of a survey conducted by Passenger Focus involving 664 bus users in the Transport for Greater Manchester area, 84% of them were either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘fairly satisfied’ with their journeys. Though the figures may be encouraging for TfGM and Greater Manchester’s bus operators, there is still room for improvement, particularly in customer service and value for money. The average satisfaction rate among PTE areas is 85%, with TfGM boundary bus users amassing a slightly lower than average score. Continue reading “Praise For Bus Routes By Greater Manchester Bus Users”

East of the M60’s Budget Statement: The Same Old Scene

Recession broods on, the downturn’s not over

  • Beer tax escalator scrapped with 1p cut in duty;
  • Frackers free to turn Blackpool into The Earthquake Capital of Europe;
  • Public sector’s 1% pay cap to continue till 2016;
  • Corporation Tax rate to reach same rate as present VAT rate by 2015;
  • Sweet Francis Adams for everyone else.

In the run-up to the 2010 General Election, a spoof poster campaign by Labour’s activists resulted in one poster being inspired by the Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes. It showed a picture of David Cameron posing as Gene Hunt atop an Audi Quattro. The poster cajoled voters into preventing a return to the 1980s. A decade which saw high inflation, great inequality, marginalisation of Northern England and the Celtic Nations, and of course, deindustrialisation. Continue reading “East of the M60’s Budget Statement: The Same Old Scene”

Tameside Bus Changes, April 2013: One Flew Over the Bluebird’s Nest

Operation revisions order of the day and a boost for the New Mills Town Service

Dennis Dart SLF, Stagecoach Manchester X744 JCS, Oldham bus station
A sizeable number of former Bluebird Bus and Coach routes acquired by Stagecoach Manchester will be changing hands after the 07 April. This service will be operated in its entirety by Manchester Community Transport, who have made significant gains in the Oldham and Tameside areas.

As expected, a great many of the changes entail Stagecoach Manchester’s former Bluebird Bus and Coach routes. The bulk of which will be its subsidised routes, some of which on about to acquire their fourth operator in the space of 15 months. Continue reading “Tameside Bus Changes, April 2013: One Flew Over the Bluebird’s Nest”

(Are These Towns) Turning Into Ghost Towns?

Rochdale, Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne on Town Centres’ Red List

Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne
Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne: one of Tameside’s noted landmarks.

Ashton-under-Lyne, Oldham and Rochdale have a number of things in common. A popular yet frequent and arduous bus route [409] links the three places. All three centres will benefit from the Metrolink by next year, share a local FM radio station, and have a proud industrial heritage. Continue reading “(Are These Towns) Turning Into Ghost Towns?”

Film Review: The Spirit of ’45

East of the M60 what is on probably one of the most important film releases of 2013

  • Dogwoof Productions/Film 4/Channel Four Corporation (94 minutes, Black and White/Colour, ‘U’ certificate);
  • Directed by Ken Loach.

Squalor, Ignorance, Want, Idleness, Disease: five words which the Liberal Lord Beveridge wanted to eradicate forever after the extreme poverty leading up to World War Two. Today, the party which his successors are in, are colluding with the Conservatives to revive Beveridge’s Five Giant Evils. ‘Squalor’ could refer to the inadequate accommodation people may be force to endure to avert the Bedroom Tax; ‘Ignorance’ could be expressed by the dominance of a Tory sycophantic press. Continue reading “Film Review: The Spirit of ’45”

Cuts Scene Investigation: The Bedroom Tax Explained

A plain English guide on how the Bedroom Tax ‘works’

Wellington Parade, Dukinfield
Tenants in Housing Association and former municipal housing stock claiming Housing Benefit will be hit by the bedroom tax. Seen here is the southern end of Wellington Parade, which runs through the middle of Dukinfield Central housing estate.

From Easter Monday [01 April] this year, there will be fundamental changes made to Housing Benefit. Tenants in social housing will be deducted 14% or 25% from their Housing Benefit if they have one or more spare bedrooms. Dubbed as the ‘Bedroom Tax’, this would not only hit tenants in the pocket, but also in other ways, such as their right to affordable housing or stable family life. In a nutshell, the Bedroom Tax is a Mansion Tax for the poor! Continue reading “Cuts Scene Investigation: The Bedroom Tax Explained”

Top Beer: 2. Thornbridge Brewery’s Jaipur

Top Beer on Thornbridge’s strong India Pale Ale

Until recently, Bakewell was famous for two things: its puddings and its open market. In the last decade, ale has become the Derbyshire market town’s other export, thanks to Thornbridge Brewery. The company has ten regular cask ales including the one featured here. A further twelve bottled ales form part of their portfolio, and they’ve even upset some of the traditionalists with a dozen keg beers. Continue reading “Top Beer: 2. Thornbridge Brewery’s Jaipur”