Eton College Entrance

How COVID-19 was a Foil for Gerrymandering our ‘A’ Level Grades

Algorithm used to favour Eton over Eltham, Harrow over Harlow, and Millfield over Middleton

If you wish to better yourself, I urge you not to be Northern, working-class, nor a former pupil of a bog-standard comprehensive or academy in an impoverished area. That it seems is the message we are getting from this year’s ‘A’ Level results. A staggering 40% of results were downgraded from the teachers’ predictions at each College of Further Education and Sixth Form Department.

Continue reading “How COVID-19 was a Foil for Gerrymandering our ‘A’ Level Grades”

“The Next Train Will Not Be Calling At Un-Fairfield Station…”

Outrage as staffing issues sees cessation of train services at Tameside railway station

Prior to seeing its franchise being taken over by the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort, Arriva’s Northern operation was noted for its staffing issues. Tameside’s rail passengers were at the sharpest end of Arriva’s staffing issues, as Stalybridge to Manchester Victoria trains were cancelled and replaced by buses.

Continue reading ““The Next Train Will Not Be Calling At Un-Fairfield Station…””
Winter Hill Masts

TV Licences: Another Tory Promise Down the Tubes

Non-means tested free TV licence plan for over-75s binned

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Anyone with half a brain would know that a Conservative Party election promise has the longevity of a Primark suit. As we age, our brain power begins to wane unless we exercise our mind with sudokus, quizzes or other creative activities.

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Greenfield Platform Sign, Ian Kirk (2018)

Greenfield Station Snubbed in Access For All Funding Scheme

Why is Greenfield station – the only railway station in Oldham Council boundaries – still inaccessible for mobility impaired passengers?

The Trans-Pennine route via Huddersfield should be given the same level of importance as the West Coast Main Line. Or at least any commuter route in the South East of England. Between Manchester and Huddersfield you have six trains per hour. All good and proper if you travel between the two points, but what if you want to travel from Stalybridge, let alone Mossley or Greenfield?

Continue reading “Greenfield Station Snubbed in Access For All Funding Scheme”

Why Redrock Stockport Deserves Its Carbuncle Cup Award

It may look great inside but the complex gives a poor outward approach to a great Cheshire town

Before I start my architectural pontifications/criticism/rant, I shall own up to one thing: I have never been to Stockport’s Redrock complex. I have passed it on numerous occasions by train, by coach, and on the 330 bus out of Mersey Square. Each time I have passed it, I have felt deflated.

Continue reading “Why Redrock Stockport Deserves Its Carbuncle Cup Award”

Skipstopageddon: Reading Between the Lines on Tameside’s Train Torment

How an incomplete timetable – and more besides – have caused chaos for Tameside and Saddleworth rail passengers

Everything looks good on paper. Last month we looked at how radical changes to our train timetables would have affected Tameside and Saddleworth passengers. Our overall verdict was that the timetable was unfinished. We said it should have been enhanced with the retention of an hourly all-stations service. We also suggested that Stalybridge should have been given a stop on Transpennine Express’ service from Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle Central. Continue reading “Skipstopageddon: Reading Between the Lines on Tameside’s Train Torment”

Budget 2017: Money For Brexit (and Changes to UC)

East of the M60‘s frank verdict on Philip Hammond’s 2017 Budget

  • Brexit department biggest winner of 2017 Budget;
  • Slight changes for Universal Credit claimants;
  • 16 – 25 Railcard extended to cover persons born from 1986 to 1991;
  • Stamp Duty scrapped for first time buyers.

More than anything, today’s budget was a disappointment. Firstly, we are no clearer as to whether the Trans-Pennine electrification work is going ahead in its unabridged form. Secondly, it seems as if the money for the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena has gone to the Department for Exiting the European Union. Thirdly, those good eggs have cut the waiting time for Universal Credit (but don’t all rush at once). Continue reading “Budget 2017: Money For Brexit (and Changes to UC)”

Budget 2016: A Corporate Welfare State in Ascendency

East of the M60‘s frank verdict on George Osborne’s 2016 Budget

  • Corporation Tax cut to 17%;
  • Boost for Academisation of English schools;
  • DevoManc police plans uncovered;
  • Jamie Oliver Sugar Tax given go-ahead.

A misprint, surely?
Surely some misprint? This is the nameplate of 319 362 Northern Powerhouse, a cast-off EMU from the Thameslink system. Image by Hugh Llewellyn, 2015. (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved).

If by chance you happen to be an upper middle-class egotistical headteacher with a fledgling business, pour yourself a glass of fizzy Vimto. You did very well out of this year’s Budget. In fact, you may well be one of the lucky people, all 0.05% of you. As for the 99.95% of us, well, we have missed out. Continue reading “Budget 2016: A Corporate Welfare State in Ascendency”

Academies for All: The LEA DOA for Political Gain

How academies for all plan is a shoo-in for privatisation

Belligerent ghouls run English schools
Spineless ideologues with tiny minds…*

Since the start of the 20th Century, most of England’s schools have been accountable to the public. Methods of governance have included school boards, governors, and local education authorities. Private Schools and Public Schools [like Eton College] have continued to coexist. Continue reading “Academies for All: The LEA DOA for Political Gain”

Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains

Anger as bankers move electric trains to the West Midlands

Class 323 EMU, Manchester Piccadilly station
The Class 323s first arrived in Greater Manchester in 1996, originally for services to and from Manchester Airport. Following issues with Railtrack’s Safety Case, the Hunslet TPL built units’ introduction was delayed by two years. They first appeared on the Hadfield line in November 1997, replacing slam-door Class 305s.

Almost a year after the DfT’s imposition of an evening peak for Greater Manchester’s rail users comes another body blow. Porterbrook Leasing, who owns most of Britain’s trains has refused to offer 17 Class 323 electric trains to Northern Rail’s successors in 2016.

Instead, the rolling stock leasing company (owned by Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Allianz Capital Partners, EDF Invest and Hastings Fund Management) has decided to move them to the West Midlands. At present, the Centro West Midlands boundary sees a number of local services utilising Class 323, and the move allows for greater standardisation. The reason, to reduce maintenance costs. Continue reading “Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains”