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”
Ashton Open Market, during the Tameside Young Traders' Market, 25 May 2019.

Foodie Markets: Gentrification or a Valid Regeneration Scheme?

Why the general retail market is an important fixture in our High Streets

Over the last decade, retail sales figures have been gravely affected by the dual onslaught of online shopping and stagnant wages. With the former, it is cheaper for some households to stay at home and pay the online retailer’s delivery charges instead of bus or taxi fares. In the last month, we found that last Christmas’ sales figures were the worst for 25 years.

Continue reading “Foodie Markets: Gentrification or a Valid Regeneration Scheme?”
Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For

Or: is the Grayling Curse to blame for Northern’s woes?

The rail franchising system is dead. Long live the rail franchising system. In the last year, we have seen a recasting of the rail franchising system in favour of management contracts. Since 1994, rail franchises in Great Britain have mirrored former British Rail profit centres, which in turn have roots in BR’s sectorisation programme by Sir Robert (Basil) Reid.

Continue reading “Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For”

Building Bridges With Sentences: A Take on The ‘Persistent Scandal’

Why are 25% of primary school children starting school without stringing a sentence? Here’s another take on this subject.

In terms of economic prowess, the United Kingdom may be at Champions League or Europa League level. In terms of early years communication, English Football League Championship level with 25% of primary school children. This was seen as “a persistent scandal” by Education Secretary Damien Hinds at a Resolution Foundation lecture in Westminster. Continue reading “Building Bridges With Sentences: A Take on The ‘Persistent Scandal’”

In Defence of the Present Sunday Trading Hours

Why six hours on the Sabbath Day is enough

Outside the mall
intu Trafford Centre, a present-day place of worship for many shoppers. Image by Mijaeus (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved)

Since November 1994, against the will of Keep Sunday Special, Sunday trading as we know today began in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland it is only five hours instead of six. Today, a vote to extend Sunday Trading hours was defeated 317 to 286 in the House of Commons. 27 Conservative MPs voted against George Osborne’s plan, which was backed by Sajid Javid MP. The plans were opposed by Labour Party and Scottish National Party MPs. Continue reading “In Defence of the Present Sunday Trading Hours”

Should August Children Start School at Six? A Summer Child Speaks

My opinion on changes to English and Welsh school admissions policy

  • Parents of summer born children given right to start school a year later than autumnal peers;
  • Policy seen as boost for children born between April and August.

Counthill School
Not one of my former schools, but the now demolished Counthill School in Watersheddings, Oldham. Photograph by Supreme-B, 2008 (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved).

It has often been said that children born on the 31 August one year is at a disadvantage with peers born at the end of the previous year. Or one on the 01 September the previous year. Continue reading “Should August Children Start School at Six? A Summer Child Speaks”

A Fracking Good Move: Lancashire Tells Shale Gas Extractors To…

Preston New Road and Roseacre drilling operations kyboshed

  • Traffic and health concerns key to rejection;
  • But Government still sees potential for fracking elsewhere in the UK.

Lancashire County Council voted 9 to 3 against the hydraulic fracturing of a proposed site of Preston New Road. Having already voted against fracking in Roseacre, today’s news was a relief for anti-fracking protestors and local residents. Continue reading “A Fracking Good Move: Lancashire Tells Shale Gas Extractors To…”

A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’

Northern Powerhouse project put on back burner

Stalybridge Station, signal gantry
Nowhere Fast: the pausing of Trans-Pennine electrification plans is set to see most of Northern England condemned to another decade or so of ancient diesel trains.

The Northern Powerhouse has been dealt a body blow as plans to electrify the Trans-Pennine route have been ‘paused’. As quoted in Hansard, the Secretary of State for Transport, The Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin MP (Conservative, Derbyshire Dales) stated that: Continue reading “A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’”

Costa or The Caledonia? Are Thirty-Somethings Opting For The Former

A look at as to why people under 35 years old are drinking less than their parents.

I like a good coffee now and again. Sometimes it may be from Costabucks Nero or the local supermarket café. I am also a connoisseur of fairtrade brands, not only coffee but also tea. For me, substandard tea or coffee is anathema to productivity and workplace relations. In a ideal world, I would like to see Taylor’s of Harrogate’s finest beverages in almost every office throughout the UK, or another reasonable fairtrade brand. Continue reading “Costa or The Caledonia? Are Thirty-Somethings Opting For The Former”

A Fracking Bad Move: The False Economics of Hydraulic Fracturing in Northern England

How fracking could have a ruinous affect on Northern England’s economy

“If we ruin the Earth, there is no place else to go. This is not a disposable world, and we are not yet able to engineer other planets. The coolest desert on Earth is far more hospitable than any place on Mars. The bright sandy surface and dusty atmosphere of Mars reflect enough sunlight back to space to cool the planet, freezing out all its water, locking it in a perpetual Ice Age. Human activity is blighting our landscape and our atmosphere, like this ultimately like an Ice Age here.

“At the same time, we are releasing vast quantities of carbon dioxide, increasing the Greenhouse Effect. The Earth need not resemble Venus very closely, for it to become barren and lifeless. It may not take much to destabilise the Earth’s climate, to convert this Heaven – our only home in the cosmos – into a kind of Hell”.

Professor Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980)

The North of England is an already deprived part of the world apart from some pockets of affluence in Greater Manchester, rural parts of Lancashire and Cheshire and North Yorkshire. It has seen its fair share of job losses, been at the sharpest end of the government’s public sector cuts, and in many cases, not seeing the fruits of Britain’s recovery. Continue reading “A Fracking Bad Move: The False Economics of Hydraulic Fracturing in Northern England”