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Rail bosses agree £3m for disabled access

Posted: Feb 07, 2014

By Andrew Bailey

Rail chiefs have confirmed three city train stations are to get disabled access.

The announcement was made by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)at a Friends of Walkden station (FOWS) meeting in December 2013.

The total cost of the upgrade reaches over £3 million with one lift alone costing £1.2 million.

Walkden, Swinton and Irlam stations are on a priority list agreed by TfGM, however, a timescale for the work is as-yet unknown.

TfGM's rail services development officer, Roy Chapman, confirmed Walkden is on a priority list and discussed the electrification of the line, and the possibility of tram-trains.

Mr Chapman said: “Walkden is one of the nine stations on the priority list, as Blackrod has already been done. It's dependent upon money from Access for All, third parties and TfGM money. However, it's not going to happen tomorrow or next year.”

He also said the average cost of a lift or a ramp costs over £1.2 millon, and that they developed a criteria considering patronage, current demand and demand in the future.

Andy Barlow, chairman of FOWS, welcomed the news.

He said: “Walkden station has been transformed over the last few years due to the hard work of FOWS volunteers, with valuable support from Northern Rail, Network Rail, Salford City Council and other local stakeholders.

"The recent raising of the platform level has improved accessibility, by closing the large gap between platform and trains.

"FOWS will continue to lobby for further improvements to bring step-free access to the station, and make the rail service accessible to all members of the community as soon as possible. We warmly welcome all rail users - and potential rail users - to join us in this campaign.”

Councillor for Walkden South and FOWS member Iain Lindley also welcomed the news.

“Passenger numbers at Walkden have grown considerably over the last decade; it is about time that funding was provided for a lift or ramp at the station, and I welcome any progress towards that provision," he said.

The priority list has been confirmed as Blackrod (completed), Mills Hill, Appley Bridge, Hindley, Newton for Hyde, Daisy Hill, Broadbottom.

Originally published by SalfordOnline

Picture L to R Walkden cllr Iain Lindley, TfGM Roy Chapman, FOWS Chairman Andy Barlow.

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Friends and family pay tribute to darts player Phyllis

Posted: Dec 27, 2013

A DARTS player who was still winning games in her eighties after half a century's devotion to the sport has dies.

Phyllis Greenhalgh, who had played with Swinton and Pendlebury ladies darts leagure since 1955, passed away at Salford Royal aged 85, having battled with cancer and suffered a stroke.

Ms Greenhaulgh first took up darts after being taught to play by her father in the attic, when her brothers never took it up. She would go on to earn the nickname'killer' for the way she would snatch wins on the Salford pub circuit, winning the district darts league championships a total of nine times.

Her story was featured in the Advertiser three years ago, when she turned 82. Describing why she loved the sport, the former mill worker from Swinton said: "I like it because it's very friendly and you get talking to different people."

Mrs Greenhalgh's granddaughter Suzanne Kay, 29, paid tribute to her and says she is now planning to organise a darts tournament in her memory.

Ms Kay, who cared for her grandmother, said she was a 'proud lady' and added: "I loved her, I never let her do too much because I wanted to look after her."

Darts team members also paid tribute, among them Mrs Greenhalgh's friend of 20 years, Phyllis Blackburn. The 60-year-old from Farnworth said: "She was a funny character and could definitely take a joke.

"People would often think we were mother and daughter, as we were always with each other.

"Darts was her life as she played three times a week and used to win regularly."

Mrs Greenhaulgh's funeral took place on Tuesday at Agecrof Cemetary.

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Protect kids against flu, parents told

Posted: Dec 27, 2013

Health chiefs are urging the families of more than 5,000 young children in the city to get them vacinated against flu.

Statitistics released by Salford council, show only 13.1 per cent of 6,300 two-to-three-year-olds who are eligible have received free nasal spray vaccinations this winter.

Although figures gathered by Public Health England showed Salford came top in flu vaccine figures in Greater Manchester for over 65s - the city came last for youngsters being treated.

Dr Hamish Stedman, chairman of NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "If you have a child aged two or three years - regardless of how fit and healthy they are - then their GP will provide them with a nasal spray to protect them against catching flu.

"If you have a child aged from birth to eighteen years who suffers from either diabetes, respiritory problems or heart, liver, kidney or neurological diease, then their GP will also be pleased to provide them with a nasal spray to protect them against catching flu."

Parents of two to three-year-olds should contact their GP to make an appointment. Injections are also available for patients with chest infections, egg allergies or weakened immune systems.

Four thousand people in Britain die from flue every year. Labour councillor Margaret Morris, said although it is not common, some children develoip very serious complications from catching flu but the symptoms are normally more severe in adults.

The assistant mayor for health and wellbeing, said: "It's particularly important for them to have the vaccination if there are pregnant women, older people or anyone in any of the at risk categories, in the family.

"Catching flu for them could cause miscarriage or premature birth or land them in hospital"

 

 

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EXCLUSIVE £400M revamp for "unacceptable" mental health access

Posted: Dec 05, 2013

 

THE Department of Health is investing £400M into mental health after admitting "unacceptable” levels of access to treatment following criticism by the shadow health secretary.

DoH is investing the large amount of money to improve mental health access, after Andrew Gwynne revealed there was a lack of funding for care in the community.

Last month a BBC probe discovered 1,500 mental health beds had closed nationally in recent years.

Psychiatrist expert Dr Martin Baggaley of South London and Maudsley NHS Trust highlighted a possible bed crisis in the investigation.

The medical director said: "We're certainly feeling it on the front line, it's very pressured, and we spend a lot of our time struggling to find beds, sending people across the country which is really not what I want to do."

DoH is asking governing body NHS England to introduce new waiting times and access standards for mental health from 2015.

Mr Gwynne criticised the closing of beds, claiming more may go as there isn’t enough investment for community care to deal with the reductions.

He told Quays News: “With a lot of the configurations (plans) that are going on, there’s probably going to be even fewer mental health beds. If you’re going to restrict the number of mental health beds further, then you have to have proper provisions in place, so people can receive proper support in the home.”

He said attitudes towards mental health had changed from 60-years-ago, as people with minor issues used to get admitted.

“We don’t want to go back to how it was 60-years-ago, where anybody with a slight issue was thrown into an asylum.”

But he warned against over reliance on community care, adding: “If we’re not careful, we are about to go in the complete opposite direction because there are people who, for a short period of time, do need that bit of respite care and looking after under close supervision.”

He said if elected Labour will repeal the health bill and make NHS England accountable to the government.

The DoH allayed concerns of the bed shortage. A spokesperson said: “More people are being treated in the right settings for them, including fewer people needing to go into hospitals. 

"It is essential that people get the treatment they need – early and in the community. But beds must be available if patients need them.”

By Andrew Bailey

Picture L to R: Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Gwynne, Andrew Bailey reporter.

Originally published by Quays News

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Job search boost for Salford's unemployed

Posted: Dec 02, 2013

 

SALFORD job seekers are receiving practical help with universal credit thanks to a voluntary group.

Local residents on universal credit with no internet access, can use computer facilities twice a week at The Creative Media Centre, Chapel Street.

Along with IT training they also gain practical skills and advice on seeking employment. Job seekers have to prove they've sought employment for 30-hours-per-week in the welfare shake-up - or face benefit penalties.

Ex-Chef, Colin Goode, wanted a career change after being in the industry for 33 years. He heard about the group through the job centre, and started attending four weeks ago.

The 59-year-old from Swinton, was very pleased after getting an interview after job club leader, Brian MacDiamada, spotted a vacancy.

Colin, who has been unemployed for seven years, said: “It’s been really useful especially finding my way around a computer. I’ve wanted to get a job as a carer, and it was Brian who told me about a job last Thursday. I’ve just been online now and I’ve been given an interview tomorrow, so I’m really pleased!” 

He also pointed out that in the subsequent years he’s been searching for employment in both catering and health professions.

Job club leader, Brian MacDiamada, 43, was critical of the Universal Credit (UC) system, claiming the vacancies aren’t always up-to-date.  He said: “The jobs on UC aren’t always updated so when people apply the interviews are already gone, or the job has been taken.”

Social adVenturse’ Chris Loftus explained why they started the group. The business development director said: “Over 80 people have used the service since we started, and the feedback is that it helps a lot. We help people improve CVs, set up email accounts, and how to efficiently search for appropriate jobs.”

The group is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm, at The Creative Media Centre, 216 Chapel Street, Salford, M3 6BY. Phone 0161 637 2297 for further details.

Picture: Chris Loftus (Business development director) 

Originally published on Quays News

By Andrew Bailey

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Paddy McGuinness gives life-saving device to his former school

Posted: Nov 16, 2013

By Andrew Bailey

COMEDIAN Paddy McGuinness has presented a heart defibrillator to his old school on behalf of a Salford charity.

Staff and pupils will be trained how to use the device, in the event of a cardiac emergency.

He turned up at Mount St Jospeh Business and Enterprise college today, to hand over the life saving device, donated by Hand on Heart.

The Irlam charity’s fundraising manager, Gina Harris, spoke passionately about defibrillators being installed in schools nationally.

Speaking passionately, Gina highlighted alarming facts of sudden cardiac arrest in young adults. She explained: “12 young people die each week of sudden cardiac arrest in the UK – which is a massive number. When we say young people it goes up to the ages of mid-30s. Nationally, 270 children will die this year at schools here in the UK.”

Paddy McGuinness arrived at the presentation, jokingly criticising his previous school’s uniform change. He said: “The reason we’ve got this machine is because of the statistics. We’re going to train 30 pupils about life saving. You all know what happened to Fabrice Muamba, and it was one of these machines that kept him alive. We want to teach you how to use it and all the background information too.”

Gina described how the machine increases the chances of survival from 6pc to 74pc if used immediately. She said: “What a defibrillator does is it will stop the heart and restart it to its normal rhythm.”

She also added that Paddy heard about the charity, and wanted to get involved especially with it being his old school.

Mount St Joseph headteacher, Paul Roach, 41, was grateful and welcomed the donation of the heart defibrillator. He said: “The school would like to thank the charity Hand on Heart, for the defibrillator presented to the school today. This important piece of equipment, together with the appropriate training is vital in schools.

Our thanks also go to Paddy McGuinness, a past pupil, who nominated Mount St Joseph School to be a recipient of this lifesaving piece of technology.”

Hand on Heart on Liverpool Road, will celebrate its second birthday in January, and since it began has fully or partially funded defibrillators to over 200 schools in the UK.

PICTURE L to R: Francesca Wilson, Headteacher Paul Roach, Paddy McGuinness and Gina Harris

Originally published in Salford Online and Quays News

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Artist captures city's past and present

Posted: Nov 16, 2013

A SALFORDIAN artist is exhibiting paintings of her favourite city spots, at the Angel Centre on Chapel Street.

The exhibition ‘Salford Revisited’ is a collaboration of various art styles including; painting, texture and collages – showing old haunts and modern developments.

Ex-University of Salford lecturer, Jacquie Melia, 69, who retired in 2004, wanted to reflect her favourite places in her work.

Speaking about the Flower Lane piece (pictured below), where her childhood was spent, she said: “This is where I grew up, and so it has a lot of emotional attachment. It was a dirt track when I was there.”

MediaCityUK and Chapel Street both feature heavily in her exhibition, saying it showed how much the once neglected areas, have changed so much recently.

“Chapel Street was always special because if you were going to Manchester, you had to pass through it to get there.

If you look at the old bank for instance on Chapel Street, it looks horrible, so I made it appear to be bright and colourful, as I think it’s a beautiful old building.” She added.

She also pointed out the Lowry Theatre painting, saying it was “very iconic.”

Christian Loftus, business development director for Social adventures, said: “The exhibition preview had a real buzz. The work started the discussion about the history of Salford and how our environment is changing.”

The exhibition runs till Friday January 17 and entrance is free.

 

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Little Hulton fare dodger charged with indecent exposure

Posted: Nov 08, 2013

By Andrew Bailey

A bus fare dodger has been charged on suspicion of racial harassment and indecent exposure.

The alleged incident happened on on Manchester Road East in Little Hulton in the early hours of Thursday October 24.

A 20-year-old man, who appeared to be drunk, got on a double-decker bus.

He failed to show a ticket for the journey but walked upstairs and sat down.

After the driver challenged the unnamed man, he returned to the front of the bus where he urinated in front of stunned passengers, before allegedly making racist comments to the driver.

Police arrived to arrest the man at 5.30am but the individual continued to urinate on the street after officers accosted him.

Greater Manchester Police issued a statement saying: “The male was charged with racially aggravated public order section 4, and a separate charge of section 5 public order for urinating in a public place.”

A spokesperson from First Manchester buses, said: “We are helping police with their enquiry which includes CCTV footage.”

Published on Salford Online

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All smiles again after hospital toy theft heartbreak

Posted: Nov 07, 2013

By Andrew Bailey

A FAMILY have described their disgust, when their 10-year-old son’s toys were stolen in hospital.

The theft happened on ward 76, at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, between September 26 and October 3.

Classic toy cars worth over £300, were kept in a box underneath Leyton Edwards’ wheelchair, when it was taken. However, kind hearted residents donated toys, after reading the sad news on a community Facebook page.

Mother, Rachael Edwards, of Avon Close, Walkden, thought the box would turn up, as everyone knew each other on the ward.

The 26-year-old said: “The nurse on shift wasn’t on when we noticed it had gone, so we had to wait till she was back on duty. We spoke to Leyton’s teacher, and she had left some craft items on the bedside desk – and they went as well.”

She told hospital and security staff, who failed to find them.

Granddad, Peter Edwards, aged 50, said a Japanese car bought from a model shop cost £25. He said “Not only are they of financial value, they’re sentimental too. With him having Autism, he picks out his favourites – which mean a lot to him.”

Leyton Edwards undergoes dialysis twice a week at the hospital’s renal unit, after a complete kidney failure in April. After being born he spent his first two years in hospital, as he was born with no immune system.

He received good news as residents donated toys, after reading about the theft on Walkden Community – a Facebook site (WC.)

Janet O’Shaughnessy, administrator of WC, said after Rachael had told her, she decided to post it online. The post received lots of reaction from residents, and at least two members donated toys.

The 45-year-old said she was utterly disgusted how anybody could steep so low, adding she hoped she could help the child.

“I was aware that some of Leyton's toys were collectable items, so therefore it would be easy for somebody to identify them – should they be offered for sale. A handful of local people, kindly gave him their own collectable toys to cheer him up.” Added Janet.
Walkden resident, Nicky Jones, donated his classic car collection. He said: “It was heartbreaking. I knew the little boy would take very good care of my car collection, even though I had been collecting those cars for over 10 years.”

Rachael said her son had been through a horrific year. She also thanked the public response, describing it being ‘heart-warming and overwhelming.’

A hospital spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of this and regret any distress caused to the family.  We encourage patients and visitors to keep their property safe and attended at all times.”

The crime was reported to police on October 4, Greater Manchester Police, said: “A number of investigations have been made but with no success.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 5608 or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Published by The Bolton News and Quays News

 

 

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2000 poppy scatter plan for Walkden WW1 centenary

Posted: Oct 28, 2013

By Andy Bailey

WALKDEN citizens will commemorate next year’s WW1 centenary, turning the town red by scattering thousands of poppy seeds.

It is the first town in the Northwest to announce such a memorial, where poppies and trees will be planted by residents, volunteers, school children, churches and scouts.

A family day will be held on Sunday, July 27 at Parfold Park, the day before the 100th anniversary of the Great War’s commencement in 1914. A period fancy dress theme is optional.

Other plans include a theatre group performing to young school children, to raise awareness of the war.

The idea came after an administrator of a Facebook page called Walkden Community (WC), saw a similar project by Greenhithe & Swanscombe Royal British Legion (RBL), Kent.

Speaking last night at a meeting in Walkden Gateway, Sarah McCaffrey, 39, of WC, said “We got the idea from another RBL, who was doing a similar event. We put it on our Facebook page and the idea and project just snowballed.”

20 people attended and discussed plans of where to scatter the seeds and plant tree saplings. WC volunteer, Annie Surtees, debated areas to scatter them. She added: “We like the memorial at Parr Fold Park for the main site. We can have a patch near the college, and other potential sites could be at the front of Blackleach Country Park. Blackleach volunteers could get involved.”

She pointed out other sites including, the East Lancs road, churches and the grass near the advertisement boards.

Sarah Allen, 30, of WC, confirmed the seeds will be scattered on Sunday March 23, so that they will be in flower at the end of July, when the war began.

One volunteer suggested they could plant a tree in each local school, providing they agreed with the upkeep of them.

Walkden Conservative Cllr, Iain Lindley, member of Friends of Walkden Station (FOWS) suggested he could help the group. He said: “I will have a word with FOWS about planting poppy seeds at the train station.”

So far, the group have amassed 2,200 packets of poppy seeds, and are looking at getting 300 tree saplings. They have raised £350 but are still accepting donations to fund the theatre group. Janet O’Shaughnessy, 45, of WC, explained what the funding will be used for. She said: “First and foremost it’s for the other projects like the theatre school, who are performing for the children. The remainder will go to the Royal British Legion.”

Please make donations by cheque to “Walkden Rotary Club” 76 Peel Park Crescent, Worsley, Manchester M38 0BU. (Note: please write on back of cheque ‘For poppy event.’)

The next public meeting is at Walkden Gateway, on Thursday November 21 at 7pm.

Picture L to R: Janet O’Shaughnesy, Sarah McCaffrey and Sarah Allen.

Published by Salford Online and The Bolton News



 

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Everyone's a winner in rotary's dragons' den

Posted: Oct 25, 2013


By Andy Bailey

TEN local organisations benefitted from a Dragons’ Den event, set-up by the Worsley Rotary Club.

A prize fund of £4,200 was shared between all the applicants, who pitched their appeals to a panel at Walkden Legion.

In a lively evening, the panel consisting of ex-headmaster, Lawrence Duffy, 69, ex-nursing professional Ann Gavin-Daley, 57, and Rt Rev Bishop of Bolton, Chris Edmondson, 63, listened to passionate pleas for a the top prize.

Ann thanked the participants for what was a positive night for community groups in the area.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to be here, and it’s been heartwarming to see so many initiatives going on.

"Hopefully, this will inspire many others in Salford – so I’d like to say thank-you,” she added.

After careful consideration, the panel came back with their decision to award all ten groups with a share of the pot.

Making the announcement, the Bishop of Bolton Rt Revd Chris Edmondson said: “It’s fantastic the work what everyone is doing. The good news is that no-one is going away empty handed. This is because we have been moved by all the entrants this evening.”

Walkden Rotary Club’s community service chairman, Tony Jackson, explained it was the first time they’d held a Dragons’ Den-style pitching session.

He added: “The idea came when the money was left over from the Christmas float. We had over £4,000 left and we didn’t know who to donate it to – so we decided to run the event.”

Tony Martin, 49, of Salford, attends Loaves and Fishes, a homeless charity, was thrilled with the £480 donated. He said: “It will be awesome. It means we will be able to afford more equipment, giving us more opportunities.”

Calm Dawn manager Daniel Tanyi was delighted with the £350 donated to his black ethnic group. He said: “The generosity of tonight is fantastic. Because of this, the black ethnic minority will receive money to help protect from domestic and public violence.”

The Friends of Roe Green received £350; the Worsley Village Community Association £200; Calm Dawn Clinic £350; Friends of Springwood £500; Antz Junction Swinton £500; Eccles Rugby FC £450; St Paul’s Peel Parish Community Hall £390; Salford Loaves and Fishes £480; Tree Tops Counselling £500 and St Paul’s Peel Brownies and Rainbows were awarded £480.

Photo: (L to R) Lawrence Duffy, Ann Gavin-Daley, Rt Revd Chris Edmondson

Published in Salford Online

 

 

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New theatre creates acting opportunities in Salford

Posted: Oct 17, 2013

Olivia Cosgrove at Scream Theatre's open day.

By Andrew Bailey

A NEW drama school has opened in MediaCityUK, giving budding Salford performers a chance in the spotlight.

Scream Theatre School held an open day in mid-September at newly opened Future Skills on Dakota Avenue.

Following the large turnout, the school opened its doors for the first time on Saturday, October 5.

Speaking on the open day, school principle, Helen J Stannard, was positive about the future. She said: “We’re all about creating confident young people by raising their self-esteem, encouraging teamwork and providing hands-on training within all areas of the Performing Arts.”

The theatre’s management representatives were keeping a close eye on potential talent. “We work very closely with our colleagues at Scream Theatre Schools, making sure we find the very best talent and nurture it to the highest standard possible.” Added Jess Bell, Childrens Agent at Scream Management.

Scream has been in operation for 15 years and has had success in finding and producing talent. Most notable are Ella Grace Gregoire (Grace – Coronation Street, ITV) Ruby O’Donnell (Perri Lomax – Hollyoaks, Channel 4) Ryan Wilkinson (Charlie – All At Sea, CBBC) and Olivia Cosgrove (Alison – All At Sea, CBBC)

The school is still recruiting young thespians dancers and singers, between the ages of six to 18. Anyone interested should call Scream on 0844 209 7197 or alternative drop an email on info@screamtheatreschools.com

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Family holiday horror as plane catches fire

Posted: Oct 17, 2013

By Andrew Bailey

A FAMILY holiday was ruined when their Thomas Cook plane caught fire 15 minutes after take-off.

Tracy Morris and her family became aware of the terrifying incident when the pilot announced there was a fire in the plane's ovens.

Flight staff sprung into action to  ensure everyone had their seat-belts fastened as they were forced to make a priority landing.

The family were flying from Manchester Airport to Antalya in Turkey on a package holiday with Thomas Cook last month when the drama unfolded.

Tracy from Westhoughton, Bolton, described her family's horror as the plane caught fire just after the take-off.

She said: “I thought we were going to die! They (grandchildren) didn’t really know what was going on, which was a blessing in disguise. One passenger went mental. She was screaming and an air hostess had to calm her down.”

The plane landed at East Midlands Airport at 4.30pm. Tracy explained that "if the fire wasn’t bad enough, we were forced to stay on the plane for two hours" while the emergency crews dealt with the situation.

The situation became worse for Tracy and husband, David Morris, both 42, when they finally got in to East Midland Airport. She said that there was little information and they were forced to sleep rough on the waiting room chairs for 10 hours.

David and Tracy Morris

Her seven-year-old grandson, Lewis Cowburn, became poorly as they had packed his medication in the plane luggage.

“We didn’t have access to his medication as it was with the baggage handlers." explained Tracy.

"Lewis has three medical conditions, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and Autism. All of these conditions came on at the airport, so it was awful for him and for us, as we were trying to calm him down.”

They were given £15 each for food and drink by the holiday firm before being transported back to Manchester Airport by coach at 2am on the Sunday morning, which took three hours.

Added Tracy: “When we got there they told us there were no hotels left, so we would have to stay there or go home.

"I was furious with Thomas Cook. They gave us £10 each for breakfast and we finally set off for Turkey at 7am. Sunday was the only apology we got from the pilot when we got on the plane."

It was the first time the family had been able to go away together. Tracy, a healthcare assistant at Royal Bolton Hospital, explained that after putting in a claim for compensation, they were not going to receive anything. The holiday cost £5,300 for the family of 10.

Thomas Cook has issued an apology but say they are still "investigating the family’s compensation claim."

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook Airlines said: “We’d like to sincerely apologise to our customers for the delay to flight TCX2538 following a technical fault that occurred soon after the original departure.

"We worked hard to get them back on their way as soon as possible and we’d like to thank them for their continued patience during this delay to the start of their holiday.”

*Published by Quays News and The Bolton News

 

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School is handed cardiac lifesaver

Posted: Jun 30, 2013

L to R learning director of PE Phil Adams, lead first aider Adele Jones, SADs north west co-ordinator Angela Morris, Headteacher Patrick Ottley-O'Connor and chaplains Karen Openshaw.

By Andrew Bailey

A CARDIAC charity has donated a heart defibrillator to Oasis Academy at MediaCityUK.

The academy successfully applied for one following a recent visit from ex-premiership footballer, Fabrice Muamba.

The former Bolton, Birmingham and Arsenal player was resuscitated after his heart stopped beating for over an hour.

Sudden Adult Death Trust UK (SADSUK) granted the school’s bid for the defibrillator, which was presented on Friday, June 7 by Angela Morris.

Angela, North West Co-ordinator, became involved in the charity after tragically losing her son on October 19, 2000, just two days after his 18th birthday. She discovered her fit son had died in his sleep, from a condition called Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS).

She said: “That’s why I’m passionate about the charity. People are unaware that young people can have these conditions. People aren’t sure when we campaign for defibrillators to be fitted in schools because it’s for children.”

She highlighted the Fabrice Muamba incident, had raised the profile of the heart condition and the need for defibrillators and made more people aware.

Oasis Academy Principle, Patrick Ottley-O’Connor, spoke passionately about the device and confirmed the parents’ of the students’ have been very supportive.

He explained: “As a former P.E. teacher I’m very passionate about students doing first aid, and it seemed to make great sense.”

Inside the defibrillator

He urged schools and academies to get one and revealed that Fabrice’s charity, is trying to get over 500 fitted throughout the North West.

Adele Jones, Lead First Aider, explained how the technology works, saying: “All students’ and teachers’ can use the defibrillator, as it tells you the instructions like a sat-nav.”

Originally published in the Salford Advertiser. See below;

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For sale notice could spell last orders for The Crescent pub

Posted: Jun 30, 2013

By Andrew Bailey

THE fate of popular real ale and student pub The Crescent in Salford is uncertain after it was put up for sale.

Owners Salford Student Homes have put the Grade II listed building on the market for £650,500.

English Heritage said, although the building is listed, there are no restrictions on its usage, raising concerns it may not continue trading as pub.

Landlord Gerry Bane, 59, (pictured below.) only began pulling pints at the three storey pub in February 2013.

Although The Crescent won’t shut until a buyer is found, he said: “I was brought in to see if I could save it. The regulars’ wouldn’t be happy if it did close as it’s a local institution.”

Salford Student Homes took over the iconic building six-years ago. Financial director Franc McGroggan explained they are concentrating on their housing portfolio which includes 300 properties.

The 50-year-old added: “To make the pub a success it needs people to have the time to look after it.”

The pub became a Grade II listed building in 1980, and English Heritage has warned potential buyers not to make any major changes.

Maddy Wall from English Heritage said: “We would advise the local council on any planning application which involved substantial structural changes to the building.”

However, she stated that they ‘only advise on the historic fabric – not use of the building.’

The pub has been in the Good Beer Guide and was once a regular haunt for German philosopher and communist Karl Marx.

North Manchester CAMRA branch secretary Phil Booton warned potential buyers to keep the building as a pub.

He said: “It is an historic pub and something of an icon for generations of Salford drinkers. 

“We would not expect planning permission to be granted for change of use, and would fight any attempt to close the pub for alternative use.”

Originally published by Quays News

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Mike Sherrard reveals his eventful life

Posted: Apr 29, 2013

Renowned for winning the Eurovision Song Contest three times for Ireland, Johnny Logan has sold up to 17M albums worldwide. In this fascinating interview Mike Sherrard, band guitarist and brother of Johnny, reveals some intriguing stories and anecdotes writes Andrew Bailey.

CERTAIN individuals have got it and some haven’t – charisma. In the case of Johnny Logan’s brother and band guitarist, Mike Sherrard, he has it by the bucket load. Majestically gliding around the beer garden he sits down reassuring me – instead of the opposite.

Strategically moving the notepad so it wouldn’t get beer stains, the 61-year-old revealed his eventful childhood. He grew up in Ireland’s capital but stated he was in fact born in London of Irish parents. He started his early education in St Mary’s in Croydon before moving to Howth, a fishing village on the outskirts of Dublin. There he went to the primary school before attending Chanel College, which he reveals he got expelled from.

Drawing in a breath of smoke as only rockers can do, he elaborated on the incident that led to his dismissal from college, saying: “We were taught by Marist Fathers – they were like the SS of teaching priests. It was the early 60s and they used to walk around in cassocks, carrying shaving straps cut out and reinforced with more leather. They used to walk round hitting us over the head with these leather straps. One time it hit me right in the face, and so shall I say I was slightly displeased – and so I showed my displeasure!”

Not to be disillusioned with this he picked up the guitar and taught himself, after hearing ‘Love Me Do’ by The Beatles for the first time.

He explained: “Even before that (Love Me Do), I had been listening to Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Then it switched around as I discovered Jimmy Hendrix and then it went backwards as I got deeply in to the Blues.” He also highlighted the psychedelic and heavy rock period – which he states he’s still heavily in to.

This leads us nicely on to Irish rock legends, Thin Lizzy, and lead singer Phil Lynott, whose hits includes, ‘The Boy Are Back in Town’. Sadly Phil died of a heart attack following his drug battle at the relatively young age of 36. Mike, a personal friend of Phil, paused for a while before pondering his old pal stating Jan 4, 2013, signalled the 27th anniversary of his passing. Speaking of his untimely death, he said: “It was very very sad. He was a great guy, a brilliant guy – but he did have his frailties. I don’t think anybody wishes to do themselves any harm. It was just a waste as he was such a great talented guy.”

Mike’s face then lights up as he vividly recalled the “fun times” the pair got up to in days gone by. Warmly recollecting, he added: “I prefer to remember him as the fun guy – and boy did he rock and roll!”

Changing the subject quickly, he touched upon the Eurovision Song Contest (EVSC), that jet propelled his brother to stardom. Sean went solo, winning with ‘What’s Another Year’ (1980), and again seven years later with ‘Hold Me Now’. He also won the competition a third time as composer of ‘Why Me’ in 1992. Mike admits that he no longer watches the show, claiming that “It is like a giant karaoke.” He questions the whole fabric of the production, saying: “There are very few singers and performers now. Now they don’t have musicians as it’s all done with computers. It lost all its magic when they lost all the conductors and orchestras.”

L to R Mike Sherrard, Driver, Sean Sherrard.

This led to Mike sharing his experiences both as a brother and band member of Johnny Logan. He somewhat diplomatically put it like this: “We started playing together in the mid-70s and back then it was pretty much ‘even stevens.’ Then he had the success in the 80s with the Eurovision Song Contest. So the people came to see him and not us (the band).”

The gregarious rocker continued: “I suppose back in the day we’ve had disagreements but as we’ve got older we have matured. He now takes care of all the planning. I’m now the music director and guitarist.”

When asked about X-Factor and Simon Cowell, he was less than diplomatic.  In an attack on Simon Cowell and the show, he scoffed: “Simon Cowell should be prosecuted for cutting the throat of the English music business. What the flipping heck has a dog dancing, got to do with the music and entertainment business? I think it’s incredibly unfair that he lives off embarrassing people – who really believe they have got talent. All he’s doing is hurting them and making average acts.”

He then singles out John Peel as being the best talent finder – not Simon Cowell. He enthusiastically pointed out that: “I used to listen to John Peel in the 60s when he gave The Nice a chance; he also helped out Emerson Lake and Palmer. Peel was always way ahead of everybody else.”

In a long and lustrous career Mike who resides in Walkden, Salford, has met a host of famous people including; Tom Jones, Paul McCartney, Katrina Leskanich (Katrina and The Waves) and Bobby Kimble (ToTo). But perhaps the most intriguing encounter came in 1975. He was introduced to legendary hell raisers’ Oliver Reed and Richard Harris by a theatrical producer in Neary’s Bar, Dublin. After agreeing to drink with them, he said: “After about 45 minutes of drinking quadruple vodkas with them, I had to leave while my dignity was still intact!”

When questioned why they don’t play in the UK or Ireland the divorced father of three children, Chloe, 22, and twins Ellie and Nathaniel, 17 ½, stated that: “Years ago I was seen as a very naughty boy when touring Ireland, but it’s got nothing to do with that. We don’t really play in England or Ireland because people have the misconception that it’s going to be love songs and ballads all night. When in fact we are rock based these days.”

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Did Boltonís bloody past scupper it from becoming a city?

Posted: Apr 29, 2013

Bolton Town Hall

WHAT exactly defines a town or city? Is it the people, architecture, size, or location? Andrew Bailey investigates the rather bloody and gory history of Bolton and why it possibly has never been given city status.

A HOPEFUL Bolton town and its community, waited in anticipation to see if their bid to become a city, was successful in March 2012. Sadly, for the town’s council bosses and citizens, the decision didn’t go their way.

The awards were part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in which Chelmsford, Perth and St Asaph in Wales were granted new city status.

Before getting in to the nitty gritty, it would be a good idea to take a look at the town and get under the skin, to gage a feeling for its makeup. Bolton was once a hotbed for clattering weaving machinery powered by steam engines. The billowing smoky tops playing centre stage in the industrial revolution of the entire North West region. The cotton trade was big business and even lead to an influx of Flemish weavers, who settled from Belgium centuries ago. The town is notorious in creating big personalities and perhaps one of the most celebrated is Fred Dibnah?

If ever there was a man who epitomised the town’s industrial past it has be Fred. With stereotypical flat cap and cig in mouth, he used to lovingly restore steam powered traction engines – and use them as transport! He became an instant TV star overnight, back when the first ever documentary was made on him, and his occupation back in 1979. In this first ever episode, he was shown swinging from the clock tower of Bolton’s Town Hall, as he made repairs. The rather eccentric Lancastrian, who valued Victorian feats over modern living, made the local headlines when he built a mineshaft in his back yard! The cheeky chap even used a bow and arrow, to accurately get the angles of the shaft, which was aired on one particular programme.

From one character to another, we meet a well renowned comedian. When people ask who Bolton’s best loved son is, then it probably will be received with Peter Kay. Bursting on to our screens in a comedy based documentary, piloted back in the late 1990s. Playing various characters in ‘That Peter Kay Thing’ including an ice cream man, who had a personal vendetta against his rival Signor Whippy, for trading on his patch.  Another showed a working man’s club which lead to a full series known as Phoenix Nights. Peter in an ironic kind of way, almost becomes a caricature of himself with his Bolton accent and northern humour. It would be fair to say that for non-Boltonians, they feel he and his Phoenix Nights series personify the very town and district to some degree. Shouts of ‘garlic bread?’ and ‘turn big light on’ became regular quips at his stand-up tours.

Not only is the town renowned for its colourful characters, who encapsulate the human element of the vicinity. Another underlying aspect to cement what defines a town is the very structures and buildings. The 1954 romantic comedy film Hobson’s Choice which was directed by David Lean, was set in 1880s Salford. However, certain parts of the movie were filmed in Bolton, owing to the town’s narrow terraced streets, and its smog laden atmosphere. The industrial legacy and working class housing made it a perfect location, for the film makers to utilize. It has many streets that are not too dissimilar to fictional TV soap opera Coronation Street, which again reinforces the close knit community, along with the working class pitfalls of society.  

Another standout architect feature is Le Mans Crescent, named after Bolton’s French twin town, which overlooks the town hall. As its name suggests, it is an impressive masonry building, which curves around the road. It too has been part of the television folk law, including Sherlock Holmes whereby, it was transformed in to a snowy Russian location.

After looking in to the many contributing elements of what Bolton is distinguished and perceived, let’s take a look in to the possible reason, why it lost its bid for city status.

A good starting point which leads on from the architecture angle, involves an historic pub.  Ye Olde Man and Scythe is based on one of the oldest part of the town on Churchgate, and is said to date back to 1251. Every year the previous landlord John Jewitt, who tragically died in a swimming accident at Lanzarote two years ago, used to stage a re-enactment of the beheading of James Stanley, outside the pub. It is said that James ate his last meal prior to his execution in the pub. The chair that he was alleged to have sat on is still in the pub. Sitting in a glass cabinet in the museum room, the hell raising band ‘The Who’ destroyed it in the 1970s!

The English Civil War between 1642 and 1651, has been well documented in history books which, affected all of the country including Bolton. It is possible to say that when the war started, most Lancashire folk didn’t take much notice, as they were very parochial in their outlook. David Casserly states in his book ‘Massacre: Storming of Bolton’ that most “Lancastrians at the time looked at their county being their country and, probably thought little of what went on outside.”

The town back in the 17th century belonged to the Ferrers family who also took the gentry name and position Earl of Derby. James Stanley was the town’s 7th ruling Earl of Derby and had sided and fought with King Charles 1st in the civil war. After fleeing battle and leaving the King, James Stanley made his way North with his Royalist contingent. Unfortunately, he and his army were ambushed by a group of Parliamentarians, at a bridge at Whitchurch, as they marched from Nantwich. The royalist contingent surrendered and became prisoners, with the Earl of Derby being one of them.

Author, David Casserly, explains that instead of the prisoners being granted mercy in previous cases, the captured would be “brought to trial and be made an Example of Justice.” The present method back then of ‘Example of Justice’ involved the rather gory act of beheading the prisoner, often in public places.

After being tried for treason in Chester, James Stanley, who was also the present King of the Isle of Man, in his defence proclaimed that as he was head of the island, the jurisdiction could not be recognised in his case. However, this simply did not wash with the courts who declared after proceedings that he was indeed guilty. Reading the charges they declared that “He had traitorously borne arms for Charles Stuart against Parliament on the 12th August 1651, prohibiting all correspondence with Charles Stuart.” The judgement also read that he had “Fortified his house of Lathom against Parliament, and that he now held the Isle of Man against them.”

The horrific consequence involved him being “condemned to be executed, by severing his head from his body at Bolton.”     

This blood curdling and gruesome act of justice happened, on October 15, 1651 at 3pm outside Ye Olde Man and Scythe pub, on a scaffold built on Churchgate. It was witnessed by 100 people with a local man by the name of George Whowell, doing the horrific deed, owing to his personal grievance with Stanley, in the Bolton Massacre.

Fast forwarding 361 years to 2012 when Queen Elizabeth 2nd celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, was this cold blooded act if justice the key reason, for the town losing out on becoming a city?

The term begrudging is defined in the dictionary as;

1. To envy or resent the pleasure or good fortune of.

2.  To be reluctant to give, grant, or allow.

If this is indeed a fundamental reason, why the town lost out for its city status, including previous bids, then this is a serious bout of resentment on behalf of the Crown and establishment. Interestingly and quite factually accurate, most people will point out that the decision making doesn’t actually lie with the Crown, but with the government, owing to the fact that it is a democratic decision.

The ruling monarch lost the majority of its essential powers, after the English Civil War was won by the Round Heads. The subsequent kings and queens have been part of the institution, more as a head of state and figurehead, instead of the notion of ‘divine right’ of rule. The Parliamentary system consists of representative democracy whereby, the power is sought through elected MPs who fight for their own constituency. 

If this is the case then it was indeed, the Parliamentarians, under the control of Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army, who charged James Stanley and ordered his beheading some 350 years ago. Surely, if the town conformed and agreed to be the stage for the Royalist’s execution set out by the elected Parliamentarians, there is a sense of discrepancy for this side of the argument? In layman’s terms the town supported the Government and not the monarchy.

One thing for certain, is that neither the current Crown, nor Houses of Parliament, will ever divulge or disclose the real truth, why Bolton failed for city status. Instead and more likely, they’ll probably offer some public relations thought up explanation, explaining that each town candidate had an equal chance and, that decisions are taken upon their merits. Some spectators may even point to the fact, that the immediate area has cities within close proximity, with Manchester, Salford and the newly formed Preston for good measure.

So there we have it, a fascinating and intriguing look at a historic event yet with possible present repercussions. Even if the argument stands up or is totally ludicrous, depending on personal preference, it offers some serious food for thought.

The town’s council chiefs and citizens were as previously mentioned; rather downbeat after learning their bid had failed last year. However, it is not all doom and gloom as a history staff member at Bolton Museum, who wished to remain anonymous explained. He said: “It is a sad affair, especially with the size of the town, and the strong community we have here. Bolton does still have the legitimate claim of being the country’s largest town.”

The fact still remains, that this could possibly represent one of the biggest and best kept secrets in modern Britain. Also, if true it could be seen as a massive injustice to the people and the town of Bolton.

Not getting too disheartened, maybe the town’s gritty humour is the best way to conclude? So to quote Britain’s best loved steeplejacks, we will end with Fred Dibnah’s famous one liner, after bringing down a chimney: “Did you like that?”

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Walkden brothel case goes to Crown Court

Posted: Feb 22, 2013

THREE women suspected of running a Walkden brothel will appear for trial at Manchester Crown Court on Monday April 15.

The women were arrested and later charged following two police raids on the alleged brothel on Louisa Street in July.

Jane Young, 46, from Lawton Moor Road, Manchester, has been charged with five offences – two relating to keeping a brothel. The other charges relate to the possession of one Class B drug and two Class C drugs.

Deborah Daniels, 50, from St Hilda’s Road, Manchester, and Catherine McGarr, 35, from Openshaw, also face charges of keeping a brothel.

By Andrew Bailey

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Headmaster: I don't want 'psychopaths' with high grades

Posted: Feb 22, 2013

Entrance to St George's R.C. High School.

A WALKDEN headmaster has said he prefers “brilliant citizens” with average GCSE’s than “psychopaths” with the highest results.

St George’s Roman Catholic High School head Philip Harte was responding to an OFSTED report that highlighted teaching as an area for improvement. 

The report was based on findings from a visit in November and highlighted mathematics specifically as a problem area at the school.

However, Mr Harte praised his school’s ethos, saying: “Our mission statement as a catholic school is that we seek to develop the whole person academically, spiritually and socially.

“I would rather have a school full of brilliant citizens, leaving with average GCSE’s, rather than a school full of psychopaths with the highest results.”

St George’s RC High School won a three-year battle to remain open in 2009 following a closure threat from Salford Council.

The school’s pupils campaigned vigorously, including marching in Salford and Manchester to protest against the plans.

Council chiefs controversially billed the school £1,866 for the march.

Now OFSTED has found room for improvement at the school saying that attainment is not as high as it should be, especially in the proportion of students gaining five or more GCSE A - C results in English and Maths.

The report adds: “Not enough pupils are making more than expected progress from their starting points by the time they leave school, especially in mathematics.”

Mr Harte (above) claimed maths was historically a strong attaining subject, blaming recent results on staffing issues: “The maths results took a dip. We had two staffing issues last year in a department of four.

“We had one member of staff on long term maternity leave and the head of the department was ill. So when 50 per cent is off there’s not a lot you can do.”

Mr Harte said staffing issues had been resolved by appointing a new head of maths who is also the assistant head teacher adding he was “absolutely confident that grades will improve.”

OFSTED found teaching standards had improved since their last visit but warned: “Too much teaching still requires improvement and not enough is outstanding.

“Subject leaders and managers are not yet fully involved in, or held accountable for driving improvement in their areas of responsibility.”

However, the inspectors said English results were “favourable to national figures” and “students can be proud and positive of their school.”

The report added: “Students’ behaviour is good. They feel very safe in school and praise the level of care, guidance and support they receive. Their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is strong.”

By Andrew Bailey

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Land checks delay Walkden housing plans

Posted: Feb 22, 2013

Artist impressions of development.

DEVELOPERS could transform a Walkden eyesore and boost the local economy by building 87 new homes – as long as safety checks are passed.

If Indigo Planning Ltd get the green light to start work, it will be third time lucky for the site, bucking a trend in the struggling construction industry.

A previous plan for the plot between Holyoak Avenue and Mullineux Street was agreed but fell through as developers missed the deadline. Residents had also objected to a proposal that included building flats on the site.

The former industrial site, currently owned by Investec Bank, has lay derelict after two factories relocated over six years ago.

The plot is now being checked for “hazardous deposits” and the threat of a possible underground mineshaft.

A report from Clancy Consulting advised tests. It said: “Soil samples should be recovered and submitted for chemical testing to comprise a minimum of acid, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, selenium, copper, zinc, cyanide and asbestos.”

The report also advises developers to seek a coal board review to check for a mineshaft.

Walkden Conservative Councillor Iain Lindley confirmed construction chiefs made an unsuccessful bid to build 200 houses including flats six-years ago. He added a second plan with reduced housing was withdrawn because it upset local residents as it included flats.

Derelict site seen from Walkden Station.

Councillor Lindley backed the latest plans, saying: “This latest offer is for 87 houses and no flats. The plans are for two cul-de-sacs, so there won’t be any vehicles taking short cuts.

 “As long as the residents are happy then it's right for development. It's also a sustainable site."

Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley, who has campaigned against previous greenbelt land projects, acknowledged that residents hadn’t conveyed any concerns.

She also backed the current plans, which are on brownfield land. She said: “I have received no objections from local residents to these proposals for Holyoake Road.

“It is a brownfield site and the proposal for 87 houses is less dense than previous applications.”

A decision on the revised bid will be taken by Salford Council by Thursday, March 21 but could move into April if it goes to a panel.

Business leaders have also backed the plans. Dr Brian Sloan, chief economist at the Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is good to see developers coming forward with plans for housing, demonstrating that the economy is improving and with it business confidence.

“Although planning is yet to be approved, if passed there will be more good news for construction businesses and workers.”

Indigo Planning refused to comment.

By Andrew Bailey

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Exclusive: NHS bosses taking 'massive risks', says Andy Burnham

Posted: Nov 26, 2012

THE SHADOW Health Secretary has warned health bosses are taking massive risks over A&E closure threats, writes Andrew Bailey.

A report from Healthier Together, an ongoing review to improve the NHS in Greater Manchester, states that up to seven A&E departments could go. Super A&E’s would be formed in the shake-up.

MP Andy Burnham (left) spoke at a union meeting for those who are fighting against the privatisation of the Patient Transport Service (PTS).

When quizzed over the threat of closure of several A&E’s in Greater Manchester, he said that this government has got the NHS on a fast-track to fragmentation  as it heads towards full privatisation. Mr Burnham said this was their long term agenda and that health bosses are trying to make too many changes at once.

He said: “The effect is that it is destabilising the NHS and I can’t see how they can reduce our A&E provision in that way. A lot of people are rightly worried in Greater Manchester.”

He added: “They (Government) need to press the pause button and consult with people and let us have a proper debate about our NHS within Greater Manchester.” 

In a bid to allay public fears Jeremy Hunt, MP and Health Secretary, has said the proposals are subject to the consultation process and to consideration of the results. He also stated that commissioners fully recognise the need to minimise the impact the changes will have on neighbouring A&E departments and other services.

Mr Hunt continued: “The Trafford and South Manchester clinical commissioning groups are working on developing further integrated care services.”

He pointed to developing community care services as an alternative to hospital care while ensuring that the final decisions meet the needs of the local health economy “by providing first-class quality care for the people of that area.”

But Stephen Hall, President of Greater Manchester Association of Trades Councils (GMATUC), raised serious concerns about the prioritisation of government spending.

Stephen Hall

He claimed the government have just wasted £100m on police commissioner elections that no one had asked for and few voted in.

Said Mr Hall (right): “They can also find the money for anything when it suits, including wars overseas. Our demand throughout the land should be that they can find it for the NHS too or we'll force them out of office.

“The Tories said they would increase spending on the NHS in real terms year on year, and have no mandate whatsoever for what they are doing. We need to bring the power of the people to bear.”

GMATUC have organised a public conference to start campaigning against what they see as attacks on the NHS on Saturday, February 16 at Friends Meeting House, Manchester.

Originally published on Quays News

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DJ's re-release Salford Jets classic to help charity

Posted: Nov 26, 2012

Left Paul Harrop middle Dewsbury Right Sweeney

By Andrew Bailey

A DJ duo hanged up their microphones to record a song for charity.

Real Radio XS breakfast presenters’ Mike Sweeney and Dewsbury, recorded and re-released a metal version of Salford Jets song ‘Who You Looking At?’

The classic rock station supports the charity ‘Help For Heroes’ (HFH) - which helps soldiers injured on-duty.

Speaking from Salford Quays, Mike, 65, originally from Ordsall said: “The other week Dewsbury came in to the studio and said ‘I think it would be a good idea to make a metal version of ‘Who You Looking At’ and do it for ‘Help For Heroes’ and I said ‘I think it’s the best idea of the week!’”

Fellow breakfast presenter Dewsbury, 31, said the original idea came through a conversation with another radio DJ called Moose, and Castle Rock Studios owner called Stret.

Speaking of the charity Dewbury said: “It’s not political and it’s not commentating on the rights and wrongs of war. It’s solely there to pick up the pieces of guys and gals who have been overseas or anywhere, and been injured through no fault of their own. This is what ‘Help For Heroes’ is there for.”

On playing guitar for the release, he added: “I used to perform in bands all the time, that’s what I used to do before I did radio. And so it was a reasonably simple job to figure out how to do ‘Who You Looking At’ and then arrange a metal version of it.”

Mike was very pleased with the recording which Paul Harrop, singer of ‘Candid Iniquity’, did the backing vocals.

Mike added: “It’s a proper tune which really rocks and the response from the public has been amazing. Whatever money we make from this will go to ‘Help For Heroes’.”

The metal version of ‘Who You Looking At’ is priced at 79p and available on I-Tunes.

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Arriva Plc slated in CQC report

Posted: Nov 24, 2012

By Andrew Bailey

HEALTH watchdogs have criticised Arriva Plc who are taking over Greater Manchester’s non-emergency ambulances’ next April.

Two routine inspections by Care Quality Commission (CQC) on Ambuline, owned by Arriva PLC, took place in September in Leicestershire - finding one driver’s first aid training to be out of date.

The damning report also raised concerns over Ambuline's vehicle size, punctuality, and infection control.

The Patient Transport Service (PTS) is part of the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) - who lost the contract following a bid with Arriva.

All staff and patients quizzed in the inspection opted to remain anonymous. Patients told inspectors’ they were unhappy with the service, one said: “Ambuline often turned up late, which impacted their hospital appointments.”

One client commented on the size of the vehicle, they said: “When we come out of dialysis we are not well. We need transport to be waiting for us and do not need the hassle of trying to sort it all out ourselves. The vehicles are too small. They're not big enough for three people to be sitting at the back."

The inspection found staff training to be lacking, one employee said: “I don't feel the new starter process is adequate. We'd get people that were good at the job if they got proper training."

One employee raised concerns over his first aid training, he said: “I think first aid training should be given to all liaison staff who are based at hospitals. I had mine in 2005 and it's never been refreshed."

CQC’s report claimed they saw vehicles and equipment being cleaned, but with no documentation, they said: “There were no effective systems in place to reduce the risk and spread of infection. We observed staff cleaning the equipment on the vehicles between jobs, and were told by staff that this was done. However, there were no records held by the service for these daily cleans.”

Royal Bolton Hospital’s health union, Karen Reissmann, said she cannot believe that any NHS organisation is even considering giving Arriva, another contract for NHS work.

She claimed that patients’ have a right to a quality service from adequately trained staff in clean vehicles. She also added: “Their preferred bidder status should be immediately withdrawn. David Cameron promised that contracts would not be awarded on price, but this is exactly what is happening with Greater Manchester's Patient Transport Service.”

Commercial director of Arriva Transport Solutions, Brian Drury, said the firm welcomed the CQC inspection in the early stages of the contract in the East Midlands. He also stated that it gave the company independent perspective on the service they provide patients - in which they can improve the experience further for people we transport to and from hospital.

Mr Drury emphasised the fact that the inspection, did not lead to any enforceable action being implemented, he said:  “The inspection did not find any areas where enforceable action was required. The CQC highlighted certain areas which needed further improvement, several of which had already been identified by the business, and were already being addressed. 

At the time we were actively briefing our people, to ensure better recording of the deep cleaning of our vehicles which was already taking place.”

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Shadow health secretary backs union's fight to keep PTS

Posted: Oct 19, 2012

A UNISON campaign against the privatisation of ambulance services has received backing from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

The campaign launched at a public meeting at Manchester Town Hall this week to oppose the three-year contract awarded to Arriva Transport Solutions.

The Patient Transport Service (PTS) scored better on service quality, following an in-house bid with private companies for the North West region.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Reddish and Denton said the fantastic turnout at the meeting showed the strength of feeling across Greater Manchester against the proposals.

He confirmed the campaign had the backing of the Labour MP Burnham, saying: “I also want to pass on my best wishes from Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health – we’re right behind this campaign.”

Mr Gwynne (below) fears this is just the beginning of privatisation within the NHS. He added: “It’s really evident the shocking speed of which our National Health Service is being dismantled and put under threat.”

Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese also stated his support the campaign, saying “This is not the end, we must keep on fighting.”

Alan Manning, Regional Secretary of North West TUC, detailed reasons why the PTS should remain within control of the NHS.

He said: “The PTS is for patients who are too ill to arrive by public transport. Arriva buses provide a service, which is purely based on profits and shareholders.”

North West Ambulance driver, Craig Wilde, provided personal insight as to why the service should be kept in-house.

He said: “Currently our staff are committed professionals, who are committed through and through. They go in (patients' homes) to make sure they are safe, secure, fed and clothed. They do this daily and it’s not part of the contract. They provide a special service and these people care about your families.”

Lucy Powell, Parliamentary candidate for Central Manchester, said the Arriva contract was an “utter disgrace” and that “the public will only realise it was a disgrace once it’s too late.”

She also warned of further privatisation within the NHS, adding: “This is a much wider agenda of this government.”

Paul Foley, UNISON North West Head of Health, reiterated calls for the public to stand up and fight against privatisation.

He said: “This will not be won by speakers alone – it’s about campaigners. We should be in no doubt about what this government are set out to do with our NHS.”

He added: “We must get angry; we must campaign, as our parents and indeed grandparents fought for our National Health Service.”

Unison has also launched a petition, 'Save our NHS. Keep Manchester Ambulances Public.' Further meetings are planned.

On being awarded the contract, Jonathan May, managing director of Arriva Transport Solutions, said: “We welcome the announcement by NHS Blackpool that it has chosen Arriva Transport Solutions as the preferred provider for a new contract to deliver non-emergency patient transport services in Greater Manchester." 

Mr May pointed out that Arriva Transport Solutions already transports more than 3,900 patients to and from hospitals across the UK every day.

He also claimed: “This contract will complement the existing non-emergency transport services we provide for NHS Trusts in the East Midlands, West Midlands, Derbyshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.

“We look forward to working with NHS Blackpool to ensure a smooth transition for all involved.”

Joanne Kerrigan, spokesperson for Arriva PLC, added: “Arriva Transport Solutions includes its subsidiary Ambuline, currently employs 530 people and works with public sector organisations across the UK to identify and deliver innovative solutions to help fulfil their transport needs more efficiently, including special education needs transport, social care transport and patient transport.”

By Andrew Bailey

* Images courtesy of UNISON

Originally published on Quays News

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Bail for Walkden 'brothel' trio

Posted: Sep 26, 2012

THREE women suspected of running a Walkden brothel have been remanded on unconditional bail by Salford Magistrates, Andrew Bailey reports.

The women were arrested and charged following two separate raids by police and Salford Council in mid-July at Louisa’s Health Club, on Louisa Street, Walkden.

Jane Young, 46, from Lawton Moor Road, Manchester, has been charged with five offences – two relating to keeping a brothel. The other charges relate to the possession of one Class B drug and two Class C drugs.

Deborah Daniels, 50, from St Hilda’s Road, Manchester, and Catherine McGarr, 35, from Openshaw, also face charges of keeping a brothel.

All three women are due to appear at Salford Magistrates’ court again on Thursday November 15.

Originally reported on Quays News

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Trio charged over Walkden Brothel

Posted: Sep 12, 2012

POLICE have charged three women on suspicion of running a brothel in Walkden, reports Andrew Bailey.

The alleged massage parlour operating under the name Louisa’s Health Club, on Louisa Street, was twice raided by officers and Salford Council.

The first visit took place on Saturday July 7 followed by another just six days later on Friday July 13.

An employee at a local business, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed the raids: “It got raided by police about three months ago. Workmen are now converting the property into offices.”

Three women were arrested on the premises and have all been charged with management of a brothel.

Jane Young, 46, from Lawton Moor Road, Manchester, Deborah Daniels, 50, from St Hilda’s Road, Manchester and Catherine McGarr, 35, from Nicholas Owen Close, Openshaw will appear at Salford Magistrates’ Court on Thursday September 20.

Originally reported by Quays News

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My second day at York

Posted: Aug 28, 2012

Impressive York Minster.

CONTRARY to popular belief, I hadn’t gone for the York Races; in fact I didn’t even know they were on. This is why I only managed to get accommodation for one night only. Ideally I would have liked to have stopped for at least two.

The morning after the night before, I woke up in my bed in the guesthouse, The Coach House, a little worse for wear. I had a refreshing shower, got dressed then went down stairs, full of anticipation of a good hearty full breakfast. To my dismay I saw that it was a self service buffet, where all the food was lying under heat lamps. As soon as I biten in to a piece of bacon my fears were confirmed as it was stone cold. This was my only small gripe about the place otherwise it was a pleasant stay, and the staff made you feel more than welcome. In fact when I arrived I had a nice surprise in my room. They had left a complimentary bottle of ale from the nearby York Brewery, along with home made chocolate brownies wrapped up.

After drinking several cups of tea and coffee, I packed up my bag and set off to explore the more touristy venues in the city. About half way down the road I thought this is going to be a real nuisance carrying this bag around all-day, so I went back to the reception of the Coach House. They kindly agreed to look after it while I was on my travels.

The weather was really nice, so I opted to do the sight seeing on an open top bus which has a guided speaker. I showed the driver my student card and got a discount. I could hop on and off when ever I wanted so it came in really handy. This is a picture of a former castle on top of a hill that was part of the bus tour;

Clifford's Tower, York

After being on the bus for a good half and hour I needed to pay a visit to the toilet. The stop where I got off was right next to the City Art Gallery which was free entrance. There were a good four rooms full of very good and interesting paintings. I even recognised a few of the artists from my days at high school’s art lessons. There was a Lowry who hailed just down the road from me in Swinton, and a lady artist called Bridget Riley. I remember doing several piece based on her works. She specialised in contrasting colours in a art technique called Pop Art – black and white predominantly. But her piece in the room was of a later period, where she had ventured in to various contrasting colours.

I had been aware for some time about the Jorvik Viking museum, but had never got to go in my previous visits. I hopped on the tour bus again and got off at the stop for the place. Again I showed my student card and got a very good deal. Normally a single adult entrance costs £16, but with my card I paid £7. The first part of the tour included reinforced glass on the floor, and underneath was the excavations that the archeologists' had dug when finding the Viking settlement. It also had video’s explaining about the Vikings and how they traveled all around the world. The next part consisted of a ride which took you around a re-created Viking settlement. It came alive when the manikins started moving and speaking in Danish!

Manikin turning wood in museum

After that enjoyable trip the next room offered a chance to see the skeletons of the battle scarred warriors. You could see the chips of bone that had suffered the blows by either axe or another sharp weapon. There was also write ups of the genealogy of the Vikings and there specific DNA. I was then told in the souvenir shop, that they had another premises up the street around the corner, and that if I showed by pass it was free entrance.

I’m glad that I did go as it had a re-created Viking Long-ship with artefacts found from the York excavations. A lovely young lady called Erin spoke with great enthusiasm about each particular piece. You could tell that she adored working at the place and that she appreciated my questions and inquisitiveness. In fact I quite took a shine to her but unfortunately I was going home that day, otherwise I may have asker her if she fancied a cup of coffee! I settled on asking her where the York brewery was and she kindly gave me a leaflet, with a street map on as well as pointing me in the right direction.

Now I will tell you about that funny story about Beer in the Evening (BITE) as it will lead up to my last couple of pub reviews. On the website you can send messages to fellow users as well as reviewing the pubs. I had been reviewing some Manchester and Stockport pubs which this user seemed to have also been to. He or she was called nokegthanks, and I had sent messages and he or she had replied about the pubs what we’d discussed. One particular afternoon in the summer of 2011, I paid a visit to an old favourite of my mine, the New Oxford, Bexley Square, at the site of the now decommissioned magistrates’ court in Salford. I was having the craic with some of the lads at the bar, and I just happened to mention one time when I reviewed a pub I had been to in Hebden Bridge.

This fella said: “What website is it?

I said: “BITE.”

He said: “No way I use that site, what’s your username?”

I said: “Realalerules1983.”

He looked at me with astonishment and said: “No way? I’m Nokegthanks!”

We both couldn’t believe it that we’d been communicating online and had never previously met and hadn’t planned on meeting either. It was just pure coincidence that we had both decided to go to that particular pub on that very day.

Alas, back to my second day in York. I made my way down to the brewery and luckily the brewery tour was starting in just 5 minutes. I used my student uni card to again get a discount. Here is my BITE review;

The York Brewery, York

After getting legless on my first night in York I was determined to do the touristy ventures. I got myself a York sight seeing bus ticket, visited the City Art Gallery, The Jorvick Centre and then finally the infamous York Brewery. Talk about cramming it in all in one day!

I did the brewery tour which was both educational and fun with the host's wittiness etc.

The bar itself was very pleasant with wooden beams overhead along with comfortable lounge style seating. Closer to the bar offered a more traditional seating area with barrels as tables. The beers sampled was as you would expect top quality and fresh.

Nice geordie lass was more than hospitable and obliging - giving me directions to the nearest pub and Pizza Express.

Definitely worth a visit even if you don't do the tour the bar itself is a cracking venue.

I did enjoy both the tour and the bar afterwards. After the tour I got chatting with a guy from Colne, Lancashire, and we decided to have a bit of a mooch round the city.  We both ended up in a pub called the Maltings, which is quite nearby the train station. I had got some Tesco Clubcard vouchers exchanged to use in Pizza Express. As you can see from my BITE review I had a good time;

The Maltings, York

A Black Sheep pub that is very close by to the train station. Oldie worldy with a worn-in feel to give the place character.

Had a half of the Black Sheep which was as expected - top notch condition.

Lovely young flirtatious girl behind the bar made my visit most memorable. I just hope she enjoyed the Pizza Express that I brought back in a box after dining there?

Cheers!

When I told the barmaid that I was going to the pizza place she cheekily said: “Bring me some back afterwards?” In the restaurant I had managed to eat about three quarters’, and told the waiter to box the last piece up. I then went back to the Malting and handed it over to her. She went and put it in the kitchen at the back, then came out from behind the bar, gave me a kiss and hug - telling me that she “actually loved me!”

I then walked back to the B & B, picked up my bag and got the train home. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience. I just wish that I could have stayed longer!

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Review of my time in York

Posted: Aug 24, 2012

Impressive York Minster

I am going to do a write up of my recent visit to Yorkshire. I booked a week off work but unfortunately my mates hadn’t done the same. Not to be dissuaded I booked a B & B in my favourites city – York. On the 21st August I got the train from Manchester Piccadilly.

I don’t know if you’re like me but on my first night of a holiday break I always get hammered! As soon as I dumped my bags after checking in to the guesthouse, I went to the nearest pub which quite handily happened to be next door. I have been reviewing pubs on a website called Beer in the Evening (BITE) for a few years now. I just do it for a bit of fun and as well as reviewing pubs you can also rate them from 1 to 10. I also like to keep a mental check of the places I’ve visited for future reference. I am a bit of a real ale fanatic hence my username – Realalerules1983. There is quite a good story about BITE but I’ll save it for another time. I’m a Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) member but I don’t class myself as an anorak – more of a connoisseur of fine ales, stouts and porters served from the handpub. I detest smoothflow bitters - the dreaded keg which basically is mediocre beer injected with nitrogen and chemicals. This is what actually gives you the bad head in the morning – not the alcohol.

One of the main reasons why I adore York is that it just ouses (pun intended: York’s river is the Ouse) charm and is steeped in history. The Roman Walls are still there in good condition that you can physically walk on. It also has close ties with the Vikings as it was a main trading city of the North. There is of course the Jorvik Centre that I will detail later on.

So on with my pub reviews as seen on my BITE profile. As previously mentioned after checking in and dumping my bag in the guesthouse I ventured in to the nearest pub which happened to be called the Minster. Here’s how my night prevailed;  (Note: Italic indicates my BITE review)

The Minster Inn, York

After dumping my bag next door in the Coach House guest house this was my first port of call.

Bar staff seemed pleasant enough. Sadly the beer offerings wasn't really to my cup of tea. There seemed to be a big emphasis on light blonde ales.

This place is ok for a quick half.

I then wondered inside the gated city and stumbled across a belter of a pub called the Lamb and Lion. Here is my glowing report;                                                                                                                           

Lamb and Lion

This was my second pub I came across and boy am I glad I did!

4 quality ales on, I stuck to the Golden Sheep brewed by Black Sheep which was quite exquisite. Don't think I've ever had a more cleaner looking pint! It was very refreshing - amber nectar! It cost about £3 a pint which later on I gathered was the norm for York.

At first I was in the main bar area which was very comfortable with views of the gated entrance of inner York. Then as I paid a visit to the gents - that's when the place really excited me. Various corridors surrounded by a real labyrinth of cosy snugs and side rooms gave the place a uniqueness and overall charm.

Things just got even better when I ventured outside to the beer garden. Very spacious with ample seating areas. The best thing for me was that the Roman walls adorned the garden adding to the ambiance.

A good solid 10/10 for me!

Highly recommended!!

After a short and rather heavy shower I called in to the next pub which was called the Hole in the Wall. As you will be able to see I was less than overly enthusiastic;

The Hole in the Wall, York

To be fair to this place I had just come straight from the Lamb and Lion so that's a hard act to follow.

However, with Marstons never really being one of my favourite breweries this was always going to tinge my opinion.

In fact it had pretty much the same offerings as the Minster - all being light ales. Can't remember the name of the drink I had but I know I didn't finish it.

Seems more of a eating establishment rather than a drinking venue.

Very average.

After making a quick exit I landed in a Samuel Smith’s house. The biggest thing about a Sam Smith’s pub is that the prices are considerably cheaper no matter which one you go to. For some unknown reason they do tend to attract oddballs as we shall see in my review;

The York Arms, York

From the outside of the pub I didn't realise it was a Sam Smith's house. Typical furnishings but unfortunately the handpumps were not in use. Opted for the Extra Stout which was very palatable.

Couple of random oddballs which you do tend to find in Sam Smith's houses. To be honest this appeals to my wicked sense of humour as I imagined Bolton comic Peter Kay using them in his Phoenix Nights as characters!

Cheap but quality drinks are the main selling points especially in this part of Yorkshire. Easy to strike up conversation with the locals.

Cheers

I was consciously aware about a place in York called the Guy Fawkes that is a ‘must do’ for any tourist. By this time I was quite merry and jovial and enjoyed the atmospheric haunt;

The Guy Fawkes Hotel, York

This pub is apparently the birth place of Guy Fawkes hence the name.

4 handpumps on offer including a stout and a porter. both well kept. Friendly student bar-staff offering pleasant conversation. Got chatting with a bloke from London but was originally from Rep of Ireland.

Candles are used extensively to give the place the whole Guy Fawkes period atmosphere.

Definitely worth a visit.

When I came out of the Guy Fawkes I ventured in to the ‘Shambles’ district of the city. It is how you would image York to be – narrow streets with craft shops and speciality retailers. I stopped off at this really interesting off-license which had an unbelievable array of bottled beers. It also had an extensive amount of Begian and German beers – some that I’d never even heard of. I was like a child in a sweet shop! The lady on the till asked me if I had been upstairs to the bar. I said I didn’t even know you had one.

Unfortunately when I came to review the upstairs bar on BITE it wasn’t on the website so I have suggested it. (Hopefully it will be very soon.)

The pub was amazing and it had the most peculiar name “The House of the Tremblings Madness”. As I couldn’t review it on BITE I shall do so on this blog piece. (Unfortunately my battery had died on my mobile so that I couldn't take a photo of the place.) Here is a link to the website of the pub http://www.tremblingmadness.co.uk/

House of the Trembling Madness, York

Where do I start with this little diamond? The first thing I noticed when I entered the place was the ceiling. It was full of supporting wooden beams and arches. Then I noticed the many stuffed animal artefacts dotted around the room. It was a really cosy and intimate. Apparently it has only recently just opened, but by the amount of customers I’m sure it will be a huge success.

The food what they was cooking looked really tasty and offered European cuisine. The Bratwurst sausages and burgers smelt terrific.

Again the bar served European beers along with a fridge full of Belgian and German delights. I opted for the Schneider Weisse wheat beer which was divine but quite costly.

My only minor gripe regarding the place was it’s limited handpumps. It only had two both being from the Buxton Brewery. I did sample one of them and they were very well kept.

Aladdin’s cave it certainly was as a trip to the gents revealed a mass collection of various spirits including some very rare single malt whiskies.

An absolute must when in York!

I would rate this along with the Lamb and Lion as the two main standout pubs that I frequented. They are both on a par with one another.

After this I kind of entered the twilight zone and my memory was faltering following the intoxicating beverages!

All I can remember before staggering back to the B & B was calling off at a curry house. The less said about that experience the better. I have actually made better curries myself from scratch. Their offerings were absolutely disgusting. I will name and shame them – Tandoori Knight.

My second blog will cover day two of my visit.

 

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Real ale fans toast brewers

Posted: Aug 05, 2012

As I was coming to the end of my week's placement at The Bolton News, I stumbled upon this story. I actually rang up the brewery as I had heard rumours that they were after getting another pub premises. When I spoke to Dave Sweeney (Head Brewer) on the phone, he told me about the awards that was being presented the following Tuesday. I told the deputy editor to pass it on to another reporter as I won't be here to cover it. He said why don't you do it as you found it?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as it gave me a fantastic experience of gathering quotes. It also gave me a good opportunity to utilize my on going Teeline shorthand. As a real ale lover I was gutted that I couldn't sample more than one pint as I had drove there to keep a clear head while I was taking notes and asking questions. I shall return via public transport next time to take full advantage of the pub's supurb offerings!

 

 

 

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Cardiac arrest nurse saved by colleagues

Posted: Jul 25, 2012

The Bolton News

I was immensely pleased with this piece. As well as doing my journalism course at Salford University's Media City Campus, I work part time at the Royal Bolton Hospital. I have known Tammy Neal, for 9 years with working on the same department as her. She kindly agreed to tell her amazing story and thank the staff who literally "saved her life".

 

 

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Offenders praised for walkway clean-up

Posted: Jul 25, 2012

The Bolton News

I was trawling the internet for possible stories when I stumbled across this positive story. I knew that although Walkden and Little Hulton is classed as Salford, it still fell in the coverage area of the newspaper. I actually live in Walkden and know that people do tend to buy it. It was on the Salford Council website as a Press Release. I rang up the Press Officer to get permission to use the images. He was more than obliging and e-mailed me the originals for better clarity.

The piece already had a quote from the council but I felt it needed another to give it more standing. I was given a contact at the probationary team who e-mailed me back with a statement. I was very happy with this piece as it was the first by-line I had got published in my week's work experience.

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Vandals smash car's window

Posted: Jul 25, 2012

The Bolton News

This NIB (News in brief) story I did for the Bolton News came by pure chance. I was parking up on a back street of Castle Street at the Haulgh. As I got out of my car I came across a badly damaged car. A couple of neighbours was speculating what had just happened, although they didn't want to say anything on record. I quickly got my Samsung Android phone out and took a picture of the smashed window. I shown the deputy editor of the Bolton News and he told me to upload it and pass it to the photography team in the newsdesk. Luckily I had the Flickr App on my phone so I was able to upload it then email it to the photograph team. I then rang the Police Press Office to see if the incident had been reported. It had not been reported so I put a brief write up along with the Crimestoppers and Police number.

 

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Infidels of Britain v Anti Fascist League Bolton (Warning: some explicit language)

Posted: Mar 26, 2012

 

Any potential violence didn't materialise in the heavily policed rally involving extremist group Infidels of Britain and counter group Unite Against Fascism on Saturday March 24, Bolton.
 
The event was held at Churchgate instead of the Town Hall, owing to the market stalls. I went armed with my DSLR camera and Android Mobile to potentially run a story.
 
On the day there were far more Anti Fascism protesters than Infidels of Britain. This video footage that I took myself shows the UAF marching towards the organised pens that the Police and Council had planned.
 
Personally I cannot understand why anyone would feel the urge, to meet up on a particularly hot Spring day and shout their hate fuelled feelings. To take the effort of applying for permission, to setting about spreading and potentially causing divisions within society is beyond me.
 
Europe had a similar scenario in the build up to WW2, whereby Hitler used the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Versailles to his favour. Instead of spelling this out to the German people, he used the Jewish population to focus the anger of the public for his political gain.
 
We have in this era and in the UK, scandalous bankers and politicians, who are getting away with murder. Meanwhile, instead of focusing on the real perpetrators of the economic disasters, people jump on the bandwagon and point the blame on immigrants.
 
This is the very point that I'm making in that Hitler refocused the attention away from his totalitarianism, and emphasized and blame on the Jewish populous. Both cases are a typical illustration of divide and rule philosophy. Divisions in society are made worse to cover up, the misgivings of the people at the top who essentially caused the problems.  
 
Do you agree with my comparisons?  

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Mar 29, 2012 : whatever Says:

That is the wrong website link of Infidels of Britain that you have given in your article. That is the link to an ordinary, low key "political movement" that has no affiliation with the "street movement" by the same name. Read the WHO WE ARE section on the website, it clearly states NOT AFFILIATED TO OR WITH....Both coincidently happen to have the same name, but are NOT connected. The Infidels of Britain that took part in the Bolton and other street protests are at this address: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Infidels-of-Britain/187348028026321

Mar 29, 2012 : andybailey Says:

Sorry about the misunderstanding. I will rectify this now. Thank you for the feedback.

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Walkden rail station jobs loss rumours quashed

Walkden rail station jobs loss rumours quashed

Posted: Mar 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

A CONTROVERSIAL report proposing the closure of Walkden Station ticket office has been played down by Northern Rail.

Concerns over safety and an increase in crime were raised after the McNulty report suggested that passengers buy their tickets either on-line or at a self service machine.


These suggestions were part of a plan to make the rail industry ‘value for money’ by cutting the staff at station level. A newly installed self-service machine fuelled speculation amongst locals that these plans were taking effect.


 However, Northern Rail spokeswoman Carolyn Watson has moved to allay any concerns. She said: "We have no immediate plans to close any ticket offices, however we recognise that passengers have differing preferences for how they buy their tickets."
 

Walkden Conservative Councillor, Iain Lindley, said: “We have been reassured that there are no plans, to reduce the ticket office opening hours. As long as that remains the case, the ticket machine is an improvement and not a threat.”


 

 

Neil Stapleton, member of local voluntary group, Friends of Walkden Station, added: “Ticket vending machines are a useful facility for passengers, to buy tickets at busy times or when the booking office is closed.
 


 

"We do not know of any plans to close the booking office at Walkden, but FOWS would strongly oppose such a proposal if it were made.”


 

Northern Rail claimed that ‘Not one size fits all’ when buying tickets and that they had improved ticket offices, installed ticket vending machines and launched an on-line ticket sales facility.



 

By Andrew Bailey

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bolton hospital gets BBC boss on board

Bolton hospital gets BBC boss on board

Posted: Mar 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROYAL Bolton Hospital has appointed BBC boss Mark Harrison as its new non- executive director.

Wilmslow-based Mr Harrison will take over in April from current non-executive director of four years Roger McMullen, who is retiring.

Mr Harrison will leave his current role as BBC controller of production north and stand down as a member of ‘Digital Production Partnership’ to join the Royal Bolton Hospital.

The father-of-four has a particular interest in the development of the health services to women and children.  On being elected to his new role, he said: “I would very much like the opportunity to use my skills to give something back to the local community.

“This role will allow me to use my business experience to help the Foundation Trust improve the services it delivers to patients at a particularly challenging and important time.”

Mr Harrison has extensive experience in board level roles including large scale change, technology and efficiency programmes, as well as shaping and delivering output services to the public.

Cliff Morris, chairman of the hospital’s board of directors, said: “This is a very exciting appointment. Mark has extensive experience at very high levels and I’m delighted that he is going to use that with us on behalf of our patients and staff.

“I would also like to thank Roger McMullan for the sterling service he has given to the Trust over the past four years.”


By Andrew Bailey

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Honeymoon from hell (Prose)

Honeymoon from hell (Prose)

Posted: Mar 12, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Andrew Bailey

Explosive thunder with bright sporadic lightening rumbled on outside the dark and imposing manor house. The holiday makers had just unpacked their suitcases with a sigh of uneasiness. The short break holiday brochure had depicted a delightful country home, with bright gardens and scenic views.

After the exhausting and tiresome drive, the couple settled nervously in to the eerie and bleak bedroom. Strange creeks and noises were going on all night but didn’t wake up Mike and Gail, as they were exhausted from the travelling and their wedding ceremony.

Mike had wanted to go abroad and in particular Tenerife for their honeymoon, but Gail had a morbid fear of flying. This had led to some pre-wedding tensions, but got sorted when they compromised by agreeing to stay in the country.

Mike was first to wake up, all bleary eyed and groggy. He walked through to the bathroom to freshen up and wash, before heading back to get dressed. He went to the wardrobe to pick up his clothes, but was startled somewhat when they appeared to be bare! This brought a gasp of disbelief that woke up Gail. “What’s all that racket for Mike? I’m enjoying my first day of marriage with a nice lie in!” said Gail.

“It’s strange, we both unpacked our suitcases last night and filled up the wardrobes, didn’t we?” said a bemused Mike. “Yes, but what is strange about that? Asked Gail “THIS IS” shouted Mike pulling out a pair of jeans and underwear from his suitcase!

After much mulling over and confusion, they decided to put it to the back of their minds. They ate breakfast and went out to explore the vast gardens that belonged to the manor house. The weather had improved from the thunderstorm the previous evening. There was an air of freshness around with dew on the grass and shrubs.

Tap Tap Tap Tap on the ground floor windows made the couple uneasy, whilst sitting around the dining table eating their meal. Thick black material was used for the curtains that hid the unknown source of the tapping noises. The tapping became more frequent and intensified as if it was taunting them. Gail reached for her mobile but agonisingly realised that there was no signal at all. “What shall we do, Mike?” shrieked Gail. “It’s probably just the surrounding branches of the trees blowing in the wind that is causing the tapping” said Mike calmly whilst gesticulating with his hands.

All of a sudden blackness quickly drowned the Manor House. “Bloody power cut, that’s all we need!” grumbled Mike finishing off his dessert. By this time Gail was almost panic stricken whilst scratching around clumsily in the cupboards and shelves looking for torches or candles. Mike had gone upstairs looking for the fuse box as he failed to find it on the ground floor. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!! A blood curdling scream sent shivers down the spine of Mike. He hastily ran down the spiral staircase missing every 2nd step in his momentum. As he got into the kitchen, heart thumping and in his stomach he saw Gail paralysed by the window. The thick black curtain was hiding her upper body but her trembling legs were visible to the now hyperventilating Mike. As he slowly pulled away the curtain his hands became sodden in warm bright red blood. The knife had gone through the window and punctured its way into Gail’s heart!

“WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” prodded Mike, as Gail realised she had been having a nightmare. “I’ve just been to the travel agents and got a short break holiday brochure for our wedding honeymoon” added Mike. “NO WAY!” shouted Gail still damp from sweating profusely during her traumatic nightmare. “I’m going on a plane regardless of my fear of flying!”

 

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Beer festival coming soon

Beer festival coming soon

Posted: Mar 10, 2012

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Andrew Bailey
 
Can’t wait till the next Munich Oktoberfest? Getting withdrawal symptoms from thigh slapping shenanigans? The answer to alleviate these cravings may lie in, the twice annual real ale fest held by J.D. Wetherspoon public houses. 
 
The two and half week long ale festival kicks off on Wed March 14, which coincides with two other big events. The Cheltenham Festival and St Patricks Day are sandwiched in the first week of the beer fest. It stretches out till Sun April 1, and caters for all taste buds and tipples. The Wetherspoon Ale Festival won’t have music or Bavarian Dancing, but they do offer superb value, in a family friendly environment in well decorated and furbished pubs.
 
As well as light Indian Pale Ales and traditional bitters, it boasts a good selection of dark porters and stouts, which are sure to warm you up in the evening. A few from the list have already got my imagination running for example CALEDONIAN COFFEE PORTER 4.3% ABV and VASILEOSTROVSKY IMPERIAL RUSSIAN STOUT 6.5% ABV.
 
 
For the more adventurous drinkers out there, these preferences are well catered for in the form of world beers, and not forgetting real ciders. There has been quite a renaissance with the whole cider market with Magners and Bulmers predominantly leading the way. They have in a sense reinvented the once frowned upon tipple, amongst the most discerning drinker. As with real ale, the varieties of real Cider and real Perry (Pear Cider) are quite outstanding. Be warned though that the majority are 6%+ and should be treated with respect.
 
In recent years, cask conditioned ale has become increasingly popular with the younger generation. There was once a stereotypical image of a flat capped middle aged man, smoking woodbines at the bar. Contrary to this belief, CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) has seen membership of youngsters’ rocket, owing to events like beer festivals, as well a change in attitude towards their tipple. It has in a way almost become the ‘trendy’ thing to been seen drinking these days.
 
Are you a fan of real ale? Do you enjoy Dark or lighter ales? Do you appreciate the pub chain Wetherspoons?

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Mar 11, 2012 : alexfenton Says:

Great article Andy!I LOVE real ale so this is great news for me. Your right about cider also,its gone huge and they call it 'the magners effect' if you search above for Big apple you'll see a writeup about a real cider festival where we made our own cider. Its well worth a visit!

Mar 12, 2012 : andybailey Says:

Cheers for the comments! Glad that somebody else appreciates real ale like myself. I'll definitely take a look at that cider website you mentioned. I've never been to the Oktoberfest in Munich, but would love to do so.

Mar 12, 2012 : andybailey Says:

Cheers for the comments! Glad that somebody else appreciates real ale like myself. I'll definitely take a look at that cider website you mentioned. I've never been to the Oktoberfest in Munich, but would love to do so.

Mar 12, 2012 : alexfenton Says:

For sure!Here's the article http://www.creativehive.org/post/654 and here's the big apple festival http://www.bigapple.org.uk/

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Winter (Poem)

Winter (Poem)

Posted: Feb 29, 2012

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Depressing rain beats down
With unforgiving greyness of the dark cloud.
When will this nightmare end?
It’s driving me round the bloody bend!
 
2
A small speck of snow
Brings the nation into toe.
They used to call it grit, but now it’s salt,
Oh Jesus, just go to the bar and fetch a single malt!
 
3
Using a credit card to scrape away the frost
But getting nowhere fast.
As my face begins to freeze with an arctic blast.
Pedestrian footsteps in the snow embossed.
 
4
Yet there’s light at the end of the tunnel
As spring starts to near.
Topping up the car oil with a funnel
The buds begin to shoot, the skies begin to clear.

                                                                 

                                                        By Andrew Bailey

I wrote this poem as I have noticed subtle changes in the seasons becoming noticeable. Gardens are showing their first signs of life, with buds on trees along with the first shoots of Snowdrops and Daffodils. Although we have been lucky this year in regard to the temperature, I wrote this in view of the past three winters.

I particularly like the last stanza, which sums up the beginning of my favourite season which is Spring.

 

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Nelson (Poem)

Nelson (Poem)

Posted: Feb 28, 2012

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
1
I was 4 when we got him
A small, scared bundle of fur.
Full of energy, yet timid
A sudden noise hid him under the chair.
 
2
He was a lovely kitten, black and white
Sleeping mainly by day
But on the prowl at night.
His speed and agility kept the mice at bay.
 
3
Nelson was a funny cat and pet
who had his ups and downs.
The huge bill from the vet
brought many a frown.
 
4
The things he used to bring in were varied
and usually brought a scream.
I remember finding a bat in my bedroom
Or was that just a dream?
 
 5
He loved his food both meat and fish
Although he was rather cheeky
Often at the neighbours for a second dish!
 
6
He had a good life and lived till 23
I miss him so much
I wish he was still here with me.
 
By Andrew Bailey

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Crazed monster tried to rip out my heart with his bare hands: Victim tells of horrific ordeal

Posted: Feb 27, 2012

The Mirror article

I felt physically sick when I read this article by Louie Smith, in The Mirror on Feb 22.

How on Earth can any human being do this to another person? It is beyond any decent person's comprehension and begs the question: "What kind of society are we actually living in?"

I remember doing my GCSE English exams and coursework reading a very famous novel titled 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding. I can see similarities between this case and Golding's novel, which consisted of young school children marooned on an island, who started killing wild boar in cold blood. They eventually turned to killing fellow classmates.

There is a lot more about the novel than that but the circumstances are very remarkable in my opinion. This vicious thug Andrzej Chranowski, slaughtered and butchered pigs for a living then attempted a horrifying murder on his poor victim.

I imagine that this case must have been quite hard to report on. The quotes of the victim made the piece spine chilling 'real' and compelling. I often say to people who are fans of horror movies; that you don't need to watch them, as there are plenty of horrors in reality.

Have you ever read 'Lord of the Flies'? If so do you either agree or disagree with my comparison? Please feel free to leave comments. Thank You

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Introduction

Posted: Feb 22, 2012

Hi my name is Andy Bailey and I'm embarking on unchartered territory that the 'Old Hands' of most news based organisations dread. CONVERGENCE is a word that is used to scare the living daylights out of the more traditional fully fledged journos.

As part of my BA Journalism course down here at windy Media City campus, I am undertaking a Digital Journalism assignment and as well as taking a look at it; actively doing it!

The emergence of internet news sourcing has rocketed in the last 10 years. Its effects are like a ripple following a stone being dropped in to a lake. Its impact has meant that consumers can for the first time, interact and even contribute to news stories. Anyway enough of this summarising, I will save that for my essay!

As an avid fan of Dublin based rock legends U2, I will quote from one of their songs to illustrate my feelings about blogging. "It’s like a small child crossing an 8 lane highway, on the voyage of discovery"

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