“March for our lives”- “Vote them out”
Popular movements have changed the world.
Martin Luther King was the leader of a popular movement for Civil Rights in the USA.
Ghandi was at the head of a mass movement which led to the creation of independent India and Pakistan.
In Manchester the Peterloo Massacre was the response to a mass movement for electoral reform. Equally important was the drive for women’s suffrage which again was initiated in Manchester.
This week we have seen a mass movement in the USA to introduce stricter gun control laws. The movement has been spearheaded by young people from the Florida High School which was the victim of the recent shooting outrage. There were large marches all over the USA and particular in Washington where 800,000 people assembled.
The young leaders are passionate and articulate and in a few months many of them will be eligible to vote and they are threatening to vote against politicians who do not support tighter gun controls.
It is clear they have an important case to make. It will be interesting to see if they have the stamina to see the matter through.
A politically engaged younger generation is needed to make the world a better place be it in the USA in respect of Gun control or in the UK to avoid the lunacy that is Brexit.
Altrincham is the best place to live
What a transformation. Less than 10 years ago Altrincham was a bit of a joke. Its high street was a wasteland with the highest proportion of empty shops for a town of its size in the country. The big stores had moved to the Trafford Centre taking the shoppers with them. As for night life, forget it.
Now though WA14 is jumping. The changing cast of stalls at Alty Market, centrepiece of a £6m regeneration, offer up a feast. The big draw is the food hall where you can linger over coffee and cake, a full meal, a craft ale or a glass of wine. It is always buzzing. And its stardust has spread to the nearby streets where you will find pit stops such as Sugo, and the Belgian Bar along with Porta, The Con Club, Bistro Pierre and newcomers Toast, and Tre Ciccio.
Thanks for the above to the Sunday Times which has recently selected Altrincham as the best place to live in the North West. You cannot argue with that but it is not an accolade you would ever have thought would have come Altrincham’s way if you walked around the town centre 10 years ago.
The news that some 100 England football supporters were arrested in Amsterdam last weekend was not really a surprise. We would like to think that the behaviour of football fans was becoming much less of a problem but there is much evidence to suggest that the football fans are the same animals they were in the dark days of the 1970s and 80s. The thing that has improved is the standards of policing and stewarding not to mention the introduction of all-seater stadiums.
There are regular visits to Manchester of foreign football fans and as a regular walker around the city centre their behaviour is pretty exemplary.
Yobbish behaviour would seem to be a particularly English characteristic. You regularly hear of flights being diverted for the forceable removal of drunken holiday makers. You never seem to hear of drunken Italian or French travellers.
We are regular visitors to Lake Orta in the Italian Lakes. A beautiful and peaceful area with many visitors from all over the world. In the 16 years we have been going there has only been one incident of unacceptable behaviour and yes it was a group of drunken English wedding guests.
Senior and Junior Lacrosse
The end of the season is nigh and we can start looking back and reviewing.
I have been involved with Junior Lacrosse for the best part of 40 years and I do not think that we are in a good place. The problems are not only quantity of players but also the quality of play. Particularly at U12, which I see most of, there are some very poor teams where the basic skills are lacking. There is a lot of competition for young players from other sports and if initially attracted they then have to be converted into committed Lacrosse players which is a challenge for volunteer coaches particularly as Lacrosse is a game where the skills are relatively difficult. As my grandson said to me recently “Timperley for life “. He knows how to keep me happy.
In my experience getting players is the easier bit. The bigger problem is finding the volunteers to provide coaches, managers, officials and club administrators.
At Timperley we need around 30 committed volunteers to run the club. The only intrusion from the governing body would seem to be to make decisions which require more volunteers but there is no help in recruiting these volunteers.
There are certainly challenges for the senior men’s game. The weather has certainly not helped but the determination to cram the games into a short window has been unnecessary and caused an unbelievable level of concessions. The world has changed significantly in recent years and people have very busy and committed lives and are not able/willing to commit to two games in a weekend or in holiday periods. A Premiership with concessions is hardly a credible competition. There has to be an acceptance that we live in different times to the days of 12 a side when Old Hulmeians finished second in the League and used only 14 players in the season. I understand that champions Mellor only used 13 players. These days you need 20 or more players to run a team as they are unlikely to be available every game- not to mention the volunteers mentioned above. When I joined Timperley in the early 1970s the club and its two teams was run by 3 or 4 people.
Social and affordable housing in Manchester
Manchester has been identified as the fastest growing city centre in Europe with a forest of cranes indicative of a multitude of new developments of housing, offices and leisure facilities.
To declare an interest Christine and I moved into Manchester in 1998. There were around 5,000 people who lived in central Manchester. In those days it was difficult to get a decent meal. As the late great AA Gill commented, “Manchester is a drinking city not an eating city.” There was one supermarket-Tesco on Market Street and not an awful lot going on.
In the 20 years we have lived in Manchester there has been a transformation. The number of people living in the city centre (whatever that may be) is now around 60,000 with an additional 100,000 students. Manchester became a thriving shopping centre. The number of hotels has exploded and they are still being built. You cannot get a room in Manchester if Utd are at home!
The Manchester dining scene has been transformed in recent years. Recent comment has said that Manchester has the most dynamic restaurant scene outside London. The Michelin star issue remains but as someone who has eaten in Michelin starred restaurants all over Europe I can say that there is a glaring inconsistency. If the same criteria were applied to Manchester restaurants as they were to restaurants in France then Manchester would have at least 5 restaurants with stars.
However as the boom continues so the arguments emerge. Planning rules say that a development should include a contribution towards social housing (Whatever that is!).
City budgeting shows that the majority of income comes from Council Tax and Business Rates (80%) with less than 10% now coming from central government. Cuts in government funding have hit local authorities hard. Whilst some local authorities like Northampton and Surrey (both Tory run) have been brought to their knees. Manchester has suffered more than nearly any other place from cuts but it has also been more resilient. It has also had greater calls from Child and adult social care.
Manchester City Council is solidly labour. Of the 96 councillors, 95 are labour. Under CEO Sir Howard Bernstein there was a discipline which allowed decisions to be made fundamentally in the interests of the city. I call it pragmatic socialism. Whatever was done had to be evaluated to assess the likely impact on the Council finances. Bernstein realised that the city centre was the engine that powered the city. Development had to provide the money to sustain the city. This means that city centre growth is a priority and that top class offices and housing is designed to maximise income from Council Tax and Business Rates. The demands for “social/affordable housing “ are becoming louder including a misguided intervention from Jeremy Corbyn on a rare excursion from his Islington ghetto.
Manchester has a very proud record for providing housing. There are not many Wythenshawes around. Thatcher destroyed the concept of social housing. In selling off the housing stock and preventing councils from building replacements she is the cause of the housing crisis which we now face.
Manchester still possesses a higher proportion of social/affordable housing than any other city. Over 65% of the housing stock is in the lowest Council Tax band and over 25% of the housing stock is defined as social housing.
If you are a developer or investor then social housing is unlikely to be an attractive investment. Manchester City Centre is a relatively small geographic area so there only a limited number of opportunities. The city’s plans include housing developments just outside the centre but the finance for these will only be forthcoming from Council resources, at least as a catalyst.
In my view the City policy of development in the centre to produce income is the right one and the only way that ultimately social housing projects will be built.
Howard Bernstein was a strong leader who controlled the councillors and led a committed and capable staff. I hope that the new CEO is capable of taking up the challenge.
We have looked at Cambridge Analytica but do not think it is quite the “fit” for Timperley.
However even to a Luddite like me it is obvious that IT and Social Media have a large part to play in building a club like Timperley.
In the recent past Mikey Armstrong and Tom Slater have made a huge contribution to the club and part of that has been in the IT department. However, Mikey is trying to keep a lot of balls in the air with work and Lacrosse and Tom, after a great job as Chairman, is leaving the area.
We are badly in need of people who have a bit of time, and more importantly the knowledge and ability, to help in the area of social media.
If you would like to know more please give me a call.
Updated 17:36 - 30 Mar 2018 by Michael Armstrong