Saturday 12 May 2018

Maplins off the map

It's a pity to see Stoke's Maplins electronics shop close down. The similar PC World store on Festival Park has also been gone for a year or two now, and that's still empty. But I can't imagine that the same fate will befall the former Maplins, what with the shop space being on a prime town-centre site opposite Sainsbury's. Let's just hope we don't get even more dubious hippies setting up on that stretch.

Maplins and PC World were both nice to browse the aisles of, if only to keep up-to-date with what was available in affordable tech and gadgets. But I guess those days are gone, and the best options now for Stokies are:

1) For electronic widgets, sockets and wires too big for the letter-box, eBay's arrangement with the Sainsbury's Argos facilities. This allows the buyer to collect eligible small-packages from Sainsbury's Argos counter in Stoke. Although the time-out on that can be a bit tight, and if you don't get there sharpish after you order then you'll find "it's been sent back, duck".

2) For basic things like a new computer mouse and keyboard, and the occasional January Sale blink-and-it's-gone bargain, the nearest best option is probably the Office superstore on the eastern edge of Festival Park. (Update, it closed in spring 2019.)

3) For PC owners and courier-phobics, who need something more substantial and delicate (a new hard-drive, monitor or even a new PC), the best local alternative option is probably now Overclockers in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Overclockers are a well-regarded national PC-centric gaming hardware company, with HQ and public counter and display-space on the outskirts of the town. They make some good value gaming PCs, and have just this month taken the plunge into making well-reviewed graphics workstations for home office-based artists, graphic designers and 3D animators.

Ponies by the yard

You couldn't make it up. 13 year-old girl in Stoke-on-Trent orders a 'free pony' on the internet. Said pony actually arrives, and is left in the back yard of her Nan's house in Ford Green, giving the girl's Nan quite a surprise. Pony gets named 'Melvin'. And presumably, but the look of him, gets a bit of a trim and a wash.

Hopefully they can do a crowdfunder now, to pay for the vet's bills and a nice field.

Update: Melvin has now been taken in by Penny Farm Horse rehabilitation centre, near Blackpool.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

On the stump

The Labour loons at Sheffield City Council "decided to destroy 17,500 trees, half the city's total" by felling, on the grounds of "health and safety". Now the latest news reports that "the entire enterprise has been suspended" — but only on the grounds that Council workers might get hurt and sue the Council. You couldn't make it up.

The Councillor and Cabinet Member for Environment responsible has just resigned, though, so there may now be some slim hope that the mad programme will be halted for good.

Friday 4 May 2018

Taking the NOCs

Ah well, very little change from yesterday's local elections. Stoke-on-Trent wasn't voting this time around and, despite all the hoo-haa, locally it all stays the same in terms of control of councils ranging from Sandwell in the south to Stockport in the north.

Although there was a little action on the fringes of Birmingham. Apparently Walsall is now set to be run by the Conservatives, despite 'no overall control'. And a little further away in the West Midlands the Conservatives took Redditch.

Nearer home there was a slight upset just to the north of Stoke-on-Trent and north-away into Kidsgrove:

"The Conservatives have won two out of the three seats in Kidsgrove and Ravenscliffe".

So the pavement-pounding work put in during the General Election up that way, including bringing in a serving minister (at least twice, I think), may have changed minds and then paid off in a delayed way at the local elections.

The two newcomers add to two existing Conservative councillors, turning Kidsgrove a nice shade of blue. The Conservatives also unexpectedly took nearby Bradwell, which is just across the valley from Ravenscliffe as the crow raven flies.

The count at Newcastle-under-Lyme, next-door to Stoke-on-Trent, appeared to be heavily delayed and then plodded along like a lame donkey for the whole day. But they eventually dragged it across the finishing line before 5pm. More staff needed next time, I'd suggest, to take it at a faster clip. Eventually... no overall control.

So... no national Labour breakthrough, and disappointment for Comrade Corbyn. The Ukip's local councillors almost totally evaporated, just as the national party has. Many Ukip-ers seem to have gone to the LibDems, presumably on the basis that they tend to produce good local councillors, even if nationally they're dubious left-leaning opportunists who are eager to betray Brexit. The widely predicted inner-urban / London collapse for the Conservatives didn't happen, and I hear that the Conservatives even managed to land a new North London councillor.

Update, 16th May: Newcastle-under-Lyme Council is now headed by the Conservatives, despite 'No Overall Control'.