Saturday 17 October 2020

Open and shut - a new series of Stoke-on-Trent alley gatings

It appears that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is quietly using the lockdown to lock up a wide range of alleys and footpaths, with new residents-only 'gated path' arragements. Regrettably their set of final draft orders all lack maps.

'Location 53' is Palmers Green. They don't appear to have closed the Palmers Green gated footpath known as "Palmers Way", which is absolutely vital to a key public walking-route between Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke. But the 'back-alley' path leading around the back of the houses up to reach this vital footpath does appear to have been closed to the public. Access to Palmers Way still seems to be possible by walking up the quiet green cul-de-sac of Palmers Green, which would anyway have been the preferrable walking route. But obviously walkers need to keep a close eye on the continued accessibility of "Palmers Way".

The other regrettable loss is at the very end of the document. The very long alley that runs behind the Leek Road, and that enabled relatively pleasant and quiet walking from Hanley Park / Cauldon Canal down to the Royal Mail sorting office. While usefully avoiding student grot and huge pavement-hogging bins on one side, and the fumes and noise of the main road traffic on the other.

Most of these "residents only" alley gatings appear to being put in place to deter druggies and flytippers. Yet another example of how we all suffer because of measures needed to deal with a tiny minority.

Friday 16 October 2020

Off Hanley, duck

In the Sentinel today, Three-day police crackdown on loutish behaviour turning Hanley into 'land of the living dead'.

Well, I had the misfortune to go into Hanley today and all I can say, is that this report is bollocks in terms of both a "crackdown" and also "loutish". It's far worse than "loutish", and I saw no evidence of a "crackdown" in terms of effective action when needed.

The so-called "mobile unit" mentioned in the report just sat in their warm car and watched from a distance while a madman screamed abuse at passers-by for 15 minutes, many of them elderly and coming from the bus-station. A more cast-iron case of "a breach of the peace" and "distress and alarm" you'd struggle to find. Possibly it had been going on far longer than I was there for. I went into Wilkos on the corner, and by the time I got out the nutter had just that moment got bored of his perch on one of the big stone 'seats' and had started to wander off, still shouting at people. Unfortunately he was going in my direction. I lingered in the Wilko entrance and then kept a safe distance as he raved away down Stafford Street, then he dodged in a shop, smirking with a knowing "got away with it" smirk and he had gone a bit quiet... probably planning to cause more trouble inside.

And that's just one example. Plenty of people could give you many more examples, years and years of them. And not just in Hanley either, but in Forest Park, Hanley Park, Hanley Cemetery, the list goes on. It's nothing to do with the lockdowns, it's been going on for years now and seemingly tolerated. Do you wonder why half the shops in that part of Hanley have closed down? People used to rather idly say Hanley looked like a bomb had hit it. But they were always exaggerating a bit, in that jokey Stokie way. But now it really does look like a bomb has hit it, and it also has the zombies to go with it.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

"All aboard, for the Cobridge Traffic Lights...!"

"Multi-million pound plans unveiled for tram network in Stoke-on-Trent". With the proposed line going from Tunstall - Burslem - Waterloo Road / Cobridge Traffic Lights - Hanley - then splitting into a Stoke Station spur and a Longton line. I assume it would be an on-road system, rather than using the city's Greenways which are now dedicated to walkers and cyclists.

Great idea, and now's the right time to start getting the government to offer the cash to fund all the planning and feasibility studies. But, judging by my experience of the unpleasant West Bromwich tram line, I'd suggest some baseline requirements. When I was last on it the West Brom line had uncomfortable seats, and rattling and juddering and generally noisy trams. I'd suggest that Stoke's line should aim to be:

* fitted with comfy seats, not rock-hard bum-chillers and hip-grinders. Yes, I know you have to deter seat-hogging drunks, who would stay on and yob and sleep all day if you let them. But there must be other ways to deter such things.

* have bus-style forward-facing seats, not side-facing, for less travel-sickness when moving.

* be as whisper-quiet and vibration-free as possible, both inside and out.

I presume the technology has moved on since the 1980s/90s style trams, and such requirements should now be within reach of a high-quality high-tech approach for the 2030s. Perhaps the city's push to be an 'advanced materials' hub could feed into this new tram project, by developing the vibration-absorbing and noise-damping materials needed to deliver a far more pleasant tram-travel experience?

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Behind closed doors

Why are Council tenders not public, in Newcastle-under-Lyme? They are in Stoke and elsewhere. I thought it was national policy to ask for openness and transparency from local Councils?