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Issue number 18 Saturday the 17th of May 1997

buses & tram
Speeding through the city, we see a "Magic Bus" (top left), a subsidiary of Stagecoach (top right), a national company which operates the majority of buses in south Manchester. Metrolink (bottom), is a private company.
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A new type of ticket is to be introduced on an experimental basis in Manchester, valid for one journey on buses, Metrolink and trains. Passengers will be able to change from bus to train or train to Metrolink without having to buy a new ticket, which may use "smart" technology, as used in phonecards. The plan is part of the new Labour Government's proposals to shift passengers away from the car and back onto public transport. The ticket is being a radical new idea, but one-journey time-limited tickets have been the norm in many continental cities for over thirty years.

Thanks to the Conservatives' 1986 public transport privatisation bill, there is a multiplicity of bus companies, all with different colours, operating on the streets of the city. In south Manchester, the Stagecoach group operate the majority of buses, and have a 5 weekly ticket which can be bought from the driver. But it's not valid on rival companies' services, including Bullock's, Wall's, Bee Line, Finglands, Bluebird, Mayne, Timeline, Stevensons', or on any of the red "Greater Manchester" buses, which operate in north Manchester. There's also Metrolink, the extremely popular, but rather expensive tram service, in operation now for nearly five years: from the city centre to Bury in the north or Altrincham in the south costs 2.50.

During the next few years we are likely to see lots of change to public transport in the Manchester area: Extended Metrolink lines, eco-friendly metro-shuttles in the new city centre, and newer buses and trains.

Glossop houses

Glossop is to be the location for a new film by Mel Gibson about the Dambusters of WWII, starring Al Pacino. It's not the first time that a town to the east of Manchester was used to make a Hollywood film: The area around Stalybridge was the backdrop for "Yanks", made in 119979, and starring Richard Gere and Vanessa Redgrave.

Other films made in Manchester include the grim and exciting "Hell is a City" made in 1959, directed by Val Guest and starring Stanley Baker, Donald Pleasance and Billy Whitelaw. It's a "kitchen sink" police thriller in which the city itself plays a major role. An all-time classic from the same era is the tragi-comedy "A Taste of Honey", starring Rita Tushingham and Dora Bryan, made in 1961. Fifty years ago, Manchester's first film studio opened. See Manchester Eyewitness.

Manchester United were accused on Monday of selling footballs which had been made in India using child labour. A representative of the club's souvenir shop stated that they had no evidence that children had been exploited in the production of their merchandise. A group of investigators had gone to India and had found youngsters of age 11 and below making balls similar to those sold in the Manchester United shop.

On Tuesday Ex-BBC journalist Martin Bell was sworn in at Westminster as the first independent MP for 52 years. Today he was at Styal's Quarry Bank Mill carrying out his first official function as MP. Tomorrow he will be in Mobberley, the Cheshire village threatened by Manchester Airport's second runway, which will extend to within a mile or so from the parish church.

50 years ago this week, it looked as if Manchester Corporation would be given the go-ahead to build a huge overspill estate in the Mobberley area. See this week's Manchester Eyewitness.

My sources tell me that some time in the next few days, in the early hours of the morning, police, contractors and airport officials are expected to commence the eviction of Runway 2 protesters from the Bollin Valley site. The eco-tunnellers and tree-house dwellers are ready for the confrontation, and though they know they will have to get out eventually, they intend to make things as expensive and inconvenient for the Airport as possible. The confrontation should make world-wide headlines, so watch your local tv stations in the next few days.

The Abraham Moss Centre school in north Manchester was badly damaged by a fire on Thursday night. According to media reports, a group of teenagers trapped a security guard in his cabin and threw paving stones onto the roof. Then the fire was started, destroying most of the 48 classrooms in the school, where 900 pupils are preparing for their exams. The damage has been estimated at 3m.

The incident has occurred just at the time when "alcopops" - alcholic drinks resembling childrens' soft drinks, have been blamed for underage drunkenness and arson. There have been several recent cases of teenagers under sixteen setting buildings alight under the influence of alcohol. The father of a boy whose son set fire to a school after getting drunk on alcoholic lemonade, has called for the drinks to be banned. According to a survey this week, 59% of teenagers drink alcopops, and the heaviest consumption is in Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester.

The "Video Positive 1997 - Escaping Gravity" festival of Video and Electronic Art ends tomorrow. The event took place in both Liverpool and Manchester and showed the work of 200 artists. Today I went to the Cornerhouse, Manchester's arts cinema and exhibition centre, and had a look some of the exhibits, including "Nosey Parker" a pantomime for the Internet by Julie Myers. Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can look at festival too at Video Positive. Please tell me what you think.

The weather has been more settled than in the previous week, though wet on Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday and today were overcast, until the cloud cover thinned after lunch to bring a bright, sunny though hazy afternoon. The temperature tonight is around 61 degrees fahrenheit, 16 degrees celsius.

Text and photos by Aidan O'Rourke


THE NAME HAS BEEN CHANGED TO TRY AND REACH MORE MANCHESTER & DISTRICT EXPATS HUNGRY FOR NEWS FROM HOME!

THE NEW TITLE SHOULD STAND OUT MORE IN LISTINGS, AND WILL EXPLAIN THE CONTENT OF THE FEATURE MORE SATISFACTORILY


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