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A NEW BRIDGE HAS APPEARED spanning the Manchester Ship Canal at Trafford Wharf. Engineers floated the 95 metre (103 yard) wide arc-shaped footbridge section along the canal and lifted it onto the twin pairs of towers on either side. These towers will be used to raise the footbridge when a ship passes through (not very often at the moment). In the picture, I've captured the scene before and after the footbridge was put in. It's pretty impressive - the design echoes the curved outline of the swing bridge at Trafford Rd (built when the Ship Canal was opened in 1894 - but it won't swing any more - a new fixed bridge has been built right next to it). I've used a 1987 picture of the Trafford Road bridge for this month's main navbar on the home page! Over to the right of the picture above, we see the site of the new 28.5m war museum, which was approved seven days ago. And Manchester has been awarded the Silver Jubilee Cup from the Royal Town Planning Institute for its job in rebuilding the city after the 1996 IRA bomb.

WITHIN A FEW YEARS, PEOPLE MAY HAVE TO PAY TO ENTER THE CITY CENTRE BY CAR. Manchester is to try out a "pay-as-you-drive" scheme which is supposed to reduce traffic congestion in cities. Motorists will be electronically tagged and charged as they pass key entry points on roads into the city centre. During the pilot scheme, no money will be taken, and 1000 volunteer motorists will carry the "tag" in their car. Sensors will detect and identify cars as they pass key points, and eventually, bills will be sent out to car users (to add to all the other ones they receive already). This new road toll scheme is intended to cut the number of vehicles entering the city centre, and the money raised will be ploughed back into public transport, or so we're told. Personally I doubt if it will have any effect at all on city centre road congestion, but it might well encourage shoppers to avoid the city centre completely and go to "toll-free" destinations. Councillor Richard Leese said on Northwest Tonight this evening that the scheme should be introduced in such a way that it won't damage the city centre. I hope so.

THE PROPOSAL FOR A TRANSPORT INTERCHANGE on Shude Hill has been called "hideous" by the CIS, whose famous office tower stands just nearby. But Joe Clarke, chairman of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority supports the plan. The Manchester Civic Society have also objected on account of the design, which resembles Chorlton St bus station with the addition of spiral ramps similar to those on the corner of the Arndale Centre at Shude Hill.

LOUTISH BEHAVIOUR ON PLANES continues to grab the headlines. The latest incident has occurred on an Airtours Boeing 767 on its way from Gatwick to Jamaica (BBC Teletext reports). Fighting broke out over the eastern US, and the pilot landed in Virginia, where 12 people were removed from the aircraft. They may have to repay the airline the 20,000 cost of the detour. Only recently, Lancashire-based Airtours, which operates many flights from Manchester, was featured in the news in connection with the problem. Manchester Airport, co-operation with the police, recently introduced a clampdown on "air rage". And last Monday, Eric Savage was jailed for 18 months after he drank excessively, smoked in the non-smoking area, used bad language and grabbed a female flight attendant's bottom during a flight to Tenerife. But by way of contrast...

GALLANTRY ON THE PART OF A THOUGHTFUL and quick-thinking marshaller at Manchester Airport saved the holiday of an Airtours passenger. Alan Stringer noticed that a woman had left her purse and passport at the departure gate before getting on her plane. He notified the flight crew, jumped in a van, drove to the plane which was at the top of top of the runway, and threw the purse and passport up to cabin staff waiting at the door. The plane then took off. Alan was specially commended for his kind actions, and appeared on the front page of Friday's MEN. And in the House of Commons today, MP Graham Stringer (no relation, as far as I'm aware) called for an "open skies"policy to allow Manchester Airport to expand.

PICCADILLY STATION APPROACH may be closed to traffic, Gateway House - dubbed "The Lazy S" may be demolished, and the Piccadilly Station tower block may be turned into a hotel - these proposals and others are being considered by Railtrack, who own Piccadilly Station. And inside the station, bugs in bags have been hired to eat up oil leaks on the tracks. The oil-eating microbes will lie there for two years. Currently, the train shed (picture, left) is being extensively refurbished

IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD... Just round the corner from Piccadilly Station, a unique street featured in one of my black and white photos (right) has been altered due to construction work. This (below right) is how Jutland Street looked this morning. Celebrated local artist L S Lowry was also quite taken by this street, and made a drawing of it. Now the street will never look the same again. While on one side of the city an ultra-modern structure bearing his name is under construction- on the other side, the Manchester Lowry knew is being quietly demolished. What the individualistic rent-collector-artist would have made of the The Lowry (I keep wanting to say "centre" but this has been dropped from the name), I've no idea - I don't think he'd like it. See LS Lowry's fascinating and touching pictures of Manchester and Salford at Salford City Art gallery - They have some very reasonably-priced Lowry prints for sale too.

NURSES ARE TO GET AN IMPROVED PAY AND CONDITIONS - New recruits will do especially well. And this evening, I saw a new tv ad, part of a campaign aimed at attracting nurses back to the profession. The government has already been recuiting nurses abroad, including the Philippines. Perhaps expat nurses reading this might be tempted to return home, though those whisked away 50 years ago by GI's might prefer to stay where they are!

THE AMBULANCE SERVICE continues to be under pressure. Tuesday's MEN carried special report including a claim by paramedics that relatives of seriously ill patients often have to sit in the front of ambulances to direct crews to the nearest hospital. Paramedic crews work 12 hour shifts and are often exhausted. Why are things so bad? An increase in 999 calls, and problems with the automated system they use to find the nearest ambulance, are just two factors, though GMAS operations director Mike Lloyd says he doesn't think there are major problems. When driving I often move over to let ambulances past. Nowadays, most carry the word "Paramedics" on the side, and have American-style sirens rather than the ringing bells of many years ago.

THE HARVEY FAMILY OF GATLEY have had a terrible Christmas and New Year - Their house caught fire on Boxing Day, and they lost their daughters Zoe (10) and Lisa (3). 10 year old Katie survived, but will have to have skin graft operations. Parents Graham and Julie, along with their unborn baby, survived without serious injury. The Harvey Girls' Trust Fund has been set up. If anyone wants to make a donation, send cash transfers to Barclays Bank, sort code 20 82 14, account number 70999520. Here's a recent picture of Gatley featuring the Tatton Cinema and War Memorial.

MARK GLAZZARD, FATHER OF THE DIVER WHO DISAPPEARED OFF DUBAI returned from the Gulf emirate last Tuesday, saying he didn't think his son had been kidnapped. Since then, the online edition of the Dubai-based Gulf News has reported that the two bodies recovered from the sea off Dubai were those of Robert Glazzard from Rochdale and Aaron Hopa from New Zealand. Dental records were sent from Rochdale to Dubai for identification. Why the two men went overboard in the early hours of 11th of January remains unexplained.

WHEN IS A FAVOUR MORE THAN A FAVOUR? This was the key question as Manchester went public about favours granted to Olympic delegates during the 2000 Games bid. Reading the reports, it seems to me that the favours don't amount to bribery. There are reports of certain IOC delegates submitting fraudulent expense claims to Manchester but these were not paid. The visiting delegates were given the hospitality you'd expect of a high-profile event such as this - "They dined and not at McDonalds" said MP Graham Stringer - but it was all completely above-board. Manchester spent over 5m on the bid, and it is hoped to claim this money back. But ex Manchester MP Ken Eastham says the money should be paid back to the providers of the money, including The Co-op and Manchester Airport.

GREATER MANCHESTER POLICE are the third worst force in the country in the solving of crime, and third most expensive to run. These results come from a study by the Audit Commission. But officials have defended GMP's record: Their detection rate is getting better and the number of crimes solved per police officer is also improving. Cheshire is fifth in the country. Dyfed-Powys and Gwent, in Wales, are at the top of the list. Meanwhile, the recently-heralded city centre police clampdown has yielded its 200th arrest. But on Friday, there were reports of "maverick" spending at GMP, whilst at the same time, Chief Constable David Wilmot is having to make cuts.

78 YEAR OLD MARJORIE LAROSE WAS BRUTALLY ATTACKED in her Marple home by two youths last July. Today she was at Manchester Crown Court to see the trial of the 14 and 15 year old boys who inflicted the horrific facial injuries which were depicted in the media and shocked the local public. The two boys, who can't be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty, so she was spared the ordeal of giving evidence. They will be sentenced later this week. Wearing a patch over her right eye, she told BBC Northwest Tonight's reporter outside the court: "I don't forgive them for what they did to me".

A TEENAGER WAS SHOT DEAD ON HIS DOORSTEP in Stretford on Wednesday night. It's thought that Leon McKinlay, aged 18, was mistaken for someone else. He's not thought to have connections with gangs - a feud between Longsight and Moss Side factions was mentioned in media reports.

CHESTER CROWN COURT HAS BEEN HEARING an intriguing account of marital infidelity, videoed three-in-a bed sex romps, and feelings of jealousy and rage, which led to the killing of a beautiful young wife and mother. Kathy and Chris Linaker were members of a Warrington drama society, along with Jenny and Nick Cupit. Jenny and Chris began an affair, but Chris wouldn't leave his wife Kathy. Jenny went to Linakers' home in Penketh, and stabbed Kathy to death. She has put in a plea of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. In its characters and setting, the story seems worthy of an "Inspector Morse" screenplay. There are lessons to be learnt by all married people, I think, and quite a few amateur dramatics enthusiasts as well. Postscript: On Tuesday 2 Feb Jenny Cupit was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

PRINCESS ANNE VISITED STRANGEWAYS on Thursday - or to give it its new official title HMP Manchester. She took special interest in the prison's suicide awareness strategy, and met Tyson - best prison dog in the country - He was muzzled for the occasion. Later the Princess (her official title is The Princess Royal) visited the new Territorial Army barracks in Salford. Here's a picture of the TA barracks in Ardwick.

A NEW ANTI-CANCER DRUG has been developed by the Cancer Research Campaign, based at Christie Hospital in Withington. And Professor Malcolm Stevens played a crucial role in the development of the drug, which attacks the DNA of cancerous brain cells. The CRC runs a high-profile charity campaign - the money is used to fund developments such as this one.

SOME POTTED FOOTBALL RESULTS*: Oldham-1 York-0; Blackpool-2 Macclesfield-1; Stockport-1, Wolves-2; Charlton Athletic 0, Manchester United 1; Oldham-0 Fulham-1; Millwall-2 Macclesfield-0; Oldham reserves beat Manchester City reserves 3-1, Oldham beat York 1-0, Blackpool beat Macclesfield 2-1; Stockport-1, Wolves-2; Charlton Athletic-0; Manchester United-1. And in basketball, the Manchester Giants beat Birmingham B 96 to 72. In ice hockey, Manchester Storm beat London Knights 3-0. (*Don't use these results to check your football pools - I can't guarantee 100% accuracy!)

KID CREOLE is coming to Manchester, and he's looking for somewhere to live, Carl Palmer reports in "The Diary". The zoot-suited New York-born singer and performer will be playing a lead role in "Oh What a Night", showing at the Opera House from April. If anyone has a two-bedroomed flat for rent, with plenty of space for suits, please make themselves known!

POP HEART-THROB KAVANA, loved by teenage fans around the world, has predicted that Manchester-based singer Rachel Gilson (left) will make it big in 1999. Carl Palmer reported in Friday's Diary that former model turned singer Rachel Gilson was spotted in ultra-cool cafe bar Mash and Air with 21 year old Kavana, - they've been pals for years he says. I mention this because I recently saw Rachel perform at Prague V, and thought she was very good indeed. I took these photos during her performance. Remember in years to come, you saw them first here on Eyewitness in Manchester!

THE MOSCOW CITY BALLET have been performing the Nutcracker Suite and Sleeping Beauty at the Palace, though MEN reviewer Alan Hulme doesn't think they're in the top league. Other performances: The New Ensemble at the Royal Northern College of Music, tenor saxophonist Don Weller at Band on the Wall, and the Halle at the Bridgewater Hall.

WHO WAS THE MAN WHO CRIED "JUDAS" AT THE BOB DYLAN CONCERT in 1966 at Manchester's Free Trade Hall? It was Keith Butler, then 20, now aged 53 and living in Toronto. Popular music expert and cultural studies lecturer CP Lee, of Salford University, who was also at the historic concert, when Dylan went "electric", was contacted by Keith after reading a review of CP Lee's book "Like The Night" in the Toronto Sun.

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD BUST-UP TO MAKE RIVETING TELEVISION- Last week we watched a programme about how Manchester-based Shami Ahmed, founder of the "Joe Bloggs" fashion company, became involved (in a business, not romantic sense) with royal dress designer Elizabeth Emmanuel. But like many relationships, whether in love or commerce, this one ended in acrimony, lawsuits, and a public slanging match. An article by Ian Wylie in Wednesday's MEN provided further insights.

IT'S BEEN CLOUDY AND MISTY over the last few days. The sun hasn't made an appearance since the end of last week. Here's another view of Salford Quays with the new bridge (before addition of the central span) and the Lowry Centre - oops, I mean The Lowry. Looks like Dubai, but without the humidity! Nice, but the scene needs more people, boats and cars - I'm sure they're on their way! Current EWM temperature 41 fahrenheit, 5 celsius.

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