The Mancunian Way: ‘Crime doesn’t pay’

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Here’s today’s Mancunian Way:

By Damon Wilkinson, Monday June 27

Hope everyone had a good weekend. The big news in the Wilkinson house was that our Labrador Buddy bagged third prize in Prestwich Carnival’s ‘Handsome Hunk’ dog contest. Sadly only three dogs entered.

In today’s Mancunian Way we’ll hear why Manchester’s barristers have gone on strike and look at how one school is helping families pushed to the brink of disaster by the cost of living crisis. Kit Vickery gives us a glimpse of life as a woman in the world of competitive video games—and she sheds a light on some of the horrendous abuse she’s faced.

And we’ll step inside the holiday home in a Stockport suburb that’s become an unlikely Airbnb smash.

‘Fair pay for fair trials’

First it was the rail workers, now Manchester’s barristers have joined a nationwide strike in protest at what’s been described as a ‘broken’ justice system. Bedecked in gowns and wigs, several barristers formed a picket line outside Manchester Crown Court this morning on the first of several days of walkouts over the coming weeks.

Speaking outside the court Kirsty Brimelow QC said the strikes were being staged as a ‘last resort’ in a dispute over legal aid funding and a proposed 15 per cent pay rise that was insufficient in the light of years of cuts.

Striking barristers outside Manchester Crown Court on Monday morning

Barristers will also refuse to accept new cases and to carry out ‘return work’– stepping in and picking up court hearings and other work for colleagues whose cases are overrunning.

Ms Brimelow said: “A working day for a junior barrister is ridiculous hours, the system has gone on goodwill for a very long time, including in the pandemic. In terms of the 15 per cent now that’s being offered, that’s following a recommendation from an independent review which was published in December 2021.

“That review said a minimum and that didn’t take into account that collapse of barrister’s earnings of 23 per cent which happened during the pandemic.”

More than 1,000 cases will be impacted on each day of the strikes, the Criminal Bar Association said.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab described the strikes as ‘regrettable’ adding they would ‘only delay justice for victims’. More here.

The school helping families pushed to the brink of disaster

Tunde King is the social and emotional resilience coordinator at Blackley Academy in north Manchester. What that slightly wordy job title means in practice is that he’s the go-to man for parents needing support.

Around 60 per cent of kids at the academy qualify for free school meals, and with the cost of living crisis biting hard Tunde is a busy man. On any given day he can be found helping with everything from housing and benefits to cooking, foodbanks and budgeting.

During a cold snap a few months ago Tunde stepped in to help a family with a new baby who didn’t have enough money for electricity or food. Using Tesco vouchers he put meals on the table and brought urns in from school to warm the baby’s bottle until social services support arrived.

Headteacher James Hughes and social and emotional resilience coordinator Tunde King

Arguably this shouldn’t be the school’s responsibility, but headteacher James Hughes, who grew up in the area and whose dad went to the primary, takes an admirably pragmatic approach to the problem. “There’s no point in being angry at the government, you’ve just got to do it,” he said.

“You see some of the situations people are living in and it’s frightening. You have to do the right thing, there’s not even a question of ‘should we be doing that?’ because we do it for the children for whom we’re ultimately responsible.” Read more.

Life as a female gamer

When she’s not reporting for the Manchester Evening News, Kit Vickery spends a lot of her time playing video games. She’s pretty good at it – in fact she’s going to be representing her country in the upcoming Commonwealth Esports Games.

Along the way she’s made dozens of friends, flown to Sweden to watch some of the best gamers in the world strut their stuff and been recognized for her work as a commentator. But as a woman in what sounds like a pretty toxic male-dominated world, she’s also faced vile abuse and bigotry

“For every positive comment or person I’ve surrounded myself with, I’ve received dozens of horrible remarks and messages – telling me to get back to the kitchen, calling me worthless, saying I should take my own life, and threatening to rape or sexually assault me,” she writes.

Kit Vickery with some of the online abuse she and other female gamers have received

One one occasion Kit even received a death threat. So what can be done about it? Like Mary Gushie, a games journalist from Canada, who regularly opens up about the obnoxious sexism she’s met, Kit says she’s speaking out to encourage other women and girls to take up gaming.

“The hatred I get hurts, but if just one other woman can see me and feel more comfortable booting up one of her favorite games, then I’ve achieved something incredible that makes the pain worth something,” she writes

Weather etc.

Tuesday: Mainly cloudy, with sunny intervals.

Pollen count: Medium

Roadworks: Temporary traffic lights on Worsey Road North, Walkden due to gas main works. Lane closed due to gas main work on A57 Mottram Moor, westbound from A628 Market Street (Gun Inn traffic lights, Hollingworth) to Stalybridge Road (Mottram)

Today’s Manc trivia question: Which BBC drama was set in a Rochdale comprehensive school until producers made the bizarre decision to uproot staff and pupils to the Scottish town of Greenock?

Answer at the bottom of the newsletter

A city break in Stockport?

Even landlord Daniel Bellamy admits it’s not the most obvious place for an Airbnb. But his smart two-bed terrace in the Stockport suburb of Heaton Norris has proven to be an unlikely hit with visitors.

After putting the property online in April he received his first booking within just two hours – and he’s not looked back since. “I did think at first ‘who is going to want to stay’?,” he said. “Weirdly, bookings came in instantly.”

The bedroom of the Heaton Norris Airbnb

It’s become so successful that Daniel and partner Hannah Harris are aiming to convert their other buy-to-lets into Airbnbs, with a larger property in Bramhall ready in a few weeks and three more in Stockport up and running in the next six months. not everyone’s happy about it, as Saffron Otter found out

manchester headers

PCSO sacked: A PCSO lost her job after falsely claiming she’d not been paid her wages – and even lied about the money being transferred to Jamaica. Ellisha Wilson, from Wigan, duped Merseyside Police into paying her £1,600 monthly wage twice, a court heard. More here.

Car-free city: More measures are being taken to reduce the amount of cars on Deansgate, the council has announced. It’s part of a push to have nine in 10 city center journeys car-free by 2040.

United returns: Manchester United first-team squad members have returned to the club’s Carrington training complex on the first day of pre-season training. David de Gea, Tom Heaton, Nathan Bishop, Phil Jones, Alvaro Fernandez, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams and Donny van de Beek were among the senior arrivals at 9.30am this morning.

Reach for the skies

If you’ve been stuck in the queues at Manchester Airport recently this pic might remind you of a time when catching a plane didn’t induce a slight feeling of dread. It’s part of a series of images that renowned Salford photographer Shirley Baker took in the departure lounge at Manchester Airport in 1987. More here.

A boy planespotting at Manchester Airport in 1987

Worth a read

The long-awaited review into allegations of grooming gangs in Oldham was finally published last Monday. But its ramifications have already had a seismic impact. The scandal and allegations of a cover-up contributed to the dethroning of two council leaders, led to the rise of new independent parties and even saw police called to the council chamber during an ill-tempered meeting. Here Charlotte Green looks at how it’s changed the face of politics in Oldham.

That’s all for today

Thanks for joining me today. The next edition of the Mancunian Way will be with you around the same time tomorrow. If you have any stories you would like us to feature or look into, please contact me at [email protected]

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The answer to today’s trivia question, Waterloo Road, was filmed in the old Hilltop primary school in Kirkholt, Rochdale until the end of series seven when it moved north of the border.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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