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Sleuth 28/03/2008

Politicians listen – honest, Metrolink inquisition and the perfect place to get divorced

Published on March 28th 2008.

Sleuth 28/03/2008

Walk with us
Serious stuff this and proof that politicians listen. Following the Confidential story about the state of Piccadilly Gardens and its silly lawns, Councillor Pat Karney, who has responsibility for the city centre, has invited our readers and other interested parties to meet on Saturday 29th March (tomorrow) at 11am, at Caffe Nero. He wrote on the rant feature: ‘join me on a walk and talk about the future of the Gardens. This is the first time in Manchester of a blogging-into-action get together. I will have my Town Hall look white shirt/blue tie, etc…’ He’s very serious as well. We talked to him and all are welcome. Just turn up. Confidential will be there to report on it.

Terminal illness
Sleuth has been shocked to hear about the thousands of passengers left stranded by the inefficiencies of British public transport. Huge groups of angry and inconvenienced passengers have been made to re-arrange journeys as they simply tried to take off for work or leisure. A Metrolink spokesperson said: “I don’t know what people expect, there are bound to be teething problems in a brand new system which is only 16 years old. Passengers need to show patience whilst we tweak the system for the four thousandth time. We expect it all to be complete by the time people born on the opening day of 6 April 1992 are pensionable. Terminal 5 will have some way to go before it catches up with us.”

Metrolink questioned
Seriously though: given the overwhelming response to the Confidential article criticising Metrolink – click here – we’ve been back asking questions of the Stagecoach managed system. We’ve asked: what is the reaction of Stagecoach (and GMPTE – who own the system) to the complaints about their inspectors being rude, aggressive and unhelpful and what level of training is given to them? We’ve also asked if there is any way of speeding up the implementation of new machines with credit and debit card facilities – the machines are the cause of 40% of complaints to Metrolink? We’re going to get a reply early next week, in time for publication on Wednesday.

Picking over the bones
Sleuth never ceases to be amazed by the avariciousness of lawyers. With the case of Heather Mills and Paul McCartney in the news, Sleuth received an email from the Law Society titled DIY Divorce – why it can be a disaster. It read: ‘The Law Society advises litigants to seek the services of a legal professional to represent them in court. Having your own 'legal knight' to represent your cause will help boost your chances. Solicitors help ensure the best outcome for the parties involved.’ Particularly for the solicitors. Ching ching. ‘Legal knights’? Shouldn’t that be highwaymen? The Law Society should know that blatant self-promotion masquerading as altruistic concern or good advice always leaves a bad odour.

Lovely place to make it legal
Speaking of divorce, Sleuth was walking round the city the other day with a guest to the city. They stopped to admire the Civil Justice Centre in Spinningfields by Denton Corker Marshall. This startling new building with 47 civil courts looks like it might be gathering lots of awards for its exciting design. The guest sighed, and said: “What a great location to get divorced.”

Sleuth job title of the week
This is ‘Unemployed chancer’. It appeared in the local paper describing fraudster Raymond Hollinshead’s seduction of two women for various grubby purposes. Imagine the Careers Officer at Hollinshead’s school, looking aghast as the latter said, “I was thinking about becoming a chancer? Although on second thoughts I wouldn’t want to work at it, have you got any advice about being an unemployed chancer?” Jeffrey Archer is apparently keen to give Hollinshead some tips. As are Neil and Christina Hamilton. And James Hewitt. And Paul Burrell. And of course Heather Mills.

Dairy porn
Sleuth was watching an art video in the Cornerhouse last week. There was a milk carton painted green with a hole near the bottom and the milk exiting at force. A young woman was putting her mouth to the white stream and either swallowing, spitting or letting the milk dribble down her chin. Sleuth was trying to work out whether this was, without exception, the single most pornographic reference he’d ever seen in an artwork, and what on earth the artist was trying to say, when he heard a noise. Behind him, there was an old couple dressed as though they were nipping out to the post office. They were staring at him, staring at the video. Then they sighed and walked away. Sleuth felt diminished. That exhibition, part of the Spanish season, finished on the weekend. The next exhibition starts on 5 April, Sleuth wonders, with not a little trepidation, what might be coming next.

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BruceMarch 28th 2008.

You may be interested to know that travellers with season tickets which originate outside the GMPTE area (which is a little wider than the GMC area, as it takes in places like Glossop which are served by train from Manchester) get perpetual grief when their tickets are inspected by the Metrolink Gestapo. For example, if a person who lives in Sheffield, and his monthly season ticket to Manchester doesn't cover the tram. If he gets on or off his train at Oxford Road it isn't a problem, but if he jumps on or off a tram at St Peter's Square to take him to or from Piccadilly, there is a problem. He's not strictly allowed to do this. it's a silly anomaly, one of many. Punters who travel into Manchester every day from Liverpool and anywhere else outside the GMPTE area should technically be buying a tram ticket in the city centre. It's an anomaly, and it needs correcting!

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