The Mancunian Way: “Crime Doesn’t Pay”

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Here is today’s Mancunian Way:

By Damon Wilkinson, Monday, June 27

I hope everyone had a good weekend. The big news in the Wilkinson household was that our Labrador Buddy won third prize in the Prestwich Carnival ‘Handsome Hunk’ dog competition. Unfortunately, only three dogs entered.

In today’s Mancunian Way, we’ll hear why Manchester lawyers went on strike and see how a school is helping families pushed to the brink by the cost of living crisis. Kit Vickery gives us a glimpse into a woman’s life in the world of competitive video games – and shines a light on some of the horrific abuse she faced.

And we’ll enter the vacation home in a Stockport suburb that’s become an unlikely Airbnb hit.

“Fair pay for fair trials”

First it was railway workers, now lawyers in Manchester have joined a nationwide strike to protest what has been described as a ‘broken’ justice system. Decked out in robes and wigs, several barristers formed a picket line outside Manchester Crown Court this morning in the first of several days of walkouts over the next few weeks.

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

Lawyers on strike outside Manchester Crown Court on Monday morning

Lawyers will also refuse to take on new cases and do “return work” – stepping in and taking over court hearings and other work for colleagues whose cases are outdated.

Ms Brimelow said: “A day’s work for a junior solicitor is ridiculous hours, the system has shown goodwill for a very long time, including during the pandemic. In terms of the 15% currently on offer, this follows to a recommendation from an independent review that was published in December 2021.

“That review said a minimum and that didn’t take into account that 23% lawyer revenue collapse that happened during the pandemic.”

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

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab called the strikes “regrettable”, adding that they “would only delay justice for the victims”. More here.

School helps 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 guy for parents who need support.

Around 60% of the children at the academy are entitled to free school meals, and with the cost of living crisis raging, Tunde is a busy man. Every day he can be found helping out with everything from housing and benefits to cooking, food banks 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 from school to warm the baby’s bottle until social services arrived.

Director James Hughes and Social and Emotional Resilience Coordinator Tunde King

Arguably it shouldn’t be the school’s responsibility, but headmaster James Hughes, who grew up in the area and whose father went to primary school, takes an admirably pragmatic approach to the issue. “There’s no point in being angry with the government, you just have to do it,” he said.

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

Gamer’s life

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

Along the way, she made dozens of friends, flew to Sweden to see some of the best players in the world strut around, and gained recognition for her work as a commentator. But as a woman in what looks like a rather toxic male-dominated world, she has also faced despicable 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 go back to the kitchen, calling me worthless, saying I should kill myself and threatening to rape or sexually assault me,” she wrote.

Kit Vickery with some of the online abuse she and other players have suffered

Once, Kit even received a death threat. So what can we do? Like Mary Gushie, a games journalist from Canada, who regularly speaks out about the abhorrent sexism she’s encountered, Kit says she’s speaking out to encourage other women and girls to get into the game.

“The hate I feel hurts me, but if just one other woman can see me and feel more comfortable starting one of her favorite games, then I’ve achieved something amazing that makes pain is worth something,” she wrote.

Weather, etc.

Tuesday: Mainly cloudy, with sunny periods.

Pollen: Medium

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

Today’s question: What BBC drama unfolded at a comprehensive school in Rochdale 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 owner 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 proved an unlikely hit with visitors.

After putting the property online in April, he received his first booking in just two hours – and he hasn’t looked back since. “I thought at first ‘who is going to want to stay’?” he said. “Weirdly, reservations came instantly.”

The Heaton Norris Airbnb bedroom

It’s become such a success that Daniel and his partner Hannah Harris are aiming to convert their other rental purchases to 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. But not everyone is happy, as Saffron Otter discovered

Manchester headlines

PCSO sacked: A The PCSO lost her job after falsely claiming she had not received her salary – and even lied about the money transferred to Jamaica. Ellisha Wilson, from Wigan, tricked Merseyside Police into paying her £1,600 monthly salary twice, a court has heard. More here.

Car-free city: Further action is being taken to reduce the number of cars on Deansgate, the council said. It’s part of an effort to make nine out of 10 city center journeys car-free by 2040.

United return: Manchester United first-team members returned to the 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 sky

If you’ve been stuck in queues at Manchester Airport lately, this photo might remind you of a time when getting on a plane didn’t elicit a mild sense of dread. This is part of a series of images that famed Salford photographer Shirley Baker took in the Manchester Airport departure lounge in 1987. More here.

A boy spotting at Manchester Airport in 1987

Worth reading

The long-awaited review of grooming gang allegations in Oldham was finally published last Monday. But its offshoots have already had a seismic impact. The scandal and cover-up allegations contributed to the dethronement of two council leaders, led to the rise of new independent parties and even saw police called to the council chamber during a moody meeting. Here, Charlotte Green examines how it 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 review, please contact me at [email protected]

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The answer to today’s trivial question Waterloo Road was filmed at the former Hilltop Primary School in Kirkholt, Rochdale until the end of series seven when it moved north of the border.

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