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Wythenshawe Reporter joins forces with regional press to demand action on rail misery

TODAY we issue a rallying cry to the north: join us to demand what government promised us.

As part of our day of action, news titles across the region are starting a petition calling on ministers to come good on their northern powerhouse pledges – by ending the chaos on our rail services, signing off the upgrades they promised us and redressing decades of underfunding to the region.
Four years ago this month, then-Chancellor George Osborne promised – when unveiling his vision for a northern powerhouse – to ‘join our northern cities together’ with faster, modern transport connections.

Directly addressing the franchise eventually won by Northern Rail a year later, he said: “We’ll want to see not just better services, and more seats at peak times, but also better journeys.”

We agree.

So now that’s what we want.

Instead of launching a lengthy inquiry that will not report back – with information the government should already know – until the end of the year, transport secretary Chris Grayling needs to end the chaos on our rail network NOW.

We need a fair, fit-for-purpose compensation scheme put in place within days.

And we need the rest of the northern powerhouse that government promised us too: the major transport projects – such as extra platforms at Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road – we were pledged, but which are now languishing on Mr Grayling’s desk.

Finally, we want fair funding – not more second-class services, while London eyes up its SECOND high-speed CrossRail link.

With one voice, we say to the Prime Minister: You promised us a northern powerhouse.

It’s time you delivered it.

Sign our petition here: https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-end-the-northern-rail-nightmare-give-us-the-powerhouse-you-promised

By Jennifer Williams

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REVIEW: Of Mice and Men @ The Opera House, Manchester

Many people are familiar with John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men either as admirers of the American literary giant or having studied it at school.

The story is centred around the unlikely coupling of George and his mentally disabled companion Lenny – a gentle giant unaware of his own strengt.

They are bound together by a mutual dependence and both harbour an unattainable longing for a utopia in which they will have a place of their own, where they will rear chickens, tend rabbits and live off the the fat of the land.

Steinbeck is rightly revered as a champion of the downtrodden and oppressed giving a voice to the poor and migrant workers of the American dustbowl.

You might say that you can’t go wrong with the the classic ingredients of a Steinbeck story – but you can if you mess about with those ingredients.

I’m not sure whether it is the result of the interpretation in this production at the Opera House or whether it was down to Steinbeck himself, but there were some strange departures from original text.

Fortunately the heart of the play, which relies on the relationship between exasperated George and his companion is not lost.

And the performances by Richard Keightley (George ) and Matthew Wynn as Lennie are touching, with well crafted portrayals of the elderly Candy from Andrew Boyer and Crooks from Kevin Mathurin

But Curly’s Wife, trapped in a world she is desperate to escape, is given new lines and different edge to her character that doesn’t quite fit. Rosemary Boyle does well with what she’s been given in this production, but what she’s been given is not the Curly’s wife I remember. In this version before the inevitable tragic encounter with Lenny, she has suitcase in hand and is ready to leave. But the Curly’s Wife I know would never leave. She is trapped.

But although this show could have been better in my view, it maintains the heart and soul of Steinbeck’s story and is certainly worth seeing.

Runs till Saturday.

Appeal for witnesses after scooter rider is left seriously hurt in crash

Police are appealing for witnesses to a crash in Wythenshawe which left a man seriously injured.

The crash happened at 12.20pm on Thursday 15, when a silver Skoda Rapide and a silver Honda NES scooter were in collision on Walney Road at the junction with Woodhouse Lane.

The Honda scooter was travelling along Nearbrook Road as the Skoda Rapide travelled along Woodhouse lane before they collided at the crossroads.

The 29-year-old man riding the Honda scooter was taken to hospital where he is currently being treated for a facial fractures and other serious injuries.

The driver of the Skoda remained at the scene to speak with officers.

No arrests have been made.

Police Constable Philip Shaw of GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “My thoughts are with the man as he receives treatment in hospital and I would urge anyone who witnessed this collision to please get in touch.

“Road closures were in place for over five hours while investigation work was carried out and our enquiries to establish the full circumstances surrounding the collision remain ongoing.

Anyone with information or dashcam footage should contact GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 0161 856 4741 quoting reference number 813 of 15/02/18 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

REVIEW: Dad’s Army @ Northenden Methodist Church

When a legendary classic comedy like Dad’s Army is brought to the stage a by an amateur theatre fans of the show can’t help being a little apprehensive.

But DON’T PANIC – this production by the Northenden Players is a superb recreation of the 1970s sitcom featuring the hapless misadventures of the Walmington-on-Sea home guard platoon in their efforts to defend the nation from the heel of the Nazi jackboot.

This is a very ambitious show and you have to salute the bravery of anyone who would attempt a homage to a comedy institution still shown on TV today.

But thanks to a strong cast and effective use of sets which enables swift scene changes, the Players pull it off admirably.

Everyone contributes to the success of the show, but at the centre of it all is an uncannily accurate portrayal of the pompous but heroic Captain Mainwaring.

Bill Platt just is Mainwaring and it is no exaggeration to say his performance is probably the closest thing you’ll to the brilliant Arthur Lowe’s rendition on TV.

The production comprises three classic episodes – The Deadly Attachment, featuring one of the most repeated lines in comedy history; Mum’s Army; and The Godiva Affair – rounded off with an hilarious attempt by the platoon at rendition of The Floral Dance.

The cast work well together to serve up a comedy treat and will not disappoint fans of the programme. The interplay between Mainwaring and his posh effete Sergeant Wilson, played by Peter Bowers is wonderful.

And Cyril Walker and David Hunt delight in the roles of doddery veteran Lance Cpl Jones and dour Scotland Private Frazer.

It is a hoot from start to finish and a great night out.

Runs till Saturday Feb 17.

Transport bosses make funding bid to expand Airport Metro line

Pic: Mikey

Transport for Greater Manchester has submitted a funding bid to the Department for Transport to extend the Metrolink’s Airport line.

The Airport line currently terminates at Manchester Airport’s railway station, but the funding bid outlines the potential to extend the line with an additional stop at Terminal 2.

According to a report in The Place North West, TfGM said the expansion would “align with Manchester Airport Group’s intended expansion to Terminal 2 and the future development of Airport City”.

TfGM will also look into extending the Metrolink from Terminal 2 to the proposed HS2 station at the airport, which forms part of the wider “Western Loop” initiative, which could potentially link the HS2 station at the airport to Wythenshawe Hospital and the surrounding area.

Other options to make the airport a transport hub for the area include proposals for a busway and cycleway linking Altrincham with the airport’s HS2 station; additional bus priority lanes on the existing road network; and an extension of the railway station’s platforms to increase capacity.

Jailed: Fraudster who preyed on holidaymakers at Manchester Airport

A Wythenshawe conman who tried to persuade holidaymakers to part with their cash, claiming he needed it to visit a sick relative, has been jailed.

Gary Lyon, aged 50 of Shayfield Drive, defrauded people at Manchester Airport in November last year by asking for money so that he could visit an ill family member in hospital.

On the first occasion, he preyed on the kind nature of a business traveller by telling him his car had broken down and he needed money to buy fuel to get to his father-in-law in hospital who had suffered a heart attack.

Lyon promised to pay him back giving him his number to transfer the money but when the victim called later on, the conman never answered.

Around the same time the next day, a 69-year-old woman was picked up at the arrivals hall by her husband, who had recently been discharged from hospital for respiratory problems.

As they were carrying her suitcases to the car, Lyon approached, noticing that the husband was unwell, and offered to carry the bags. The woman politely refused and carried on walking to the car but Lyon grabbed the suitcases and took them to the boot of their car.

He then told the couple he wanted a favour from them and spun them a tail that he needed money to get to his father in hospital who had had a heart attack.

Lyon again promised he would pay the money back to them but when the woman refused to hand any cash over, he got aggressive and despite her efforts to alleviate the situation, he identified a nearby cash machine and marched her over to it.

Fearing for her safety, the woman withdrew some money and handed it to Lyon but as soon as she did this, he ran off saying it wasn’t enough and exclaimed he would get the rest from her husband who was waiting in the car.

She ran after him, concerned for her husband’s safety but Lyon had beaten her to it and was forcing her husband to give him money as she caught up with him.

Startled at how quickly the woman got to the car, he ran off from the scene.

Lyon, who had previous convictions for similar offences, was jailed for one year and four months at Manchester Crown Court.

Detective Constable Alex Wild, of GMP’s Airport CID, said: “Lyon preyed on the good nature of innocent people and took advantage of them, faking family illnesses, which no-one would wish on their loved ones.

“It seems he was oblivious to the effect his offending was having on people but today I’m sure it’s explicitly clear to him that he is now where he is because of his own sickening actions.”

REVIEW: Arsenic and Old Lace @ Northenden Methodist Church 

For those familiar with Arsenic and Old Lace, it is usually the classic film starring Cary Grant which springs to mind.

This makes bringing the story to the stage somewhat of a challenge for any theatre company. 

But it has to be said that the Northenden Players have pulled it off with aplomb, with a production which rivals some professional efforts I have seen. 

For the benefit of those not familiar with the story, originally penned by playwright Joseph Kesserling, it tells the tale of two sweet old ladies whose mission it is to help sad, lonely old souls escape the sorrows of the world by slipping arsenic in their elderberry wine and burying them in the cellar.

They are aided and abetted in their madness by their barmy bugle playing brother Teddy, who is convinced he is Theodore Roosevelt. Caught up in all this is Mortimer Brewster, who appears the only sane member of the family and attempts to protect his aunties with hilarious results. 

With twelve bodies buried in the cellars the plot thickens when Mortimer’s long lost criminally insane  brother Jonathan arrives with a thirteenth.

It all sounds completely bonkers. It is, and it’s brilliant. 

Rosemary Mark and Lesley Bowers are superb as the two nutty sisters with expert comic timing and Robin Bell also makes a wonderful Teddy.

John Wheatley also delivers the laughs and the menace as Jonathan and there is a lovely interplay between him and plastic surgeon sidekick Dr Einstein played beautifully by Tim Collier. 

At the centre of it all Ben Thomas is very good as Mortimer, delivering some of those classic lines, my favourite being “madness runs in our family, it practically gallops.”

This is a wonderful pre-Christmas treat and you just have to time to catch it . The last show is tonight Saturday December 16 at Northenden Methodist Church Hall on Victoria Road.

Dave Toomer 

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