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Greater Manchester ‘utopia’ named one of the best UK towns to live in

A well-deserved win

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Anthony O'Neil / Geograph

The Sunday Times has named the best place to live in the UK, as well as the best area in each region, and a Greater Manchester town made the cut.

While Manchester made the shortlist – especially the area near Piccadilly station which was commended for its redevelopment – it didn’t take the top spot.

Altrincham was crowned the Best Place to Live in the North West of England, chosen from a shortlist of eight different locations across the region.

According to the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, Altrincham is where ‘suburbia meets utopia’.

Judges praised the market town’s schools, and The Sunday Times Parent Power guide named the girls’ grammar ‘the North West state secondary school of the decade’, while the boys’ grammar came in second.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

The area’s green spaces were ranked highly, including Dunham Massey, Stamford Park and the River Bollin.

Judges were very impressed with the market and food hall, which are seen by many as being responsible for the regeneration of the town’s centre, and the tram route into central Manchester was also taken into consideration.

While Altrincham was actually honoured as the overall winner of The Sunday Times Best Place to Live in Britain guide last year, Stroud in Gloucestershire took the crown for 2021.

Seven other locations were chosen from across the region for the North West shortlist, including Manchester, Saddleworth, Knutsford, Bollington, Liverpool, Kirkby Lonsdale, Arnside and Silverdale.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor, said: “Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience.

“It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead, it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.

“Altrincham was chosen as our regional winner this year as it has everything you want in a suburb: parks, excellent transport links and top-class schools.”

She added: “The inspirational market and food hall that transformed the town centre from the worst in Britain to a favourite destination have continued to show their value, even during the pandemic.”

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Calls for smoking to be banned in pub beer gardens and outdoor seating areas

However, an outdoor smoking ban in is not universally supported

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A recent study found that 1 in 5 ex-smokers think a ban on smoking in pub beer gardens and outdoor areas would help them quit the habit for good.

The Quitting Smoking for Mental Health study spoke to 1,000 current and ex-smokers from all around the country to find out what measures would be best for smoking cessation.

This was the response they got:

  • 26% wanted a ‘smoking ban in all public places, including hospitals, parks and bus stops’
  • 20% wanted a ‘ban on smoking on pub premises, including pub gardens and outdoor seating’
  •  19% wanted a ‘workplace ban on smoking on the premises and cigarette breaks’

According to smoking cessation charity ASH, the study – which was conducted by Vape Club – discovered that 43.9% of ex-smokers found their mental health had improved since they quit smoking.

It also found that the pandemic has been the driving force behind an ‘astonishing’ quit rate among young smokers, although some stressed concerns that pubs reopening may mean they relapse.



Stephanie Barnes, an ex-smoker, said: “It’s quite a tricky one I’d imagine as some outside pub spaces aren’t big enough to separate the garden but I think separate areas would be a good idea.

“Try and remember how far you’ve come – ie if you quit smoking for three months then what is making you want to start when in a pub? Remember how smoking made you feel, for me it was stomach pains and chesty and remember why you’re so much better without it”.

ASH are calling for the current ‘pop up’ pavement licences to be made 100% smokefree, as a way of helping smokers to ‘quit and stay quit’.

They also want to provide family-friendly spaces, as well as preventing any harm caused by second-hand smoke.


Jonathan James, owner of The Boathouse pub, said: “We see an increase in smoking when people drink alcohol. We are fortunate to have an extensive external space, with tables that are very well spaced and table service for safety with the pandemic.

“While we see no need to implement a no smoking policy as it would reduce trade, I can understand urban venues with limited outside access would have an issue.

“I can imagine that a blanket ban would make it easier for an ex-smoker, simply because they no longer have to tell themselves not to smoke. ‘You can’t smoke’ is much easier than ‘you can but best you don’t smoke’, especially after a few Mojitos!”

However, an outdoor smoking ban in pub beer gardens is not universally supported.

Andres Siimon on Unsplash

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “There is absolutely no justification for banning smoking outside pubs and thankfully there is very little support for it.

“If ex-smokers are so easily tempted to relapse that’s their problem not the publican’s.”

He added: “Demands to ban smoking outside are the last thing publicans need as they try to recover from lockdown.

“Ultimately it’s a matter for them, not government or anti-smoking campaigners, to choose a policy that best suits their business and attracts the largest number of customers.”

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Morrisons shoppers upset over ‘intimidating’ Union Jack packaging in the supermarket

Thoughts?

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@MarinaNigrelli / Twitter

Morrisons use of the Union Jack flag on British products has kicked off a debate online.

It was sparked when a shopper posted a picture of the Union Jack branding on the supermarket’s eggs and butter.

Pictures of the products were posted to Twitter, with the customer writing: “Just back from a trip to Morrisons. Is it just me, or have their butter and eggs always been this… patriotic?”

The post sparked a debate and divided opinion in the comments, with some saying they will boycott the items while others argued it was just marking them as being British products.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

Someone replied to the tweet to say: “Very upset by porridge I saw in Morrisons. This flagging everything is very unpleasant and quite intimidating.”

A second added: “Retaliate. I’m no longer buying anything packaged as such. Hurt them through their bank accounts.”

While another replied: “Won’t be buying eggs from Morrisons.”

Some people were confused as to why people were so offended by the Union flag being on British products.

One person said: “I can’t believe you all get triggered over the fact it’s showing we have British products in our stores. You should be proud that it’s cut down on air miles and transport costs and in turn is helpful for the environment. No, you’d rather moan about the national flag.”

A second asked: “They also have the French flag on Brie and Camembert cheeses and the Italian flag on a number of meats. Should we remove them as well? Or is it just because it is the British flag?”

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Handbag thief faceplants into ‘one way’ sign after stealing £760 Moschino bag in the city centre

That’s gotta hurt…

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Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

A man trying to make a swift getaway from police ended up getting more than he bargained for.

The suspect ended up with a sore head after smashing into a ‘one way’ sign after his concentration slipped.

The 33-year-old male was attempting to give Greater Manchester Police the slip after stealing a £760 Moschino bag in the city centre.

While he was making off from officers he looked behind him and ended up faceplanting straight into the sign.

He was subsequently arrested and taken into custody to recover from a ‘sore head’.

GMP took to Twitter and Facebook yesterday to share the news, saying that ‘all signs suggest he’ll make a full recovery’.

GMP City Centre wrote: “One way to custody… A 33yr old male stole a £760 Moschino hand bag. Whilst making off from officers, he looked behind him & then faceplanted straight into a One Way road sign.

“Male now in custody recovering from a sore head, all signs suggest he’ll make a full recovery!”

Ouch!

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