The north-west’s suburban good food desert

In the first series of The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon visited Good Food Guide-recommended restaurants in the north of England. More specifically, they visited restaurants in the rural north of England, avoiding cities.

They needn’t have done. Based on the 2017 edition of the guide, there is no problem finding good places to eat in Manchester and Liverpool – but it is much harder in suburbia, particularly in the hinterland between the two city centres. Continue reading “The north-west’s suburban good food desert”

From Tynemouth chic to Whitley Bay, where every day is like Sunday

Tyneside in England’s north-east has a revived centre for everyone in Newcastle and Gateshead, but its coastal edges are struggling, like Whitley Bay, or moving upscale like Tynemouth. It’s like Britain in miniature.

Originally published on Beacon.

Continue reading “From Tynemouth chic to Whitley Bay, where every day is like Sunday”

Opening up on Beacon

After a year of writing every week on Beacon, with the articles behind a subscription paywall, in 2015 I plan to publish longer articles every month. I will also open up what I write on Beacon, so everyone can see it. (This has already been the case if you have followed a tweeted link to an article.)

I have also opened access to some of my favourite articles from 2014 on Beacon, listed below. Hope you enjoy them. Continue reading “Opening up on Beacon”

If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you

Local authorities matter. They provide many of the most basic public services: schools, roads, refuse collections and recycling, social services, planning and benefits administration. They are the part of government you would notice first, if they stopped working. In many areas of Britain, a council is the largest employer, and with their elected members, local authorities are arguably the most democratic type of public sector organisation.

But they are tricky to follow. Journalists trying to cover councils nationally suffer from being based mainly in one place, London, from lack of resources and from the sheer number of authorities.

The exceptions are journalists who work for locally-focused publishers. Despite falling advertising and circulation income, it is still local and regional newspapers, broadcasters and online publishers that produce the best coverage of local authorities.

As a result, while it is easy to keep tabs on your own council, if you want to track local authorities nationwide – as a councillor or official keen to learn from your peers, or a supplier seeking new opportunities – you would need to monitor many hundreds of sources.

So let Council News Monitor do the job for you. It’s a new email service, sent first thing every weekday morning, with articles and press releases from councils in all nine English regions, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – or, as the four nations can safely be called again, the United Kingdom. Continue reading “If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you”