Walking into my favourite Hull bar at 10pm on a cold Friday night, coldly sober, it has became very clear to me that I am walking into a hot, heaving and intoxicated war zone; usually I dont see a Hull bar at 10pm like this as I am usually part of the intoxicated. This time I am late out and the sight that greets me is rather frightening.
Young men in groups are scattered about holding nervously onto bottles of lager, their eyes are darting about looking at the much older drunken residents for fear that they will be either hit on by a gaggle of old women or hit by the old men.
Women of a certain age with their cheap dresses hitched up provocatively over their thighs and their hair, a toxic mixture of sweat and hairspray, are stuck to their sweaty faces and necks. Men look on at these women, staring at them up and down from behind surely with their beer goggles firmly in place?
People are lurching about, dancing, drinking more, putting on lipstick and getting excited when a new song comes on without even knowing what that song is. Hangovers waiting to happen I say to my two friends who are busy rejecting the advances of one of said lurchers who then spots me and begins to direct his advances at me! I turn away muttering something, kind of like I do to those who sell the Big Issue in our town centre. I dont want to be mean, but I just dont want to buy!
Moral of the story? Get drunk before you go out!!
In the early 1980s, Next retail opened a store in Hull and created such a buzz even the most apathetic Hull shopper was caught up in the excitement. Princess Quay then opened some time later and became the Hull woman’s retail place of worship and now St Stephens has become the place to go to first if you want to unburden yourself of your hard earned money; mainly because of the car parking or quick walk from the Interchange. It’s certainly my first place of call as there are many good high street shops located inside but for me it’s more for convenience and a ‘quick’ shop for something I know I want. However, for a more exciting experience and to buy something special I’m afraid to say I go to Leeds, York or even further afield from Hull. Leeds is the nearest big shopping paradise; the retail capital of Yorkshire. This is because the whole shopping experience for me is more enjoyable and to purchase something from Leeds carries with it a sense of style and exclusivity. Even for the most hardened shopper like myself, there are more shops than even I can visit in one day alone and its for this reason it is known as the “Knightsbridge of the North”.
Many women are also shopping away from Hull because train costs are relatively cheap (a train ticket to Leeds being the same price as say, two average priced taxis within Hull) and it’s only an hour journey into the very centre. Many shops are flagship stores and many mirror London’s shopping experience up here in the North. It’s not just Leeds but also Meadowhall and York; as a child I was taken by my parents to York for my summer clothes so it isn’t a new phenomenon for the discerning shopper of Hull to venture out of the city.
Having said this, I do feel that Hull is now becoming more of a shopping ‘experience’ and with it an emerging coffee culture and so it should have; we have a beautiful city and all overlooked by the Marina and historic buildings. There are parts of Hull, say Newland Avenue, that are unrecognisable when I drove down there a couple of weeks ago and the small independent boutiques were little jewels in a street lined with coffee bars and restaurants; I was surprised and proud that Hull had this to offer.
I ventured to Leeds a couple of weeks ago with my mum and the train was full of women going for that little piece of shopping heaven but it is nice to come back to my home in Hull to sample the delights that our city has to offer; albeit on a smaller scale, there are still little boutiques sitting alongside the big, known stores that offer a good ‘shop’. A flagship store or collection is just what Hull needs but I do think we are on the right track.
I have 10 years’ experience as a divorce lawyer. Divorce is not only a very difficult time but also an expensive time and if paying privately or even contributing to public funding (legal aid) in part, the costs soon start to mount up considerably and eat into the very matrimonial assets that are being argued. A decision that has been extremely difficult to make suddenly becomes an emotional minefield as soon as you get the ‘professionals’ involved.
A difficult situation could soon become further impeded as now the government are planning cuts to the financial help they are willing to give for such matters such as divorce and children disputes, the stress and pressure both emotionally and financially could cause a pressure cooker effect for families who seek legal help and assistance. This means that for example, a father wishing to get more access to his own children during a contentious separation or divorce is going to find such help to be logistically complex and an emotional minefield. The proposed cuts could mean that couples who are experiencing a very difficult time are going to find that they will have nobody to talk to in order to resolve their problems because there will be no funding for them to seek help thus a reduction to the general public’s access to justice.
These proposals are intended to cut the legal aid bill by £350 million a year by 2015. The Law Society has said that the bill would hit the “weak and vulnerable” but the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said legal aid funds unnecessary litigation. In The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, ministers have said they want to end funding for such things as immigration, housing, debt, benefit issues, medical negligence and family law cases. However, domestic violence cases will still receive funding and such abuse is to encompass mental and sexual abuse within the domestic environment.
Baroness Hale, one of our countries most superior Supreme Court Judges has criticised these changes to the accessibility of legal aid as a “disproportionate effect upon the poorest and most vulnerable in society” and that “Courts are and should be a last resort but they should be a last resort which is accessible to all, rich and poor alike”. However, Ken Clarke has criticised the system how it stands now justifying the proposals by saying that the law now encourages acrimonious and lengthy disputes and that it encourages cases to be brought which may otherwise have not been had it not been for legal aid. Mr Clarke also raises the question of why should the taxpayer have to pay for such disputes which is also the other side of the coin and a justification which may attract the most support.
The legal aid system has helped the vulnerable for 60 years. It will be interesting to see if the Big Society is to become the biggest loser.
I have worked in legal practice as a family lawyer for many years and have an interest in politics and law and was interested to find the opinions of the people of Hull in respect of this Country’s Olympic bid success that will go ahead next year in our capital of London. I wanted to gauge the thoughts of the people in the North of the Country as to whether the games were as significant to us up here as in the South.
It would seem that the main concern in this area of the country is the financial impact of the games on our faltering economy. This is especially a concern given that the Government’s proposed packages of cuts include 370,000 job losses in the public sector over the next five years to March 2016 and this is something that is of concern in Hull with local council staff cuts.
My thoughts are the games are a boost to our Country as a whole and will bring in vital revenue; albeit speculating to accumulate being risky in light of the economy. The Chancellor last week spoke rather optimistically of the rise in our faltering economy and excuses given the tragic earthquake in Japan, the cold weather snap (isn’t that what the weather is supposed to be like in winter?), and the Royal wedding. The latter two are surprising to say the least especially the wedding given that it was ‘sold’ to us as being a financial boost to the economy in respect of tourism and retail. These reasons, or rather as some would see excuses, for the slow growth are rather flimsy in that most nations need to have contingency arrangements for such eventualities rather than using them as excuses.
The main worry is that the budget for the games has risen to £9.35bn which is four times the £2.4bn estimate when London’s bid succeeded less than two years ago. The main contributory factor to this budget is construction costs.
Whilst people in London may appreciate the games being held there for the immediate boost in retail and the property rental market, such affects may not be so felt in the North for some time at least. It is even felt that the games will create more of a North / South divide.
If Great Britain performs well in the games then it is felt that our economy may be boosted by this and public moral may be uplifted and the impact on an ever slowing economy may be forgotten for a short while. However, the fact that such factors such as the cold winter’s weather and a Royal Wedding were contributory to the lack of growth then it is hoped the Olympic Games will not slow the economy down to a stop or even into reverse.
The Olympic torch is heading to Hull, let’s hope that our interest in the games is ignited when it reaches us and stays as bright even when it has left our city.