Let's talk about Stoke on Trent....

Sooooo, something a little different on the blog today! Sorry if it's of little interest to anyone else, but the city I live is a sore subject for me at times and I hate giving it a bashing. I suppose this isn't even a bashing, just an opinion which I have formed and don't have another platform the express it on! So, the blog is feeling the brunt and maybe a few people who may be interested (about 1 in 100 of you) can have a  little read and join the debate. I guess over all, this is my response to an article published on the local newspapers website a few months ago and has been an ongoing subject in the area for a while. My local newspaper are also asking for opinions about the subject today so I thought rather than clogging up The Sentinel's comment boxes with this rather lengthy opinion I'd post it here. It is generally in regards to Stoke on Trent's city centre bars and clubs and general night life. As I said, it all started a few months ago when a Councillor within the city suggested closing everything at 2am in an attempt to cut down on incidents and anti social behaviours on a Friday and Saturday evening. The theory behind this was that if this number is cut then the more people will be going in to Hanley of an evening.... I beg to differ. 

Shutting bars and clubs in a city centre at 2am is a bad idea. These are my reasons why:
Shutting a drinking establishment is not solving anti social problems, it is simply moving them on. Times have changed since the mid 80's where drinking at a pub until midnight then taking a quiet taxi home to bed are the done thing at the weekends. Nowadays 2am is often the peak of the night. When people enjoy dancing the most, having a good time and mingling with friends. If people are forced to go home at 2am on a Friday and Saturday evening then I believe they will attempt to source alcohol from other places not which are not staffed with people trained to deal with such clientèle. The Tesco down the road from city centre venues, I feel would suffer the most. As it is a 24 hour store with alcohol on sale through the night the staff should not be put into the position where they are put in potentially threatening situations by refusing to serve alcohol. The store should also not be forced to close during the night as this impacts not only the stores profits but the staffs income also as the store wouldn't need to employ as many people during the night.
Another impact of the proposed 2am curfew is the bar's taking a cut in profits too. It's pretty simple; the bar doesn't break even, it closes down. Staff lose jobs and yet another empty unit is created in what should be a thriving city centre and yet more people are joining the job seekers queue. Is that what local people want? No.

An argument FOR the 2am closing time was "The behaviour of idiots creates a bad image and is discouraging people from using theatres and restaurants.'' I'm sorry, I am no Thespian although I am a bit of a foodie, but I can't remember the last time I went for a nice sit down meal at 2am? In fact most places will discontinue service at 10pm which is just in time for people going on a night out in Hanley anyway. Another winning quote from the article was "Ten thousand fewer people are visiting the city centre at night compared to 10 years ago. Those people have gone missing for a reason." Well, my dear friend. There's this little thing going on called a recession at the moment where people don't quite have as much disposable income to go out for a night up Hanley, and also you will find that apart from the clubs and bars, there's not really a lot else to do? Also take in to account that it's much easier to travel to other places at the weekends nowadays, with £1 National Express coaches and y'know cars and such. 

Should I also mention the fact that due to the costs of going out this kind of discourages people? A meal would set a couple back at least £20 per head including drinks on average, I imagine 10 years ago this wouldn't be quite so pricey, huh. 

I really feel like this councillor and many other big wigs at Stoke on Trent HQ have missed the point entirely with his plight. This city needs to embrace the times and the way society works, not revert back to times gone by attempting to implement changes that may be a quick win solution in their eyes now, but in a few months time it will be the same problems only moved to more residential area's. According to police reports also, the number of incidents is the highest at one particular bar with the other ones in the area coming nowhere near in the top 10 list of incidents. other businesses should not be made to suffer because one controversial bar cannot be bothered to train their staff properly or employ adequate door staff. It strikes me that a lot of people giving Hanley the bad name are ones who have rarely or even never been on a night in Hanley within the past 5 years or so. And it's people like that the city can do without. Whilst I will admit, I do feel 'safer' in bars and clubs I am familiar with (Revolution, Fat Cat's and the Sugarmill) I still do not disregard the idea of going somewhere else due to safety, it's more the music! Places like The Sugarmill who will do something a bit different with their all nighters, are what the city needs. A SELLING POINT. We don't need a 1984 Big Brother-esque weekend with curfews and the fun police cracking down. Treat people like cattle and you can be sure they will act like it. I feel this is all a bit too familiar with these type of 'action groups', they will be a bunch of suits assuming why and what is causing the trouble yet not knowing the facts. I can liken it to the time I was part of a community action group to combat teenage pregnancy in a small town in the city - a lot of very educated, well to do people assuming they knew why there was a high number of teenage pregnancies in the area and thought the answer was a jazzy leaflet about contraception, until I pointed out that one of the reasons I know  some get pregnant early in that area is misinformation about the benefits system and they all thought they were entitled to a free house and life.... And it was a factor non of them had even considered would be part of the issue.

In my opinion, another factor which contributes to Hanley having such a lack of revenue in the evening is the universities. I can only speak from my experience at Staffordshire University but it came as a shock to me that when being 'shown around' the campus and local area not a word was uttered about what Hanley had to offer. Granted, this was 4 years ago now and things might have changed, but I am doubtful. The only establishment the halls wardens/purple people told us about was Liquid. A lot of people new to the area actually thought that STOKE was the city centre too, not Hanley. A lot of 'facepalming' went on during these first few months. I showed the odd few what Hanley had to offer but when you can't even brag about major high street shops it's a bit of a lost cause. Although everyone loved the massive Primark. I feel a LOT more can be done by the education establishments to market the city more.

I think another problem with Stoke on Trent at the moment is the lack of opportunities. It's a massive catch 22. As a recent job seeker I have felt the penny pinching hard times people of this city are faced with every single day. It's incredibly competitive and disheartening when you have 200 applicants applying for one 22 hour job role which isn't even a good rate of pay. This city seems to only have opportunities in cleaning or care work - both of which have anti social working hours meaning that a majority of people in these roles don't enjoy every night up town.  Obviously if there were more jobs created in the city with better and more exciting opportunities, we would have more people in work and therefore being able to afford the price of a night out weekly. But as it stands I know I for one, cannot afford to be partying/drinking/socialising/going out in town week in week out. There's talk of bringing bigger branded and chain restaurants into the city, but I also think at this present time that's a bad call. I mean the novelty of Nando's might be attractive now, but in a few months time when the money has dried up and novelty has worn off, the people of Stoke on Trent (which shockingly has 29% of children in families on out of work benefits) will not be dining there on a regularly enough basis for it to continue trading. But as I said, this all seems like one massive vicious circle where the city is damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I really do try and look on the bright side and think positively of this place I call 'home', but it's a bit hard at times.... It does make me a little sad that 'The Potteries' has totally lost it's worth and is slowly but surely destroying it's own heritage. I feel there is a great deal of potential here with so many creative individuals and the university growing by the day, it's a shame that the people here do not embrace it, well I suppose it's not that they don't, it's that they feel they cannot. It's the land of missed opportunities and distinct lack of motivation to make itself better. The epitome of Stoke on Trent comes as soon as you enter the city via the train station. A massive statue in place, not with an inspirational quote but quite a true one for the city ''MAN CAN'T FLY'' that's right Stoke, you cannot do anything beyond settling so don't even try..... Come on Stoke, we're better than this. (and I know the intention of that statue isn't meant to be seen in a negative light, but as a Stokie automatically seeing the dark side is in my nature)

I'll also just add that I'm no councillor, no journalist, no one of importance within the grand scheme of things..... I'm just a regular patron of the city who happens to be in the age range and group that may just be effected by the decisions made now for the future of where I live. If I've not bored you to death whilst being on my ill informed soap box over here then leave a comment/tweet me, I wanna know what you think. Does the city in which you live sound like this? Or did something happen to make a positive change?

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18 Comments:

  1. Nice rant ;)

    The only thing I am going to say though is Ondre Nowakowski's A Man Can't Fly isn't really meant to be seen as a negative statue. A lot of people so interpret it that way but the pose of the man suggests that he's going to try it anyway, and that perhaps to keep trying even when faced with almost certain failure isn't such a bad thing.

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    1. Haha, yeah I did realise that was the aim, but as we are in the city of negative thinking it doesn't really give the right impression! I think they would have boded better with a more simple motivational quote!

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    2. To be honest in these parts it would have to be very Zoolander esque "Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too" motivational haha

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  2. I think it's good that you're using your blog as a platform to voice your opinions on. I think it can be a brave move to step out there and really say what you think about something, especially if it's out of your usual post themes.

    I think you raise a lot of interesting points, and although I have no knowledge of Stoke on Trent, it definitely sounds like the people in charge have just done a knee jerk reaction to nti social behaviour.

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    1. Thanks Emma, that's really reassuring! I thought it might put a lot of people off the general ethos of the blog but I guess one or two posts containing my opinions won't do any harm. I think the knee jerk reaction to anti social behaviour is a common thing within the UK. but being such a young and small city I think breaking the norm and thinking outside of the box could be a good call, lead by example and all that?

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    2. *anti social.

      No, I think it's good to have a mix of themes. Personal opinion of course, but I think that's one of the positive sides of the fact that most people have a blog now - it gives everyone a voice. Sure, you might have to shout a little louder, but it's good to get it out there and make some noise.

      I think as they're a small city it might be harder for them to act outside the normal reaction to things? Easy to just follow the lead I guess. Can't believe everything has to shut at 2am. Madness.

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    3. It's an absolutely ridiculous proposition in my opinion! I mean imagine what people from outside the area would think when they get wind of such '1984' idea's! It won't be attractin any tourists in a hurry I tell thee!

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  3. You offer nothing of substance in this blog. All you do is say that other people are wrong because you say so. You offer no alternatives to their "incorrect" ideas. What use is that?

    You say "people offering opinions who have never been to Hanley in five years are people the city of Stoke can do without"? Really? Do you have opinions on gay marriage? Have you been gay married in the last five years? You CAN have opinions. The city of Stoke can do without the people who go out solely to get drunk, and those who start fights whilst drunk. That's what Stoke doesn't need. And yes, I have been to Hanley in the last five years. Often. And I've seen that repeatedly. Been a victim of it myself.

    So if they don't shut up shop at 2am because the night is will young...what then? What's your alternative? Leave it as is? That accomplishes so much, doesn't it?

    This whole rant seems to be ground for you to attempt to show up Stoke Council's views without any attempt to address their concerns.

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    1. Hi anonymous. My aim with this blog post isn't to offer a solution but simply offer an alternative point of view to the subject. I appreciate your feedback as the Council and whoever else reads this will, I'm sure. As said at the end of the blog post I am of no one of influence but simply in the demographic which any change may apply to in the future. I'm not showing any one up at all, an opinion is any opinion and the council themselves have expressed their appreciation of receiving this type of response. What would be the point of opening up the subject to discussion if all the responses were the same black and white ones?

      I have been a patron of Stoke on Trent's night life for almost 9 years, I have never been a victim of a drunken fight. If it's a repetitive occurrence for yourself or friends perhaps it is a police matter as I don't think you'd be a target by several different groups of people on different occasions, maybe someone has an ongoing grudge? I don't know.

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  4. I found this really interesting! I've never been to Stoke-on-Trent, I probably couldn't point to it on a map and in general don't have much knowledge of the place so I'm coming at this from a total outsider's perspective, but what you're saying makes a lot of sense. I think it's pretty typical of the national & local governments in place to make an assumption and "crack down" to get quick results (though maybe not the ones they want) without properly considering the long term effects both for the local economy & everything else. It's only in the past year or so I've been going out to bars and clubs but I completely agree with you that around 2am is the high point of the night, and the places that shut at that time are often the places I don't venture into - why pay x amount for entry and/or drinks if I'm only there for an hour or two?
    I think using your blog as a way to express your views about something like this is great - if it's not of interest to some people then that's fine but I for one follow you for your personality & opinions as well as your content, so I've really enjoyed reading your opinion about this!
    Sorry for the essay! x

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I'm glad that at least one more person it aware of the city now. I think Stoke is a place that needs to be a talked about city. I mean the amount of history there is here with the ceramics industry et al, it just seems to be getting more and more lost!

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  5. Just a short comment about Hanley and the so called night life. All that has been put down is all about the young and their wants when it comes to a night life.
    I ask the question what is there to offer for the older person in Hanley and stoke on Trent? Being on the wrong side of 50 where would I and my friends go to have a nice night out. I can say with certainty that we will continue to go to Manchester or Burmingham. Hanley targets the young and caters for them there is nothing offered for anyone beyond 35.

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    1. I completely agree! Like I said, this is from a 20 something year old's point of view! I guess there's the theatre, but obviously that isn't to everyone's tastes. It would be brilliant if Stoke on Trent got some community projects on the go in the evening, maybe taking somewhere like Fat Cat's basement and holding social occasions based on mutual interests?! That would utilise a wonderful space, make the older audience feel more comfortable going in it at times other than the organised night and introduce them to new places to maybe have a meal in the day.... Perhaps we're on to something here....

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  6. I remember I wanted to see Taming of the Shrew once. At 12.30 at night. But I decided not to go because the club down the road was still open so everyone was in there dancing and drunk in a separate building to the one where I was going to see a play. Actually none of that is true. Because it makes no sense.
    I just have no idea why a 2am curfew would make people go to the theatre. It's a ludicrous argument!

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    1. Apparently it would prevent violence and the like... Yeah loads of people forced home at 2am, drunk, on the streets, way to go Einsteins!

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  7. So glad you've wrote this. All that will happen if the 2am curfew comes into effect is that people will go to castle (I'm assuming that they wouldn't be under the same curfew) rather than Hanley. I've never managed to get into a fight despite going most weeks for the past 4 years, sometimes several times a week, if you want to avoid that just don't go to the Rowfers end of the road haha. I really don't think that Stoke is any rougher than any other part of the country just a lot of people seem to have a chip on their shoulders about how it is "rough". People that aren't from either also seem to have never heard of it or have the same sort of banter as people do about most places.
    Another MAJOR issue they need to think about if they want people to go into town at night for things apart from clubs is the transport. Bus services are pathetic to be honest, and I don't know who makes up the routes because some of them (32a) are just stupid! Basically if you're in Hanley after 10 you can't get home without forking out for a taxi which all seem to be after ripping us off and a lot of drive appallingly!
    Also if you want to go to the theatre both of them are fairly out of the way of the were the clubs so what's the problem really?
    Basically I agree with you, a 2am curfew will ruins a lot of people's businesses, weekends and social lives.

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    1. You're 100% right about the public transport issues, I remember when I lived in mow cop and the last bus back was 5pm!!! I had no social life at all until I moved deeper into the city and now I'm within walking distance, even if they offered a £5 shuttle bus it would be a lot better than the taxi services and true, many times I've had taxi drivers on their mobiles when giving me a lift!! Then told me it was nothing to do with me when I told them to get off!!

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  8. I'm glad I found your blog. I used to go Hanley many years back but have not been for night out there in years. As Alex says we now go Newcastle as its more us. We are the wrong side of 40 though :) We also like to go for a meal too, so Castle suits. I have younger friends who use Hanley for a night out but because of money tend to go out later after a few drinks at home, so a 2am curfew would be useless. Hopefully things will improve after the trouble bar is revamped and under new ownership. Seems to be on the right track.

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Thanks for the comment!

About Hello Terri Lowe


A UK Lifestyle, Food, Beauty and Music Blog, based in Staffordshire, you can also expect to see reviews of places around the country. Often spotted Manchester or Birmingham at the weekends, you can expect to see a little bit of everything from festivals to food and everything in-between. When not blogging, you can find me having a nice sit down with my cats, Stevie and Kitty, or enjoying a fine cup of coffee. Don't forget to take a look at my 'about' page if you're interested in collaborating on any exciting opportunities!


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