Saturday, May 17, 2008

A new Preston

- A small diversion -

I've just been to see the plans for the new Preston. The sooner the building work gets underway the better!

The plans are forward thinking and yet equally reflect the past and retain Prestons heritage. Careful consideration has been given to controversial issues like the location of the bus station. Locating it on Manchester Road, only a couple of hundred yards away from the current location, demonstrates to me that planners have listened to local concern.
Parking problems have been thought about too, and a light rail link to the docks can only help.

But it's more than just a new bus station and parking and people need to see past that. The project breaths life into our dieing city centre, righting a wrong caused by town planners decades ago.

This will bring people into Preston, bring big name stores, regenerate the markets and importantly create jobs. The multiplex cinema and restaurant area will bring a new dimension to the nightlife, moving the focus away from problem drinking zones.

I only hope provision will be made for small independent retailers who might not be able to afford large rents. One of the only good things about Leeds city centre is an undercover street full of these kinds of shops.

If you have time it really is worth seeing the plans for yourself.Our city has been on life-support for far too many years, and this is the re-birth.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

So different

If you work in the newsroom at a commercial radio station you get to do a bit of everything. From reading the bulletins, reporting, sport and getting involved in the main shows on-air. I found it very different in the BBC.

I started at BBC Radio Leeds in January 2001. My job was to read the news bulletins in what was called the Night Network, my shift started at 4.30pm until half past midnight, reading the bulletins on Radio Leeds, Sheffield, Humberside and York four days a week. It wasn't a very social shift, as I was starting work everyone else was winding down and getting ready to go to the pub.

In hindsight I really regret working the unsociable hours, but I don't regret getting a staff job at the BBC. This was my first time away from Preston and from my parents. A couple of weeks earlier we'd been driving around Leeds looking for a suitable place to live. I ended up renting a room in a house owned by the son of a presenter who worked on Magic 999. Tracey would end up being my housemate for around the next 18 months. She worked for a company in city centre Leeds, formerly she operated the autocue at breakfast television stations TV-am and GMTV.

There was lots of learn, different computer systems, different studios and very different ways of working. I enjoyed the challenge of learning about the areas I would be broadcasting to, and trying to get to know some of my new colleagues.