Reflection on Planning and Licensing reporting

We learnt about how planning and licensing decisions are made at council level which is something I’ve long been interested in like how decisions are made about new building developments or opening/closing new or existing pubs/clubs/bars.

We also had to turn a preview story round very quickly about an actual council meeting that is taking place in Leeds tomorrow regarding a planning application for the Merrion Hotel including a Marco Pierre White Restaurant.

I saw the difference between a badly run local news website compared to a very professionally run website which produces up to the minute news.

We did a breakdown of how we would report on a council meeting and what is expected of us before/during/after a council meeting and how we would go about it.

After this lecture and another fantastic powerpoint from John I do now have a greater understanding of what skills I need to use for reporting on such a rich amount of stories.

It was blatantly obvious that council planning and licensing committees do provide a lot of excellent stories to report on which is something I am increasingly finding during my time working on such stories for my degree, be it a creation of a new anti-austerity party, council services and now planning and licensing.

It also comes at a very interesting time for Hull with the recent approval of a planning application for the Ferens Art Gallery and the start of regeneration work in the town centre for the 2017 City of Culture events.


Dancing Through the Shadows- Review

If there is a better show at Hull Truck Theatre in the coming months, even years, I would very much like to see it. This latest Hull truck production, written by the masterly Richard Vergette is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word.

A superb cast of Laura Aramayo, Marc Graham, Christine Mackie, John Elkington and Jim English make this an absolute must-see treat of epic proportions.

Beautiful direction from Mark Babych and wonderful set and costume design from Dawn Allsopp just add to the grandness of this visually stunning story.

The effervescent opening with Neville Chaimberlain claiming ‘Peace In Our Time’ in September 1938 sees the cleverly written start of the budding relationship between Sylvia (Aramayo) and Tom (Graham) as they celebrate the good news that everybody at that time had been hoping for.

The relationship between the two young lovers is beautifully and masterfully developed early on and then of course came the moment of the declaration of war with Germany and suddenly the whole dynamic was changed as if the stage was balanced on a sixpence.

The music in the background set the tone absolutely expertly and the story became a genuine roller coaster of emotions and huge respect, not only for the full cast which included a community ensemble, but also as we were given a ride through it, for the people who lived through this most awful part of Hull’s history.

But along with the very powerful heart rending moments there was also some fun and comedy on offer that just lifted the mood in the auditorium and set people giggling. The class divide between Hessle and Hessle Road is also perfectly acted as rich (Tom, Grace and Gilbert) are brought together with rough and ready (Sylvia, Maurice and David) by the now blossoming relationship and the destruction of World War 2.

The part of Brian (also played by Graham) is perfectly pitched as the wide boy looter and black market Spiv, just adding to the character that the production exudes. John Elkington gives a wonderful performance as both Maurice and Gilbert, he and Graham seemingly handle playing two roll’s with great poise and minimal effort, a true indication of their prowess.

The desperation of war is superbly established and extremely effectively communicated, no more so than when Hull is hit by a stray bomb after the all clear has sounded, killing a young mother and her baby despite Maurice’s attempts to save them.

The interval is also perfectly timed leaving a big cliffhanger caused by the blitz of 7 May 1941 when Hull City Centre was virtually flattened.

You barely have a moment to settle back into your seat before you are shocked with the opening to the 2nd half beginning where the 1st half left off.

There is a big change in the emotional state on stage after the interval and it’s not just caused by David signing up and going off to fight, but once again the hopelessness of war is very well expressed and the occasional one-liner from either Sylvia or Grace does just nicely lift the mood again.

The way the set is designed and the sound effects of the bombing give you a sense of what it must have been like to live through this tragic period as you are left emotionally tested while always hoping for the best for the characters who you really identify with and develop feelings and emotions as powerful as a speedboat on the Humber Estuary.

The characters are thoroughly believable and lovable all at the same time and the ensemble cast are not just merely there to make up the numbers they are there as an essential part of the storyline and used to great affect by the director.

After the literally heart-wrenching moment of an incident caused by the war, particularly on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, there is genuine shock and bewilderment, followed by some harsh words which then eventually give way to thankfulness.

After the abject failure of the BBC to include this ‘North-East Coast Town’ in its recent series about Blitz Cities, Hull now has a very proud answer to that snobbish failure, the next UK City of Culture can be outstandingly proud of its traditionally iconic theatre that was founded by Mike Bradwell almost out of protest.

After the performance Marc Graham said: “It’s a really good cast, they’re lovely to work with.

“The ensemble cast are older members of the youth theatre here so they really know what they’re doing as well.”

Speaking about playing two characters, including a lead, he said: “I loved it… It was really great to be able to tap into the two characters, Brian is obviously the secondary character who is quite a wide boy, while Tom really gets down and serious.

“With the injury that Brian suffers I just kind of thought about how would somebody like that react to losing something like a leg.”

Speaking about working on this particular project with Laura Aramayo he said: “It’s great to be able to work with her on something like this, I’ve worked with her before but only on small stuff so to work with her on this, with the run it’s having is great.

“We had a good talk before about what our characters are going to do and what it would be like for them and of course with the class divide which was a real struggle and still is a real struggle unfortunately.”

I then spoke to the writer Richard Vergette about this premiere performance after the three previews last week.

He was obviously very happy with how it had gone, saying: “We let it go tonight and it seemed to go well and the audience response was very enthusiastic so yes I’m a very happy man and a relieved man tonight.

He then spoke about his delight at how the cast had handled the story: “I think it’s really important that when you’re working with a company on a piece that is as emotionally intense as this is that you’ve got a group of people who are willing to invest themselves as enthusiastically and passionately as they did.

“I’m absolutely delighted at the way that the actors have responded to the challenges of the piece.”

Talking about the community ensemble who are involved he said: “I didn’t realise when I wrote it that the community would be involved but I’m delighted with them.

“They’re a real bonus and they are a very important part of it not just an add on.”

Clearly enjoying talking about the production he then said: “This play is about Hull, for Hull and it’s about one of the most desperate times in its history, which largely the population is not aware of.

“They don’t know that this was the most bombed city outside of London, 1200 people perished, 3000 were injured or maimed 90-95% of houses were destroyed or damaged at least once and that the city re-grouped and re-found itself is a testament to its courage and its ability to take care of each other.”

It is a play for Hull but the writer would also like to see it go outside Hull because “The themes are universal and people maybe don’t realise what a part Hull played in the war.”

You can buy tickets in the box office at the theatre on Ferensway, on 01482 323638 or online at

The show runs until Saturday 24th October

How To Be Brave Book Launch

Debut novelist Louise Beech has launched her first book How To Be Brave at Hull Central Library last night.

The delightful new girl on the potential best-seller block was supported by several friends and family, including her daughter who provided the inspiration behind the novel, and her husband as well as publisher Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books.

The book, which has been greeted with critical acclaim, tells the true story of the authors grandfather’s survival in a lifeboat drifting at sea for 50 incredible days, which saw 12 of the 14 occupants who clambered into it not make it home in 1943.

This book though offers up a second true story, based around her own struggle to get her daughter to take her life-saving diabetic medication, by promising her a story before she would take it.

Add into the mix a story of a book bringing family members back together after decades apart and you have a true fairy-tale like story of epic proportions which must see this book gain the success it surely deserves.

Speaking personally I must say I’ve known Louise for some years now through her involvement with Hull Truck Theatre and the fact that, like me, she is also a playwright, and you can trust me when I say that nobody deserves the success she is enjoying now more than her.

With her effervescent personality, her winning smile and her magnificent writing she has a definite star quality about her that just exudes lovability and star quality.

When she was asked where she saw this leading in a year from now our delightfully bubbly center of earned attention joked about going to Hollywood, but it did leave me wondering if that might be the next stop for the girl from the next UK City of Culture, let’s see what happens next!!

Louise Beech Book Signing

Photos kindly supplied by Jerome Whittingham at Photomoments

Twitter: @photomoments

Heritage Event At Annison Building And Courtyard

Hull’s most haunted building has flung its doors open to invite the public in to see round the building and a display of artwork by local artists as part of the campaign to save the iconic Lord Line Building.

Tony Hutchinson, owner of the Witham Pharmacy and Danielle White, Events Coordinator for the building invited guests including Lord Mayor Councillor Anita Harrison, BBC Radio Humberside presenter David Burns and local poet Audrey Dunne to a preview event last night.

The display in the hayloft of the building included work such as a massive model of St. Andrews Fish Dock and surrounding area, a fishing vessel and pictures of the Lord Line Building along with merchandise from Action For Hull who are campaigning to save the Lord Line Building.

Music was playing in the courtyard and there was some artwork set back a bit that can be seen while you’re there.

Other attractions during the heritage days that run until Saturday are guided tours which have been pre-booked and Bee Lady Jean Bishop will open the final day at 10 o clock on Saturday morning.

There is also a sneak preview of what is to come with the Hull Dark History Museum which is currently being expanded within the building by owner John Hemingway.

It is also known that Burnsy has suggested to City of Culture that they should go and see the building with a view to using it as a performance space.

Mrs White and Mr Hutchinson are also promoting the venue as a performance space with many events lined up for the remainder of this year and into 2016 including an alternative nativity play written by Pony Express Theatre Company.

wpid-wp-1441903399892.jpeg Annisons wpid-wp-1441904281882.jpeg wpid-wp-1441904182094.jpeg

A Day Out With The Few

Hull Wyke Ladies rugby league team coach Danny ‘Choppy’ Devine asked me to go for a day out to watch his new ladies team play at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, naturally as a rugby league fan I snapped up the chance.

The team Minibus is really something to behold, it’s the only minibus I know that has to have its door fastened shut with a bungee, but it certainly has a character all of its own and it got us swiftly and safely from A to B and back to A again.

Hull Wyke Ladies RL are a well mannered bunch and a definite treat to share a minibus with, they know their rugby league pretty well as would be expected and the banter is great fun.

In this team supporter’s of Super League sides Hull FC and Hull KR stand side-by-side and have a great comradeship together as one, it comes across as clear as a whistle.

We hit the open road and headed for the county on the other side of the Humber Bridge, it’s a bit of a trek which took just slightly less than two hours to navigate.

When you get to RAF College Cranwell it’s a big base and even has its own car park for the sports ground, walking up towards where the game was to be played coach Danny Devine had to have a word with his team to make them aware of certain things they mustn’t do including bad language, all was being taken very seriously by this brand new team.

The game itself was a fast and free-flowing end to end affair as both sides traded territory, possession and points.

Stand out player’s for the ladies from Hull were hat-trick hero Jenna Greening and little magician Jade Key as the game was drawn 32-32.

Both sides were a credit to their coaches which also included Stu Gaden and Sally Ellerington for the brave visitor’s who gave every bit as good as they got from the military girls.

At the end seeing both teams posing for photos in front of the posts just put a lovely cap on the proceedings before food was served to the player’s and we returned home.

If you’re a rugby league fan in Hull please go and support this team who seem to cross the great rugby league divide in our City of Culture with genuine ease and great friendship.

Their next game is on Sunday 6th September.

Hull Wyke Ladies Ladies after the match Ladies Close Ladies half time Ladies RL Ladies Teams together Ladies under the posts

Dave Windass Talks About Heads Up Festival And It’s Future

Hull playwright Dave Windass has spoken about the upcoming Heads Up Festival which will start on Saturday 5th September as part of Freedom Festival for the third time.

“We’ve been delighted to start Heads Up as part of Freedom Festival which has allowed us to take some really good shows to Freedom, but the festival is going to be restructured from next year,” he said.

Heads Up Festival has always been a twice yearly event every March and September but from next year it will be an annual event with it taking place in March although this doesn’t mean that Heads Up won’t have a bond with Freedom Festival.

“We hope that Heads Up Festival, as a brand, will be able to contribute theatre to Freedom Festival,” he continued.

Talking about the changes coming due to the involvement of Battersea Arts Centre coming to an end as well he said: “We’re in ongoing conversation with Battersea Arts Centre to make sure that Heads Up has got a future so it’s part of a thing called the collaborative touring network.”

Speaking next of future plans for the festival moving forward to 2017 with a purposeful look about him he says, “We’re seeing it as maybe a bit of an international festival, kind of like maybe the Edinburgh Fringe, although that’s a really big ambition.

“The festival was already going before we won City of Culture so Heads Up was a sign of Hull’s ambition, but now we want it to grow and go to other parts of Hull other than just in the city centre.”

We then spoke about what shows that are coming up in September for this Heads Up Festival and the first one that gets mentioned is one written by Mr Windass called Revolutions which has been in development for about two years and is being shown by Ensemble 52 at Freedom Festival first before moving on to a short run at Hull Truck Theatre.

“For me as one of Ensemble 52’s team, and the writer of that show, it’s very exciting to present that show as part of Freedom Festival and at Hull Truck.

“We’ve also got a show at Freedom Festival called At The End of Everything Else which is going to be in the big top and it’s powered by pedal power with the actors actually on bikes to provide the power for the show.

“Wot? No Fish!! Is also a great show that will be on at Kardomah 94 on the 2nd weekend of the Festival.

“The whole festival has some really innovative work that’s really human to the core that people will be really able to identify with.”

Talking about companies that Heads Up would like to forge partnerships with names like Middle Child, Silent Uproar and Pony Express Theatre Company are mentioned along with many others.

“Hull’s theatre ecology is really exciting and I think Heads Up is a really good umbrella for them to present their work.”

ChristopherBrettBailey_THISISHOWWEDIE_2_Credit Claire Haigh


revolutions poster

Very Personal Stars At Hull New Theatre

Superstar tenor Russell Watson brought his Up Close and Personal Tour to the City of Culture and gave a near full-house a treat with his flawless voice and a very personal touch.

From the moment he stepped onto the stage at this beautifully intimate, yet slightly grand, venue he had the audience in raptures as he took them on a musical and spoken journey through the last 25 years of his life.

Stories were recounted, from 25 years ago when he won a Karaoke at The Railway Inn in his hometown of Salford, through to the present day and his tour with new classical singing sensation Rebecca Newman, A.K.A The People’s Soprano.

He delighted the audience as he came down from the stage to shake hands with several of them and, for most of the evening, he had them spellbound as his magnificent voice took on both classical songs and some classic pop songs.

He had the star quality to combine Cavalleria Rusticana with Ave Maria, belt out classic hits like King of the Road and The Sound of Silence and get up close and personal as well.

The performance of The Prayer between him and his special guest was simply electric and his combination with the All For One Choir also resonated with stunning effect and his interaction with the audience, such as allowing them to take pictures for a flashing light effect was quite magical too.

Rebecca Newman’s performance just into the second half of the show also added a sprinkling more of star quality as she treated us to a hugely polished performance of the title track to her Number one selling classical album Dare to Dream which will live long in the memory for all those who were there to see it.

The Voice himself also showed more of his vocal range as he took on the normally female sung I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.

This tour finishes this month but, after the welcome he received here, it must surely only be a matter of time before Russell Watson returns to Hull.

Between now and then however classical music fans will have another treat as Rebecca Newman will be back here on 7 July to headline Opera on the Marina.