He’s been called Stalin and been likened to Heathcliff. Now the blog of David Ottewell (Manchester Evening News) links to a computer game where Gordon Brown is Indiana Jones. The objective is to lassoo in… erm lost pasports from the streets of Oldham. Anyway the PM is fittingly portrayed as an action hero in it even if it does draw attention to a government mishap . Sorting out diffucult challenges (domestic terrorism, foot and mouth, flooding) used to be Brown’s forte not so long ago. He needs to regain that advantage.

Hot Manchester topic du jour of course is the proposed congestion charge of course. If you seperate out fact from scaremongering it emerges that given the boundaries of the zone and because of the fact that it will only operate at peak commuter times, unlike the London version, relatively few journeys will be charged – see this report from the BBC. So driving in from both Eccles to the west (technically Salford) and Levenshulme in South Manchester, as I’ve done in the last couple of days, will not cost a bean. (On the latter, was here on Saturday night. Highly recommended.) The charging will be quite modest – £1 for inner ring and £2 for outer ring. Expanding the metrolink as a consequence to facilitate park and ride would hugely benefit the city. The current situation of uneccessesarily carbon-creating stop-start journeys of 10 miles an hour in rush hour traffic will be lessened. In short the government needs to be confident of the case it’s putting to Manchester on this one rather than being browbeaten by naysayers. This is a developing story – for the latest twists and turns (like today’s report welcoming the proposed charge) Ottewell’s your man.

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