CLOSE ENCOUNTERS… Welcome news today that Blackpool Council has unveiled plans to build an entertainment and leisure megaproject on the Central Station site, more than 10 years after the same site lost out on one of Tony Blair’s fabled supercasinos. However, THING can’t be alone in finding the subject matter a little strange: the entertainment and attractions are being themed on the 1968 book Chariots of the Gods, a widely-discredited pseudoscience book that claims, among other things, that aliens built the pyramids and Stonehenge. THING looks forward to Morecambe bringing forward a theme park based on the flat earth theory, and Lytham opening its own fake moon landing-themed rollercoaster. Time to break out those box sets of The X-Files and Stargate SG-1.

Santa PicAPPY CHRISTMAS… For anyone looking for another way to get rid of some surplus cash this month, Liverpool games company Onteca has developed the Santa Tracker, available to Nintendo Switch owners from the Nintendo Switch Store for a mere £2.99 from today. Santa fans – and let’s face it, we’re all Santa fans – can watch in real time as the big man prepares for 24 December then track his journey. As long as he doesn’t bore all the elves in his office about his Strava stats, THING says good luck to him.

Sale Square Regen Brochure

SELLING SALE… THING was surprised to find the above landing through the letterbox earlier this week, as we’re sure many other Sale residents were. It’s a novel approach by developer Maloneview and consultant Social Communications to drum up support for their regeneration of the town’s tired town centre, which focusses on delivering restaurants, apartments, townhouses, and a new cinema. Perhaps a suggestion that the scheme hasn’t won as much support from councillors as they might have liked? We’ll find out in January when it goes to planning committee.

AGENT GONG… Congratulations to Dan Barnes of Savills, crowned Agent of the Year at the Office Agents Society festive bash on Wednesday, the event that makes Manchester publicans weak at the knees. THING is informed that as well as Mr Barnes’ anointing as 2018 champion, the day saw the princely sum of £500 raised for the Bearly Loved charity, an admirable bit of fundraising that might be useful to cite in mitigation, should the proprietors of Grand Pacific come to enquire what the devil happened to their 12-foot Christmas tree.

GIVE US A PUSH…  More fun and games on the ever-busy Metrolink this week with passengers at Brooklands asked to give a troubled tram a push to get it going again. As a regular commuter from the very same station, your author can attest to the business of the Altrincham line but sending a single tram every 8 minutes certainly isn’t the way to sort it. In a week where TfGM actively asked people to avoid travelling on the roads or on the tram – yes, really – due to Wednesday’s United game at Old Trafford, it’s not really a good look. THING has sympathy with the restrictions on the Altrincham line – there’s only so much you can do with that single-track section at Navigation Road, for example – but surely it needs to be better than this.

#LoveLancaster… To Lancaster, for the launch of Lancaster Story, the new branding and placemaking exercise from the City Council and its private sector partners. As well as discussing Lancaster’s ambition to push its science, heritage, and lifestyle attributes on the world stage, it was also an opportunity to drum up support for the proposed £80m Eden North in Morecambe, one of the more exciting proposals to hit the region in some time. The balletic introduction to the event may have had only a tenuous link to the rest of the content, but was certainly eye-catching and got everyone in the mood for celebrating all the county has to offer.

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