…OR NOT TO BEE… Following the swarm of bees that’s appeared around Manchester this summer, Stockport is proposing to hop on the public art train with its Giant Leap programme. No, it’s not a Maoist Great Leap Forward, pushing Stopfordians back to the factory to make pig iron – or hats – but an art installation featuring a legion of frogs dotted around the town, like the strawberry-themed amphibian friend pictured above just outside the railway station. Like Manchester’s bees, the idea is that local businesses can each sponsor and design their own frog, then these will be dotted around the town for six months between April and September next year. There will be 30 of them, and they cost £3,750 – half up front and half on installation. THING isn’t sure whether frogs are the most obvious choice – a hat perhaps, or a deflated football to reflect County’s fortunes – but given the success of the bees just up the road it’s no surprise other towns are following suit.

Lost Castles Workshops

TOPPLING… Negative types have moaned for years that the boroughs of the Liverpool city region don’t collaborate enough, but they’re making a start in culture. Backed by Arts Council England, Lost Castles is the first cultural project involving all six boroughs, and sees hundreds of volunteers creating monumental structures from cardboard boxes, under the guidance of French artist Olivier Grossetȇte. Construction started last night on Liverpool, Wirral and Sefton’s efforts, with Knowsley, St Helens and Halton joining in today. Structures to be created in card include Liverpool Castle in Williamson Square, something from Shakespeare in Knowsley, of course, and a Viking church in Ashton Park, West Kirby. Saturday will see themed activities in all locations – juggling, stilt-walkers, fire-breathing dragons and whatnot – then on Sunday the structures will be ceremonially toppled one by one, starting in Wirral at noon and concluding in Liverpool at 5pm. Fancy it? You can find all details online.

Shb Van

SIDELINE… Sir Howard Bernstein’s departure from Manchester City Council last April saw much speculation about what the much-heralded civic entrepreneur would do next – answered in fairly short order by him taking up roles with Deloitte, the University of Manchester and City Football Group, followed by accepting the chairmanship of the Institute for Economic Development. Looks like the main man might have found a niche in the vehicle hire market as well, though…

Liverpool Bullion

GOLDEN WONDER… A premium gold buying and selling service has launched at Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building, or more specifically, in the £1m purpose-built Liverpool Vault. Liverpool Bullion offers clients “the facility to buy and sell gold coins or bullion at highly competitive prices, based on the real-time, current spot trading price of gold”. Clients can purchase all of the leading gold coins such as krugerrands, gold sovereigns, gold eagles, gold maples, and as if you could forget, Australian kangaroos, plus many more varieties – just in case your personal favourite isn’t mentioned there. Dunno what you’re all waiting for.

Merseytravel Experimental Rechargeabl Stagecoah Bus Event.

ELECTRIC DREAMS… Merseytravel and Stagecoach have launched a two-month trial of a fully electric, zero-emission bus that can be charged on route, cutting waste and increasing flexibility of service. Engineered by Volvo, the bus will operate for eight weeks on the 82 and 86 routes via Garston and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, being instantly recognisable by its electriCITY branded livery. Liverpool is the final test bed for Volvo, following Manchester, Cardiff and Heathrow. No city yet seems to have followed Bristol’s human waste-powered bus which, with crushing inevitability, was put to work on the city’s number 2 route. Children, please.

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