To Revive Main Streets Let’s Make them People Focussed Instead of Business Focussed

Since the proliferation of big box stores and malls small cities have been struggling to keep their downtowns engaging and profitable for businesses. What if we rethought our downtowns to be about people and making a community instead of profit centres? That’s the very question a small city in the UK asked and found the answer was to make the city for people. They converted old stores to community spaces and sure enough more people kept showing up. Now their city is vibrant and businesses want to be there to capture all the foot traffic. If you put people first then the rest will follow.

The Stockton vision is to buy up, repurpose, restore and reconfigure the heart of the town, emphasising events, independent enterprise, green space and conviviality. As a glamorous statement of intent, in just over a fortnight one of the finest art deco theatres in Britain will reopen its doors. The Globe, a Grade II listed building, has stood derelict on the high street for a quarter of a century, rotting from within. Built in 1935, in its heyday it hosted the Beatles, Little Richard and Stevie Wonder. On 6 September, McFly will play the first gig of a new era, at the biggest venue of its kind between Newcastle and Leeds.

The cost of the lavish and exquisite restoration – funded by council borrowing and a lottery grant – soared close to £30m and has generated political pushback. But according to Claire Frawley, the council’s town centre development officer, it will provide jobs, a revitalised sense of place and a footfall of up to 200,000 visitors a year, acting as a regenerative hub for the new Stockton.

“People are desperate to get involved,” says Frawley, “they’re desperate to come and work here. There will be public tours soon, and the local demand is huge. This place is part of the town’s heritage and you can feel the pride.”

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UK: Uber Drivers are Employees not Individual Entrepreneurs

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Uber drivers in the UK will now get better treatment from Uber thanks to the courts ruling the company can’t as robustly exploit their drivers. The way drivers get gigs and subsequently paid by the company structurally mean the company has control all aspects of the process, which means the drivers are workers since they actually have no control over key aspects of the job. This is a blow against Uber which skirts the laws in multiple countries and this decision in the UK will resonant throughout the entire gig economy.

The court considered several elements in its judgement:

  • Uber set the fare which meant that they dictated how much drivers could earn
  • Uber set the contract terms and drivers had no say in them
  • Request for rides is constrained by Uber who can penalise drivers if they reject too many rides
  • Uber monitors a driver’s service through the star rating and has the capacity to terminate the relationship if after repeated warnings this does not improve

Looking at these and other factors, the court determined that drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber where the only way they could increase their earnings would be to work longer hours.

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Britain Bans Fossil Fuel Cars Starting in 2030

The United Kingdom is taking a step towards a green future by announcing that diesel and gas powered cars won’t be allowed in the country starting in 2030. Older cars will still be allowed, but three will be a ban on any new cars sales that aren’t friendlier to the environment. With any luck, the “need” for cars throughout the country will decrease due to increase transit and better urban design,

Let’s hope that more countries follow the lead of the UK and ban theses pollution machines!

“Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful,” Johnson said in a column published in the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Britain last year became the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, use energy and eat.

The new date for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars is five years earlier than the 2035 pledge made by Johnson in February.

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Thanks to Dan!

Scotland Banned Fraking, Rest of UK to Follow

industry

Fraking is really bad for all of us, it’s the process of using water to force dirty oil out of the ground. This practice destabilizes the ground causing earthquakes and the end result is more wasteful oil ultimately being consumed, which in turn, produces waste that gets released into the atmosphere. There’s nothing good about fraking. Scotland banned fraking in its territory last month and now it looks like the United Kingdom as a whole is on track to ban it too. With any luck the country will divert subsidies to the finite petroleum industry to the infinite renewable energy sector.

Environmentalists argue that the process contaminates water supplies, hurts wildlife, causes earthquakes and contributes to global climate change.

It is banned in many countries, including France and Germany, and the United Kingdom’s other constituent members — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are opposed to it.

Public mistrust of shale gas extraction is rising sharply.

According to the National Audit Office, opposition among Britons has risen to 40 percent from 21 percent since 2013.

“Public concern has centred on the risks to the environment and public health, from fracking-induced earthquakes, and the adequacy of the environmental regulations in place,” it said.

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Climate Change Protest Groups Keep Growing

Across Europe students and teachers are standing up to negligent leaders who ignore climate change. Last week in Belgium students took to the streets and their movement forced the resignation of a minister while inspiring other students to act across the continent. This week, teachers and students protested in the UK calling for education reforms around climate change. You’ve probably heard of the Extinction Rebellion movement already, if not now’s your chance to get educated and start rising up faster than global water levels.

They are also unhappy that part of the curriculum appears to cast doubt on the evidence for man-made climate change, even though governments, the UN and the overwhelming majority of scientists accept that it is happening. Government guidelines for key stage 4 chemistry say pupils should be taught “evidence, and uncertainties in evidence, for additional anthropogenic causes of climate change”.

“When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern?” asks the letter. “If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come … after all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction?”

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