By Matt Taylor
The big news of the day in case you haven’t heard is the latest idea to improve the city ““ get rid of Hanley. Not literally, of course, we’re not talking about demolishing it completely (though I wouldn’t entirely put it past the council), but the new philosophy is that the town centre of Hanley should be renamed the City Centre.
The plan has been formulated by the City Centre Partnership, of which I am in fact a member, along with its previous chairperson and city centre manager, Jean Ball.
It’s not really news that this is on the agenda, and I have actually discussed the issue here before. But it has now been put on paper, as one of the Partnership’s new incentives, which would result in the name Hanley being taken off Ordnance Survey maps.
The idea behind it is that visitors to the city will be less confused with whether the town of Stoke is in fact the city centre, and give Hanley as a retail hub a new boost. It also means that there would be no need for confusing signage which currently refers to the centre of shopping as both “ËœHanley’ and the “ËœCity Centre’. And the council is also making progress in formulating to change this signage along with the new move to rid the centre of its name.
But the scheme is likely to see significant opposition, and I myself am one such opposer. I was actually asked by the city centre manager Jean Ball not so many weeks ago if I would mind removing the word “Hanley” from my promotional literature for the recently departed Piccadilly Circus Festival which took place in Hanley on Saturday. I refused, and a debate ensued.
Not only would it have been even more confusing for people coming to the festival to work out why signposts said Hanley on them, while I had only given the information that the event was taking place in the city centre, but much more importantly, I feel, as I am sure many local people do, that the town’s name has its place in history and heritage as one of the five/six towns, and deserves to keep it, and the idendity that goes along with it.
Jean Ball is quoted today in The Sentinel saying that “this is a city centre and our future is together, as a city”. But with all due respect, Jean is from across the pond, and so has no nostalgic attachment to the area, and moreover, she actually lives in Buxton. As such, she can hardly describe it as “our future” when in fact her residence is in the leafy retreat of the Peaks.
There is no need to get rid of the name of Hanley, just a need to improve the signage that directs people to it, and describes the attractions within it.