Leeds today: tram, train, Confucius, the City, Arena, Bramham, traffic, reform and devolution.

Morning Leeds! Mike here with the last BGL of November. If you have an awesome advent calendar ready to go why not tweet us a picture of it? Home-made, whizzy chocolate, or Lego? Let us know what you’ll be opening (and fighting over) tomorrow morning.

The arguments for a devolved regional parliament often put people to sleep or smacks of nationalism, and proposals for regional devolution in 2004 were put away when less than 30% of the people in the North East bothered to vote in favour. However, with the upcoming possibility of an independent Scotland The Northerner takes a look at the arguments again in a more interesting and topical manner. It is a truism that the media bias towards London is enormous, but also the central government funding bias is equally vast. A regional assembly might go some way to redress that balance.

On that note, the Northern Economic Futures Commission launches its report today in Leeds; board member Julia Unwin highlights five key reforms that need to happen in order to redress economic inequality between the North and South.

A few weeks ago I was in town on a Saturday night and found myself trying to work my way out of Leeds down Call Lane. It really wasn’t my cup of tea, to be honest. Choked with cars, taxis, a bus and hundreds of people lurching from bar to bar not caring if they were run over or not. It turns out that Call Lane is one of two streets to be closed to traffic from 11:30 to 5am on Friday and Saturday nights as part of an experiment by LCC to curb public disorder and disturbances. It is hoped the traffic ban will stop crowds congregating, but taxi drivers are arguing against the ban saying it’ll increase time and distance for rides home. Interesting; from what I could see all it’ll do is turn Call Lane into Gin Lane for the duration, but at least people won’t be getting run over.

Tickets for the Leeds Festival went on sale yesterday morning; already people are booking up spaces for tents and ordering wellies off the internet. Some bands have already confirmed, including recent Mercury award winners Alt-J. We note that the Kaiser Chiefs are playing the Arena next September, too.

We mentioned the State of the City report the other day; we couldn’t go because (i) we weren’t invited and (ii) day jobs, but Leeds Online managed to get someone in. It sounds like an interesting meeting, although perhaps not inclusive enough towards the people it affects.

It seems that the links between the Chinese and Leeds didn’t end with the Summer Olympics. Leeds University yesterday announced the opening of a new Institute promoting Chinese culture, language and business in the UK, the Leeds International Business Confucius Institute.

Hm. If you’re planning on travelling by train this Christmas you might need a backup plan. Arriva CrossCountry might be going on strike in the run-up to the holidays. The reasons are many, and worth reading, but you might want to rethink your train ticket.

Still, at least you won’t be travelling to your destination in a horse-drawn open-topped tram, which was recently restored at Middleton and Whitkirk. It looks remarkably unsafe, at least for those taking tea on the roof. Not the sort of thing for commuting in weather like this, of course.

We’re big fans of Beryl Burton here at BGL Towers; the Morley mum who was the best cyclist in Britain – men or women – for many years in the 60s and 70s. And she’s effectively unknown. Radio 4, bless their hearts, put on a drama this week about Beryl featuring her husband and daughter, and is well worth a listen. It’s still available for four days at time of writing and I strongly suggest that you do.

And that’s it for this week. Next week we’re going to go to three news posts a week in the run up to Christmas, and we close for the holidays on Dec 21st. We’ll be running more features on many of the days we’re not doing news, and as always we really appreciate your help on this! If you have an idea for a feature you’d like to write for us, then pitch it! Details are on the “Contacts” page above.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you on Monday!

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