The religious landscape of Britain has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, with Islam becoming Britain’s fastest growing religion. Having doubled in numbers to around three million since 2000, 47% of Muslims are UK born, 33% are aged 15 and under and it’s estimated that one in ten children under the age of four is a British Muslim.

Despite this we know very little about the people behind these statistics other than what the media tell us – do they really want to ‘Islamify’ the UK, can you really be both British and Muslim and what is the truth behind all those scary headlines?

muslim header

I spoke to two very different British Muslims to find out more…

Social commentator and civil rights activist, Mohammed Ansar lives in Hampshire with his wife and children. He says British Muslims are facing mass discrimination on many levels, with far-reaching and devastating effects:

British Muslims are having a civil rights crisis. We’re being overwhelmingly and disproportionately discriminated against in terms of employment, housing, health and education – meaning that we have a whole section of society being pushed to the edge and marginalized.

Mohammed Ansar

  Mohammed Ansar

The removal of EMA for example means that the hardest up families in the UK are going to struggle to send their kids to college. When we have eighty percent of British Muslims on or below the poverty line, the removal of this one benefit will have a disproportionate impact on that community.

We need to define our narrative. With foreign policy and global events, the media today is defining Muslim life in Britain using people that we would consider to have more in common with terrorism, far removed from Islam and the true Prophetic traditions. Then we have a whole other group at the other end of the spectrum; not really upholding authentic ideals of Islam but at the same time are very secular progressive – so much so that they themselves are quite happy to be drinking and going to strip clubs while defining ‘counter radicalization’ and pressing very hard on British Muslims in a bid to try to reform Islam by telling people how to live. I think there’s a real hypocrisy there.

We’ve had, and continue to have an onslaught of Islamophobic propaganda in the media, aligning the Muslim faith with immigration, terrorism, in fact, when it comes to British Muslims we can be conflated with anyone; child sex abuse claims, drug trafficking, sex trafficking – all the worst aspects of society are being pushed towards the Muslim ‘issue’, helping to demonize British Muslims on an almost daily basis.

uk muslim

Don’t panic – I’m Islamic (and British of course)

As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, British Muslims are constantly being called on to ‘prove their loyalty to the UK’ and I for one am sick and tired of it. I try not to lend myself to it and have refused to support campaigns calling for such action because it just doesn’t help. It creates a false narrative and takes away from the real issues we’re facing. Sadly, it seems to be the younger generation of British Muslims who, being sometimes less experienced in terms of understanding the political dimensions, are drawn into the debate and see it as being a modern-day ‘Cool Britannia’ – almost like a ‘Cool Muslimia’. Young British Muslims seem to think ‘I can be Muslim, I can be inclusive and contribute to British society but I must be able to put clear water between myself and those with different values.’

We never see this with non-Muslim communities – when there’s a paedophile ring, which has a dozen people in it who are white Christians, we don’t then see those communities marching on the streets saying ‘not in my name’. We don’t see outrage on Twitter or other social media where people feel the need to say these people don’t represent me. We certainly never see outrage when Britain bombs Libya or performs airstrikes in Iran and Syria to support president Assad and we don’t get Christians feeling the need to put clear water between themselves and David Cameron.

The British Muslim community is disproportionately targeted and we’re not treated on the same equal footing as everyone else. It has to change. British values include a sense of fair play and equality but this isn’t what we’re getting. There’s been some really ugly, neo-conservative interests infiltrate both the government and the media, that’s why we’re seeing influence on foreign policy both here and abroad, as well as the media agenda. We need to shine a light on this and ask the people to wrestle it back to some form of fairness.

uk muslim flag

Rucksana Malik is a 38-year-old self-employed British Muslim who lives in Manchester with her husband and 2 young sons. Rucksana says British Muslims do face discrimination in the UK but they bring much of it on themselves and should do more to integrate:

        Rucksana Malik

The biggest issue the British Muslims in the UK are facing is lack of cohesion. Nobody pulls together and it’s frustrating, we can’t even agree what day Eid is on most years so it’s no wonder that he non-Muslims are confused about what Islam really stands for.

The perception most people have of British Muslims is only what the media show them; the Muslim girl in the pub on Eastenders, comical community leader Mr. Khan in another slapstick scene, or the founder of Quilliam visiting a strip club for his stag night. We need to all pull together to show a more accurate picture of what we’re really about because this is not it.

This misrepresentation has had a massive impact on British Muslims on many levels, including the rise of Islamophobic incidents reported recently. The majority of people who have strong opinions on Muslims and immigration (yes, they go hand in hand now, thanks to the media) tend to get their information from either sensationalist shows on TV or hate filled stories in the paper.

Disinformation stops unity and any good that is done by the British Muslim community doesn’t get reported on. However, there’s a lot more that some of us could do to integrate better. I know Muslims that, although they’ve lived here for over forty years, still don’t speak English and I have a big problem with that – they don’t wear English clothes, won’t eat English food but still want to live over here. That I have a problem with, and I can understand why people who are spoon fed the misinformation on top of seeing this have a huge problem.

Some British Muslims could do well to chill out and put their own affairs in order before getting all stressed about having Sharia patrols outside mosques to stop couples holding hands and other ridiculousness. We need to remember that there’s still places in the world where it’s illegal to practice as a Muslim, and just be grateful for the freedoms we have in the UK.

Some of the blame for how we are portrayed must lie with us, the British Muslims. Yes, we want to keep our identity, so I’m not going to integrate to the point where we go down to the pub together and I have a pint with you, but, if you’re my neighbour or

Rucksana and her son

                   Rucksana and her son

in my local community, I want to know what you’re called, I want us to have enough of a rapport to have a chat. I want you to take an interest. I want to know if you’re not well or if you need any help with anything. Yes, it’s nice that you send me a Christmas card. I don’t celebrate it and I’m not going to send you one back but I’m going to find a nice way to tell you to tell you that.

I’m not just going to come out with ‘Kafir this, kafir that’ which, incidentally just means disbeliever, not the bad, almost swear word the media have alluded to. British Muslims seem to over react to a lot of things, like when it’s Christmas and some nitwits will start a petition to ban the lights because ‘we don’t do Christmas’. The reality is that it doesn’t matter, even if they are all over your street it doesn’t mean that you’re participating. Incidents like that do get a lot of media coverage and, in turn, does a lot of damage.

Some of the scaremongering headlines have even got people terrified that we are trying to ‘take over’ the UK. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I wouldn’t say I was a ‘moderate’ Muslim, I’d probably fall into the category some would label ‘extreme’ but even I have no wish to ever try to make this an Islamic country and don’t know anyone that does. It’s nowhere on the Muslim agenda and I wish the media would stop implying that we are some kind of imminent threat to British civilisation.

Some of the things that so many British Muslims make priority are rather strange too, like cartoons. They organize big marches and get everyone all fired up about things like that. Yes, as a Muslim I do find it offensive and I don’t agree with it but there’s far more important things to focus on, like educating the Muslim youth and getting them out of the houses, the bars, the strip clubs, and into a mosque. It’s hypocritical the things we choose to make an issue out of. They’re like sheep, everyone jumping on the bandwagon ‘I’m a Muslim, I’ve pride in my religion but I don’t pray or go to the mosque’. I wish they would save their breath and stop making it difficult for the rest of us.

I’m proud to be British and Muslim; anyone who says you can’t be both has clearly misinterpreted the religion, there’s no conflict and I’m happy to be both a fully practicing Muslim and a totally integrated member of British society. I don’t expect anyone to make allowances for me as a Muslim in any way. If I go somewhere to eat and they don’t have halal meat I’m not going to make an issue, complain or even start a petition – I’d either choose something else or choose not to eat there. There is literally nothing that I have to do as a Muslim that being British would prevent.

I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore but I don’t have a problem being off for the festive holidays. I don’t have an issue with seeing a Christmas tree in the town centre, the countless fairy lights or even hearing carols for the 3 months before and during the event. I don’t find it offensive because it’s not offensive – it’s just what other people do and we’re supposed to be the religion of tolerance after all. These are all examples of what could show British Muslims in a really good light with how we choose to react.

As with any community, we do have issues, one of the most worrying is the number of British Muslim youths being radicalized by UK foreign policy. It’s given them a channel for their aggression and their free time, because, let’s face it, nobody is encouraged to work. There’s no incentive for anybody to do anything positive then comes along the perfect excuse to get fired up and excited about something. These ‘Muslims’ don’t have a purpose or focus because religion isn’t taught enough at home so they have no fear of anybody, whether it be God or the police; they have no boundaries in that respect and are just looking for trouble, it’s more a political issue than religious uprising.

The government needs to stop interfering with things that are nothing to do with us; we’re not at war with anyone and I would have no problem fighting with the British Army if we were, regardless of whom that was against, but we’re not at war. That’s not to mention that the millions of pounds spent meddling in these distant lands could be much better spent over here.

Maajid Nawaz - before the strip club 'incident'...

Maajid Nawaz – before the strip club ‘incident’…

My biggest fear as a British Muslim living in the UK is not my racist neighbours or the lads who shouted abuse at me when I visited the park with my children. It’s not even the group of ‘men’ that spat on me as I was walked home from the supermarket just last week. What really scares me and makes me fearful for my children’s future in the UK the most is Maajid Nawaz and other so-called moderate Muslims; those that seek to vilify the rest of us that don’t fit their self-styled mould. We have more to fear from them than any non-Muslim as they undermine everything the rest of us are trying to achieve. Nawaz was the one who said that Muslim women don’t need to wear hijab in this country because ‘you’re putting yourselves in danger’. No, we’re not – you’re putting us in danger by coming out with idiotic comments like that, and then you’re caught in a strip club!

The reality is that real Muslims, the ones who follow the religion correctly, are not the ones you should be concerned with. We’re the ones that don’t try and impose our views on other people, respect other religions and, despite what the papers say, manage to integrate perfectly well in our society – yet we are labeled as extreme. It’s the ones that don’t pray 5 times a day or go to the mosque that are the deemed ‘moderate ones’ and yet they’re far more dangerous than we could ever be.

They’re the ones that breed the idiots who want to go and join ISIS, thinking it’s the answer to their prayers, not us. All this goes undetected while the ones they have monitoring these people, like Quilliam, focus instead on people like me that are just trying to live a peaceful life in the way I see fit. It’s the ‘non-Muslim Muslims’ that are a real danger to society, not the ones truly following Islam – it’s about time the media realised that.

Ruqaiyyah praying

Making Easter Egg-stra Special Nationwide


H&T Pawnbrokers has launched a nationwide campaign to collect Easter eggs to donate to local families. Last year they collected a whopping 7,000 eggs and this year they are aiming for 8,000! All eggs donated by the general public will be given as a special Easter treat to children’s charities, food banks and poorly children at local hospitals.

Staff are 'eggstatic' with donations so far

Staff are ‘eggstatic’ with donations so far

In Birmingham over 85 eggs have already been donated by generous members of public; the North London stores have received 120 eggs; in the Manchester area 250 Easter eggs have been collected as well as 13 sensory toys – Their target is to collect at least 300 eggs to donate for a special Easter egg treat this year for children and families in need in the Manchester area.
In Hull over £140 has been pledged to crack 140 (real) eggs over the store manager’s head to raise money for Kids in Crisis! The eggs have been donated by Iceland and the store in the Prospect shopping centre is holding an egg cracking event to raise funds for Kids in Crisis on 4th April.

Local people are asked to drop in Easter eggs at their closest H&T store.

Donations can be made any day up to 1st April 2014. Customers can also donate £1 and H&T staff will buy an Easter egg or a teddy to add to the collection.

“We think Easter is another opportunity for us to support our local communities and give a little smile and a lovely surprise to as many children in need as we can this year.” says John Nichols, CEO H&T Pawnbrokers.

Stores are collecting for the following charities and organisations:

– Children’s wards at North Manchester Hospital, Royal Oldham Hospital, Salford Hospital, Stepping Hill Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital
– Oakdale Primary school in Hyde
– Wood Street Mission, a charity which helps alleviate the effects of poverty on local children and their families throughout Manchester and Salford
– Stretford Food Bank

The collection is part of a nationwide initiative by H&T Pawnbrokers, the UK’s largest pawnbroking company. Last year H&T pledged to collect 1,000 eggs across the country for children’s charities and hospitals, they egg-ceded their target and collected a whopping 7,000 eggs! This year they would like to beat this and collect 8,000 Easter eggs.

“We think Easter is another opportunity for us to support our local communities and give a little smile and a lovely surprise to as many children in hospital as we can this year. They deserve a treat! A huge thank you to our generous customers.” says Jean Simpson, Area Manager for the North West.

Eggs for local kids can be dropped at any of these collection points:

H&T Pawnbrokers Cheetham Hill: Unit 5, Cheetham Hill Shopping Centre, M8 5EL
H&T Pawnbrokers Oldham: Unit 34, Town Square Shopping Centre, OL1 1HD
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Oldham: Unit 24, Town Square, Spindles Shopping Centre, OL1 1XF
H&T Pawnbrokers Stockport: 109 Princes Street, SK1 1RW
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Salford: 70 Fitzgerald Way, Salford Shopping Centre, M6 5HW
Discount Secondhand Jewellery Hyde: Unit 5, The Mall, Clarendon Square Shopping Centre, SK14 2QT
H&T Pawnbrokers Stretford: Unit 44, Brody Street Mall, Stretford Mall Shopping Centre, M32 9BB
H&T Pawnbrokers Wythenshawe: Unit 1D, Hale Top, Civic Centre, M22 5RN

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 21.30.41

Festival fun this summer


Summer time is festival time

Summer time fun

Summer may feel like a lifetime away, but festival season is just around the corner and so are the biggest events on the music calendar! Whether you’re more George Ezra or George Fitgerald, there’s an event to suit every festivalgoer. From idyllic beachside settings to pumping party arenas, now is the time to plan your summer escape.

Exit festival

Exit festival

7 – 14 July 2015, Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, Serbia

WHY GO: Starting as a student protest fighting for political change and freedom EXIT continues to spread the good vibes in the Historic fortress overlooking the river Danube with a host of different stages connected by cobbled streets, ramparts and tunnels, with something for music lovers of all genres.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Adam Beyer B2B Joseph Capriati, Chris Liebing, Clean Bandit, Catz ‘n’ Dogz, Dixon, Faithless, Eagles of Death Metal, Fear Factory, Hardwell, Hannah Wants, Kill the Buzz, Martin Garrix, MK, Motorhead, Nicole Moudaber, Octave One, Oliver Heldens, Roni Size Reprazent, Simian Mobile Disco, Tom Odell


16 – 18 July 2015, Jaz Beach, Budva, Montenegro

Sea Dance

Sea Dance

WHY GO: Winner of ‘Best Medium Sized Festival’ at this years European Festival Awards, this hot new festival delivers beach party vibes to the best electro beats on the Adriatic coast.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Bondax, FKJ Live, Prodigy, Rudimental, Sigma, Starslinger, TCT’s Wilkinson,and more!



17-19 July 2015, Salacgriva, Latvia

Positivus festival

Positivus festival

WHY GO: Taking place in the picturesque coastal town of Salacgriva, Positivus transports chart topping headliners, underground emerging talent and exciting art and dance stages to their unspoiled holiday location surrounded by woodland.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Basement Jaxx, Charlie XCX, Jack Garratt, Jungle, Kate Boy, Placebo, Robert Plant & The Sensational Shapeshifters, SOAK, St. Vincent, Tom Odell


7-9 August 2015, Katowice, Poland

WHY GO: OFF Festival is a way of life, one that flies in the face of current

Off festival

Off festival

trends and stays true to itself and the organisers and crowd have one serious finger on the pulse when it comes to music. This is the place to discover the boldest and eclectic alternative acts from around the world.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Coals, Girl Band, Golden Teacher, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Kristen, Mick Harveyperforms the songs of Serge Gaisbourg, Patti Smith, Run the jewels, Ride, Sun O))), The Stubbs, Young Fathers


29-30 August 2015, Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands




WHY GO: Just a short distance from the city of Amsterdam, the world’s longest running dance music festival takes visitors on a creative journey, combining the finest electronic music with theatre, movies, interactive installation art, street performers and spectacular shows.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Apollonia, Alesso, Dave Clarke, Dubfire, Hercules & Love Affair, Jeff Mills, Joris Voorn, Martin Garrix, Maya Jane Coles, Porter Robinson, STERAC, Ten Walls


11-13 September 2015, Marrakech, Morocco

Oasis festival

Oasis festival

WHY GO: Oasis is set to put Marrakech on the festival map with its inaugural event this summer! Set in the idyllic surroundings of the Fellah Hotel, festivalgoers will have ample opportunity to explore the city’s rich culture, soak up the Moroccan sun and enjoy a cutting-edge soundtrack supplied by some of the most innovative, forward-thinking artists of the moment.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Adriatique, Agoria, Ame, Axel Bowman, BLOND:ISH, Chloe B2B Michael Mayer, Danny Daze, Derrick Carter, DJ Harvey, Guy Gerber B2B Matthew Dear, MANIK, Will Saul


14-18 October 2015, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam Dance Event

Amsterdam Dance Event

WHY GO: The Amsterdam Dance Event celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, taking over the beautiful city of Amsterdam for 5 whole days and nights of electronic music. The biggest club festival in the world, ADE showcases more than 2000 international DJs, spinning everything from house and techno to bass and dubstep or trance and disco, making it the ultimate electronic music experience.

MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS: Over 2000 international DJs, from the biggest stars of the scene to the up-and-coming heroes of the underground. 20th anniversary line-up coming soon!

Happy Summer

Happy Summer

Visit Turkey in style with the kids this summer

Families with children under five who have struggled to find a luxury tot-friendly resort in Turkey are now in luck, thanks to award-winning baby-and toddler-friendly holiday company, Tots To Travel.

Travel in luxury with your tots this year...

Travel in luxury with your tots this year…

Working in partnership with five-star multi award-winning Hillside Beachclub in Fethiye, Tots to Travel has expanded its exceptional villa and resort portfolio into Turkey for the very first time.

Using their expertise in creating tailored family holidays, Tots to Travel has helped create a range of extra benefits at this beautiful resort designed to make travelling with little ones a joy.

Because safety and luxury can go hand-in-hand, the family-friendly company has selected only the most appropriate accommodation best suited to very young

Family room with terrace

Family room with terrace

children: balconies, access, window security will all have been checked in person. Rooms are carefully chosen so that there is a separate living space allowing adults to unwind when the kids have gone to bed.

To save on parents’ much needed luggage allowance and reduce the stress of packing, Tots to Travel’s Essential Kit Guarantee has been introduced. This ensures all key baby provisions – from Blackout blinds to cots, hand blender to high chair – is provided on site. A Tots Toy Hamper has been added into all rooms, filled with age-appropriate toys for the under-fives.

Wendy Shand, Founder of Tots To Travel said: ‘We’re thrilled to extend our portfolio out to Turkey, at such a stunning and popular destination that offers the height of luxury. Our aim, as with all our villas and resorts, is to take as many of the stresses away from parents when going on holiday while not compromising on quality. This enables families peace of mind so they can relax and enjoy time together and takes the pressure off pre-holiday packing: so much of what you would normally take is already waiting for you!’

Hillside Beach Club has long been a favourite destination with families who have younger children over four. The choice of room type, range of restaurants, pools,

Kidside - Kids club for children aged 4 -7 years

Kidside – Kids club for children aged 4 -7 years

three private beaches, spa and wellness centre – even a floating cinema and a kids club – have made it a clear choice for families year after year. Wendy continues:‘we are the only company that have designed this offering at Hillside Beach Club for our youngest customers, at no extra cost. We know it’s going to be popular!’

Tots To Travel will be featuring three room types at Hillside Beach Club. The Hillside Family Suite with Terrace, which sleeps four in two bedrooms, plus one infant in a cot, starts at £1842pw. The Hillside Family Room with Terrace sleeps two in one bedroom, plus an infant in a cot, starts at £1474pw. The Hillside Family Room sleeps two in one bedroom, plus an infant in a cot and starts at £1474pw. All prices are on a full-board basis. Flights are not included.

To book Hillside Beach Club, or any of the five-star resorts and villas in the Tots To Travel collection, visit: www.totstotravel.co.uk. Or call the team of family travel experts on: 0800 014 2770.

Peaceful protest scheduled against Trafford budget cuts – make your voice heard

A group of Trafford residents opposed to the Council’s proposed £24m budget cuts are holding a peaceful protest outside Trafford Town Hall at 6pm on Wednesday 18th February to coincide with the full budget meeting that evening.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall

Steven Lavery, from the group ‘Trafford Residents Against Cuts’ said: “This is crunch time for saving many vital public services and the voice of residents really does count. We have just seen the Council back down on their decision to cut some school crossing patrols, thanks to pressure from protesting parents. We need as many residents to show their support before we lose our children’s centres, disability services and more.

“We know that there are many people who want to voice their opposition but won’t be able to get to the Town Hall for the protest. You can still have a voice by joining our mass tweet at 6pm that night. Follow us on Twitter @TraffordAction for more details.”

TRAC have also launched an opinion poll to find out whether residents would consider paying more Council Tax in order to save some services. Steven says: “We know Council Tax is unpopular but £2 per household per week could put a real dent in the planned cuts. We’d love to know what residents think.”

Trafford Residents Against Cuts

Trafford Residents Against Cuts

Link to council tax opinion poll –                                                                           – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trafford_Council_Tax

A Trafford service user is taking Trafford Council to court over the lack of choice offered to residents in the planned adult social care cuts. The Court Case will be heard on Monday 16th February at 10am at the Civil justice centre, Bridge Street, Manchester. Residents are welcome to attend.

TRAC have already handed a more than 2,000 signature strong ‘Save our Services’ petition to the Council. It is still open for anyone wanting to add their signature at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/tmbc-save-our-services


So it would appear that the UK has taken Amazon to heart, we have a love/hate relationship with Facebook and political parties get the ‘hate’ vote.


Amazon – Internet Retail Giant we ApPear to Love

London ad agency, isobel, has conducted some timely research to establish the UK’s most loved (and unloved…) brands.

The survey, conducted in association with OnePoll, polled 1500 UK consumers (18+ and nationally representative), asking them to identify brands against a number of ‘love’ characteristics. The survey also asked respondents to identify those brands, if any, they hated.

Heinz - nation favourite

Heinz – nation favourite

Surprisingly, Amazon, the internet retail giant, is the UK’s most-loved brand polling almost half of the votes (48%); the next three places are taken by food stalwarts Cadbury, Walkers and Heinz with BBC1 demonstrating national affection in 5th.

The rest of the top 10 is occupied by Google (6th), Kellogg’s (7th), retailers Boots and Tesco (8th and 9th respectively) with ITV, the UK’s oldest commercial network, taking 10th spot.

Commenting on the Top 10, Paul Houlding, Managing Partner, isobel said:

“It would seem that longevity works wonders for most. All, bar two of the top 10, predate the 1960’s – with top honours going to Cadbury (1824). Affection, it seems, has been hard won. But it’s not just about affection, it’s about relevance and usefulness and what better proof of that formula than Amazon and Google. Brands that are useful to us, brands that make our lives easier, brands that do what they promise. The question is, can they keep it up? 170 years from now will they have been as resilient as Cadbury?”

With a general election less than three months away the UK’s political parties are firmly under the spotlight and keen to curry favour with the electorate.

However, the isobel Brand Love survey has revealed that the main political parties are amongst the most-hated brands in the UK.

UKIP, the controversial independent party, has been identified as the UK’s most hated brand polling almost one-third of the votes (30%) – closely followed by the Tories in 2nd place (27%) with Labour in 5th and the Lib Dems 6th.

The Top 10 ‘unloved’ brand list is completed by Marmite (3rd), Ryanair (4th), McDonalds (7th) and Starbucks (8th) with Facebook and KFC taking the last two

Love it or hate it?

Love it or hate it?


“It will come as no shock to anyone (least of all the politicians themselves) that the political parties are all in the same unloved boat” says Paul Houlding “but will it concern them? When it comes to polling day are we voting for the party we love or are we voting for the party of most use?”

Are we beginning to fall out of love with Facebook and Twitter?

The research has revealed that the UK has a love/hate relationship with Facebook, the social media giant.

The site, that has over 1 billion active users, polled 27% of the votes to take 15th place in the love stakes but also hit the hate highs with a top 10 ‘hate’ ranking of 9th.

Twitter has also failed to impress in the love stakes polling only 11% of the votes in 65th – one place ahead of Vodafone and two behind NatWest.

Paul Houlding said: “Social media changes by the second and consequently so does our relationship with it. Facebook, the one time newbie, is now the granddaddy. And there is the suggestion that we’re suffering from Facebook fatigue. Is it as exciting? Do I still need it or want it? And with cyberbullying and privacy issues an ongoing concern – perhaps it’s a social media platform we’re beginning to fall out of love with?”

Key findings:

· Gender divide: men vote for Walkers, women for Cadbury.

· Aldi makes the top 20

· BA takes top airline love honours with easyjet in 2nd – beating Virgin Atlantic in 3rd. Ryanair fails to show the love.

· Audi voted the UK’s most-loved car brand.

· Apple, which consistently tops consumer polls, disappoints in 35th place.

· Nationwide is the most-loved financial institution (44th) – one place behind Persil.


1 Amazon

2 Cadbury

3 Walkers

4 Heinz

5 BBC1

6 Google

7 Kellogg’s

8 Boots

9 Tesco

10 ITV



2 Conservatives

3 Marmite

4 Ryanair

5 Labour

6 LibDems

7 McDonalds

8 Starbucks

9 Facebook

10 KFC


Manchester features in New York Times travel list

The New York Times has singled out Manchester as the only UK entry in its highly-esteemed annual list of Places to Go 2015.


Manchester skyline

The city ranks number 26 out of 52 destinations that the publication considers to be most worthy of travel from the United States. The list is an eclectic combination of lesser-known places as well as those that offer a new reason to visit in 2015.

The Whitworth

The Whitworth

Citing ‘a flurry of cultural openings’ including the Whitworth, HOME and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, the city’s listing suggests that 2015 will be the year that Manchester ‘shows off its sophisticated side’. It also acknowledges the significant number of unique hotels getting ready to open, most notably Hotel Football.

Commenting on the announcement Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism at Marketing Manchester, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to see Manchester being recognised in this way, in what is set to be an exceptional year for cultural tourism. Marketing Manchester has been courting the US market through promotional activities and campaigns for many years so this is a real coup and we hope that it will inspire a new wave of travellers to discover the city.

“In addition to the culturally significant moments described in the listing, Manchester will also enjoy landmark events including the fifth Manchester International Festival, Manchester Pride’s 25th anniversary and a leg of the Rugby World Cup. It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Manchester Arena which Billboard magazine recently recognised as the third busiest music venue in the world.”

James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a fantastic

Hotel football taking shape

Hotel football under construction

accolade for Manchester. The combination of sporting, cultural and historical highlights taking place this year ensures that 2015 is set to be exceptional for this northern city. This is certainly reflected in the visitor figures as Manchester is the UK’s 3rd most visited city for international visitors (after London and Edinburgh) and received almost a million visitors (988,000) in 2013.”

A flurry of cultural openings fills the 2015 calendar of this now edgy city, beginning with the completion of the Whitworth, a ₤15-million renovation and expansion of the former Whitworth Art Gallery into its adjoining park with an art garden and sculpture terraces in February. In the spring, the ₤25 million HOME, a film center and theater, will open. Last fall, the Regency-style former home of the 19th-century writer Elizabeth Gaskell, known to her publisher, Charles Dickens, as “Scheherazade,” opened as a visitor attraction. But it’s not all high culture. This soccer stronghold will be home to Hotel Football, opening in March next to the Old Trafford stadium. The hotel, backed by five former Manchester United players, is one of four new boutiques in the pipeline.

To view the list of ’52 places to go in 2015′ click here :)

BREAKING NEWS: Cheese Sandwich Consumption hits all time low

A Great British classic, the traditional cheese sandwich, is in steady decline according to a recent survey of 2,000 adults.


The survey, conducted by Yougov and commissioned by Anchor, looked into the nation’s eating habits and discovered that although we place cheese as our favourite nostalgic sandwich, we just aren’t tucking into them that often. In fact, 55% of those surveyed had not eaten a cheese sandwich during the past week.

1. Cheese (21%)
2. Egg and Cress (17%)
3. Ham (14%)
4. Corned Beef (11%)
5. Jam (6%)

And it looks like the younger generation have forgotten how great tasting a cheese sandwich can be, as only 13% of 18 -24 year olds have eaten one in the last week compared to a quarter of 45-54 year olds.

There’s also a north south divide when it comes to tucking into our favourite lunchtime sandwich with 50% of northerners enjoying a cheese sandwich in the last week, vs. only 35% of Londoners.

Louise Thornton from Anchor said: “It’s a real shame that the cheese sandwich is in decline. It’s a deliciously simple pleasure that’s easy to make, cheap to create and so a perfect treat. We can’t wait to remind the nation what they are missing out on during our tour of the UK.”

Anchor Cheddar is going on tour to 100 locations across the UK from 6th February,campaigning to get the British public supporting the classic cheese sandwich once again.

Visit www.facebook.com/anchordairy to follow the tour and #getonboard with their campaign.

Visit http://www.facebook.com/anchordairy to follow the tour and #getonboard with their campaign.

Trafford Residents Urged To Join Month Of Peaceful Protests

With little over a month to go until the Council meets to discuss the proposed £24 million worth of budget cuts, a group of local residents are  urging people to join them in protests to save vital services.

Residents at the last peaceful protest

Residents at the last peaceful protest

Stephen Lavery, from Trafford Residents Against Cuts (TRAC), the group behind December’s peaceful protest outside the Town Hall, said: “If these cuts go through, families, young people and the disabled in Trafford will lose vital services. We are not talking ‘nice to haves’ here, we are talking Sure Start centres, school crossing patrols, youth centres and £3.7 million from the learning disability budget – the kind of services people rely on every day.

“We are not radical activists here, just ordinary residents trying to save

TRAC are urging residents to join the protest

TRAC are urging residents to join the protest

services which are being hit hard by the fallout from the banking crisis. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been on a protest in your life, this is about us as local people looking out for our community. The failing banks were bailed out to the tune of billions of pounds. We don’t want our successful services to pay the price.”

Leading up to the budget Council meeting on Wednesday 18th February when these cuts are to be debated, three protests are planned to to take place:

From 8:15am on Tuesday January 20th, protest to save the School Crossing at the main pedestrian lights on Chester Road in Gorse Hill.

From 8:20am on Tuesday January 20th, protest to save the School Crossing at Washway Road/Eastway in Sale.

Main protest against the cuts, from 5pm on Wednesday January 21st, outside the Town Hall on Talbot Road to coincide with the Executive and Council meetings. TRAC will be handing in a petition against the cuts with over 2,000 signatures.

Sarah Haughey, member of TRAC said: “Come along, bring your children, your loudest voice, anything you have to make a noise – raid the kids’ toy box if you need to. After the recent accident in Sale where a lollipop man was hit by a car, the Council has to think again about the risks of making these cuts.”

TRAC are also planning a further ‘We Love Trafford’ protest on Valentines weekend, starting at Stretford Library and ending at the Town Hall and will release more details soon.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall

Max Branning’s ‘car clocking con’ could get him some serious time

HPI are highlighting the Dangers of Buying a Clocked Car on the back of a popular soap storyline.

Don't copy Max - Be aware of ALL the facts

Don’t copy Max – Be aware of ALL the facts

HPI, the provider of the HPI Check, is warning used car buyers to beware of fraudsters who turn back the clock on a vehicle’s mileage, as highlighted in

Max Branning

Max Branning

the current EastEnders storyline. Motor dealer Max Branning and car mechanic, Ben Mitchell have struck a deal to ‘clock’ cars that Max is currently selling from the used car lot ‘Deals on Wheels’.

In reality, 1 in 20 vehicles checked by HPI every day has a mileage discrepancy.

On average, a clocked car could cost an innocent buyer £1,497 more than its true value and, following the EastEnders spotlight on the practice of car clocking, HPI is urging people looking to buy used cars that they make sure they know the hidden history by visiting www.hpicheck.com before parting with any money.

Neil Hodson, Managing Director for HPI said: “Clocking is not just a TV soap storyline, it’s a very real threat to car buyers. Interestingly, altering a car’s mileage is not illegal but not declaring that mileage change to a potential buyer when selling on the vehicle definitely is, as highlighted in Britain’s favourite soap. Sadly, true life unscrupulous sellers see the clocking of a vehicle as an easy way to raise its price and make some extra cash by putting thousands of pounds onto the price tag.”

HPI is continuing the battle against so-called ‘clockers’ with its ePetition calling to close down mileage corrections firms that are believed to be fuelling fraudulent activity. Mileage correction firms claim to offer a service to amend a vehicle’s mileage for legitimate reasons; however a report by the Office of Fair Trading (OfT) concluded that there were very few legitimate reasons for a vehicle’s mileage to be altered, despite there being over 50 companies offering such a service in the UK*.

Deals on Wheels

Deals on Wheels

“Sadly, there are real life characters similar to the Brannings and Mitchell’s in the world, so beware. Ensuring you buy from a reputable car dealer is one way to avoid being caught out,” continues Neil Hodson. “But if you are buying privately we would always recommend carrying out an HPI Check, that way you can be sure the mileage is not going in reverse.”

Check the service history – Check the mileages displayed in the service history and look for service stamps from a genuine dealer. Ideally the service invoices will accompany the service history. If in doubt, contact the servicing dealers and check the mileages they recorded at the time of the service.
Speak to the previous keeper – Get in contact with the previous keeper (details can be found on the V5/logbook). They can identify the mileage of the vehicle when they sold it. Make sure this adds up with the current mileage.
Trust your judgement – Check who the car was last registered to on the V5. Was it registered as a company car but has done less than 12,000 miles per year? Or is it 15 years old with only 20,000 on the clock? Look for any evidence that indicates clocking.
Check the mileage – It has been known for clockers to wind back the mileage when you first view the vehicle and then return it to its original value once the transaction is complete. Make sure you check the mileage is the same when you pick up the vehicle.
Look for signs of wear and tear – Does the wear and tear on the vehicle match its mileage? Be careful to look out for signs such as worn seats, steering wheels and other vehicle parts. Also look out for brand new easily replaceable parts; the wear and tear should be consistent with the vehicle’s displayed mileage.
Conduct an HPI Check – HPI’s National Mileage Register has over 170 million mileages recorded on it, and can identify mileage discrepancies recorded against the vehicle.

*Many of these signs could be innocent, so look for more than one of the above as possible evidence of clocking.

Visit HPI at

Visit HPI By clicking This Link


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