Thursday 21st May
I'm living in Cheshire at the moment. The only way to reach the city in 30 minutes from here is by car. This limits the opportunities to go out in the city. To be able to drink alcohol it's a one and a half hour journey one way by public transport. Taxi is so expensive it's out of the question, it's £60 there and back.
So I'm at the Green Room bar in nearby Altrincham town centre in Cheshire. It's in Goose Green which is like a shopping square, set back from the main street of Altrincham. The barman and one of his customers have in interesting conversation about wheel clamping.
Barman to me: "That street over there, there's been some illegal wheelclamping. I had a ticket for £160 at night for parking there."
Me: "The street near Hays recruitment?"
Barman: "Yes. I sent a letter to the council about it and they are going to sort it out."
Customer: "Are you claiming the money back?"
Barman: "Yes. There'll be an article about it in the Messenger newspaper. I asked them not to mention my name because, well I don't want trouble." (When the article is released, I notice the Messenger article doesn't mention his name, but reports he is the owner of the Green Room, which is about the same as mentioning his name. Can't trust journalists.)
Customer: "They're criminals."
Barman: "That's exactly what they are. I don't want a brick through the windows."
Customer: "I don't know how they can get away with it."
Barman: "They take down council parking signs and put up their own signs. They choose an area like this where people have lots of money who don't want to have problems with criminals and would rather pay."
Customer: "Not anymore."
Barman: "They'll move somewhere else though."
Customer: "Those signs have been up for ages."
Barman: "Look at this." he takes a letter he received from the council out from behind the bar.
Barman: "It says here from the council that they've known about the illegal clamping signs since 2006."
Customer: "That's 3 years the council haven't done anything."
Barman: "I've seen cars parked there with permits displayed in their window which they've bought from this illegal clamping company."
Customer: "Has anyone told the police?"
Barman: "It says here on the letter that if you're a victim of illegal clamping to phone the council or police."
It's ok out here in Altrincham. It's only busy on Friday and Saturday evenings so it's not the kind of area for going out weeknights.
Summary and venue reviews: Thursday 21st May
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The Green Room Altrincham
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual. Décor: 6/10.