But now, Handforth Parish Council has announced it’s legally changed its name.
Local council meetings are usually known to be like watching paint dry at the best of times, but it’s hard to forget when clips from a Handforth Parish Council Zoom meeting went viral on social media all the way back in February thanks to a choir of raised voices, hysterical laughter, endless complaints, passive aggressive behaviour, and swearing councillors trading insults left, right and centre.
It went so viral, in fact, that people were aptly describing it as “British comedy gold” and “the best British comedy in decades”.
You may remember that with the tension between members having been continuing to build, the meeting eventually culminated with the Handforth Parish Council Clerk himself – or at least, that’s what his screen name said, but his identity is a little sketchy – being booted off the call entirely by the year’s unlikely star – none other than, Jackie Weaver.
“You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver”.
Those were the Clerk’s famous last words before Jackie Weaver exercised the authority she actually did have, and removed him from the meeting.
And it all went rapidly downhill from there.
Since the infamous meeting, three councillors – including the former chairman Mr Tolver, have left their positions, and now, new chairman John Smith said the council has been renamed to Handforth Town Council because they wanted to “move away from the toxic side of Handforth”.
Mr Smith said the name change had helped with the “disconnect between the old and the new”.
He continued: “We’re just getting back to what we used to be doing, which was doing stuff for the town council [and] we’re trying to deliver a number of projects that will improve people in Handforth’s lives.
“What we’d like is, by definition of what we’re doing, people don’t refer to the viral issue any longer.”
Mr Smith also said that the change of name made sense because of the size of the Cheshire town and to make it more inclusive, due to the word parish’s links with the church, adding that: “So many people believed it to be something to do with the church [and] the Vicar of Dibley didn’t help.
“What we wanted to do was ensure people that we’re nothing to do with the church, we’re purely here as a town council so that’s why we decided to change the name.”
Alongside the changes made at the council, life has also changed for then-Clerk Jackie Weaver, who has since gone onto to become somewhat of a household name, and still maintains her links with the town of Handforth.
“We’ve always had a good relationship with Jackie Weaver,” Mr Smith said.
If you’re wondering what Ms Weaver is up to nowadays, she is due to return to Handforth later this year to switch on their Christmas lights on 27 November.
Rio Ferdinand is helping change young lives with community programmes in Oldham and Salford
Ex-Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand and his foundation’s wonderful work is helping better the lives of young people in Oldham, Salford and across Manchester as a whole.
Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and The Guinness Partnership have been putting together a vital social initiative aimed at providing opportunities and resources to young people across Greater Manchester, helping them develop their skills and aspirations for future working life.
Now, after a hugely successful 12-month campaign, their skills and progression community programme, participants are well and truly starting to feel the impact, with 90% of those taking part now stating that they are enjoying a clear idea and focus on what they want to do for a career.
It may have be thriving in Salford and Oldham at the moment, but given the benefit the scheme has already had — not to mention the ambition the Rio Ferdinand Foundation has shown around various areas of the UK since being set up in 2012 — we can only see this spreading further across the region.
The skills-based initiative engages young people aged under 25 years old and living in Guinness homes in a six-month skills-based programme which has been up and running in the two Manc boroughs, as well as the London boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, since March 2022.
Young people from both Oldham and Salford take part in a weekly schedule of activities designed to tackle youth unemployment, including digital media training (photography, product design, filmmaking, podcasting), building and construction, CV workshops, mock interviews and more.
Not only do these shadowing opportunities garner confidence and raise aspirations among other young people in the local community, but they also help directly develop their employability skills via mentoring.
For instance, Matthew, 19 from Royton in Oldham, completed the programme and then was supported to apply to the Guinness Aspire Awards to request funding to purchase camera and lighting equipment to help him start a small local photography business. Quality stuff.
Matt says that the scheme “has been an amazing opportunity and has given [him] a chance to get back on the right path… I know what I want to do now and can’t wait to start… I would recommend that other people in my position get involved with it in the future.”
As well as markedly increasing participants health and well-being, all 100% of those involved across Salford and Oldham reported feeling more confident, with many now enjoying opportunities with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s partners such as Warner Music, Kiss FM, The Jockey Club and the Gym Group.
Speaking on the programme’s success, Rio himself said in a statement: “The Foundation is committed to working with young people at the heart of their communities to offer support, training, and opportunities to those that need it… engaging with the Guinness Partnership has provided a great boost to our reach and our work”.
Well in, Rio. Thankfully, he isn’t the only ex-Manchester-based footballer still trying to make a difference in the local community either:
Campbell, 38, was found dead in his home in Mossley, Tameside, on Saturday 3 July. He had been fatally assaulted and died of the injuries he sustained in the attack.
Belfield was arrested on 23 March 2023 by Suriname authorities on suspicion of drug-related offences – he’ll likely remain in the South American nation’s jurisdiction to face these charges.
Then GMP want to bring him back to Manchester to face questioning from GMP’s Major Incident Team.
Detective Chief Inspector Liz Hopkinson from GMP’s Major Incident team said: “The news of Belfield’s arrest is an important development in our investigation, we will be working with international law enforcement agencies to bring Belfield back to Manchester and continue in our pursuit to find answers for Thomas’ family.
“Through vigilance shown by our colleagues in South America, Belfield was recognised by Suriname’s law enforcement upon his arrest and information regarding his whereabouts was shared with our Force Critical Wanted Unit.
“We have previously released numerous appeals to ask for help in finding him and we thank the public for their continued support in this case.
“This is an excellent result which shows once again, that UK law enforcement does not give up on finding those abroad who are wanted for offences in the UK.”