Andy Burnham ended up being late to a press briefing about ongoing train cancellations over the weekend, because his train was… cancelled.
You just couldn’t write it.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester was intending to make his way over to Liverpool Lime Street station on Saturday with Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram to attend a press briefing about “rail chaos” and call on the government to make an immediate increase in funding for train operators TransPennine Express and Northern.
But, in what is a truly ironic turn of events, the pair ended up being late to the event because the train they were due to board was, in fact, cancelled.
Taking to Twitter to share the unfortunate train cancellation news – but more likely just to point out how ridiculous the whole situation was – Mr Burnham explained: “Heading to Lime St with @MetroMayorSteve for a press briefing on train cancellations but we’re going to be late as our train is cancelled.”
Mr Rotherham said the irony that the train had been cancelled was “not lost” on the pair.
Despite the bump in the road, Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram did end up arriving in Liverpool for the press conference, where they condemned the “unacceptable delays and cancellations” that have turned people away from railways and impacted on the economy of the North.
The pair said train operators are being put in “financial straitjackets”, and are unable to bring in the necessary numbers of staff needed to run services.
The mayors said that widespread cancellations, delays, and poor performance were “seriously damaging people’s lives” by preventing them getting to work, visiting friends and family, and attending events.
They also said it was causing businesses to reconsider investing in the regions.
“While chaos dominates the national headlines, rail passengers in the North have had to contend with it for years,” Andy Burnham said at the briefing.
“They have suffered from delays, cancellations, and poor performance for far too long.
“Growing the economies of our city-regions is simply impossible if rail services are so unfit for purpose that they act as a barrier rather than a gateway to growth. Appalling levels of service are also turning people away from the railways at a time when, to meet our economic and environmental ambitions, we urgently need to make sure public transport is always a viable – and even a preferable – alternative to cars.
But it is not just operators who are responsible for the North’s failing rail system, as successive governments have failed to invest in vital infrastructure improvements that could make a significant difference to reliability.
“Enough is enough.
“We are calling for immediate action from the government to deliver a funding injection into the TransPennine Express and Northern contracts.
“Both have a long way to go to win back the trust of passengers in the North, but they will never do so if they are being hamstrung by the financial constraints imposed on them by Whitehall.”
Mr Burnham added that millions of passengers in the North need to know that the government “has their back” when it comes to the delivery of functioning public transport.
He continued: “They need to ensure that operators have the financial and negotiating room to breathe in order to start fixing our broken system, including by supporting a resumption of rest day working.
The pair argued that a deadline of the end of the year should be given for improving rail services across the region, and proposed that without a marked improvement in delivery, TransPennine Express should be stripped of its contract.
“In the longer term, we believe a North West Rail Executive is needed,” Mr Burnham added.
“As part of wider rail reform and the creation of Great British Railways to ensure the delivery of better services in our areas, and provide our city-regions and neighbouring areas with more control over the rail services they depend on to live their lives.”
Featured Image – Andy Burnham (via Twitter)
Manchester United reject offers for Mason Greenwood as rep says he ‘should be allowed to move forward with his young life’
Manchester United have reportedly rejected a number of offers for Mason Greenwood as the club continues their internal investigation into his behaviour.
The club have reportedly received a number of offers for the young forward from Turkish teams in recent weeks and months while Greenwood has been suspended from playing or training. He has yet to return to the sport after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped.
The charges handed down in January 2022 were ultimately dropped last month when key witnesses withdrew, more than a year on from the incident that was widely circulated on social media.
Now, following a behind-the-scenes feature by The Athletic and ‘new material’ leading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case for the foreseeable, it seems United are now the only party still investigating Greenwood, with his own team and figures around the club pushing for a resolution.
Speaking to Laurie Whitwell as part of the piece, one of Greenwood’s representatives argued that there is “no real substance” to the allegations, them “a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims.”
He went on to say, “Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”
Another source is also said to have told the outlet that the youngster has been fundamentally changed by the experience, insisting that he “would run through a brick wall” to be back playing at United.
As for the club’s stance, it remains to be seen what their final decision on his future will be, but it was reported earlier this month that a potential return is still “firmly under consideration” and his number 11 shirt has not yet been vacated as many would have expected if he was set to move on.
On the other hand, the article goes on to detail questions surrounding Greenwood’s conduct and general attitude during his relatively short time as a senior player too, the suggestion being that he was slacking in training because “he knew he was a good player”.
His attendance at Carrington is said to have been raised as an issue on more than one occasion and then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær often covered for training sessions and games he missed after failing to turn up to the team hotel for “unexplained absences”.
Another source who watched him play aged just 16 also went on to reveal that Bradford-born academy product “wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***”, apparently even calling out Cristiano Ronaldo as “dead [finished]” when he was still at Real Madrid.
Greenwood played over 100 senior games for United and was widely considered one of the brightest young prospects in England, let alone the club, but the career trajectory he looked to be on is widely different from the problematic position he finds himself in now, regardless of any offers from abroad.
So, after setting up a fake consultancy firm based out of Seoul, South Korea called Hanseong Consulting and inviting along a number of MPs, many of whom either previously held or currently sit in senior party positions, they began holding Zoom interviews with the various candidates to see if they’d be interested.
More importantly, however, the crucial question was “how much would they want to be paid?”. The likes of former Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng had very simple but nevertheless astounding answers:
As you can see in the trailer for the full mini-documentary, both the former health secretary and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted their day rate as up to £10,000.
In fact, Hancock broke down his figures even further, insisting that an hourly rate would equate to “around £1,500”. Wonder how that sizes up to the fee he was paid to be on I’m A Celeb? (yes, that wasn’t a fever dream, it really happened). We’ll let you do the nauseating maths on that one.
Other Tories who were duped into putting themselves forward for the made-up job included Gavin Williamson, Stephen Hammond and the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee (a private members group known to influencers backbenchers), Sir Graham Brady.
Well, they were the only ‘candidates’ to have issued statements after the fact trying to play down the story, anyway. The campaigners approached 20 different MPs under the guise of the fabricated company, with other individuals dropping out in more preliminary stages.
After having asked for £60k a year on top of his £48k annual salary as the representative for Manc constituency Altrincham and Sale West, this would have been Brady’s fourth job besides his two marketing and comms advisory roles, but assured he would always act “within the Code of Conduct”.
Hammond had more to say on the matter, responding that “scamming is an unpleasant activity undertaken with malicious intent”, while Hancock’s office responded by labelling it a “failed attempt at entrapment” and insisted he is free to look at “exploratory options” as he is set to stand down as an MP.
Led By Donkeys are now in the process of gradually releasing each one of the fake job interviews in full on their YouTube channel.