Greater Manchester has been allocated over £1 billion in funding to deliver its “transformational” transport network.
It’s been a long time coming, but Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has revealed that the government has officially confirmed a package of revenue funding from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) for the city-region.
The funding will ultimately pave the way for the highly-anticipated, London-style transport system – the Bee Network.
Although the CRSTS funding allocation of £1.07 billion was initially announced ahead of last year’s autumn Budget, it’s been confirmed this week that it will be supported by £170 million in local contributions, which means there’ll be £1.2 billion worth of investment in local roads, bus, train and tram services over the next five years – with new quality bus corridors, cycling and walking routes and improved transport infrastructure and connectivity for towns and high streets in the region, GMCA says.
The funding will also help boost the city-region’s plans to improve air quality.
It’s set to support a move to a fully-electrified bus fleet, with 50 new zero emission buses expected to serve Bolton and Wigan when the first phase of bus franchising is introduced on 17 September 2023.
Cheaper fares will also be rolled out alongside bus franchising, with adult and children single journey fares capped at £2 and £1 respectively.
Breaking down the funding allocation from this week’s groundbreaking announcement, it was confirmed that Greater Manchester will receive £94.8 million from the government’s Bus Back Better strategy, and the Metrolink will also receive £20.5 million recovery funding to support the continued operation of services for the next six months.
A funding allocation for the city-region’s bus operators, however, is yet to be confirmed.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called for “more certainty over recovery funding”, with around £70 million said to be needed to keep tram and bus services operating at the current level throughout this financial year – especially as a “stable and reliable” public transport network is central to the delivery of the Bee Network.
“This funding will allow us to bring forward an improved bus service, with new buses, lower fares and more frequent services,” Mayor Andy Burnham said of the funding announcement.
“However, as welcome as [the] announcement is, the revenue funding is about half of what we bid for, and we still don’t know how much recovery funding bus operators will get to keep services running.
“We have been working closely with government on a funding model that will enable us to stabilise, rebuild and ultimately transform public transport, but can only deliver the Bee Network if we have a sound foundation to build upon and without a longer-term recovery settlement, the threat of cuts to services still looms large.
“This is the final piece of the puzzle that will really enable us to get on and deliver the Bee Network and this is the case I will make to government as we continue to work together to unlock Greater Manchester’s full potential.”
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.
Coins with King Charles III’s face on have officially entered circulation today
The Royal Mint has announced that the first coins to bear the effigy of King Charles III have officially entered circulation today.
In what marks the historic transition from Queen Elizabeth II to King Charles III on the public’s money, following the passing of the former back in September after 70 years on the throne, the first coins to bear The King’s portrait – are 50 pence pieces, and they will start to appear in circulation in Post Offices around the UK from today.
The coins not only bear The King’s face, but are also said to commemorate the life and legacy of the late monarch.
The reverse of the 50 pence features a design that originally appeared on the 1953 Coronation Crown, and includes the four quarters of the Royal Arms depicted within a shield, and in between each shield is an emblem of the home nations – a rose, a thistle, a shamrock, and a leek.
4.9 million 50 pence coins with King Charles III’s face on have been sent to UK Post Offices today.
The coin will first begin being distributing as change when customers make a purchase in store, The Royal Mint explains, before a total of 9.6 million 50ps eventually enter circulation in line with the public demand for them.
“Today marks a new era for UK coinage,” commented Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services at The Royal Mint.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for coin collectors to add to their collections, or start one for the first time. We anticipate a new generation of coin collectors emerging, with people keeping a close eye on their change to try and spot a new 50p that bears the portrait of our new King.
“The Royal Mint has been trusted to make coins bearing the Monarch’s effigy for over 1,100 years and we are proud to continue this tradition into the reign of King Charles III.”
Also speaking as the coins enter circulation today, Nick Read – Chief Executive Office of the Post Office – said: “It is a tremendous honour for the Post Office that the first coinage featuring King Charles III is being released into circulation via our extensive branch network.
“December is our busiest time of the year so the coin will be entering our network in a phased manner.
“If you don’t receive the new 50p in your change on your first visit to a Post Office, you may well get it in your change in a subsequent visit, so keep a look out for it.”
All approximately 27 billion UK coins with Queen Elizabeth II’s face on will remain legal tender and in active circulation, and will eventually be replaced over time as they become damaged or worn and to meet demand for new coins.