In case you need bringing up to speed, the Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads, but many will remember that the deadline for the scheme had been put on hold until while the plan was referred back to the Government for “urgent review” in January of last year, following huge backlash and after then Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded that it was “completely unworkable” for the region.
The Government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.
GMCA then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.
And now, further details of those plans have been shared with the public this week ahead of a full report being submitted to the Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee – with the committee to be asked to approve the region’s evidence to the Government when it meets on 20 December.
So, what do the plans entail then?
According to GMCA’s new modelling, Greater Manchester can bring air quality within legal limits “without the need for” and “faster than” a charging Clean Air Zone.
By building on the launch of the new Bee Network, and using clean air funding already awarded by the Government, Greater Manchester’s proposal includes a £51.2 million investment in zero-emission electric buses for the Bee Network, £30.5 million to fund grants for cleaner taxis, and £5 million for measures to manage traffic flow on some roads in the centre of Manchester and Salford.
Greater Manchester’s preferred plan would mean that no vehicle would be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester.
“By accelerating investment in the Bee Network to create a London-style integrated public transport network, and upgrading GM-licensed taxis, we can improve air quality faster than if we introduced a Clean Air Zone,” Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham explained.
“And without causing hardship to our residents or businesses too.”
He added: “I’d also ask the Government to urgently consider allowing Greater Manchester local authorities to remove charging Clean Air Zone signs.modelling shows that only Greater Manchester’s investment-led plan can meet the legal test placed on the 10 councils to deliver compliance in the shortest possible time and by 2026 at the latest.”
GMCA insists that once it’s had full formal Government feedback on the Clean Air Plan, following the submission of this additional evidence, it will “consider timescales” for a public consultation on the plan, so local residents can have their say.
In the meantime, you can read more about the new Clear Air Plan here.
Featured Image – The Manc Group
GMP officer sacked for using ‘racially aggravated language’ to colleagues
A serving Manchester police officer has been sacked after making “offensive and derogatory” remarks to his colleagues.
PC Radoslaw Mikulski – who worked in Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Trafford district, and had been on restricted duties since October 2022 – was officially dismissed from his role with immediate effect this week (19 February) following an accelerated misconduct meeting at GMP’s headquarters.
It comes after the police officer used “racially aggravated language” on two separate occasions.
The “offensive” language was used in private meetings to colleagues in September and October 2022 – with the first use referring to an incident, and the second about a member of the public.
After a debrief into the first incident, GMP advised PC Mikulski that this type of language was “inappropriate”, and he then went on to admit that his behaviour amounted to gross misconduct and subsequently apologised.
He did, however, explain in the hearing this week that his comments in the first case “referred to an incident, rather than a person”.
PC Mikulski’s actions were reported to GMP’s Professional Standards Directorate, who then carried out an internal investigation which led to disciplinary proceedings.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson – who presided over the hearing this week – agreed that the behaviour amounted to gross misconduct, and that PC Mikulski had therefore “breached the standards” of Equality and Diversity, as well as Authority, Respect and Courtesy.
In dismissing the officer, CC Watson accepted that PC Mikulski’s use of the derogatory term had not been “malicious”.
But he said that despite this acceptance, this type of language is still “highly offensive” and ultimately “falls below what the public rightly expects”, adding: “Racially aggravated language always constitutes an aggravating factor, and there is a risk of the trust of minority communities [in the police] being harmed.”
CC Watson also ordered PC Mikulski’s name to be added to the College of Policing Barred List.
Featured Image – GMP
Stockport County create a new community mural with young street artists in Edgeley
Stockport County is creating a brand new mural with a group of young street artists from the local area and a little help from one of their squad members.
This past February half-term, the Greater Manchester football club enlisted the help of some schoolkids and aspiring artists, along with local creatives from around the area to create a brand new piece of artwork right in the heart of the community.
With some paint, plenty of spray cans and the expertise of Manc muralist and designer, Oskar With A K, and poet Ruth Awolola, a dozen local secondary school pupils helped write, design and paint the mural — taking inspiration directly from the club and the thriving fan culture in Stockport.
There is no chant more iconic and important to the Hatters than their famous ‘The Scarf My Father Worse’ song and that’s exactly what the local artists have decided to immortalise.
The painting process began on Friday, 16 February and, as you can see, they even managed to rope in County defender Ethan Pye came along to lend a hand with the mural, armed with a can of spray paint to help the young people bring their ideas to life.
Being developed by the Stockport County Community Trust in collaboration with North West organisations, GRIT Studios and The Writing Squad, ‘The Scarf My Father Wore’ project has received £14,800 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Popping in a prime location on the corner of Castle Street and Mercian Way — just metres away from the Edgeley Park stadium and right at the beginning of the local village high street — this vibrant work of art will be passed by thousands of commuters and pedestrians every day.
Being brought to life in brilliant blue and white in line with the club’s colour scheme and proudly printing the title of the famous chant on the wall along with stencils of the County crest, footballs and many other details, it sits pride of place in the Stockport suburb.
Much like the historic chant and the symbolic scarf itself, this brilliant piece of street art will be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come, as well as make sure the club continues to play a key role in local culture.
County’s Community Trust CEO Alison Warwood said: “This project shows how art and writing by young people can make a real difference to the local community, and I can’t wait to see the end result.”
John Macaulay from GRIT Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be involved in such a collaborative and community-spirited initiative. Our young artists will be helping to create a lasting landmark that will become a focal point in Edgeley for years to come.”
With the Hatters currently top of the League Two table and looking at yet another promotion season, there feels like no better time for fans to wear the club on their sleeve, their scarves around their necks and now up on the wall too.