The Leader of Manchester City Council has released a statement this morning to weigh in on the ongoing ‘stand-off’ regarding the potential of Greater Manchester entering Tier 3 restrictions under the government’s new three tier coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions scheme.
He last offered up his viewpoint on the matter in a formal address in conjunction with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Deputy Mayor Baroness Beverly Hughes on the steps of Manchester Central Library last Thursday following a series of crunch talks with local leaders, MPs and central government ministers.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a live TV press conference on Friday afternoon that he may “need to intervene” in Greater Manchester if an agreement is not met.
He stated that the situation is “grave” and “worsening by the day”.
A number of reports are now emerging this morning – along with comments made by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick – to suggest that an agreement is closer than ever to being made and could be expected to be announced at some point today or tomorrow.
Sir Richard Leese has now spoken further this morning in relation to his “objections to the government’s approach” and offered a updated take on the situation in a piece titled ‘What Matters is What Works’ on his blog:
“10 days ago I set out my objections to the government’s approach to bringing down the number of coronavirus cases, an approach that is not based on the evidence or supported by the science. Since then a stand-off has developed between Greater Manchester Council Leaders (acting unanimously) and the vast majority of Greater Manchester MPs on one side, and the Westminster government on the other.
There are though two areas of agreement, the first that we need to reduce the number of cases leading to hospitalisation, the second that the current situation does need to be resolved.
The dispute is often represented as being simply about money. It is true that GM Leaders strongly believe that if government is going to force hundreds of businesses to close, and their staff to be laid off, those workers need far more than 66% of their normal wage to survive, and the businesses themselves need enough support to survive. This is particularly the case as government wants to close bars and pubs without any evidence that they are a major cause of virus transmission and without any evidence that closing them would be effective. Indeed the evidence we have in Manchester is the opposite, that pubs and bars are not a major source of transmission, and closing well-regulated, COVID-safe meeting places could make the problem worse by driving the activity underground.
However, more important than money are the actions to address the problem.
Most people who test positive for the virus are not getting particularly ill. They are not the problem. Too many are now getting ill and the number of hospital cases is going up, as is the number of people with COVID in intensive care. That’s the problem. I’ve spent a fair chunk of time over the last week talking to hospital staff about exactly what is going on. The good news is that they expect that now with improved treatment, they don’t expect to see anything like the death rate we had back in April and May. The bad news is that if cases continue to rise, they will have to again start cancelling other patients treatments.
They do though know who in the population is, if they catch the virus, most at risk of hospitalisation – older people and people with existing underlying conditions, diabetes, obesity, high-blood pressure, other respiratory illnesses. If this is the evidence, wouldn’t it be much better to have an effective shielding programme for those most at risk, rather than have a blanket business closure policy of dubious efficacy?
Greater Manchester have estimated the cost of a shielding programme at around £14m a month, less than a fifth of the estimated cost of business closures.
Sadly, government, having forced through badly thought regulations, seem unwilling to think again.
You can read the full statement via the Manchester City Council website here.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
The first bright yellow Bee Network bus has hit the streets of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester residents will soon start to see bright yellow double decker buses travelling the region’s streets in the coming weeks.
With exactly six months to go before Greater Manchester “brings buses back under local control”, Mayor Andy Burnham has joined a number of other local leaders in unveiling the brand-new ‘Bee Network’ co-branded buses.
In what marks the biggest change to transport in Greater Manchester for almost 40 years, according to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), bus operator Diamond – which currently runs services in Bolton – has teamed up with Go North West to run the first franchised services in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury from September this year.
Diamond has agreed to start transforming their buses into Bee Network ones from this week, with more set to appear on the roads every month.
The first bright yellow double decker bus has now hit the streets of Bolton, and is serving the number 8 route – which connects Bolton and Manchester city centre via Farnworth and Salford.
As already announced by TfGM and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), when franchising is officially introduced on 24 September 2023, 50 brand-new electric Bee Network buses will hit the streets on day one, alongside new ‘Euro VI’ vehicles, and dozens more co-branded buses from the existing fleet.
A further 50 electric buses will then be introduced onto the network in March 2024, which is when the second part of franchising starts.
All of the 270 new electric Bee Network buses will be fully accessible, with wheelchair bays, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems, and anti-slip flooring.
Mayor Andy Burnham said the first Bee Network bus entering service is “very much the start of our journey”, and added that the scheme will “ultimately deliver a greener, integrated and more inclusive transport system that will transform how people travel around our city-region.”
Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt also called the first bus’s introduction onto the streets as “a further significant step” towards the integration of the Bee Network and the “transformation” of public transport and active travel in the region.
He continued: “From September we’ll also have dozens of new state-of-the-art buses serving passengers in Wigan, Bolton, and parts of Salford and Bury.
“These will be the first of many across Greater Manchester that will, alongside the new lower fares – which are already increasing ridership – and improvements to travel information, improve bus travel for everyone who lives and works here.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Stockport teacher filmed ‘throwing student to the floor’ after being kicked out of his lesson
A teacher at a school in Stockport appears to have been recorded throwing a student to the floor after kicking the child out of his lesson.
In the clip that began circulating on social media last week, a pupil from Harrytown Catholic High School can be seen being escorted out of a classroom by a teacher whose identity is yet to be released.
After an inaudible conversation takes place in the doorway as the student presumably tries to remain in the room, the teacher can then be seen grabbing the young student and pushing him out of the doorway.
Following a slight struggle, the teacher then seemingly pushes the child again, at which point he appears to fall to the ground and the video cuts out. The caption reads: “This is how teachers at Harrytown Stockport treat their pupils. Justice for Oliver”.
At this stage, it still remains unclear whether Oliver (whose age is yet to be confirmed) was intentionally thrown to the floor or simply fell following the momentum from the push.
Either way, it doesn’t look good and obviously hasn’t gone down well with students or their guardians
Harrytown is a secondary school in the Stockport village of Romiley, teaching children aged from 11-16, and was awarded ‘Good’ by Ofsted in its most recent rating. However, many parents now have found themselves in the comments slamming the institution.
One mother claimed that “a teacher pushed my child in that school, they denied it [and] my kids been out of school since”, with another alleging that “the girl that videoed it got excluded for 5 days”, adding that they went on to send it to Manchester Evening News.
Speaking of the MEN, as per a statement issued to the outlet, Interim Director of Children’s Services and Director of Education for Stockport Tim Bowman said: “We are aware of an incident that took place at the school and we are following all appropriate due processes. We cannot comment further at this time.”
As for the school itself, they also insist that they are aware of the video and are now investigating the situation but cannot provide any further information either.
Oliver’s family are also yet to issue any form of comment following the incident.