Some of Manchester’s key figures are weighing in with their own verdicts as the first reports of England’s roadmap out of lockdown begin to surface.
Local business leaders and politicians are taking to social media this morning (February 22) to post their opinions following media speculation on what the government exit plan may look like.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to outline the strategy – which he spent last weekend finalising – in more detail to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.
A public address will follow later this evening.
It appears that restrictions will be lifted on a national basis rather than through a tiered approach.
Schools pupils are still due to return on March 8, with relaxations around social mixing expected from March 29.
Measures on other sectors will be lifted in stages, but will need to meet four ‘tests’ along the way, Downing Street has said. These include:
Successful deployment of vaccine
Continued evidence vaccine is working
Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
Assessment of the risks not fundamentally changed by new ‘variants of concern’
Among the local figures commenting on these early reports is former Manchester United star and UnitedCity representative Gary Neville, who has argued that all restrictions should be lifted by mid-April.
The Hotel Football and Salford City Football Club owner posted on Twitter: “The early reports are out on the ‘Roadmap’.
“The suggestion seems to be 4 stages will be announced.”
“I can only think of 2.
“1. Children back in school ASAP. 2. Re-open the country the day after all over 50’s and the vulnerable are vaccinated. (April 15th).”
Greater Manchester Nighttime Economy Adviser Sacha Lord also chimed in – claiming if initial reports were true about hospitality not opening until May, Chancellor Rishi Sunak needed to announce a support package.
Lord commented: “We need to wait for the PM to confirm today, BUT, if the return of restaurants/pubs isn’t until May, The Chancellor needs to urgently respond with a clear support package.
“A 10 day wait until 3rd March [the budget announcement] is too long for peoples mental health and anxiety over their jobs/businesses.”
MP for Manchester Central Lucy Powell echoed Lord’s remarks, stating that economic support must be announced today ahead of the budget.
She stated: “Business rate bills for April landing now for retail, hospitality, hair & beauty, yet unlikely to be open by then; millions remain on furlough too.
“In total £50bn bombshell facing business. Extend support!”
Last week, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham urged the government to “go slow and go national” with lifting restrictions, claiming that the lockdown exit was too fast in spring.
Burnham argued that this rapid release of restrictions may have contributed to the likes of Manchester re-entering restrictions by the end of July.
On Monday morning, the Mayor said that early leaks of the roadmap look “on the right lines”, but that any plan without additional support for those self-isolating had a “bloody big hole in it”.
The Prime Minister is expected to address MPs at around 3pm.
Mancunian has been named one of the ‘most attractive’ accents in the UK
Manchester is, once again, celebrating what we already know – our accent is one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
In case you missed it, earlier this year, Manchester welcomed in 2023 with the news that our city’s accent had been named the “sexiest” the country has to offer – with a survey of 2,500 people by casino comparison site Best Casinos discovering that over half of respondents ranked it the most pleasing regional accent to the ear.
And now it turns out that that survey wasn’t a fluke, because a new study has called the Manchester accent one of the “most attractive” in the UK.
But while there’s no doubt we can hold our heads high and be proud of claiming a spot in the top 10, this title does become a bit less impressive when you realise which other regional varieties have placed higher than us.
Fellow Northern accents Scouse and Geordie have taken second and third place on the list respectably, and the Welsh capital’s Cardiff accent rounding out the top five.
For us northerners, the grim reading continues when you learn that the London accent has clinched the top spot.
The Most Attractive Accents in the UK
According to Preply, 21% of women survey respondents voted for the London accent as the most attractive in the UK, compared with just 15% of men, while 10.4% of the population picked the unique sound of the Liverpool accent as second best.
Only 8.7% of survey respondents considered the Mancunian accent to be the most attractive.
The results from this survey do, at least, go some way to shattering the findings from two surveys published last year that found the Manchester accent is considered to be one of the ‘least respected’ nationwide, especially in the corporate world of work, and that Northerners with strong accents are considered ‘less intelligent’.
Featured Image – Unknown
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.”