MPs and campaigners are calling for the rollout of smart motorways across the UK to be halted over safety fears.
The UK government is planning to remove the hard shoulder from all future smart motorways and use the lane for live traffic are “premature”, a report from Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC) has said – but a cross-party group of MPs has called for a suspension on the rollout of these digital traffic management methods.
Campaigners have long argued that the scrapping of hard shoulders has put drivers at greater risk of accidents.
They have condemned what they call “death trap highways”.
In the TSC’s new report, MPs said the government has failed to deliver on promises to bring in safety improvements to stretches of smart motorway and said it was time to stop any further rollout of smart motorways until five years of safety data is available and improvements can be independently evaluated.
Demonstrators carried 38 cardboard coffins to the Houses of Parliament on Monday in protest over the government’s motorway plan – which was first announced in March last year – with each coffin representing one of the people officially listed as being killed on smart motorways between 2014 and 2019.
Around 53 people are thought to have died on smart motorways since 2014.
At least four coroners cited the lack of hard shoulder as playing a significant part in the road deaths they were investigating.
The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England promised safety improvements on these sections of road, but the MPs report concluded that those steps do not fully address the risks associated with the removal of the hard shoulder.
The TSC urged ministers to “consider alternative options for enhancing capacity” on motorways.
It is calling on the government to install controlled smart motorways, instead of all-lane running motorways.
Controlled smart motorways have a permanent hard shoulder, use technology to regulate traffic, and have the “lowest casualty rates” of all roads across motorways and major A roads in England.
The TSC’s report said: “The government and National Highways should pause the rollout of new all-lane running schemes until five years of safety and economic data is available for every all-lane running scheme introduced before 2020 and the implementation of the safety improvements in the government’s action plan has been independently evaluated.”
Claire Mercer – whose husband, Jason, died on a smart motorway stretch of the M1 in June 2019 – welcomed the recommendation the rollout be paused, adding: “That will give us more time to get into the High Court and get these banned anyway”.
She added: “There’s a really strong feeling against these [and] we need to embarrass the government into actually doing something.
“We don’t need a raft of changes.
“We just need the hard shoulder back in every single instance.”
An additional 300 miles of smart motorways without hard shoulders could be rolled out across England by 2025.
Featured Image – Wikimedia Commons
This Manchester bar is selling PINTS of Bloody Mary and a slice for six quid
Whether it’s downing pints of water before bed, spending all day on the sofa asleep, or a big fat fry-up the morning after, everyone has a favourite hangover cure.
One of ours has to be the Bloody Mary, aka the best ever hair of the dog – a mixture of spicy tomato juice, vodka, lemon, hot sauce and, in a perfect world, something smoky with pickles.
So when we heard that Manchester rock bar Jimmy’s is selling PINTS of the stuff for just six pounds with a big fat slice of focaccia-like Detroit pizza included, we felt compelled to share the good news.
After all, party season is basically upon us – and that means struggling through more hangovers than we can typically endure.
The Ancoats boozer is currently home to Manchester’s original Detroit pizza heroes Corner Slice, a long time favourite in The Manc office from day one.
The team also has a pizza shop in Failsworth, but for the next month (well, until 23 December), they’re slinging their signature slices out of the kitchen at Jimmy’s to help you soak up the booze.
The deal, which is available every day, includes a pint of Bloody Mary and a square slice of their thick deep-pan Red Top pizza: a mixture of red sauce, Corner Slice’s signature cheese blend and basil pesto.
Available every day of the week, from open until the kitchen closes, you can opt to enjoy your pint of Bloody Mary and pizza in the bar or get it to take away if you’d rather curl up on the sofa with some grease and your favourite TV show.
The brainchild of owners Frank Brashaw and Danny Broadbent, Corner Slice has made a well-deserved name for itself in Manchester thanks to serving up deep pan pizza with traditional Italian toppings and a curly cheese crust.
The popular Failsworth-originated pizzeria was the first to bring its Motor city-inspired rectangular pizza pies to Manchester after what it said was a “light bulb” moment during lockdown.
As well as the simple ‘Red Top’, some of Corner Slice’s best-loved dishes include square pies loaded with the likes of Korean Cauli, Portocini (a mix of portobello and porcini), and a number of regularly-changing specials and vegan specials.
Feature image – The Manc Eats
FIFA allow rainbow flags and bucket hats in World Cup U-turn
In a surprising U-turn by FIFA, the international governing body has instructed Qatar to allow rainbow flags and bucket hats to be taken into their stadiums.
It remains unclear whether this reversal will extend to players wearing the armband, though it still seems unlikely at this stage.
Nevertheless, we’re happy to see the pride flags and rainbow colours signifying solidarity with the LGBTIA+ community making an appearance in the Middle East.
Wales were the first nation to get the rainbow colours on show ahead of their 2-0 defeat to Iran on Friday morning, installing pride corner flags with the team badge superimposed around their training camp.
The Dragons explained that, like other teams, they could not risk ignoring FIFA‘s ruling on the One Love armband through fear and lack of clarity over whatever the subsequent sanctions would be, but are now clearly trying to send a message where they can.
The German national team also made their feelings known in what has now become an iconic sporting photo, portraying how allies have been “silenced” by the Gulf state.
We can only hope England make the most of their opportunity to take a similar stand and show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, women’s rights and the migrant workers who suffered to make this beyond questionable World Cup happen.
Although we should have been focusing on nothing other than football, the 2022 World Cup has been dominated by off-pitch controversies.
As well as Qatar‘s tough stance on alcohol — banning beer just 48 hours before the first game — the suppression of rights, media, freedom of expression and the human rights abuses committed against those who toiled to build the stadiums have all cast a shadow over the tournament.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate insisted that despite the travesty of the One Love armband decision, the team remain positive and “know what [they] stand for.
He also would not rule out sending a message in another way, reassuring reporters that despite having to accept the decision, “That’s not to say we won’t do anything moving forward if the timing’s right, but I think we are rushing to be seen to be doing something, we could make an error that doesn’t land well.”
Either way, at least fans now have a way of demonstrating their support by putting their rainbow flags and bucket hats on the world stage.
Once again, it’s not up for debate: football is a game for everyone.