The case for a new “investment-led” non-charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plan in Greater Manchester has now been published.
After the previous plan was referred back to the government for “urgent review” back in January, and after Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded that it was “completely unworkable” for the region, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has now set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan – which it says is “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.
The publishing of the new plan also comes after Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested that the region consider implementing a smaller charging Clean Air Zone that just covers Manchester city centre.
However, all of Greater Manchester’s leaders say they are clear that clean air compliance should be achieved through a non-charging approach.
Unlike the previous charging Clean Air Zone scheme set out by the government, GMCA says this new plan takes into account the rising cost of living crisis by avoiding charging motorists across the region, and will also “actively consider” the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly on Manchester city centre.
The new case also addresses some concerns that were previously raised over the price of new and used commercial vehicles rising, which makes upgrading less affordable for people.
GMCA insists that tackling the health impact of poor air quality still remains a top priority for Greater Manchester.
“The Case for a New Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan outlines how Greater Manchester would meet air quality legal limits in a way which is fair to local people and businesses and does not create the risk of financial hardship,” explains Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
“Our city is still recovering from the pandemic and we don’t want the government to level-down our city-centre with their proposals to charge businesses from across Greater Manchester who have to travel through or work within the proposed charging area [as] even a small charging Clean Air Zone would result in a considerable financial burden for the many businesses moving products and people through Manchester city centre, providing a significant setback in economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic, and during a cost of living crisis.
“The government wants us to charge Greater Manchester businesses at a time when they can least afford it.”
Once the plan has been considered by the Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee (GM AQAC) – which is made up of elected representatives of Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities – it will be submitted to the government to meet a deadline on 1 July.
Tasked by the government to bring NO2 air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible and by 2026 at the latest, the GM AQAC will be asked to agree that the next stage of the new plan will be developed through intensive engagement with business and the community.
“Based on the evidence, including the impact that a charging Clean Air Zone would have on their ability to make a living, and the risk to jobs and livelihoods, we have had the opportunity to fundamentally change the nature of the Clean Air scheme which we now feel is fit for purpose and fair to the people of our city region,” said Cllr Andrew Western, GMCA’s portfolio lead for Clean Air.
He added: “We will now move into a period of more intensive engagement with business and the community to bring together the detailed policy of the new Clean Air Plan.”
You can find out more and read the GM CAZ plan in full here.
Featured Image – The Manc Group
Lee Rigby’s son is raising tens of thousands for charity in honour of his dad
Jack Rigby, the son of soldier Lee Rigby, is raising an absolutely huge amount of money for charity in memory of his father.
Rigby, a former Royal Fusilier who served in Afghanistan for three years, was tragically murdered by extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale outside the Woolwich Barracks in May 2013 and now, over a decade after his death, his son is hoping to raise as much as possible in his honour.
His dad was 25 when he was killed and Jack himself was only two-years-old at the time. Now 13, the inspiring young man set out on his fundraising journey earlier this year, completing a marathon on behalf of Scotty’s Little Soldiers back in May, a military bereavement charity.
Setting himself the goal of reaching the ‘Scotty’s March’ £10k target — i.e. hoping to raise a £1,000 for each year since his passing — Jack and his family have been blown after the fundraiser has already amassed over £55k in donations.
With the goalposts now being moved to £60,000 after Jack and his mum Rebecca’s efforts have led to nearly £55k in contributions to the specialised bereavement organisation to support grieving military children and young people up to the age of 25.
Writing in his post when the fundraiser was first set up, Jack said, “This year marked the 10-year anniversary, it’s never easy but this year felt even harder for some reason. To help me through this year I have been concentrating on raising funds and awareness for Scotty’s Little Soldiers…
“This [has] really helped me to concentrate on something positive at a very difficult time while helping this amazing charity“, an intitiave he has been a part ever since he was a young child, adding that he named his dog Scotty in tribute to their important work for military families across the UK.
It was only earlier this year that the teenager spoke out about his father for the first time having already smashed his fundraising target before he had even run his marathon.
As for mum, she said: “Jack was so excited to see the amount grow and seeing how much each donation made him smile meant the world to me. He and I read all the messages of support and were thankful for them all. We honestly couldn’t believe how kind and generous people were being.”
Featured Image — Gov.uk/Jack Rigby (via Scotty’s Little Soldiers)
Greater Manchester’s volunteer police officers are now trained to deal with ‘high tension’ events
Dozens of volunteer police officers across Greater Manchester are now being given public order training to deal with “high tension” events.
In case you aren’t too familiar, Public Order Public Safety (POPS) is an arm of policing that covers a wide range of events and operations that could present instances of high or increased tension, according to Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
Some events of this nature include protests, festivals, sporting events, and disorder – basically, anywhere where there may be a risk to public safety.
In order to make sure there’s more hands on deck when these situations arise, GMP has now confirmed that it’s beginning the process of training up its volunteer workforce – formally known as Police Specials, of which there are currently about 200 employed to work 16-hours each month – to be able to work such events.
This is so they know how to correctly handle and manage potentially tension-filled situations.
GMP says that around 30 Police Specials completed their level two training over four days at the police force’s specialist training centre in Openshaw this week.
This means they can now be deployed at high-profile events.
Chief Superintendent Chris Hill, who is the strategic lead at GMP, say Police Specials play an “important role” for the police force, as they often join response teams or are put to good use by providing a link between local Greater Manchester communities and GMP.
“Special constables have the same powers and look the same as regular officers,” CS Hill explained, “but the difference is they are volunteers and can have regular jobs as well.
“The specials that completed the training are now highly-trained in tactics, as well as how to use equipment including helmets and shields, and can be deployed to high-profile football matches and events or demonstrations where there is an increase in tension.
“We hope this will make joining GMP as a special a more interesting and exciting prospect.”
Mike Walmsley, who is GMP’s Chief Officer and oversees the Special Constabulary, added how great it is to see a “continued investment” in the special constables.
He continued: “Having a team trained to public order level two allows us to further support our colleagues.
“[It will also] unlock more of the potential that the Special Constabulary has.
“We have already started to map out structured learning and supplied them with laptops and, coupled with further opportunities, this will allow our officers to develop further and support in existing and new areas.”