Passengers are once again being told to plan ahead and only travel “if necessary” as rail workers strike nationwide today.
Network Rail is warning all those intending on travelling by train that services will be “severely disrupted” on Wednesday as a result of another national strike called by the leadership of the RMT Union, and while it has confirmed that thousands of specially-trained back-up staff will step in during the one-day walkout, only a fifth of services will be running on around half of the network.
Passengers are asked to only travel by train “if they must”, allow extra time for journeys, and check when their last train will depart, Network Rail advises.
Over 40,000 rail workers are to walk out for 24-hours.
After talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs, and conditions, members of the RMT Union and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Network Rail and 14 other regional rail operators are to take industrial action – with Northern, TransPennine Express, and Avanti West Coast all confirmed to take part.
Network Rail said all operators may be affected, whether they are part of the dispute or not.
People are also being told that they should expect disruption on the morning of Thursday 28 July too, with a later start to services as employees return to duties.
“The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay,” said Mick Lynch – General Secretary at RMT Union.
“Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes, until we get a negotiated settlement.
“The public who will be inconvenienced by our strike action need to understand that it is the government’s shackling of Network Rail and the TOCs that means the rail network will be shut down for 24 hours.”
Andrew Haines – Chief Executive at Network Rail – said: “Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I’m afraid there will be more disruption for passengers as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.”
“It is frustrating to yet again ask our passengers to change their plans and only make essential journeys,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) also said in response: “The rail industry has to modernise and be brought into the 21st century for the benefit of passengers and staff [and] we’re extremely disappointed to see that instead of staying at the table, RMT executives have chosen to walk away once more.
“We continue to encourage RMT to do the right thing by their members and passengers alike and call off the strikes.”
Major property developer criticised for ‘anti-sex worker’ billboard in Manchester city centre
One of Manchester’s most recognised property development companies has faced backlash this week for a ‘disgraceful’ billboard placed beside its newest residential site.
The enormous advertisement was erected beside Capital & Centric’s Crusader Mill and Phoenix developments in Piccadilly East.
On it are the words ‘From red light, to green light’ – a slogan that’s been branded as a ‘discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard’ by a local charity.
Capital & Centric has now acknowledged that people ‘don’t like the banner’ and said that it will be changed.
MASH (Manchester Action on Street Health) offers support to women who sex work – be it for emotional wellbeing or sexual health – and has its headquarters near to the new billboard.
They wrote: “We’re saddened that a discriminatory, anti-sex worker billboard has been put up nr MASH.
“If we want Manchester to be a welcoming city where all can thrive, this isn’t the way.
“We stand with sex workers, always. Help to counteract the hate by supporting us mash.org.uk/donate.”
On Twitter, one person said: “Disgraceful for a property developer to espouse any kind of morality over sex workers who were here decades before them ~on a literal billboard~. @CapitalCentric you should be ashamed of this.”
Someone else said: “Unbelievably poor taste advertising from so-called social impact investors at @CapitalCentric.”
Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital&Centric, said: “There’s been a handful of comments on social media from people who don’t like the banner. We never want to cause upset, so it’s being changed.
“Anyone who’s followed us will know about our efforts to have positive social impacts on the communities where we work.
“From building new homes and creating inclusive neighbourhoods, to actively supporting those most in need by working with frontline homeless charities.”
A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “We have been made aware of an advertising banner installed by Capital and Centric in the Piccadilly area.
“We understand that this banner was not intended to cause offence and they have agreed to remove it.
“Capital and Centric play an important role in the city’s development, working with a number of voluntary and community organisations in this area, and have apologised for any unintentional upset caused by this marketing campaign.”
Featured image: The Manc Group
The public will get to have their say on the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone – but not until 2023
New reports have suggested that the Greater Manchester public are to be consulted on the latest Clean Air Zone (CAZ) proposals – but this won’t be done any time soon.
The closest thing to a public response from the government on the plan was when environment secretary George Eustice said he believed there was “little robust evidence” that it will work effectively.
Mr Eustace suggested that taxis, vans, buses, and lorries should still be charged in the city centre.
It’s now being reported that, ahead GMCA’s plan for a non-charging CAZ is to be formally-submitted to the government in its final form following a meeting on 16 August, ‘targeted engagement’ is currently taking place on the proposal and an online survey for some motorists is set to launch in a couple of weeks – but this will not go out to everyone.
ITV Granada reports that transport bosses have confirmed the wider public will not be able to have their say on the new proposals until early 2023.
This has already been met with criticism from industry leaders and campaign groups.
Prominently addressing the fact the public will not be consulted on plans until 2023, spokesperson for RethinkGM – a campaign group set up in opposition to the Greater Manchester Clear Air Zone – said: “It is extremely disappointing that leadership of Greater Manchester continue to ignore the public and residents of the region once again, by leaving public consultation on any CAZ scheme until early 2023.
“With a national cost of living crisis currently under way and residents now choosing between eating, heating and survival, GMCA still fail in their duty to residents and maintain their ill-advised attempt to impose further unnecessary limitations on livelihoods.
“It is quite clear that this scheme now needs scrapping in full and consideration given to the poor, low paid, business and those suffering above all else.”