“When she did not engage, he punched her in the nose, causing her to fall unconscious. She then fell and hit her face on the pavement, sustaining nasty injuries to her forehead and lip, which required stitches at hospital.
“Anyone who witnessed the assault or who can identify the pictured man, are asked to contact GMP via https://crowd.in/lclErq, 101 or anonymously via the independent charity, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting CRI/06A2/0015693/22.”
Featured image: GMP
Avanti West Coast given six-month contract extension – but told to ‘drastically improve’ services
Avanti West Coast has been granted a contract extension for a further six months, despite being continuously branded “unacceptable” by government ministers, local leaders, and countless customers.
The company has been given until 1 April 2023 to continue running the West Coast Main Line from London to Glasgow by the Department for Transport (DfT), but has been told that it needs to “drastically improve” its services if it’s to stand any chance of having the contract extended further beyond that date.
The rail firm has been responsible for operating the route from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston since December 2019, but notably took the decision to slash its timetable “until further notice”and temporarily suspend ticket sales over the summer.
Avanti said at the time that it would continue with with “a reduced service”, with train frequencies between the capital and Manchester being reduced to as few as one per hour, rather than the usual three.
Since the reduced timetable came into operation, some passengers travelling on the services reported scenes of chaos – including instances of “fights” over seat reservations.
The move was, understandably, met with widespread backlash and criticism, with Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham being particularly vocal about it, and most-notably calling the move “nothing short of a disgrace”.
Mr Burnham said yesterday that he would not accept a service below two trains per hour.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also said this week that Avanti should be stripped of its contract, claiming that the West Coast Main Line service was “simply not good enough”, and he knows how “frustrating” it is as he uses those trains himself.
Even with all of these critiques taken into account though, Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has announced the contract extension for the rail operator, but added that the operator has been put on an improvement plan, and that the DfT would “consider Avanti’s performance” once the extension comes to an end.
The government has previously said it would keep all options on the table – including the option for non-renewal of the contract.
“We need train services which are reliable and resilient to modern day life,” Anne-Marie Trevelyan said in a statement addressing the renewal.
“Services on Avanti have been unacceptable, and while the company has taken positive steps to get more trains moving, it must do more to deliver certainty of service to its passengers, so we have agreed a six-month extension to assess whether it is capable of running this crucial route to a standard passengers deserve and expect.”
The improvement plan will see a swathe of new drivers trained, recruitment of other train crew members, a timetable recovery plan, and a “significant, sustained, and reliable increase” from about 180 trains to 264 trains per day on weekdays.
These will be implemented as the new and retrained drivers “become available”, the DfT added.
Avanti says the West Coast Main Line contract extension will allow it to focus on restoring services that passengers “rightly expect”.
“We are committed to working closely with government and our partners across the industry to deliver a successful railway that serves the needs of our customers and communities,” said Graham Sutherland, CEO of FirstGroup, which part-owns Avanti.
“The agreement allows our team at Avanti West Coast to sustain their focus on delivering their robust plan to restore services to the levels that passengers rightly expect.”
Featured Image – Avanti West Coast
Nurses across the UK say ‘enough is enough’ as they begin vote on strike action over pay
Hundreds of thousands of NHS nurses nationwide have now begun casting their votes on whether to strike over pay.
This is the first ever UK-wide ballot by the history of the nursing industry’s largest union.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has this week asked 300,000 nurses if they want to begin a campaign for industrial action for the first time in its 106-year history – with the union urging its members to vote in favour of striking, and the union’s general secretary calling this a “once-in-a-generation chance” to make real change.
The vote comes amid warnings that nurses are leaving the profession in record numbers, and are unhappy with working conditions, staff shortages, and ultimately, pay.
The RCN said new analysis by London Economics found that pay for nurses has declined at twice the rate of the private sector in the last decade.
Their real-terms earnings are said to have fallen by 6%.
“Across the board, it’s unacceptable,” the RCN said on the opening of the ballot.
“We’re campaigning for a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome a decade of real-terms pay cuts, support nursing staff through the cost-of-living crisis, and recognise their safety critical skills [as] only by paying nursing staff fairly will we be able to retain existing and recruit new nursing staff to the safety critical roles they do.”
The union is urging its members, including those across Greater Manchester, to “make your mark on history” by voting for strike action.
RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen said the nation’s nurses are “understaffed, undervalued, and underpaid”.
Calling on members to cast their votes, Ms Cullen said: “For years, our profession has been pushed to the edge, and now patient safety is paying the price.
“We can’t stand by and watch our colleagues and patients suffer anymore.
“Though strike action is a last resort, it is a powerful tool for change, and we must demand that change. Enough is enough.
She continued: “This is a once in a generation chance to improve your pay and combat the staff shortages that put patients at risk. Governments have repeatedly neglected the NHS and the value of nursing. We can change this if together we say ‘enough is enough’.
“Record numbers are feeling no alternative but to quit and patients pay a heavy price. We are doing this for them too. I have spoken with hundreds of you directly in recent weeks – it’s clear we need urgent change.
“Nursing is the best job in the world. Protect it with your vote.”