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All the rule changes coming into effect from next Monday

Everything you need to know

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Next week will see yet more lockdown restrictions eased in England, as we creep gradually closer to April 12th.

From next Monday, March 29th, certain social restrictions will be relaxed, including limits on gatherings and outdoor sports.

This follows on from stage one of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which saw schools reopen on March 8th, and people allowed to meet one other person outdoors.

Mike Peel / Wikimedia

March 29th will see the second part of stage one come into force, under which friends and families will be able to meet outdoors using the rule of six.

You’ll be able to meet up in limited numbers outdoors, which includes private gardens, as it’s harder for the virus to spread in these settings.

You can either meet up with a group of up to six people from different households, or alternatively people from just two different households will be able to meet in a larger group.

This will be allowed in all outdoor settings, although the government still warns people should follow social distancing guidance – especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.

Image by Robert Geisler from Pixabay

The government’s ‘stay at home’ guidance will also be replaced by the advice to ‘stay local’ – although it’s unclear what ‘local’ means specifically and how far people can travel.

On that note, travel will still be limited, with a ban on holidays for the time being and people being encouraged not to travel around the country.

Outdoor sports facilities like golf courses and tennis courts will be able to reopen, while organised outdoor sports like football can begin again for adults and children – these activities need to be organised, rather than large groups meeting in a park for a kick about.

As well as that, every child will be allowed to access outdoor childcare and supervised activities, while parent and child groups will be able to happen outdoors with a maximum 15 attendees – children under five don’t count towards this limit.

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Man tragically dies after falling from apartment block near the city centre

Police attended the scene after reports of a man falling in the early hours of this morning

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A man has sadly died after falling from an apartment block in Salford.

Police were called to Rolling Street – just off of Trinity Way near Manchester city centre – at around 5:10am this morning after receiving reports that a man had fallen from a building.

Upon arrival at the apartment complex, officers found the man and immediately called emergency services.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, however, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The quiet residential street was sealed off this morning, with two police vehicles seen guarding each side of the cordon.

The cause of the fall is not yet known, though detectives say they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about about the full circumstances of the tragedy.

No arrests have been made and enquiries are said to be ongoing.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called around 5.10am today (January 18th) to Rolling Street, Salford to a report of a male having fallen from a building.

“Emergency services attended and despite the best efforts of paramedics he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

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“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and detectives are keeping an open mind as they investigate.

“No arrests have been made.”

A spokesperson for Get Living, the company that manages the apartment block, added: “We are very sad to confirm a death at New Maker Yards this morning.

“We are working closely with the emergency services who are continuing their investigation and will issue further information as it becomes available.”

Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 101 quoting incident 374 of 18/01/22. Alternatively, details can be passed via the LiveChat at www.gmp.police.uk or via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Bus driver sacked for being ‘too short’ gets job back after winning appeal

Tracey had been driving Manchester buses for over three decades when she was let go for ‘being too short’

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Paul Gerrard & Unite North West / Facebook

The female bus driver who was sacked for being ‘too short’ has been given her job back after winning her highly-publicised appeal.

Despite being one of the first female bus drivers in Manchester and having thirty-four years of experience under her belt, Tracey Scholes was found to lack the ‘capability’ to drive Go North West’s new vehicles safely.

The position of the new buses’ wing mirrors required the fifty-seven-year-old, from Heywood, to lean around a pillar to see them, meaning she could not keep her feet safely on the pedals. 

Because of this, Tracey was offered a different position driving the company’s school buses, though it would mean a reduction in hours worked and pay.

The company also offered the bus driver her current pay rate but with reduced hours, which meant she would still be losing around £230 a month, the Unite union said. She turned down both positions and was subsequently given her notice.

Tracey’s story was quick to go viral and gained the support of celebrities including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh and James Quinn. A petition was also set up in support of Tracey has gained a massive 29,214 signatures at the time of writing.

Also at her wit’s end, Tracey herself launched a desperate appeal last week to keep her job, which saw hundreds of people turn out at the Queens Road Depot in Cheetham Hill where the appeal hearing was taking place to show their support.

And this week, the campaigning has paid off, with Go North West officially offering Tracey her job back where she would drive a different model of bus.

Under the new deal, Tracey will start earlier to allow her to pick up a bus with wing mirrors of her preference, and her weekly hours and rate of pay will remain unchanged.

Go North West’s HR director Scott Maynard said in a statement that the company was ‘pleased’ their ‘valued and long-serving driver’ was to stay with Go North West ‘after she decided to accept an offer to drive different buses as per a proposal made in September’. 

Scott Maynard added: “We have said from the start that we wanted to keep Tracey and we are glad that she has changed her mind and decided to stay.”

He said the company “operates no height restrictions on recruitment, and has multiple drivers of the same height, or below, as Tracey”.

“It is categorically untrue that we would, or could, have threatened anybody with dismissal on grounds of height.”

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BBC TV licence to be axed, culture secretary hints

‘The BBC can learn to cut waste like any other business’

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@comparefibre / Unsplash

The BBC licence fee could be abolished and replaced with a government grant with viewers paying a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport by 2027, new reports have detailed today.

The Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual TV licence – which is required to watch live television and access iPlayer services – will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years.

Dorries has recently indicated that she wants to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

She wrote on Twitter: “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”

The move would force the BBC to negotiate a new funding model, with potential options including a voluntary subscription service, part-privatisation, or direct government funding.

The Mail on Sunday reported that an ally of Dorries said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.

“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the charter with a new funding formula.”

“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.”

However, Dorries’ stance has been met with overwhelming backlash, with a number of TV and radio stars having since rallied behind the BBC’s TV licence and slamming her decision as an ‘attack on a British institution’.

Former footballer Gary Lineker led the criticism, with him hailing the BBC as ‘the most treasured of National treasures’. 

Lineker tweeted to his 8 million followers: “It should be the most treasured of National treasures. Something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government whoever is in power.”

He pointed out in a separate Tweet: “Yes the BBC brings you the best in news, in sport, in drama, in music, in children’s, in science, in history, in entertainment, in current affairs and Sir David bloody Attenborough….but apart from that was has the BBC ever done for us?”

Broadcaster Victoria Coren Mitchell also voiced her support for the licence, noting that the press and politicians can’t see the importance of the channel because they’re ‘trapped inside their own relationship with the news.’

Podcaster Greg Jenner added: “The BBC is 100 years old this year. It has constantly changed throughout that time, and it’s still greatly valued by the British people – such a pity the Culture Secretary would rather fight the Culture Wars.”

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