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Andy Burnham reveals new Clean Air Zone plan would be a ‘non-charging zone’

Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone was supposed to come into force this month, but was pushed back following region-wide back lash

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Mayor Andy Burnham has revealed he will be requesting permission to have a non-charging clean air zone for Greater Manchester.

Since its announcement last year, the controversial plans to charge certain motorists to drive within Greater Manchester was met with overwhelming backlash, with many saying the proposed Clean Air Zone would leave small and independent businesses bankrupt.

The charges, which were originally poised to come into force in this month, would have included £60 for HGVs, buses and coaches, £10 for vans and £7.50 for taxis and private hire cars.

Following region-wide protests on the matter, Greater Manchester Councils voted to refer the scheme back to the government at the start of the year, with them now having until July 2022 to revise the plan.

And giving an update on the progress of the revised scheme at a press conference this morning, the mayor unveiled his plans to introduce a new ‘non-charging’ zone for the region.

As reported by the BBC’s Kevin Fitzpatrick, Burnham outlined a new plan for a ‘non-charging zone’, that affects buses, coaches, HGVs and taxis.

Read More: Boris Johnson says Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone is ‘completely unworkable’

These vehicles will reportedly be offered grants to ‘upgrade to cleaner vehicles rather than face daily charges’, though the government will have the final say on this. 

Burnham will be requesting permission from the government to implement this newly revised scheme before the July 2022 deadline.

The Clean Air Zone was originally designed in an attempt to ‘protect everyone’s health by bringing harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution at the roadside within legal limits’.

The government initiated the idea after the Supreme Court found it had broken the law by failing to protect people from polluted air.

In response, they placed legal instructions to ‘clean up the air’ on local councils across the country, with all ten Greater Manchester councils being directed to collectively reduce air pollution across the region by 2024.

Visit the official Clean Air Greater Manchester website for more information.

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Boy, 14, guilty of murdering 12-year-old Ava White after Snapchat video row

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The Trinity Catholic Primary School

A boy has been found guilty of stabbing Ava White to death in Liverpool.

The 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found guilty of murdering Ava, 12, at court today.

The incident happened following a row over a Snapchat video, with the court hearing that a ‘chance encounter’ with the 14-year-old boy led to her tragic death.

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Ava was stabbed in the neck at Liverpool’s Christmas lights switch-on last November, after asking a group of boys to stop filming her and friends, Sky News reports.

A jury was told that the defendant then laughed and ran away following the attack, although the boy claimed he had acted in self-defence and denied murder.

However, he was found guilty after the two-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Family members were left in tears in court after a 20-second clip showing the stabbing – which happened on November 25th – was played.

The boy, who was found to have a 7.5cm flick blade, previously pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon.

Ava and several of her friends, who were all aged between 11 and 15, shared some alcohol together near the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool city centre when the boy and his friends saw them and filmed a video for Snapchat.

Prosecutor Charlotte Newell QC said Ava asked them to stop filming before the boys started ‘jeering’ at her – she then ran towards them before the defendant ‘thrust a knife into the neck of this unarmed child’.

She told the court: “His reaction at the time was to smirk, to laugh and to run away, leaving Ava to die whilst he sought to distance himself from his actions.”

Ava’s last words were ‘don’t leave me’, as she lay dying on the ground.

The court heard that the boy ‘began a conscious cover-up’ after the incident, attempting to discard his knife, phone and coat.

When arrested he told a ‘series of lies’ about his movements at the time of the killing, the jury was told, saying he was playing Call of Duty at a mate’s house, before saying another boy had stabbed Ava.

While giving evidence, the 14-year-old claimed he was ‘scared’ Ava was going to ‘jump him’,  and that he was only trying to ‘frighten her away’ because he was ‘scared’ – telling court he thought Ava was a boy and might have had ‘a weapon’.

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Kurt Zouma charged with three offences over cat kicking videos

The footballer was filmed abusing his cat at the start of this year

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Kurt Zouma / Instagram

Kurt Zouma has been charged with three offences under the Animal Welfare Act after he was filmed kicking his pet cat.

The charges are in relation to the now-infamous videos that showed the West Ham footballer abusing the cat.

Kurt is accused of two counts of causing ‘unnecessary suffering’ to the cat by kicking it in the abdomen and slapping it in the head.

He is also charged with failing to protect the cat from ‘pain suffering, injury or disease’.

His brother and fellow footballer Yoan has also been charged for his involvement in the incident, which he filmed and posted onto Snapchat.

Yoan is accused of two counts of ‘aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring’ Kurt to commit the offence of causing unnecessary suffering to the cat.

The brothers are set to appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (May 24th) for a preliminary hearing following a joint investigation from the RSPCA and Essex Police.

After the video started circulating on social media in February, the RSPCA removed two cats from Kurt’s home and began liaising with Essex Police about the incident.

In a statement at the time of the video’s circulation, the RSPCA said: “The two cats are now in RSPCA care. Our priority is and has always been the wellbeing of these cats.

“They’ve been taken for a check-up at a vets and then will remain in our care while the investigation continues.

“We’re grateful to everyone who expressed their concern for these cats. We were dealing with this issue before the video went viral online and are leading the investigation.

“We continue to investigate so we cannot comment further at this time.”

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Sue Gray report set to be ‘published in full next week’ as partygate investigation ends

The police announced the end of their investigation today

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The long-awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street misconduct during the Covid pandemic is due to be published in full next week as the police’s investigation concludes.

The report – which investigated a series of alleged breaches of Covid lockdown in 10 Downing Street and Whitehall – was completed in January, but the publication of the full document was delayed at the request of the Metropolitan Police as they completed their own investigation.

But today, the police announced their inquiry into Downing Street lockdown breaches has come to an end, meaning Gray’s report could be published as soon as next week.

A source close to Gray and her team said she now intends to publish her report ‘as soon as possible’, adding that it could come as early as next week, according to The Independent.

The shortened version of Gray’s report noted that there was a ‘serious failure to observe not just the high standards expected of those working at the heart of Government, but also of the standards expected of the entire British population at the time’.

Gray also stated that because the Government was asking citizens to accept far-reaching restrictions on their lives, some of the behaviour surrounding these gatherings is ‘difficult to justify’.

Stand-out points from the report include:

  • There were failures of leadership and judgment by different parts of No 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times.
  • The excessive consumption of alcohol is not appropriate in a professional workplace at any time.
  • The use of the garden at No 10 Downing Street should be primarily for the Prime Minister and the private residents of No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.
  • The leadership structures are fragmented and complicated and this has sometimes led to the blurring of lines of accountability.
  • Some staff wanted to raise concerns about behaviours they witnessed at work but at times felt unable to do so.

Flickr / Number 10

The police’s investigation resulted in a total of 126 fines, known as Fixed Penalty Notices, being issued for events across eight different dates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were both fined for their involvement in parties and events held during the lockdowns.

Twenty-eight people have been issued with more than one fine, the force added.

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