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Andy Burnham tells business owners ‘help is on the table’ amid concerns Clean Air Zone will ‘bankrupt’ them

‘We have no choice but to bring in these measures to cut air pollution’

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BBC Radio Manchester & Pete Birkinshaw / Wikimedia Commons

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has reassured business owners across the region that ‘help is on the table’ amid Clean Air Zone concerns.

Appearing on BBC Radio Manchester this morning, the mayor was quizzed by a number of business owners and workers who are concerned about the Clean Air Zone scheme set to be implemented in May this year.

The scheme, which aims to clean up air pollution in all ten Greater Manchester boroughs by 2024, will charge vehicles that don’t meet emission standards to drive within the Clean Air Zone. This zone will cover 493 square miles of the region, making it the largest of its kind in the whole country. 

With some vehicles facing charges of £60 per day, a number of working people from across the region called in to quiz the mayor on what he plans to do to help keep their businesses afloat amid the extra costs.

A man known as Nigel called into the radio station from Wigan, explaining that he owns a coach company with seven vehicles, all of which will cost him an extra £153,300 per year once the Clean Air Zone charges are in place. 

Nigel pointed out that his business ‘won’t survive’ with these extra changes, saying they ‘will definitely make us go bankrupt’. 

Burnham responded by saying after the coach industry was impacted in the pandemic, there is a public subsidy available to help these kinds of businesses and others upgrade their vehicles, noting that while this subsidy still isn’t enough, the situation is being reviewed and ‘help is on the table’. 

He continued: “The pandemic has caused a real problem for a number of our businesses and we have been reviewing that, we’ve been looking at those issues and leaders in Greater Manchester will be meeting next week to discuss where to go from here.

“It’s a challenging situation… But we have no choice but to bring in these measures to cut air pollution as it’s an instruction from the government. We want to do it in the right way that cleans up the air and help our businesses.”

Mark, an ice cream van business owner from Tameside, also called in to voice his own concerns, pointing out that his business may be forced to close for the first time in 100 years.

He said: “Eight vans going out six days a week will cost £480, that’ll be £24,960 a year. Now we can’t afford that. We’ve been running for 100 years, and you’ve brought this tax in after the government told you to bring the pollution down. This scheme is your idea. We’re going to go out of business.”

Burnham stressed that the Clean Air Zone scheme isn’t something he ‘dreamt up’ nor is it his ‘tax on working people’; he pointed out that it is actually a result of the government instructing cities to introduce measures to cut air pollution by 2024.

He said: “I am trying to facilitate a solution between national and local governments. We need to find a solution. I recognise that you’re in a difficult situation, that’s why I was asking people to do a review of the situation so we could provide the help to people that’s needed. 

“In my political career, I have never been somebody who doesn’t listen or doesn’t speak up for working people. I do speak up for working people, and I take great pride in that.”

A woman named Julie sent in her query on Facebook, explaining that while she isn’t a Greater Manchester resident, her job requires her to commute into Rochdale every day. 

She wrote: “I own a company that uses small shops and traders in Rochdale. I am not entitled to apply for the grant as I’m not a Greater Manchester resident. Do I take my trade an extra five miles the other way? This is hitting small traders.”

At this, Burnham explained that he is in a similar situation as he too lives close to the Greater Manchester border, stressing that the situation will be reviewed and that he will be going back to the government to urge them to do more.

A joint statement by Burnham and Councillor Andrew Western added that they are fighting for the scheme to be ‘accompanied by a fair package of financial support’, saying that while the government has provided £120m, they are concerned that they have so far failed to agree to a request for additional support.

Read the statement in full here.


Stagecoach hiring over 100 new bus drivers for Bee Network with £31k salaries

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Stagecoach Manchester is hiring over 100 new bus drivers to work from its Oldham depot, following the second phase of the Bee Network launch in March.

You can apply for a range of roles, from positions with no experience required to fully qualified bus drivers.

Successful applicants will receive full training as part of the job, and trainees will get paid to train. Then after only 12 months’ service at Stagecoach, drivers can expect to earn up to £16 per hour, which equates to £31.6K per year, before overtime.

As well as that, drivers that already hold a PCV licence may be eligible to receive a £1,200 joining bonus.


There’s also a host of other benefits available to all Stagecoach employees, like 28 days paid holiday, generous pension and free Stagecoach bus travel for successful applicants and a companion.

Rob Jones, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester said: “Expanding our offering in Oldham means we’ll be investing more in the economy and supporting our local community, as well as strengthening our workforce.

“Whether you’re looking for a career change or you’re a fully qualified, experienced bus driver, there’s a role for everyone here in Oldham.

“We’re looking for personable and dedicated drivers who are ready to help us build on the success of the Bee Network and connect the people of Oldham and Greater Manchester with the places and people that are important to them.”


Phil Cornwall, bus driver at Stagecoach Manchester, said: “I’ve been a driver at Stagecoach for 25 years and I couldn’t recommend it more.

“From the perks to the people to the passengers, it really is a great place to work.”

To apply, head to the Stagecoach website HERE.

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Two men charged with murder after torso discovered in Salford nature reserve


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Greater Manchester Police

Two men have now been charged with murder, following the discovery of a human torso in Kersal Dale.

As well as that, more suspected human remains were also discovered this morning, Monday April 29th, in an alleyway close to the railway lines off Worsley Road, Eccles.

This follows earlier discoveries of human remains over the past three weeks, at Kersal Dale, Blackleach Reservoir and Colliery Wood, all in Salford.

Greater Manchester Police

Michal Jaroslaw Polchowski (25/04/1956) and Marcin Majerkiewicz (10/04/1982) both of Worsley Road, Eccles, have been charged with murder.

They are set to appear at Tameside Magistrates Court this afternoon.

While formal identification is still ongoing, the remains found at Kersal Dale are believed to be of a local man in his 60s. The remains found at the other three locations are still to be tested, but police are confident they belong to the same victim.

ACC Sarah Jackson said: “We have had large numbers of officers, staff and specialists working diligently on this investigation over the last three weeks. It has been very much a large, collective effort, with the victim and family at the heart of it from the outset.

“We have specially trained officers deployed to support the family as they come to terms with this tragic news. They are aware of this morning’s further discovery and will continue to be kept up to date with how we are progressing.

“Despite the charges brought today, our work is far from over.

“The scenes we already have established in Bury and Salford will remain in place for much of this week whilst our searches and enquiries continue. Local officers will continue to patrol the impacted areas to provide reassurance.

“We will continue following every line of enquiry to recover and reunite the victim with his family, bringing a dignified end to this terrible scenario.

“I’d like to thank the communities of Salford and beyond for their cooperation throughout this investigation. I know this incident has come as a shock, and the support we’ve had from those in the area is very much appreciated.”

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More human remains discovered in Greater Manchester as police identify victim

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N Chadwick / Geograph

Detectives investigating the discovery of a torso in Kersal Dale have found more human remains around Greater Manchester.

GMP released a statement on the weekend, revealing they had opened four scenes for extensive searches – one of them at a warehouse in Bury, and three in Salford.

Searches took place at Blackleach reservoir, where human remains were found, and a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood.

Officers believe they have now identified the man, who they believe to be a man in his 60s that lived in Salford, and his family have been informed.

Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with the murder probe, with officers saying they are thought to have lived with the victim.

Greater Manchester Police / Facebook

Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, Senior Investigating Officer for this investigation, said in a statement at Blackleach reservoir yesterday, Sunday April 28th: “We have continued to make significant progress in our investigation into human remains being found in Kersal earlier this month.

“From day one, our priority has been to identify the man and his family so that we can give them the support and the answers that they need.

“Thanks to meticulous forensic work, we are now confident we have identified the man. Formal identification hasn’t yet taken place, but we believe he is a man in his 60s and lived in Salford.

“Specially-trained family liaison officers have met with his family this afternoon to give them the devastating news, and we will do all that we can to support them at this awful time.

“We believe he is known to the two suspects we have in custody. They have remained in custody for questioning over the weekend, as we work to establish how the victim met this tragic outcome.”

He continued: “We have painstakingly worked to follow up every line of inquiry in this investigation. Over the last couple of days, we have acted on information and had four scenes in place for extensive searches – one of them is at a warehouse in Bury, and three of them are in Salford, including here at Blackleach reservoir.

“Today, we have found some human remains at the reservoir here, and last night a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood. Forensic tests will continue to establish whose remains these are, but we are very confident that this is also the victim in our investigation.

“We have also been searching a house in Winton where we believe the victim and the two suspects lived. We have found evidence that the victim is likely to have died there – most likely in late March.

“While this is significant progress, we know there is still some way to go to complete this investigation. I also recognise details of this case will have been distressing for the people of Salford and beyond – including the officers that are diligently working on this investigation, and most importantly the man’s heartbroken family.

“Local officers will continue to patrol the affected areas, and we will provide updates when we have more information.”

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