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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.

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Meat Loaf has died aged 74

The singer’s agent confirmed the tragic news this morning

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QuotePark.com

Iconic singer and actor Meat Loaf has died at the age of seventy-four, his agent confirmed this morning.

A cause of death is yet to be announced.

The American musician – real name Marvin Lee Aday – reportedly died on January 20th with his wife Deborah by his side.

His family said in a statement: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends.

“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.

The statement, which was posted today on his official Facebook page, also said: “Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.

“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.

“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.

“From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”

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Drivers and passengers face £1,000 fines for opening their door incorrectly under new Highway Code rule

Here’s everything you need to know…

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Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Drivers and passengers across the UK have been warned about a new Highway Code rule change that could land them with a hefty fine.

The new rule, which has been put in place to protect cyclists, will fine drivers and passengers as much as £1,000 if they open their car door incorrectly.

Instead of just opening the door, motorists will now need to adopt the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique, which involves you using the hand furthest from the door to open it – if you’re the one behind the wheel, you’d use your left hand, on the passenger side, you would use your right, just to clear it up a bit.

This technique has been proven to be safer because opening the door with the hand furthest away prompts a driver to turn their body towards the door, therefore giving them a look over their shoulder as they go to exit their vehicle.

@bezevision / Unsplash

This way, they will clock any cyclists or pedestrians approaching or passing by their car that they may have otherwise missed if they hadn’t have checked.

The new section under rule 239 will read: “Where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side.

“This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motor cyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.”

If someone injures a cyclist or pedestrian by opening their door without checking, they could face a fine of up to £1,000, though no penalty points can be added to the offender’s licence.

This comes as the Highway Code undergoes a number of rule changes in favour of pedestrians and cyclists; a new section under rule 186 states that road users will now be forced to give priority to cyclists on roundabouts.

Şahin Sezer Dinçer / Unsplash

The rule, expected to come into force from January 29th, states: “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic.

“Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.”

The rule change will also require motorists to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions, pedestrians waiting to cross the road into which or from they are turning, as well as pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.

The new rule has been introduced in an attempt to ensure that road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

You can read the new rules in full here.

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People who test positive for Covid in England won’t have to self-isolate soon

‘The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them’

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UK Parliament / YouTube & Annie Spratt / Unsplash

The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid will by dropped ‘by March’, Boris Johnson has announced this week.

The Prime Minister told MPs during yesterday’s PMQs that the rule will be allowed to be lapsed when all Covid regulations expire on March 24th, adding that this date could even be brought forward to a closer date if a vote is passed.

Johnson told MPs: “As we return to Plan A, the House will know that some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation.

“On Monday we reduced the isolation period to five full days with two negative tests, and there will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.

“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.

“The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them.”

Under the current guidance, those who test positive for Covid have to quarantine for at least five full days, so long as they test negative on a lateral flow test on days five and six.

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Also at yesterday’s PMQs, the Prime Minister announced that restrictions on visits to care homes will be eased further, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to begin setting out plans ‘in the coming days’. 

It was also confirmed that from Thursday January 27th, mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Johnson added that face masks will not be mandatory anywhere from this date, prompting loud cheers and shouts from the Tory back benches.

And from today, face masks are no longer required to be worn by students in classrooms. 

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