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Greater Manchester buses to be brought under public control with cheaper fares and an integrated network

The new plans include an integrated system of buses, trams and trains all running in synch

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David Dixon / Geograph

A judge has ruled in favour of Andy Burnham’s proposal for major bus reform in a historic moment for public transport in Greater Manchester.  

Bus firms Stagecoach and Rotala brought forward a judicial review for the plans, in which they claimed the process taken by leaders to move to a franchising system – where operators had to bid to run services under public control – was ‘irrational’ and ‘unlawful’.

However, a judge ruled against the operators yesterday in a hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, saying as per the Manchester Evening News: “Whilst I granted the plaintiffs permission to bring the review I dismiss the claims.

“In my judgement the mayor’s decision and the process by which the Greater Manchester Combined Authority came to recommend the scheme was lawful.”

The mayor took to Twitter shortly after the ruling to express his delight, writing: “Pleased to say we have successfully defended the decision I took to put GM buses under public control.

“We won on ALL points. The way is now clear for the North to retake control of its public transport.

“We can finally put people before profits after 36 years of the opposite.”

In an official statement, Burnham added: “Following the strong mandate from the Greater Manchester public, who wanted buses bringing back under public control, it is frustrating that the two companies concerned pursued this action and I am pleased that the court has dismissed all of their arguments.

“I now ask them to accept the clear ruling and allow us to crack on and give the people of Greater Manchester what they want – an integrated, accessible and affordable ‘London-style’ transport system joining together buses, trams, cycling and walking; the Bee Network.”

Burnham will be working with bus operators and the government across the next couple of years to create the bus network that the region needs, and has promised an update on Monday. 

As previously reported, the new plans include an integrated system of buses, trams and trains, all of which will run in synch. 

Under the new proposed system, there will be 830 services run by thirty operators with 150 different ticket types across the region, including £1.50 ‘hopper’ fares, ten minute service routes, 2,000 more accessible bus stops and an increased number of evening and Sunday services. 

Also on the way could be simpler and cheaper fares, ticketing, a daily cap on price and a ‘tap in’ system with contactless payment.

This is all an opportunity to provide affordable alternatives to driving on the roads, which is at the heart of reducing air pollution.

Burnham has long been calling for a change in the region’s bus system, with him last year pushing for ‘London-style’ bus fares to be adopted across not only Manchester but the North of England, saying they would be a ‘game changer’.

He has also discussed the possibility of buses being ‘integrated with the tram system’ in the past, suggesting that commuters would have a ‘daily cap on what they could expect to pay on any given day, no matter how many buses or trams they took’.

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Police restart search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett as skull found

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The search for murder victim Keith Bennet has resumed as ‘potential human remains’ were found on moorland, police have confirmed.

The remains were found during an independent search on Saddleworth Moor by author Russell Edwards, who reported his discovery to Greater Manchester Police.

Detectives are said to be analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, the MailOnline reports.

Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s. His body has never been recovered.

GMP said in a statement: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.

“Officers met with Mr. Edwards yesterday evening (September 29th), and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.

“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.

“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.

“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”

Bennett was lured into a van by Hindley on June 16th, 1964. He was then taken to Saddleworth Moor, where he was sexually abused and murdered by Brady. 

Despite his heartbroken mother’s pleas, neither Brady nor Hindley ever revealed where they had buried his body. 

Winnie Johnson continued visiting Saddleworth Moor to search for her son until her death in 2012. 

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Cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death revealed

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Queen Elizabeth’s exact cause of death has been revealed as an extract of her death certificate is released to the public.

The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on September 16th, and that the cause of her death was old age.

The document, released by National Records of Scotland, notes the Queen died at 3.10pm on Thursday September 8th. 

The Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne is named as the ‘informant’ on the document, and would have notified the local registrar of her mother’s death.

Anne, who accompanied her mother’s coffin as it travelled from Balmoral to London via Edinburgh, was with the head of state in her last moments.

She said: “I was fortunate to share the last twenty-four hours of my dearest mother’s life.”

Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest on September 19th following a historic seventy-year reign on the throne. 

Her Majesty spent four days lying-in-state at Westminster Hall ahead of the state funeral, where around 250,000 Royal well-wishers came to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.

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Royal Mail to strike for 19 days with Black Friday and Christmas deliveries affected

Strike action will take place across October and November

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Black Friday and Christmas deliveries face delays as Royal Mail workers prepare to strike across the next two months.

The Communication Workers Union announced that action in October and November will be a mixture of ‘single days and rolling action’ across Royal Mail Group’s network.

This includes walkouts from 4am on October 13th for twenty-four hours, and then again on October 20th and 25th, as well as November 28th. 

The union said the strike action will have a ‘dramatic impact’ on deliveries, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.

It could also impact Amazon’s second Prime Day, with sale dates for subscribers on October 11th and 12th.

The CWU says the strike action comes following an ‘outrageous’ decision made by the Royal Mail Group’s senior management to withdraw from major national agreements, push ahead with cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and ‘completely sideline’ the union.

General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.

“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.

Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.”

Ward went on to urge everyone to ‘stand with their local postal worker’, adding: “If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.

“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”

However, the Royal Mail says changes are needed as it is currently losing £1million a day. A spokesperson said: “On September 22nd, Royal Mail invited CWU to enter into talks through Acas to find a resolution to our dispute on change and pay.

“This evening, rather than responding to our offer of Acas talks, the CWU announced further damaging industrial action, once again taking the path of prolonging disruption over resolution.

“Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices… Further strikes and resistance to transformation by CWU will only make our financial position worse, and threatens the long-term job security of our postmen and women.

“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and engage urgently on the changes required.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”

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