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Gyms and leisure centres could reopen from start of July, government minister says

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Leisure centres and gyms could reopen and five-a-side footie matches could be allowed from the start of July, according to the Culture Secretary. 

Oliver Dowden said that as part of the next stage of the nation’s coronavirus recovery, grassroots sports could be allowed.

Gym-goers will be able to get back to the treadmill and HIIT classes soon, and football fans allowed to have kickabout, Mr Dowden has said. 

At the Downing Street briefing, he said: “Sports recovery is never just about elite sports. I know people are itching to get back to their gyms, their leisure centres, their five-a-side leagues… and all the normal fitness activities.

“So we are working closely to get grassroots and community sport back and up running as soon as it’s safe to so – with an aim at the start of July at the very earliest.”

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This is great news for anyone who has been longing to be back in the gym for some proper training.

It’s also expected to reduce congestion in parks where Brits have been allowed to do unlimited exercise for the past few weeks.

Gyms and leisure centres reopening is part of the Governments roadmap for getting the country up and running again.

Restaurants and hotels are also set to return in the same phase, and could open their doors to customers again from next moth.

Concerns for both restaurants and leisure centres include the possibility of successfully adhering to the 2-metre social distancing rule, and whether it is financially viable if they have to limit their numbers. 

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The government has yet to confirm whether the hospitality sector will be able to reopen on the proposed date of July 4th. 

There have also been ‘intensive discussions’ as to when fans will be able to attend stadiums now that the Premier League has started again, according to Mr Dowden. 

Mr Dowden told the daily press briefing: “By the return of the new season, we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.”

He added: “Clearly we will look at the positioning of fans, where they are relative to each other but there’s all the issue about how you get in and out of stadiums in a safe way, and how you have access to conveniences and everything else.”

In the meantime, Mr Dowden warned that fans need to watch from home to avoid the risk of spreading coronavirus, saying: “Please look after your fellow fans and communities by watching from home”.

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Greater Manchester town officially named one of the happiest places to live in UK

Well-deserved?

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A Greater Manchester town has been named among the 20 happiest places to live in the UK, alongside a couple of other North West spots.

Altrincham was placed in the top 20 of Britain’s happiest places to live in an annual survey, coming in at number 17 in Rightmove’s survey.

St Ives, a seaside town in Cornwall, took the number one spot, while Galashiels in Scotland came in a respectable second.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

Other North West areas in the top 20 were Northwich (16) and Macclesfield (18).

Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index asked more than 21,000 people their thoughts on where they live.

Each area is ranked on factors like whether people feel there is a sense of belonging, local amenities, whether there is a community spirit and the proximity to green spaces.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

According to Rightmove, these are Britain’s happiest places to live in 2022 (including the average house price and average asking monthly rental price):

1) St Ives, South West – £523,731, £1,152

2) Galashiels, Scotland – £153,546, £530

3) Woodbridge, East of England – £481,978, £1,196

4) Hexham, North East – £262,265, £810

5) Perth, Scotland – £179,410, £812

6) Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber – £381,124, £1,327

7) Anglesey, Wales – £324,048, £766

8) Bury St Edmunds, East of England – £334,160, £1,368

9) Stirling, Scotland – £197,075, £990

10) Cirencester, South West, £382,065 – £1,331

11) Richmond-upon-Thames, London – £1,153,347, £3,931

12) Falmouth, South West – £373,752, £1,289

13) Monmouth, Wales – £331,844, £1,104

14) Leamington Spa, West Midlands – £383,553, £1,274

15) Worcester, West Midlands – £286,250, £1,059

16) Northwich, North West – £246,995, £942

17) Altrincham, North West – £615,246, £2,297

18) Macclesfield, North West – £292,078, £1,146

19) Newbury, South East – £380,842, £1,364

20) Llandudno, Wales – £260,245, £760

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Northern to start using new technology to catch train fare dodgers

‘This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues’

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Northern has announced that they will be bringing in some brand new technology to catch train fare dodgers.

Britain’s second largest train operator is planning to install the system within station barriers at ‘known hotspots’, the BBC reports.

The technology will automatically detect whether a ticket is valid, and alert rail staff for any additional checks, or if the customer has the right railcard.

Jon David Houghton / Wikimedia Commons

According to Northern, around 180 fare dodgers were caught in a single day when they trialled the system at Manchester Victoria in November.

Northern’s Customer and Commercial Director Mark Powles said: “This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues whose job it is to ensure ticket checks are carried out quickly and efficiently.

“Unfortunately, we know that a small minority of customers try to exploit the automated nature of barrier checks to travel on tickets they know they’re not eligible to use.”

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Powles added that the kit was ‘very easy’ to install, saying it could be: “deployed to known hotspots across the whole network to help tackle this fraudulent activity”.

The Department for Transport confirmed last month that anyone travelling on a train without a ticket can be fined £100 from January 23rd, rising from £20. 

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Man, 33, charged following attempted kidnapping of schoolgirl

A 33-year-old has been arrested and charged

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Police have charged a man, following the release of CCTV footage featuring a car used in three attempted kidnappings around Salford.

A man driving the vehicle attempted to force a 15-year-old girl into the car at a bus stop in Monton on Monday, November 21st.

Detectives also believe the same man tried to abduct another girl earlier that same day, as well as a third teenager five days previous.

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Officers have confirmed that Sean Anthony Gillings (06/09/1989) of no fixed abode has been charged, following an appeal to the public.

This appeal resulted in the arrest of 33-year-old Gillings, who was then questioned and charged on Tuesday November 29th.

He also remains on bail for the other two attempt kidnaps, while further investigations are ongoing.

Gillings was remanded in custody yesterday, Wednesday November 30th, to appear at Manchester Crown Square Court on Wednesday January 4th 2023.

Police previously confirmed that a 33-year-old man was arrested by officers on Monday November 28th, on suspicion of three counts of attempted kidnap.

According to Greater Manchester Police, the victims have been left ‘extremely shaken up’.

Officers identified the vehicle in the footage as a black Vauxhall Astra with a silver cover on the driver’s side wing mirror.

Greater Manchester Police

Detective Inspector Chris Horsfield, of GMP’s Salford CID, previously said: “Although we have made this arrest, we are still very much looking to speak to anyone who may have information or dashcam footage, which could help us to establish the circumstances.

“We understand that the local community will be concerned but we are doing all we can to solve this investigation.

“I’d urge anyone who knows anything at all to please get in touch as soon as possible. In particular we are interested in the movements of a Black Vauxhall Astra 08 plate with a silver driver’s wing mirror cover; the passenger side is black.”

Police believe the incidents happened at the following times:

  • Liverpool Street, Salford, between Fitzwarren Street and Albion Way on November 16th, between 7:45-8:20pm
  • Mossfield Road and Ackworth Road, Swinton, on November 21st, between 8-9am
  • Rocky Lane, Monton Green and Monton High Street on November 21st, between 6-7pm

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