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Manchester’s first locally controlled bus service in 40 years launches Sunday

Transport users could get combined bus and tram tickets at 20% cheaper than if purchased separately

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Bee Network

A Bee Network App which shows Greater Manchester’s bus, tram and train travel times in real time has officially gone live today.

The news comes ahead of the launch of Greater Manchester’s first locally controlled bus services in nearly 40 years, taking to the roads this Sunday, September 24th. 

Commuters can download the app today on the App store or Google Play and have all the information and tickets they need for their journey through the convenience of a touch of a button.

Bee Network

With Bee Network services starting on Sunday (September 24th), customers can now download the Bee Network App or visit the new website, where they can get access to live departure times, see where their nearest bus or tram stop is or rate their journey. 

Combined bus and tram tickets will also be available from Sunday – which could work out as 20% cheaper than Anybus and Metrolink tickets when purchased separately – as part of a newly reformed Greater Manchester public transport system.

The move represents the biggest change to public transport in a generation, after services were deregulated across Great Britain in 1986. 

Bee Network

Since then, the number of bus journeys made in London – where bus services remained under local control – has doubled, while in Greater Manchester bus use has fallen from 355m in 1986/87, to just over 182m at the end of the last decade (and before Covid).

Bus franchising signifies the start of the Bee Network and is the first step in reversing decades-long decline in bus use, with the recently published GM Bus Strategy setting out how the city-region aims to deliver 50 million more bus journeys each year by the end of the decade.

Passengers can give feedback via the Rate Your Journey feature, which will be key to making bus services accountable to the travelling public in Greater Manchester for the first time in decades.

Bee Network

Customer focused performance targets – including punctuality and reliability of services and levels of customer complaints – will sit at the heart of the operators’ contracts and impact what they get paid.

And a new Bee Network customer contact centre means customers can now get in touch have their say about transport in Greater Manchester by calling to speak to a member of staff.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said it was an exciting moment for public transport in the city region.

He said: “This is a real milestone for the Bee Network coming less than a week before the first phase of bus franchising begins.

“It’s a taste of how, under this new system, customers will have a much better travelling experience, with their wants and needs coming first and foremost at all times.

“Our new app and website bring passenger travel in Greater Manchester firmly into the 21st century, with timetables, tickets and live updates literally at people’s fingertips.”

Norman Baker from Campaign for Better Transport said the ‘Bee Network will be the first integrated transport system of its kind in 40 years’.

“It’s fantastic to see how this will benefit Manchester, beginning with the first phase of Bee buses being brought under local control, while the network’s new app and website will make planning and paying for journeys simple and seamless,” he added.

Bee Network

Vernon Everitt, Greater Manchester Transport Commissioner, has welcomed the transformation that the launch of the Bee Network will bring.

“The new Bee Network, alongside the first phase releases of a new app and website and an integrated contact centre, will help us to usher in a new era of joined up public transport and active travel in the region,” he said.

“Better transport will help grow the region’s economy and productivity, delivering new homes, jobs and inclusivity.

“The Rate Your Journey facility on the app will allow passengers to have their say directly to us and bus operators, bringing sharper accountability for services and shaping further improvements to the Bee Network,” Mr Everitt continued.

Bee Network

He added: “All buses will be franchised by January 2025, enabling full ‘tap and go’ integrated ticketing across Metrolink and buses.

“We are also working with the rail industry to begin bringing tap and go payment to the region’s rail network in 2025 as part of fully joining up all public transport services and cycle hire.”

With accessibility and inclusivity in mind, a fleet of 50 new zero-emission, Bee Network-branded buses (ZEBs) will come into service. These will include two bays for wheelchair-users, hearing induction loops, audio and visual announcement systems and anti-slip flooring.

Buses already running in Greater Manchester will be upgraded over the next two years as The Bee Network strives for full accessibility across the city region.


Wilko releases full list of final 111 stores to shut including Manchester branch

The closures will happen over three separate dates in the first week of October

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Wilko & Phillip Halling / Geograph

The final 111 Wilko stores are due to close next month – including the Manchester store – after the chain’s collapse.

The last of the company’s shops will close for good with the majority having already closed their doors throughout this month, – the latest wave being yesterday. The closures are expected to result in a total of over 12,000 job losses.

Earlier in September, rival retailer The Range bought Wilko’s intellectual property including the website and many of its goods it can continue to sell in its stores. 

Google Maps

Two other rivals, B&M and Poundland, bought up a number of Wilko sites. B&M have agreed to purchase 51 stores and Poundland 71 stores, but will reopen under their own brands.

The bargain homeware and hardware company will now be closing around 29 locations on Tuesday, October 3rd, 41 locations – including Manchester – will close on Thursday, October 5th and the remainder will close on Sunday October 8th.

Wilko was founded by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester in 1930. At the time of its collapse last month, Wilko employed around 12,500 workers and had 400 stores. 

Phillip Halling / Geograph

The Wilko stores that will shut on October 3rd:

Hounslow, London
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Weston Favell, Northampton
Lancaster, Lancashire
Leeds Trinity, West Yorkshire
Reading, Berkshire
Poole, Dorset
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Halifax, West Yorkshire
Washington, Newcastle upon Tyne
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Chatham, Kent
Southend, Essex
Metro Centre, Gateshead
Epsom, Surrey
Cannon Park, Coventry
Norwich, Norfolk
Preston, Lancashire
Canterbury, Kent
Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey
Carlisle, Cumbria
Barnsley, South Yorkshire
Kingswood, Bristol
Colchester, Essex
Ilford, London
Maidstone, Kent
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Mtaylor848 / Wikimedia

The Wilko stores that will shut on October 5th (including Manchester):

Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire
Tottenham Hale, London
Worthing, West Sussex
Romford, London
Selly Oak, Birmingham
Wembley, London
Birstall, West Yorkshire
Uxbridge, London
Burton, Staffordshire
Lee Circle, Leicester
West Ealing, London
Blackburn, Lancaster
Bexleyheath, London
The Beacon Eastbourne, East Sussex
Weymouth, Dorset
Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
Beaumont Leys, Leicester
Hinckley, Leicestershire
Livingston, Scotland
Chelmsford, Essex
Riverside Shopping Centre, Northampton
Sittingbourne, Kent
Stourbridge, West Midlands
Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
Deepdale, Preston
Basingstoke, Hampshire
Clifton Moor, York
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway
Harrow, London
Tooting, London
Telford, Shropshire
Ipswich, Suffolk
St James Retail Park, Sheffield
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Bulwell, Nottinghamshire
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster
Clifton, Bristol

Ian S / Geograph

The final Wilko stores that will shut on October 8th:

Neath, Neath Port Talbot
Bromley, London
Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire
Cardiff, South Glamorgan
Selby, North Yorkshire
Arnold, Nottinghamshire
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Oswestry, Shropshire
Chester, Cheshire
Hucknall, Nottinghamshire
Ayr, South Ayrshire
Widnes, Cheshire
Horsham, West Sussex
Birkenhead, Merseyside
Kingston Centre, Milton Keynes
Parkgate, Rotherham
Perry Barr, Birmingham
Castleford, West Yorkshire
Porthmadog, Caernarfonshire
Brighouse, West Yorkshire
Chelmsley Wood, West Midlands
Swansea, Wales
Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
Silverlink, Newcastle
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Sutton, Surrey
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Crystal Peaks, Sheffield
Plymouth, Devon
Ely, Cambridgeshire
Loughborough, Leicestershire
Stratford, London
Newcastle upon Tyne
Coventry, West Midlands
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Exeter, Devon
Luton, Bedfordshire
Wood Green, London

On Sunday, October 8th, Wilko will disappear from the high street for good.

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Peter Kay’s touching gesture on opening night of Manchester residency goes viral

He continues to contribute to a charity set up in Laura’s honour

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Peter kay / YouTube & @nicnut23 / Instagram

The audience were left emotional after a touching gesture from Bolton-born comedian Peter Kay for a ‘beloved daughter and campaigner’ as he opened his sell-out residency at the AO Arena.

The Phoenix Nights creator pledged that a portion of the ticket sales to his sell-out string of Manchester shows would be donated to a charity in memory of Laura Nuttall, who died of cancer earlier this year.

The beloved daughter and campaigner was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) – an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer – after attending a routine eye test in 2018. 

Peter Kay / YouTube

After she was told she only had 12 months left to live, she went on to complete a bucket list of goals she wanted to achieve including graduating from university, presenting the weather forecast for the BBC, as well as raising thousands of pounds for brain cancer charities.

Laura, from Pendle in Lancashire, also went fishing with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse, got to meet Johnny Marr and watch Fleabag performed live on stage.

In 2021, Peter Kay came out of retirement to raise money for Laura’s treatment and hosted two sold-out Q&A sessions at the Manchester Apollo called Doing it for Laura.

@nicnut23 / Instagram

The money raised meant Laura could travel to Germany for specialist treatment that was unavailable in the UK. 

She had previously had extensive cancer treatment including surgery to remove a tumour but unfortunately, it returned just days later.

Kay announced on Saturday night (September 23rd) he would continue contributing to a charity set up in Laura’s honour.

@nicnut23 / Instagram

Due to the aggressiveness of her cancer, Laura had to drop out of university in London and was forced to put her life on hold while she bravely endured a craniotomy to remove the largest of eight tumours. 

She then underwent a gruelling programme of radiotherapy and chemotherapy before her family came across an innovative new treatment available in Germany.

With the help of donations from family, friends, and the wider public through a fundraising page, Laura was able to travel to Cologne in Germany to start immunotherapy – for which she would have to travel back and fourth every six weeks.

@nicnut23 / Instagram

She responded so well to the treatment that she was able to continue with her university course. She graduated from her politics, philosophy and economics degree last summer with proud parents Nicola and Mark, and her sister Grace by her side.

Laura continued raising money and awareness for brain charities, as well as promoting the research being undertaken at The University of Manchester’s Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre.

However, her cancer progressed last autumn and the family decided to bring forward their Christmas celebrations to November so they could all enjoy one last one together with Laura.

In a heartbreaking tweet earlier this year, her mum Nicola announced that Laura had passed away, writing: “I’m heartbroken to share the news that we lost our beautiful Laura in the early hours of this morning.

Nicola Nuttall / Doingitforlaura.com

“She was fierce & tenacious to the end and it was truly the honour of my life to be her mum. We are devastated at the thought of life without our girl, she was a force of nature.”

On Saturday night, at Peter Kay’s Manchester AO Arena show, Laura’s mum Nicola tweeted again to thank the comedian for paying tribute to Laura in the form of the generous donation to the foundation in her name.

Sharing a picture of her family, she said: “Such a brilliant night watching Peter Kay in Manchester, we laughed till our faces hurt & my goodness we needed it!

“Couldn’t have been more surprised when he mentioned Laura and her foundation. Thank you Peter you are truly a legend x.”

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Missing grandad Ronald was found supping a pint in Piccadilly Gardens’ Spoons

He was found in a local Spoons in Piccadilly Gardens

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Family submit & Greater Manchester Police

An 81-year-old grandad who went missing from home for eight days was found sipping on a pint in a Manchester boozer.

Grandfather-of-five, Ronald Webster, disappeared from his home in Oldham, on September 14th, but was found ‘safe and well’ supping a pint at a pub in Manchester, on Friday September 22nd.

‘Ronnie’, as he is known to his family and friends, was captured getting off the 184 bus in Huddersfield before entering the train station moments later.

Police made several appeals to the public to help find the missing pensioner. Ronald’s frantic family also launched an appeal asking the public to help ‘keep him safe’ until the police or they could get there. 

Family submit / ITV

The family also carried out a search around Greater Manchester and Yorkshire as concerns grew for Ronald, who has recently had a triple heart bypass and did not take any of his heart or epilepsy medication with him.

After making a 240 mile round trip, stopping off in Scarborough and Bridlington in Yorkshire, Ronald was spotted by a member of the public supping on a pint at Spoons in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens.

Ronald’s granddaughter, Paige Tattersall posted to Facebook: “They have found him!!!! Will update properly soon but he’s coming home!”

After a torturous week for his family, they were glad to have their loved one back home with them and hear about what he had gotten up to. 

Family submit/ ITV

Paige continued: “He was in Wetherspoons in Manchester drinking a pint [before] coming home. He got the train to Huddersfield to Scarborough to Bridlington like we thought.

“He’s absolutely fine, he was just scared of going back to my gran I think! He knows he’s in trouble!”

Adding: “We are absolutely elated. To get that phone call that they have found him safe and well, will never ever be compared.

“And then to be able to reunite him with my grandma. We can all sleep tonight knowing he’s home safe where he belongs.”

Greater Manchester Police

Greater Manchester Police posted a tweet on Friday afternoon to inform the public the grandad had been found.

It read: “We are pleased to be able to share with you that we have found missing Ronnie safe and well following a phenomenal effort from members of the public and police officers. He has been reunited with his family.”

A member of the public had spotted him in Piccadilly Gardens and reported it to police who were present around the city centre as part of Operation Vulcan.

An officer found Ronald in the Wetherspoons where he contacted the investigation team so that they could make arrangements to return Ronald home to his family.

Greater Manchester Police

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Matthew Walker, of GMP’s Oldham district, said: “This is the result we are always hoping for when we open investigations into missing persons.

“We are all relieved that Ronald is safe and well and that he has been reunited with his loved ones, who were understandably incredibly concerned.

“We are really thankful to the members of the public who shared our appeal, and partner agencies who assisted us with our enquiries.

“It is a testament to Operation Vulcan that, on their first official day in Piccadilly Gardens, they have been noticed by members of the public – enabling them to help us to bring this investigation to the best conclusion.”

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