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Matt Hancock blames argument with Greater Manchester leaders for how new tier system will be decided

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Matt Hancock has explained the row between local leaders and government members in Greater Manchester influenced minister’s decision to take away the possibility negotiations in the new tier system.

The revised tier system will come into force on December 2nd when the national lockdown ends, with ministers imposing Tier 3 restrictions in the highest risk areas.

In the previous tier system, ministers entered discussions with local leaders over the appropriate measures in the area as well as having conversations on how they will be funded. 

Mayor Andy Burnham led several days worth of intense talks over the measures as he attempted to negotiate a financial package to help those most affected in our region.

Speaking yesterday at the Health and Social Care Committee in the House of Commons, Mr Hancock said those talk with Mr Burnham were part of the reason the government had scrapped the negotiations this time around.

He told MPs: “The reason we are doing it differently is whilst in most cases when we negotiated with most areas in the previous tiered arrangement, we had a high quality discussion which led to better outcomes – a case in point is Liverpool, where the case rate has fallen by over two-thirds in the last three weeks.

“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case in all local areas.”

When asked if he was talking about Greater Manchester by MP Graham Stringer, Hancock replied: “That would be one example but not the only one.

“Sadly, in the case of Greater Manchester, cases carried on going up whilst we were trying to put in place the measures that were necessary, so instead we’ve proposed a set of measures within the tiers which are fixed, also financial support which is agreed by formula rather than negotiation.

“We will have engagement but what we won’t have is a two-week long negotiation while the cases still go up, that is bad for public health.”

In the new system, it is understood that more areas will be placed under tighter restrictions to keep the virus under control.

The decision of what tier is placed on a region will be made by the government based on cases numbers in all age groups, case numbers specifically in the over 60s, rates by which cases are falling or rising, infection rates per 100,000 people and the projected pressures on the NHS.

Mr Burnham accused the government yesterday of wanting to ‘punish and blame’ him. It comes following transport secretary Grant Shapps comments on the negotiations in mid October that led to rates not being ‘gotten on top of as quickly as possible’ in Greater Manchester.

Speaking to Kay Burly on Sky News, Burnham said: “It just seems to me that they can’t leave it alone now and they want to come back and they want to punish me and blame me for everything.

“Can’t we just agree there was a difference of opinion, it was resolved and now we all must look forward to getting things right going forward.”

The decision on which tier each region in England will be place in is set to be announced on Thursday.

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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.

Stagecoach

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.”

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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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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.

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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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