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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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New government proposals could see cat owners fined £500

Here’s everything you need to know…

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@vnevremeni & @little_plants / Unsplash

Cat owners could be slapped with hefty fines under a subtle new rule change proposed by the government this week.

The new plans propose that all cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they are twenty weeks old – there, the cat’s details will be stored and kept up-to-date in a database.

If a cat owner is found to not have microchipped their cat, however, they will have twenty-one days to get their pet microchipped or risk facing a fine of up to £500. 

@little_plant / Unsplash

Government figures show that out of the 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, as many as 2.8 million are still not microchipped. And, according to Cats Protection, eight out of ten stray cats coming into their centres are not microchipped.

The charity added that the procedure only costs between £20 and £30.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.

“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”

Paul Hanaoka / Unsplash

Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy and Government Relations, also stressed the importance of microchipping, adding: “Every day, we see how important microchipping is for cats and for the people who love them.

“Whether it’s reuniting a lost cat with their owner, identifying an injured cat, or helping to ensure an owner can be informed in the sad event that their cat has been hit and killed by a car.

“Microchipping is by far the most effective and quickest way of identifying lost cats and can help ease the pressure on rescue charities like Cats Protection. Without a microchip, a lost cat will most likely end up being rehomed to a new home as there is often no trace of their original owner.”

The new rules, which have been announced as part of the government’s ‘Action Plan for Animal Welfare’, won’t come into place until an official review has been completed.

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Chill Factore forced to close after section of roof damaged by Storm Barra

Major damage to the roof has forced the popular attraction to close

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@stefm84 / Twitter

The Chill Factore has been forced to close after a section of its roof was damaged from severe winds brought on by Storm Barra. 

All activities at the Beyond building, which houses an indoor ski slope, have been cancelled for the rest of the day, with car parks surrounding the Trafford attraction closing ‘with immediate effect’. 

In a statement on its website, Chill Factore said: “The Beyond building has sustained some damage due to the severe winds.

“As a result we’ve made the difficult decision to close our building and surrounding car parks with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of our guests and team.

“All activities for the remainder of the day have been cancelled and we are in the process of contacting guests with bookings for today to rearrange their activities.

“We are awaiting contractors to come and assess the damage and we will provide more information as soon as possible through our website & social media accounts.”

This comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning in various areas across Greater Manchester ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.

@adventurecat__ / Instagram

The second named storm of the season hit the region today, bringing with it plummeting temperatures plummeting and heavy rainfall.

Forecasters say travel disruption is ‘likely’, especially over higher routes, as is delays to rail and air travel. There is also the ‘slight chance some rural communities may become cut off’. 

The Met Office said: “A deep area of low pressure moving in across the UK from the Atlantic is likely to bring high winds to many parts of the UK.

“Strong winds arriving into the west through the morning, spreading inland and reaching eastern areas through the afternoon and early evening. Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected widely, with 60-70 mph in exposed coastal locations.

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People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law

The law has been named after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother last year

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@BorisJohnson / Twitter

The Prime Minister has backed a newly proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison.

Following the horrifying death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Boris Johnson has announced that his government will be amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make ‘whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes’. 

Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.

“The Attorney General is also urgently considering the facts of this case and the sentence handed down, but this is a Government that will always legislate for the toughest possible sentences for such repugnant crimes.”

Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed last week for at least twenty-nine years for his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.

However, the attorney general announced over the weekend that the sentences are to be reviewed to ‘determine whether they were too low’. 

According to The Guardian, the AGO has twenty-eight days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal. 

West Midlands Police

Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on June 16th 2020, as a result of a serious head injury inflicted by Tustin. His body was also covered in 130 bruises.

It was later discovered that the six-year-old had been starved, beaten and poisoned with salt in the weeks leading to his death.

Harrowing footage recently released by West Midlands Police show a weak and emancipated Arthur struggling to lift his duvet from the living room floor, where he had been forced to sleep. 

Social worker and member of the House of Lords Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last ten years meant abused and neglected children like Arthur were being missed by the authorities. 

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