Ambitious plans to build a brand new government hub in the centre of Manchester have been unveiled this week.
The Government Property Agency (GPA) signed a lease agreement last week with developer Ask Real Estate and its JV partner, The Richardson Family, for a c12,000 square metre site on First Street.
The state-of-the-art building will accommodate thousands of civil servants upon its completion in 2025, the Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg announced in a statement.
According to the plans, the hub will host 2,500 civil servants, all of which will be relocated from London to Manchester.
Under the government’s Places for Growth programme, 22,000 Civil Service roles will be moved out of London by 2030.
More than 700 roles across a number of government departments have already been relocated to Manchester and, by 2025, the Places for Growth programme aims to relocate more than 2,500 civil service roles from the capital.
Departments making the move up North include the Cabinet Office, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Department for Education, and Department for Business, and Energy & Industrial Strategy.
Rees-Mogg said on the plans: “The First Street development reaffirms Her Majesty’s Government’s long-term commitment to Manchester.
“The Places for Growth programme is delivering high quality government jobs across the whole country, and ensuring that Whitehall can take advantage of the wisdom and experience from people all over the United Kingdom.
“This new site will provide a home for civil servants from at least four different government departments, making it one of the largest hubs for cross-government collaboration and operation outside London.
“By the time this site opens in 2025, 2,500 Civil Servants will have been relocated from Greater London to Manchester.
“I am pleased that the government has secured them a new home with office working at its heart, which will bring tens of millions of pounds to the Greater Manchester economy.”
The Manchester First Street Hub will open in 2025 and provide a new home for civil servants currently based in the Piccadilly Gate office. Piccadilly Gate will be demolished to build a new HS2 station at Piccadilly.
Police end search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett
Police have ended the search for Keith Bennett on Saddleworth Moor after finding no human remains.
Last week, an author claimed to have found evidence of the possible burial site for the twelve-year-old, who was kidnapped and murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in 1964.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) began searching the area on September 29th but said today there was ‘no evidence of the presence of human remains’.
Detective Chief Inspector Cheryl Hughes said: “The investigation into Keith’s disappearance and murder has remained open since 1964 and it will not be closed until we have found the answers his family have deserved for so many years.
“The excavation and examination at the site is complete and, to reiterate, we have found no evidence that this is the burial location of Keith Bennett.”
Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s.
The child 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.
His body has never been recovered.
Andy Burnham says Avanti West Coast must improve or ‘contract should be terminated’
Avanti is running a heavily reduced timetable as a result of ‘unofficial strike action’
Andy Burnham has urged the Transport Secretary to make Avanti West Coast run more trains to Manchester or terminate the firm’s contract.
In a letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the mayor of Greater Manchester said he wants Avanti to run at least two services between Manchester and London per hour by the end of the month – or have their contract removed altogether.
The Department for Transport has today placed the train firm on a short-term contract to challenge it to deliver the urgent increase in services required.
Back in August, the train company announced it would be reducing its services between Manchester and the capital to just one per hour as a result of ‘unofficial strike action’ by ASLEF members.
And over the last three weeks, an average of 10% of Avanti West Coast services between Manchester and London were either cancelled or significantly late.
Over this same three-week time period, over a quarter of services (27%) have failed to arrive on time, according to Granada Reports.
Yet while Avanti has said it plans to return to an increased timetable by December 11th, Burnham said it should happen sooner, and is calling for two trains per hour by the end of October, and three trains by December.
In his letter, Burnham wrote: “Unless this happens and is clearly communicated, train travel between our most important economic regions will continue to be chaotic, forcing people into their cars or into abandoning plans to travel entirely.
“These dreadful conditions would be unacceptable at any time but are particularly so now given the wholesale collapse of the timetable, something no other train company is experiencing at anything like this scale.
“Passengers face other challenges too. Tickets are still only being released a few days in advance, making planning for individuals and businesses impossible.
“Without this commitment, I will be unable to support a new contract for Avanti.”
In response, a spokesperson for Avanti West Coast said: “We are already delivering on our commitment to increase the number of services we are running between Manchester and London, with three or four trains an hour departing Manchester Piccadilly at the key times of the day.
“We remain focused on providing a reliable train service for our customers and restoring a full timetable of three trains an hour all day between London and Manchester, in December.
“Our revised timetable, with no reliance on overtime, is also proving more reliable – in the last week, we have run 300 trains between London and Manchester, with approximately one in thirty of them cancelled, mainly because of short-notice sickness.
“That compares with one out of thirteen trains cancelled back in mid-July.
“Nevertheless, we know that at the moment we’re not delivering the service our customers rightly expect and we apologise for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this is causing.
“We would like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding.”
Tributes pour in for ‘gorgeous’ mum killed in Liverpool dog attack
Police say five American bulldogs have since been ‘humanely destroyed’
Tributes have been pouring in for the ‘gorgeous’ mum who was mauled to death by five dogs in Liverpool.
Ann Dunn, sixty-five, died after being attacked by five American bulldogs in a property on St. Brigids Crescent, Vauxhall.
Merseyside Police were called out by paramedics on Monday October 3rd at around 4:25pm. However, Ann’s injuries were too serious and she was pronounced as dead at the scene.
Police say five American bulldogs, which were found inside the property, were handed over and have now been humanely destroyed.
Officers also confirmed that a thirty-one-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of owning a dog dangerously out of control. He remains in custody.
Following the news of her death, people who knew Ann have paid their own tributes to the mum and grandmother on social media.
One person wrote on Facebook: “RIP gorgeous lady, still can’t believe it Ann. Had some good times with you I will never forget.”
She added: “I am all so heartbroken for you kids and family right now. Don’t want to even think how they feeling… So happy I got [sic] have old chat with you on Friday even though it was only for 10 minutes, keeping looking over your family.”
Another social media user added: “Heart breaking thinking of all the family, devastated for yous all. R.I.P lovely Ann.”
Liverpool John Moores University, where Ann worked as a cleaner, also paid tribute to their ‘hard-working and dedicated’ employee.
They said: “The university community is absolutely shocked and devastated by this tragic loss and to lose Ann in this way is just heart-breaking. Ann was hard-working and dedicated and had so many friends across the organisation. It’s just awful and she will be terribly missed.
“Our thoughts at this time are with her family and loved-ones.”
Detective Inspector Katie Coote added: “This is clearly a very distressing incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the lady who died.
“Our enquiries remain ongoing as we seek to establish what has happened and I would urge anyone who could assist our enquiries to get in touch.”