New smart motorway plans have been axed, government confirms
The opposition has called for hardshoulders to be reinstated
The building of all new smart motorways across the UK has been cancelled over cost and safety concerns, according to Downing Street.
Around 14 planned schemes, including 11 already halted and three set for construction, have now all been scrapped due to finances and low public confidence.
Smart motorways are where technology is used to help regulate the flow of traffic to ease congestion. The hard shoulder may also be used as an extra lane, which critics claim has led to road deaths.
Existing stretches will remain but will be subjected to a refit so that more emergency stopping places can be added, to help improve safety with the loss of a hard shoulder.
About 10% of England’s motorway network is made up of smart motorways. They involve various methods to manage the flow of traffic, including converting the hard shoulder into a live lane.
They were introduced in England in 2014 to ease congestion – and there are 375 miles of smart motorway, including 235 miles with no hard shoulder.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in his campaign pledge, as reported in The Telegraph: “All drivers deserve to have confidence in the roads they use to get around the country.
“That’s why last year I pledged to stop the building of all new smart motorways, and today I’m making good on that promise.
“Many people across the country rely on driving to get to work, to take their children to school and go about their daily lives, and I want them to be able to do so with full confidence that the roads they drive on are safe.”
The Department for Transport said the new schemes would have cost more than £1bn, and cancelling them would allow time to track public trust in smart motorways over a longer period.
Smart motorways were developed to create more capacity and cut congestion on roads, without spending money and causing disruption building news ones. However, they have been criticised by MPs and road safety bodies, including the AA and RAC.
Louise Haigh MP, Labour’s transport secretary, said: “We know smart motorways, coupled with inadequate safety systems, are not fit for purpose and are putting lives at risk”, adding that ministers should ‘reinstate hard shoulders on existing smart motorways’.
Edmund King, president of the AA, told the BBC he welcomed the government’s move calling it ‘victory for common sense’, but said it needed to go further and restore a permanent hard shoulder to 375 miles of existing smart motorways.
He said: “Basically, drivers don’t trust them, the technology is not foolproof, and 37% of breakdowns on smart motorways happen in live lanes. And basically those drivers are sitting ducks.
Adding: “We have had enough coroners passing down their deadly and heart-breaking judgments where the lack of a hard shoulder has contributed to deaths”.
Meanwhile, the RAC called the plans a ‘watershed announcement’, saying its research showed that smart motorways were ‘deeply unpopular with drivers’.
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear diagnosed with dementia
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear, who played Bet Lynch, has been diagnosed with dementia, her husband has revealed.
The 81-year-old who played the iconic pub landlady of the Rovers Return on the show sought medical advice after ‘suffering forgetfulness’ but there was now ‘no hope of a reversal in the situation’, her husband Scott Brand said.
He shared news of her diagnosis in a statement, writing: “My darling wife and I have had to come to terms with this heart-breaking diagnosis.
“Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance, but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation — and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse.
“We have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out.
“Inevitably she is recognised, and fans love to meet her – and she them – but she can get confused particularly if she is tired. I hope people will understand.”
Goodyear played the leopard-skin-wearing, big-haired barmaid on the cobbles from 1966 to 2003.
Thanks to Goodyear, Bet Lynch became one of the ITV soap opera’s longest-serving and best-loved characters.
The iconic actress also appeared on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Fit Club.
Tragedy as police find body of missing man last seen leaving pub
Police have confirmed the body as being Christopher
Police have confirmed a body has been tragically found in the search for a missing man in Marple.
Christopher Barlow, 31, was last seen shortly after 1am on Sunday, June 4th after leaving the Royal Oak pub in Mellor, Stockport.
He was last sighted turning left to walk along Brabyns Brow from Town Street.
Police officers and specialist teams searched a specific area beside the Peak Forest and remained at the scene after the tragic discovery on Tuesday, June 6th.
Greater Manchester Police have confirmed the body as being Christopher, and his family have been informed. A report is currently being prepared for the Coroner’s Office.
Detective Superintendent Helen Critchley, of GMP’s Stockport district, said: “Firstly, our thoughts are with Chris’s family and friends at this very distressing time.
“I would also like to thank the local community for their support with the search and the wider public for their assistance in sharing our appeal.”
According to The Manchester Evening News, on Monday evening (June 5th) the water search and marine unit, as well as a number of police vehicles and detectives were at the scene.
A large section of the canal was closed off to boats the next day as the search for Christopher continued.
Canal towpaths were also taped off as divers went into the water and officers searched nearby woodland.
Man to complete visiting every Wetherspoon pub in Britain and Ireland this week
Now he only has one final pub left to visit
A man will complete his visit to every Wetherspoon pub in Britain and Ireland this week as he sips his final pint to conclude his mission.
Most people like to see how far they can make it in a pub crawl but David Bingham, 60, decided to take it much further than that.
The Derbyshire man, who set out on the task in 2019, will conclude his journey of sipping a pint at all 875 Wetherspoon venues this week, including the 40 that have closed.
Now he only has one final pub left to visit, and he’s booked a flight at the South Terminal in Gatwick Airport in order to tick it off his long list.
The last of the boozers will be The Flying Horse, which is conveniently located right after security at the airport. Wetherspoons has praised his dedication.
Mr Bingham, from West Hallam, has said his other passions are trainspotting and following Burton Albion. He took on the challenge while also pursuing his other hobbies. Mr Bingham told the BBC: “If we were going somewhere new, I’d suss out the Wetherspoons.”
His partner Una Cooper bought him a directory of the pubs and he began ticking them off. “I’ve had a drink in most pubs, I’d say 85%,” he said.
“I’m a lager lad, definitely. The one in Ramsgate [in the Royal Victoria Pavilion] is my favourite because the history behind that building is incredible.
“But there are five police stations, there are churches, there’s chapels, there’s a tram depot, there’s a fire station.
“They just save these fantastic buildings. I love architecture and I love buildings. It’s a history lesson.”
Wetherspoon spokesman, Eddie Gershon, said: “We applaud David Bingham on his outstanding achievement.
“Many people love to visit Wetherspoon pubs across the UK and Ireland, but only a handful have visited each and every one. David will now join that select group.
“He has obviously put in a lot of time and effort into achieving his goal and we thank him for his dedication to our pubs.”