Openreach has announced it will be axing its broadband installation fees for Universal Credit households across the country.
The company, owned by BT, would usually charge internet service providers – such as Sky or TalkTalk – for connecting households to broadband, but it will now be saving an estimated one million people up to £92 by waiving the charges for low income households in their new ‘Connect the Unconnected’ campaign.
The Connect the Unconnected offer will apply to households that receive universal credit with zero other earnings, which have not been connected to the Openreach network for the past ninety days.
The Good Things Foundation, which works to make sure everyone benefits from digital tech, told the BBC it welcomed Openreach’s fee waiver.
A spokesperson said: “Access to data is a lifeline. Public services like universal credit are already online, and the pandemic has meant more of us are managing our health online through contacting GPs via video call, or making use of the NHS apps.”
Mark Jackson, the Editor-in-Chief of broadband news site ISP Review, also said the offer was ‘a positive development’ but commented that caveats meant the announcement ‘may only have a limited impact’ and it is yet to be seen how the savings would be passed on.
According to an Ofcom report published in July, two million households still struggle to afford internet access.
The report acknowledged that providers have made some improvements, such as offering targeted and affordable ‘social’ tariffs for customers on low incomes, though there is still more to do.
They wrote: “However, if the telecoms industry does not take sufficient action to address our concerns, we think there would be a strong case for exploring whether mandatory social tariffs would be necessary to fill the gaps in support, alongside other potential options.”
Manchester’s historic Portico Library awarded huge grant to secure its future
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building
The Grade II-listed Portico Library will receive almost half a million pounds to transform the historic building.
The funding has helped secure the future of the 218-year-old building – a much-loved gem standing proudly on Mosley Street.
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the £453,000 will see the treasured library undergo a huge revamp and preserve its book collection.
During its development, local communities in Manchester will be invited to help work on the project.
With particular focus on environmentally sustainable architectural plans, it aims to unite all three original floors of The Portico Library for the first time in 100 years.
The ground floor will be transformed into a ‘Northern bookshop’ which will hold educational activities, with areas for dining, exhibitions areas and meeting spaces.
While the upper floors will showcase the library’s incredible book collection and archives, which includes the first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
John Carpenter, Chair of the Portico Library, said: “The news that The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting The Portico Library’s bold scheme to open up and share its extraordinary heritage and collection, to Manchester residents and visitors, is a major cultural signal to Manchester, the North and the UK.”
He added: “This visionary project, years in the making, fulfils our mission of working with the many people in Manchester to explore, share and celebrate their diverse stories and the city’s literary and global heritage.
“Embracing creativity, collaboration and inclusivity, the project will unlock the Library’s past to plan for the future. We would like to thank the National Lottery players who have made it possible to realise our vision.”
Handwritten note with ‘plan to kill’ Brianna Ghey found in accused girl’s room
The note was found during a police search
A handwritten note with alleged details of a ‘plan to kill’ transgender teenager Brianna Ghey was found by police in the bedroom of Girl X.
The crumpled paper note (pictured) was discovered by officers during a search conducted at the accused’s home in March, more than a month after the tragic death of the 16-year-old.
Brianna was found after being stabbed 28 times in Culcheth Linear Park, Warrington, earlier this year.
The teenager was discovered by dog walkers just after 3pm on Saturday, February 11th.
Girl X from Warrington and Boy Y from Leigh both deny murder. During the trial, jurors at Manchester Crown Court heard how Girl X sent a picture of the handwritten note to Boy Y on February 3rd.
The note began with the header: “Saturday 11th February 2023. Victim: Brianna Ghey.”
It continued: “Meet Boy Y at wooden posts 1pm. Walk down to library…bus stop. Wait until Brianna gets off bus then the 3 of us walk to Linear Park.
“Go to the pipe/tunnel area. I say code word to Boy Y. He stabs her in the back as I stab her in the stomach. Boy Y drags the body into the area. We both cover up the area with logs etc.”
In her opening speech, prosecutor Deanna Heer KC told the jury: “It is clearly, the prosecution say, a plan to kill Brianna Ghey.” During the same search on March 17th, officers found a note found in a drawer headlined ‘plan’.
Details in the note continued: “Give them alcohol with sleeping pills.
“Slit throat. I kill her. Dismember body. Place pieces in bin bags, bury bags 7ft underground, bones including.
“Get her to go to Linear park, go to the hidden spot near the bridge I usually go to. Someone jumps out and restrains her (plan B). I kill her.”
During the search, police also found a computer tablet and a black notebook.
Jurors heard that written in the notebook was the word ‘anarchy’ on one page, and on another there was a list of ‘what is right and wrong’. Another page had a ‘spider diagram’ with ‘good and ‘evil’ in the middle.
The ‘legs’ of the diagram lead to the words ‘forgiveness, justice, morality, good, suffering, evil, sin and free will’, the court heard.
On another page there were the words ‘Valentine’s gifts’ and on another the words ‘revision HW’. Prosecutor Cheryl Mottram said: “Homework, perhaps.”
Written on another page were the words ‘types of serial killers’, with a list under the heading.
Words underneath included ‘organised and disorganised’, ‘mass murder’, ‘psychotic’, ‘organised crime’ and ‘copy cat’. On another page were the words ‘films’, and ‘faves’.
Another page was headed with ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ and then a ‘list of characteristics’. There were also notes about ‘John Wayne Gacy’, the ‘killer clown’.
The notebook also had written inside it a note which read ‘potential threats’ and ‘people that need to go’.
Another page had Boy Y’s name on it followed by a ‘list of qualities or attributes’. Underneath was written the words ‘trustworthy, funny, sociopath, good sense of humour, very very smart, genius level and not sociable’.
Officers also recovered a black purse inside a ‘cubby hole’ with a handwritten note inside.
The note read: “Friday 11th November, attitudes to forgiveness.” Jurors were told the note contained two names, including Gee Walker.
“Forgives her son Anthony’s killer,” it read. And continued: “Julie Nicholson, who could not forgive the terrorists who killed her daughter Jenny.”
Three handwritten notes were also found on the floor of the room. One read ‘serial killer facts’, with a ‘list of facts relating to serial killers’ including ‘killing themselves in police custody can be a final act of control’, ‘hedonism’ and ‘power and control orientated’.
Other notes made were ‘cruelty to animals’, ‘bed wetting past age of five’, ‘USA has the most serial killers’, ‘lack of empathy for others’ and ‘can be superficially charming’.
One note read ‘Dr Harold Frederick Shipman, aka Dr Death’, followed by the words ‘classification, serial killer’.
And jurors were told there was also a note in relation to ‘Richard Ramirez, or the ‘Night Stalker’.
The trial, which began on November 27th at Manchester Crown Court, continues.
Hugh Grant and wife Anna donate £20,000 ‘Britain’s kindest plumber’
A lovely Christmas gift to help those in need
Hugh Grant and his wife Anna have donated £20,000 to Burnley plumber James Anderson.
Dubbed ‘Britain’s kindest plumber’, James Anderson set up Depher, which stands for Disabled and Elderly, Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response, back in 2017.
Originally a plumber who offered services to those in need for free of charge, Mr Anderson now runs the community interest company.
Depher provides plumbing work free of charge for those who are struggling in the cost of living crisis.
Since it began in 2017, Depher has helped more than half a million people across the country and relies on donations from the public.
Now, Hollywood actor Hugh Grant and his wife Anna, who both arrived in Manchester on Thursday December 7th to attend the Chanel Métiers d’Art fashion show, have made a donation of £20,000 to help those in need this winter.
The couple have also donated tens of thousands of pounds to the Depher cause in the past.
Anderson called the kind donation a ‘Christmas gift’ and said it brings the total they have donated to £75,000.
Sharing the news on the Depher Twitter page, Mr Anderson wrote: “After speaking privately to @HackedOffHugh and Anna Grant I have permission to share their wonderful #Christmas gift to @Depheruk.
“This wonderful and humbling donation of £20,000.00 will give hope to thousands of people, families and children, especially with the #CostOfLivingCrisis.
“They both have my lifetime of respect and love.”