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Piccadilly Gardens set for massive overhaul including plans to make it even bigger

About time something was done…

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Peter McDermott / Geograph

The decline of Piccadilly Gardens is well documented, from flowering garden paradise to the no-go area it has become, and two stabbing incidents over the weekend once again highlighted the issues the Gardens face.

While it might not be a definitive solution to many of the problems that blight it, Piccadilly Gardens could be getting a massive overhaul, with plans to make it even bigger.

The plans could also see the much-hated wall being partially demolished, as well as the site expanded to include Piccadilly to the north of the gardens, Parker Street to the south and Mosley Street to the west, Place North West reports.

As part of the overhaul, the unpopular concrete wall could be partly transformed into a new green wall, with the free-standing part it potentially getting demolished.

A previous proposal for what Piccadilly Gardens could look like

LDA Design has been appointed to create concept designs for the improvements, with the schemes set to be consulted on in spring.

LDA were behind a previous proposal for a £2m overhaul of the area back in 2017, which proved popular with the public – unfortunately it never went ahead because of funding issues.

Mark Graham, director of LDA Design, told Place North West: “Piccadilly Gardens has to wear many hats; functioning as a public square, a civic space, and somewhere casually to have lunch.

“We’re looking at its role in the city, complementing Albert Square and St Peter’s Square nearby. Piccadilly Gardens has a unique character compared to them, and needs to be a place for people to have fun.”

In regards to the new plans, the council said: “Critical to the proposals will be the creation of a more family-friendly area with an improved children’s play area, and removing or replacing the existing street furniture”.

And the council want you to get involved, tweeting last night that they’ll be looking for public opinion this spring on how to change Piccadilly Gardens.

According to the council, they’re still committed to delivering planting and improved lighting, as well as making sure the chosen design deters anti-social behaviour – one of the biggest issues facing the area at the moment.

In regards to this, the council has been liaising with police to make sure the proposals reduce instances of anti-social behaviour.

What do you think? How could Piccadilly Gardens be improved – or is it too late?

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Energy bills set to rise even higher in worrying new prediction

Households will soon be faced with annual bills of over £4,000

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Energy bills are set to rise even higher than previously predicted, according to worrying new figures released today.

Energy consultancy firm Cornwall Insight has forecasted that the average household will be paying £3,582 a year, £200 higher from the £3,359 originally predicted earlier this month.

And from January, the amount is expected to rise even higher to £4,266 before continuing to rise in April to £4,427.

The previous forecast for April was £3,729 – that’s a rise of £650.

Cornwall insight said it had increased its forecast due to the continuing rise in wholesale prices and an expected change in methodology for how the energy price cap is calculated.

Dr. Craig Lowrey, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight, described the predicted increase in January as a ‘fresh shock’.

Read More: Ofgem boss issues warning to people planning energy bill boycott

He said: “The cost of living crisis was already top of the news agenda as more and more people face fuel poverty, this will only compound the concerns.”

However, Dr. Lowrey explained that without the more frequent changes to the price cap, more energy suppliers might be in danger of collapse.

Pixabay

He said the change in how the price cap is calculated was necessary to prevent suppliers going bust, but added: “Rather than critiquing the methodology of the cap, it may be time to consider the cap’s place altogether.

“After all, if it is not controlling consumer prices, and is damaging suppliers’ business models, we must wonder if it is fit for purpose – especially in these times of unprecedented energy market conditions.

“It is essential that the government use our predictions to spur on a review of the support package being offered to consumers.

“If the £400 was not enough to make a dent in the impact of our previous forecast, it most certainly is not enough now.”

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Avanti West Coast slashes timetable and suspends ticket sales to Manchester ‘until further notice’

The disruption is expected to last for the rest of the month

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Avanti West Coast

Avanti West Coast has slashed its timetables and suspended ticket sales to Manchester ‘until further notice’.

The company said severe staff shortages caused by ‘unofficial strike action’ by ASLEF members is the reason for their reduced services, which are expected to be impacted for the rest of the month.

As a result of this, services will run on a reduced service, with trains between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly being the worst affected.

Train frequencies between the capital and Manchester will be reduced to as few as one per hour, rather than the usual three.

There will be just four Avanti West Coast trains per hour from Euston travelling to Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

Avanti West Coast said that many passengers have experienced short-notice cancellations in recent weeks and they hope the reduced timetable will allow them to run a reliable service.

Ticket sales and closed reservations have also been suspended from August 14th to September 11th ‘to minimise the number of people disrupted’.

A statement from the company said: “From August 14th, until further notice, we will be introducing a reduced timetable on our services. This is due to the current industrial relations climate which has resulted in severe staff shortages in some grades through increased sickness levels, as well as unofficial strike action by ASLEF members.

“As a result of the above, including the majority of drivers declaring themselves unavailable for overtime, our customers have faced multiple short-notice cancellations on our network which has had a severe impact on their plans.

“The reduced timetable is being introduced to ensure a reliable service is delivered so our customers can travel with greater certainty. This decision was not taken lightly, and we are sorry for the enormous frustration and inconvenience this will cause.”

The company went on to urge rail unions to ‘engage in meaningful industry reform talks around modernising working practices and developing a railway fit for the 21st century’.

Their statement concluded: “If you’ve already booked to travel with us from August 14th onwards and your train is cancelled, your ticket will be accepted on the Avanti West Coast service before or after your original booked train.”

Alternatively, passengers can claim a full, fee-free refund from their point of purchase if they can no longer travel due to the amended timetable.

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‘Grease’ star Dame Olivia Newton-John has died aged 73

BREAKING

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Grease actress Dame Olivia Newton-John has died at the age of seventy-three.

A representative for the Cambridge-born actress confirmed the news tonight, saying Olivia ‘died peacefully at her ranch in Southern California Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends’.

Her death comes after a thirty-year-long battle with breast cancer.

Her husband John Easterling confirmed the news in a Facebook post on her official page, writing: “Dame Olivia Newton-John (73) passed away peacefully at her Ranch in Southern California this morning, surrounded by family and friends.

“We ask that everyone please respect the family’s privacy during this very difficult time.

“Olivia has been a symbol of triumphs and hope for over thirty years sharing her journey with breast cancer.

“Her healing inspiration and pioneering experience with plant medicine continues with the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, dedicated to researching plant medicine and cancer.

“In lieu of flowers, the family asks that any donations be made in her memory to the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund (ONJFoundationFund.org).

“Olivia is survived by her husband John Easterling; daughter Chloe Lattanzi; sister Sarah Newton-John; brother Toby Newton-John; nieces and nephews Tottie, Fiona and Brett Goldsmith; Emerson, Charlie, Zac, Jeremy, Randall, and Pierz Newton-John; Jude Newton-Stock, Layla Lee; Kira and Tasha Edelstein; and Brin and Valerie Hall.”

Olivia was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and again in 2013, though she chose to keep her diagnosis private the second time around.

When she was diagnosed for the third time in 2018, she was informed the cancer had spread to the base of her spine. However, she remained optimistic and was determined to beat the disease with the help of her husband. 

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