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The North West’s coronavirus ‘R’ number is now above 1

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The North West’s ‘R’ number has risen above 1, meaning it has the highest rate of COVID transmission in the UK. 

‘R’ is a value put in place to measure the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic. Scientists from Public Health England and Cambridge University have revealed in their latest analysis every region that is hovering around the crucial 1 figure.

The North West is running above that at 1.01, up from 0.73 a few weeks ago when the data was released.

The South West is listed as exactly 1, despite researchers believing the number of new daily infections there as ‘relatively low’.  

The South East is on 0.97, London on 0.95 – increased from the last value of 0.4 – and the East of England on 0.94. 

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The Midlands is at 0.9 and the North East and Yorkshire, which previously had the highest R-value, is at 0.89.

So what does this mean? Well, it certainly poses questions regarding the easing of lockdown, as well as questions to the government about how it will handle this rise. 

“There is some evidence that Rt [the R] has risen in all regions and we believe that this is probably due to increasing mobility and mixing between households and in public and workplace settings,” says the analysis.

It adds: “An increase in Rt will lead to a slowdown in the decrease in new infections and deaths.

“There is evidence, from the forecast of deaths for the whole of England, that the increases in the regional reproductive numbers may result in the decline in the national death rate being arrested by mid-June.”

The value of R, the average number of secondary infections due to a typical infection today.

Ministers have said they will move towards ‘local lockdowns’ and the use of tracking and tracing should the spread start to increase again, but the national tracing system is not yet fully operational.

When asked about the numbers, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “It’s very worrying. It appears, I would say, that lockdown has been relaxed too early, given the fact that ‘track, test and trace’ is some way from being up and running.

“I think it begs the question as to whether the advice is right to people in the North West.”

Nationally, the government has been quoting the number of R as 0.9 for a number of weeks now. But the latest analysis show that several regions have tipped over this territory.

This means the virus could spread exponentially. 

Greater Manchester reported a mixed picture regarding the current situation in the region on Wednesday, stating that while hospital deaths had slightly increased COVID admissions have returned to April levels.

Care home infections and new cases have reportedly been dropping in the area, however. 

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Greater Manchester town officially named one of the happiest places to live in UK

Well-deserved?

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Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

A Greater Manchester town has been named among the 20 happiest places to live in the UK, alongside a couple of other North West spots.

Altrincham was placed in the top 20 of Britain’s happiest places to live in an annual survey, coming in at number 17 in Rightmove’s survey.

St Ives, a seaside town in Cornwall, took the number one spot, while Galashiels in Scotland came in a respectable second.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

Other North West areas in the top 20 were Northwich (16) and Macclesfield (18).

Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index asked more than 21,000 people their thoughts on where they live.

Each area is ranked on factors like whether people feel there is a sense of belonging, local amenities, whether there is a community spirit and the proximity to green spaces.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

According to Rightmove, these are Britain’s happiest places to live in 2022 (including the average house price and average asking monthly rental price):

1) St Ives, South West – £523,731, £1,152

2) Galashiels, Scotland – £153,546, £530

3) Woodbridge, East of England – £481,978, £1,196

4) Hexham, North East – £262,265, £810

5) Perth, Scotland – £179,410, £812

6) Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber – £381,124, £1,327

7) Anglesey, Wales – £324,048, £766

8) Bury St Edmunds, East of England – £334,160, £1,368

9) Stirling, Scotland – £197,075, £990

10) Cirencester, South West, £382,065 – £1,331

11) Richmond-upon-Thames, London – £1,153,347, £3,931

12) Falmouth, South West – £373,752, £1,289

13) Monmouth, Wales – £331,844, £1,104

14) Leamington Spa, West Midlands – £383,553, £1,274

15) Worcester, West Midlands – £286,250, £1,059

16) Northwich, North West – £246,995, £942

17) Altrincham, North West – £615,246, £2,297

18) Macclesfield, North West – £292,078, £1,146

19) Newbury, South East – £380,842, £1,364

20) Llandudno, Wales – £260,245, £760

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Northern to start using new technology to catch train fare dodgers

‘This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues’

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Northern has announced that they will be bringing in some brand new technology to catch train fare dodgers.

Britain’s second largest train operator is planning to install the system within station barriers at ‘known hotspots’, the BBC reports.

The technology will automatically detect whether a ticket is valid, and alert rail staff for any additional checks, or if the customer has the right railcard.

Jon David Houghton / Wikimedia Commons

According to Northern, around 180 fare dodgers were caught in a single day when they trialled the system at Manchester Victoria in November.

Northern’s Customer and Commercial Director Mark Powles said: “This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues whose job it is to ensure ticket checks are carried out quickly and efficiently.

“Unfortunately, we know that a small minority of customers try to exploit the automated nature of barrier checks to travel on tickets they know they’re not eligible to use.”

Mikey / Flickr

Powles added that the kit was ‘very easy’ to install, saying it could be: “deployed to known hotspots across the whole network to help tackle this fraudulent activity”.

The Department for Transport confirmed last month that anyone travelling on a train without a ticket can be fined £100 from January 23rd, rising from £20. 

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Man, 33, charged following attempted kidnapping of schoolgirl

A 33-year-old has been arrested and charged

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Google Maps / Greater Manchester Police

Police have charged a man, following the release of CCTV footage featuring a car used in three attempted kidnappings around Salford.

A man driving the vehicle attempted to force a 15-year-old girl into the car at a bus stop in Monton on Monday, November 21st.

Detectives also believe the same man tried to abduct another girl earlier that same day, as well as a third teenager five days previous.

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Officers have confirmed that Sean Anthony Gillings (06/09/1989) of no fixed abode has been charged, following an appeal to the public.

This appeal resulted in the arrest of 33-year-old Gillings, who was then questioned and charged on Tuesday November 29th.

He also remains on bail for the other two attempt kidnaps, while further investigations are ongoing.

Gillings was remanded in custody yesterday, Wednesday November 30th, to appear at Manchester Crown Square Court on Wednesday January 4th 2023.

Police previously confirmed that a 33-year-old man was arrested by officers on Monday November 28th, on suspicion of three counts of attempted kidnap.

According to Greater Manchester Police, the victims have been left ‘extremely shaken up’.

Officers identified the vehicle in the footage as a black Vauxhall Astra with a silver cover on the driver’s side wing mirror.

Greater Manchester Police

Detective Inspector Chris Horsfield, of GMP’s Salford CID, previously said: “Although we have made this arrest, we are still very much looking to speak to anyone who may have information or dashcam footage, which could help us to establish the circumstances.

“We understand that the local community will be concerned but we are doing all we can to solve this investigation.

“I’d urge anyone who knows anything at all to please get in touch as soon as possible. In particular we are interested in the movements of a Black Vauxhall Astra 08 plate with a silver driver’s wing mirror cover; the passenger side is black.”

Police believe the incidents happened at the following times:

  • Liverpool Street, Salford, between Fitzwarren Street and Albion Way on November 16th, between 7:45-8:20pm
  • Mossfield Road and Ackworth Road, Swinton, on November 21st, between 8-9am
  • Rocky Lane, Monton Green and Monton High Street on November 21st, between 6-7pm

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