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Thousands call on government to ‘close Blackpool’ as coronavirus cases in the area rise

Should Blackpool close?

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David Dixon / Geograph

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the government to ‘close Blackpool and protect the locals’. 

The petition comes after a hot weekend, which saw the resort’s beaches and parks packed with families enjoying the sun in one of Britain’s most infectious towns.

The medical director of Victoria Hospital has said the number of coronavirus-related admissions continues to rise at the Blackpool hospital.

The surges in the town follow the lockdown easing measures put in place by the Government, which see groups of six people being allowed to meet outside and go on day trips from today. 

The petition, launched by Brian Pery, has already received 4,773 petitions this morning. It states: “Blackpool has been invaded by people leaving our town filthy, not taking notice of spacing, [and] urinating in the streets.

“It only takes one to pass [the] virus to two more, then it escalates. Please consider, for the sake of our residents and future economy, to stop the so-called responsible people from not sticking to rules and close our town [to] them for at least four weeks to allow [the] virus here to stabilise.

“I ask [the] Government to seriously consider this ASAP.”

Official figures showed last week that Blackpool has one of the highest rates of infection in the country, with 445.8 people out of every 100,000 being diagnosed with the virus.

The national figure stands at 269.6. 

Victoria Hospital has had 185 confirmed and verified COVID-19 related deaths, plus many more at local care homes.  

A medic from the hospital, Dr Radhakrishna Shanbhag, who is also a British Medical Association North West council member, said: “Not only does this mean we’re suffering from a disproportionate amount of serious cases and deaths, but also that, as a consequence, gradual lockdown measures may be affected – prolonging the hurt caused to our local economy.”

Dr Jim Gardner, the hospital’s medical director, has said: “Looking at our numbers, what we are seeing is that, across the whole of the Fylde coast, we have had 1,117 positive diagnoses of COVID. And in our internal data – in our trust data – we are showing now 144 positive COVID patients.

“That is a higher number than last week so this is an important theme for us.”

Visit Blackpool, the tourism team for the town, rebranded as Don’t Visit Blackpool as the lockdown got underway. Due to the lockdown restrictions, it has now changed to ‘Visit Blackpool Safely’.

Many people visited the town over the weekend and left Blackpool beaches covered in litter, in response the tourism board tweeted: “If you plan to venture to the coast or any open spaces today, please don’t leave any litter behind, if a bin is full take your litter home, leave only footprints.”

The UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, told people to limit themselves to what is ‘sensible’ rather than what is ‘possible’ now that lockdown restrictions have been eased further.

She said now is a critical time and urged people to not contribute to a resurgence of the virus. 

She said: “I think it’s really important that people just try to use these measures sensibly for their own benefit, but don’t risk transmission to other people.”

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Liz Truss says British workers need ‘more graft’ and lack ‘skill’ of Chinese workers

She was also heard saying workers outside of London have less productivity

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Number 10 / Flickr & Gov.uk

Conservative leader frontrunner Liz Truss has been criticised after saying British workers need ‘more graft’ and lack the ‘skill and application’ of their foreign counterparts.

Just two weeks on from the backlash surrounding her plan to cut the pay of public sector workers in the north, audio obtained by The Guardian heard Truss discussing the work ethic and attitude of British workers and comparing them to those of foreign workers.

During her discussion, said to have taken place five years ago when she was the chief secretary to the Treasury, Truss could be heard saying: “I once wrote a book about this which got mischaracterised… British workers produce less per hour than … and that’s a combination of kind of skill and application.

“If you look at productivity, it’s very, very different in London from the rest of the country… this has been a historical fact for decades.”

She continued: “Essentially it’s partly a mindset and attitude thing, I think. It’s working culture, basically. If you go to China it’s quite different, I can assure you.

“There’s a fundamental issue of British working culture. Essentially, if we’re going to be a richer country and a more prosperous country, that needs to change… But I don’t think people are that keen to change that.

“There’s a slight thing in Britain about wanting the easy answers. That’s my reflection on the election and what’s gone before it, and the referendum – we say it’s all Europe that’s causing these huge problems, it’s all these migrants causing these problems. But actually what needs to happen is more… more graft.

“It’s not a popular message.”

Number 10 / Flickr

A source from Truss’s team has attempted to downplay the audio, telling The Guardian: “These half-a-decade-old comments lack context but one thing that is as clear today as ever before is a need to boost productivity, which leads to higher wages and a better quality of life for workers right across the UK.

“As prime minister, Liz will deliver an economy that is high wage, high growth and low tax.”

However, when questioned about the audio during a Tory leadership hustings in Perth, Truss appeared to confirm she still believed British workers were not as productive as they should be.

When asked whether she stood by her remarks, Truss said: “I don’t know what you’re quoting there [but] what we need in this country is more productivity and we need more economic growth.”

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Andy Burnham confirms bus fares will be capped at £2 a journey from next month

Passengers aged between sixteen and eighteen will also travel for free under the reform

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Alan Sansbury / Wikimedia Commons

Bus fares across Greater Manchester will be capped at £2 a journey and £5 a day from September, Andy Burnham has confirmed today.

In a tweet this morning, the mayor described his announcement as ‘a glimmer of light in tough times’, before revealing the new bus fares will come into force from the first full working week in September.

The fare changes will include:

  • £2 max single fare for adults.
  • £1 max for under-sixteens. 
  • £5/£2.50 unlimited travel in any day.
  • Free travel for passengers aged between sixteen – eighteen.

These new fares will be valid on all routes across Greater Manchester, regardless of the operator. 

In a follow up tweet, Burnham said the cheaper fares will be paid for by ‘more people using buses’, before pointing out that many are ‘a third or half full at the moment’. 

The mayor first unveiled plans to bring Greater Manchester’s buses back under public control in March this year, with a promise to introduce the new fares in 2023 and 2024.

These plans were swiftly fast-tracked and, while the initial plan was for a gradual roll-out across the region, it was then announced that passengers across the whole of Greater Manchester would benefit from the new fares at the same time. 

Burnham previously revealed that the £5 fare will enable passengers to travel from when they buy the ticket until 3.59am the following day, and will be valid for use across various operators. Currently, a daily fare costs £6.40.

However, the maximum £2 for a single journey fare will only work for a single operator, with the London-style ‘Hopper’ fare unveiled in the first announcement currently on hold.

These capped fares come as part of Burnham’s Bee Network vision, which will see Greater Manchester’s public transport system combine trains, trams and buses in an in-sync timetable.

Walking and cycling will also be integrated in an attempt to create a modern, sustainable, and accessible model for the people of Greater Manchester.

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Pop Idol singer Darius Campbell-Danesh dies aged 41

BREAKING

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ITV

Pop Idol singer Darius Campbell-Danesh has died at the age of forty-one, his family have announced today.

The ‘Colourblind’ singer was found dead in his US apartment in Minnesota on August 11th. The cause of his death is not yet known.

His family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell-Danesh.

“Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11th and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage while medical examinations continue.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”

Darius first rose to fame in 2002 as a contestant on the ITV singing contest Pop Idol, with him eventually coming in third place behind Will Young and Gareth Gates.

The Scottish singer achieved number one in the UK later that year with his single ‘Colourblind’, while his album Dive In reached the top ten.

Darius then went on to enjoy a successful career on the stage, with him appearing in ‘Chicago’ as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as ‘Guys and Dolls’, ‘Gone With the Wind’ and many more in the West End.

In 2010, he made returned to television by competing in ITV’s Popstar to Operastar, with him eventually winning. 

Darius previously told The Scotsman in 2014 that he was used to overcoming doubts, and always relied on the advice his father gave him as a youngster.

He said: “Anything is possible if you want it enough and if you’re willing to work hard enough at it and if you don’t give up on it. It can seem overwhelming when you set any challenge and I’ve been told many times in my career that things have not been possible.”

 

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