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Wetherspoons boss calls for pubs to reopen the same time as shops ‘to save jobs’

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Wetherspoons’ boss calls for pubs to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops to save jobs in the industry.

The chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, has warned that the pub industry is ‘on its knees’ and needs to be opened to save jobs.

He went onto explain that pubs made a massive contribution to the economy, with Wetherspoons chain paying about £10 of tax for every £1 of profit they make.

Much of the hospitality industry across the UK is currently closed unless they can offer takeaway food and drink, with a number of restrictions also in place on that. 

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Scientists have warned that talks of reopening pubs, bars and restaurants are too premature. 

However, Martin argues that pubs and restaurants are ‘Covid-secure’ having invested in safety measures like plastic screens, table-service only, floor markers and more. 

He said: “Surely it is possible for the hospitality industry to reopen at the same time as non-essential shops, now that a vaccine exists, on the basis of the social distancing and hygiene regulations.”

He added that the various lockdown measures imposed on pubs since March last year could spell a ‘disaster’ for finances.

In the financial year to July 2019, JD Wetherspoon, its customers and employees generated £764m of taxes, Martin said.

He added: “The amount of tax paid by Wetherspoon is replicated, according to the size of the company, throughout the pub industry, and shows just how important pubs are to the economy.”

It comes after chief executive of the Young’s pub chain, Patrick Dardis accused the prime minister of a ‘lack of respect’ for the sector and for basing the decision to close pubs on ‘unproved’ science – a claim experts dispute. 

He added that the industry needed a ‘road map’ to reopening with social distancing restrictions in place but that these should only last a few months. 

Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school said talk of reopening pubs by April was premature.

Adding: “What the executives of pubs need to know is that failure to get it right equals back to square one. And back to square one equals much more pain economically, much more hardship.”

He said people drink alcohol to relax and that one of the consequence of relaxing is that ‘you drop your guard’. 

Wetherspoon

Industry figures released last week show a net loss of almost 6,000 licensed premises last year, triple that of 2019. 

The hospitality industry is one of the hardest-hit sectors throughout the pandemic with UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls recently warning that there could be ‘very little’ left if closures last until May. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce the ‘roadmap’ to leave lockdown a week from now, with some reporting they expect the reopening of non-essential shops to happen in a matter of weeks.

The Times reports that ministers are examining plans that could allow people to take breaks as early as the Easter holidays. A government source told the paper: “There’s an active discussion about how soon we can do it and we’ll be guided by the data.

“There’s talk of April at the earliest, but a lot of things have to go right. It’s unlikely but it is being talked about as a possibility.”

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Man tragically dies after falling from apartment block near the city centre

Police attended the scene after reports of a man falling in the early hours of this morning

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A man has sadly died after falling from an apartment block in Salford.

Police were called to Rolling Street – just off of Trinity Way near Manchester city centre – at around 5:10am this morning after receiving reports that a man had fallen from a building.

Upon arrival at the apartment complex, officers found the man and immediately called emergency services.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, however, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The quiet residential street was sealed off this morning, with two police vehicles seen guarding each side of the cordon.

The cause of the fall is not yet known, though detectives say they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about about the full circumstances of the tragedy.

No arrests have been made and enquiries are said to be ongoing.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called around 5.10am today (January 18th) to Rolling Street, Salford to a report of a male having fallen from a building.

“Emergency services attended and despite the best efforts of paramedics he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

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“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and detectives are keeping an open mind as they investigate.

“No arrests have been made.”

A spokesperson for Get Living, the company that manages the apartment block, added: “We are very sad to confirm a death at New Maker Yards this morning.

“We are working closely with the emergency services who are continuing their investigation and will issue further information as it becomes available.”

Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 101 quoting incident 374 of 18/01/22. Alternatively, details can be passed via the LiveChat at www.gmp.police.uk or via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Bus driver sacked for being ‘too short’ gets job back after winning appeal

Tracey had been driving Manchester buses for over three decades when she was let go for ‘being too short’

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Paul Gerrard & Unite North West / Facebook

The female bus driver who was sacked for being ‘too short’ has been given her job back after winning her highly-publicised appeal.

Despite being one of the first female bus drivers in Manchester and having thirty-four years of experience under her belt, Tracey Scholes was found to lack the ‘capability’ to drive Go North West’s new vehicles safely.

The position of the new buses’ wing mirrors required the fifty-seven-year-old, from Heywood, to lean around a pillar to see them, meaning she could not keep her feet safely on the pedals. 

Because of this, Tracey was offered a different position driving the company’s school buses, though it would mean a reduction in hours worked and pay.

The company also offered the bus driver her current pay rate but with reduced hours, which meant she would still be losing around £230 a month, the Unite union said. She turned down both positions and was subsequently given her notice.

Tracey’s story was quick to go viral and gained the support of celebrities including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh and James Quinn. A petition was also set up in support of Tracey has gained a massive 29,214 signatures at the time of writing.

Also at her wit’s end, Tracey herself launched a desperate appeal last week to keep her job, which saw hundreds of people turn out at the Queens Road Depot in Cheetham Hill where the appeal hearing was taking place to show their support.

And this week, the campaigning has paid off, with Go North West officially offering Tracey her job back where she would drive a different model of bus.

Under the new deal, Tracey will start earlier to allow her to pick up a bus with wing mirrors of her preference, and her weekly hours and rate of pay will remain unchanged.

Go North West’s HR director Scott Maynard said in a statement that the company was ‘pleased’ their ‘valued and long-serving driver’ was to stay with Go North West ‘after she decided to accept an offer to drive different buses as per a proposal made in September’. 

Scott Maynard added: “We have said from the start that we wanted to keep Tracey and we are glad that she has changed her mind and decided to stay.”

He said the company “operates no height restrictions on recruitment, and has multiple drivers of the same height, or below, as Tracey”.

“It is categorically untrue that we would, or could, have threatened anybody with dismissal on grounds of height.”

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BBC TV licence to be axed, culture secretary hints

‘The BBC can learn to cut waste like any other business’

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The BBC licence fee could be abolished and replaced with a government grant with viewers paying a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport by 2027, new reports have detailed today.

The Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual TV licence – which is required to watch live television and access iPlayer services – will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years.

Dorries has recently indicated that she wants to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

She wrote on Twitter: “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”

The move would force the BBC to negotiate a new funding model, with potential options including a voluntary subscription service, part-privatisation, or direct government funding.

The Mail on Sunday reported that an ally of Dorries said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.

“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the charter with a new funding formula.”

“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.”

However, Dorries’ stance has been met with overwhelming backlash, with a number of TV and radio stars having since rallied behind the BBC’s TV licence and slamming her decision as an ‘attack on a British institution’.

Former footballer Gary Lineker led the criticism, with him hailing the BBC as ‘the most treasured of National treasures’. 

Lineker tweeted to his 8 million followers: “It should be the most treasured of National treasures. Something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government whoever is in power.”

He pointed out in a separate Tweet: “Yes the BBC brings you the best in news, in sport, in drama, in music, in children’s, in science, in history, in entertainment, in current affairs and Sir David bloody Attenborough….but apart from that was has the BBC ever done for us?”

Broadcaster Victoria Coren Mitchell also voiced her support for the licence, noting that the press and politicians can’t see the importance of the channel because they’re ‘trapped inside their own relationship with the news.’

Podcaster Greg Jenner added: “The BBC is 100 years old this year. It has constantly changed throughout that time, and it’s still greatly valued by the British people – such a pity the Culture Secretary would rather fight the Culture Wars.”

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