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Andy Burnham responds to petition opposing Clean Air Zone after it reaches 20k signatures

The controversial scheme is set to come into place in May this year

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Pete Birkinshaw / Wikimedia Commons & @nabeelsyed / Unsplash

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has defended the upcoming Clean Air Zone charge after a petition against the scheme reached 20,000 signatures.

From May 30th 2022, vehicles that do not meet emissions standards will be charged when driving within the Clean Air Zone, which will cover 493 square miles of Greater Manchester, making it the largest of its kind in the UK.

The scheme targets heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches – all of which will have to pay £60 a day to drive within the zone – vans, which will pay £10, and taxi and private hire vehicles which will both pay £7.50.

While private cars, motorbikes, and mopeds won’t be affected, some vehicles that do not meet emissions standards – known as ‘non-compliant vehicles’ – will still be charged.

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Failure to pay the charge will also result in a £120 fine plus the daily charge.

Yet while the Clean Air Zone is said to be designed to ‘protect everyone’s health by bringing harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution at the roadside within legal limits’,  there has been widespread criticism and backlash to the scheme, with many saying it will negatively impact local businesses.

A petition has since been set up in opposition to the scheme, which has since gained 19,766 signatures at the time of writing. 

Paul Delve, who launched the Change.org petition, wrote: “Can you remember being asked by him or anyone in Greater Manchester if you wanted this? We were not! What sort of democracy is that? We need to stop this in its tracks! Please help me by signing this petition.”

Andy Burnham has since responded to the controversy surrounding the scheme – which he has publicly backed and supported – saying he ‘owed everyone who signed the courtesy of a reply’.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Burnham first stressed that he never instigated the scheme nor does he have the legal power to stop it, noting that even the government would struggle to scrap it.

He explained that, as a result of the Supreme Court ruling that urgent action must be taken to protect people from polluted air back in 2015, all ten local Greater Manchester councils were given strict legal instructions to reduce air pollution by 2024.

Burnham wrote: “This is because analysis has shown all 10 GM boroughs have places where air pollution breaches legal limits. The Government’s direction sets a Category C zone as the default solution.”

He also addressed the widely criticised size of the Clean Air Zone, pointing out that the alternative of ‘a patchwork of local zones across ten boroughs would be unworkable’.

Burnham concluded by saying that local Conservative politicians branding the scheme as ‘Andy Burnham’s charge’ is a way to deflect blame away from the Government and let them off the hook for the full support needed, claiming that it suits their political interests but it won’t protect jobs and businesses across the region.

His final tweet read: “I believe the right way to go from here is for GM to fight as one for changes to the scheme to protect jobs and businesses. We will publish our proposals shortly as part of a GM campaign. We hope everyone who has signed this petition will feel able to get behind it.”

The scheme is set to come into place on May 30th 2022. Visit the Clean Air GM website for more information.

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Shocking comparison between England Lionesses’ wages and their male counterparts

It is hoped that the success of the Women’s Euros will close the gender pay gap

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Following the Lionesses Women’s Euro 2022 victory last weekend, the shocking comparison between their wages and that of their male counterparts has started coming to light.

The Lionesses’ bonus for finally bringing football home after fifty-six years of hurt was £55,000 per player, a seemingly handsome sum. 

However, it is just a small fraction of the bonus the men’s team took home after coming in second during the Euro 2020 tournament last year.

The men were each awarded a bonus of £300,000, and could’ve have taken an even higher sum of £460,000 home if they had beaten Italy to the title. 

A BBC study claims Women’s Super League (WSL) players earn £47,000 a year on average, while the average wage of a Premier League player is £60,000 – a week. 

The only aspect of equality in the game is payment to each player for an England appearance, with both the men and women’s team being paid £2,000 for each appearance.

The significant gender pay gap can be put down to the amount of money individual clubs bring in – for example, Manchester City’s mens team reported £571m in turnover for the 2020-21 season.

According to Deloitte, the club spent 62% of that revenue on players’ wages, which works out at £354m.

Manchester City’s Women’s Super League team, however, reported a significantly lower turnover of £2.9m for 2020-21, with its wage bill reported at £3.3m.

Though it isn’t all doom and gloom for women’s football, with wages slowly on the increase.

England Captain Leah Williamson reportedly earns £200,000 a year, while right-back Lucy Bronze is also said to have been in a similar wage bracket when she was at Manchester City before her transfer to Barcelona this summer.

And things are looking up for the Lionesses as they consider brand deals, sponsorships and off-field collaborations with big names such as Pepsi, Gucci and Nike, all of which will increase the club’s revenue. 

Pay could also increase as a result of the tournament’s success, which saw a record attendance for any Euro game at Wembley for the final.

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Bury swimmer James Guy wins SIX medals at the Commonwealth Games

James also brought home gold at last year’s Olympic Games

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@james.g.guy / Instagram

A swimmer from Bury will be bringing home an astonishing six medals from the Commonwealth Games. 

After winning three silvers and two bronze at the Birmingham games, James Guy concluded his week with gold as part of the England team 4 x 100 metres medley relay after beating their Australian rivals.

These medals join his Olympics 2021 success in Team GB’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team, where he brought home gold. 

Although winning gold is the dream, James says the medal he is most proud of this week is the silver he won for the 100 metres butterfly event.

He told ITV News: “I just haven’t got that race right this year just generally and tactically but this meet I wanted to swim it right and swim it how I usually do it.

“I trusted myself, believed what I was doing and believed in myself.”

He added: “It’s been a really good year this year. I think to get six medals at our home games is fantastic. I never really look at the results, I just try and see what I can do in my individual races and my team races. 

“Six medals is a nice accomplishment… I didn’t realise how many I’d won until I finished racing, but to finally get a gold on the last event and to beat the Australians… Yeah, a really really good week, and a nice start for the English team in Birmingham.”

James, who was awarded an MBE for his services to swimming earlier this year, was born in Bury and grew up in Altrincham, where he took up swimming lessons when he was four.

However, swimming wasn’t his only passion, with his childhood being full of different sports and activities. He said: “When I was younger I was obsessed with Bruce Lee. I used to do kung fu twice a week, gymnastics, football and even lacrosse.

“I was just a normal kid trying everything. Eventually swimming took over and it went from there.”

James swam at the Trafford Metros swimming club and went on to win a swimming scholarship at Millfield public school in Somerset, where he now lives. 

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Campaign group urges Brits to stop paying their energy bills in protest of soaring costs

‘It can only work if we show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows’

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Brits should boycott their energy bills this October in protest of the soaring costs, a campaign group has proposed this week.

As the cost of living crisis continues to take its toll, Don’t Pay UK is on a mission to get one million people to pledge to cancel their bills in a bid to force energy companies to reduce monthly costs.

The group says that if even a fraction of the million that they want on board agree to stop paying their energy bills, they will be able to bring companies to the negotiating table.

This comes after Ofgem announced the energy price cap will be updated every three months rather than every six months, as it warned that customers face a ‘very challenging winter ahead’.

Analysts at Cornwall Insight also predicted that the price cap is on track to rise to an astonishing £3,615 a year from January, adding further pressure on households. 

In response to this, Don’t Pay UK has devised a three-step plan:

Build support.

The group is currently setting up email lists and is on TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter to spread its message. Zoom calls are also being organised, as are as in-person meet-ups. They are also printing flyers and stickers in a bid to bring people together.

A statement on the group’s website reads: “We’ll need people, organisations and community groups to do all of this too, building this up street by street, estate by estate and city by city.

“The first step is to get thousands of people like you to say you support the strike.”

Gather a million pledges.

Don’t Pay UK has stressed that the only way they can get their message across is by turning out in serious numbers to show energy companies that they have some power.

A statement reads: “One million sounds like a lot, but millions more will already be thinking about whether they’ll be able to pay come winter and afford the other things they need to survive for them and their families.

“Even more of us will be angry about paying more than double what we used to pay for the same amount we use. Let alone food, petrol and mortgages.”

Cancel direct debits if price increases go ahead.

If the government and energy companies have not reduced bills by October 1st, the group say they will take action by cancelling their direct debits. They hope that by everybody doing this on the same day, they will be able to send a strong message to energy companies.

Their website reads: “It can only work if we believe in each other and show the powers that be that we would not stand for being treated as cash cows.”

To read more about the Don’t Pay UK movement, visit the official website here.

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