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
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.
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.
Blackpool named one of Britain’s worst seaside towns
We know it’s tacky but that’s why we love it!
Blackpool has been ranked among the worst of 20 seaside towns in Britain, by The Telegraph.
The Telegraph looked at how well 20 classic seaside resorts have adapted to changing times and ‘studied how they have adapted – or not – over the past three decades’. Among those ranked as the worst in Britain were the North West’s coastal towns of Blackpool, receiving a pitiful 22 out of 100, Morecambe (24 out of 100), and Southport (28 out of 100).
The news outlet wrote: ”Big seaside cities, like Blackpool and Brighton, have always had pockets of money as well as misery…” Looking at factors such as housing and high streets, renovations and conservation, as well as the cultural clout that so often accompanies gentrification, the publication ranked Rhyl as the worst resort with a meagre five out of 100.
It was also bad news for the North East as South Shields came in near the bottom of the barrel scoring just 11 out of 100. Scarborough was rated just 39 out of 100 — perhaps its sweeping sandy beaches, rugged castle ruins and museums didn’t quite cut it?
But there was better news for two South West towns, with St Ives in Cornwall rated number one (98/100), while nearby Lyme Regis came in fourth, with 85/100.
Here’s the list of Britain’s 20 best and worst towns, according to The Telegraph.
20) Rhyl 5/100
19) South Shields 11/100
18) Weston-Super-Mare 18/100
17) Blackpool 22/100
16) Morecambe 24/100
15) Cleethorpes 27/100
14) Southport 28/100
13) Torquay 33/100
12) Southend-on-Sea 36/100
11) Scarborough 39/100
10) Worthing 47/100
9) Portstewart 53/100
8) Tenby 57/100
7) Margate 69/100
6) Brighton 76/100
5) North Berwick 80/100
4) Lyme Regis 85/100
3) Whitstable 87/100
2) Southwold 94/100
1) St Ives 98/100
You can now get a cheese Easter egg to celebrate ‘Cheester’ properly
Call off the hunt…they’re back!
From the brand Butler’s Farmhouse Cheeses, these epic alternative Easter eggs come in two flavours: cheddar and blue cheese — sounds pungent!
Sold in a box to look exactly like their chocolatey Easter egg counterparts, you won’t feel odd opting for a cheesy seasonal delight rather than the accepted chocolate kind.
Displayed in the box, it looks as though you’ll have an awkward fully-round egg-shaped block of the creamy stuff, making it hard to slice. You actually get half an egg, so the back of it is flat and ready to be sliced lay down on a cheeseboard.
Weighing 120g, the Easter egg halves are made with the very best Butlers cheeses — their traditional Farmhouse Cheddar and their gold award-winning blue cheese, Blacksticks Blue.
At first glance they may look solid, but the cheeses have been blended to make a softer cheese consistency, so they’re easy to chop a chunk out of. The website says: “We’ve done it again and made something truly egg-cellent, the combination of award winning Farmhouse British Cheese and an Easter egg.
“Delicious and versatile, this half egg will make a sensational centrepiece for your cheeseboard, a gift for the cheese lover, or simply spread on a hot cross bun!
“Perfect for a savoury and cheesy gift this Easter and the perfect surprise for your children’s Easter egg hunt, or on the Easter Sunday cheeseboard. Available on their own, or as a letterbox gift complete with crackers and chutney!”
You can purchase Butlers Cheeseter eggs online at Amazon where the cheddar and the blue cheese versions cost £9.99 each, and can be delivered straight to your door.
The cheesy eggs also come in letterbox style packages accompanied with a chutney and crackers to complete your cheeseboard.
Cheese Easter eggs have actually been about for a little while now, but they’re still few and far between in supermarkets. Marks and Spencer had ‘Cheester’ covered a couple of years back when it sold some from Barber’s Farmhouse Cheddar. They came in an actual egg box and the eggs were filled with a ‘yolk’ of 18-month matured Red Leicester — innovative or what?!
If you or someone you know is a cheese lover, you know what to get them this Easter…a big cheesy egg.
Five planets to be visible in UK night sky this month in rare celestial event
Let’s hope for a clear sky!
Stargazers are in for a spectacular treat later this month as five planets of the solar system will be visible from Earth as part of a rare celestial event.
On March 28th, Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars and Venus are expected to appear to line up together in a small section of the sky shortly after sunset. While it’s not unusual to see two or three planets aligned, to see five is more uncommon — it happened last year, as well as in both 2020 and 2016 prior to that.
Two of the brighter planets — Mercury and Jupiter — will be noticeable near the horizon, while Venus is expected to shine higher in the sky. Although a pair of binoculars may be needed to be able to see Uranus, Mars should be visible to the naked eye, in the alignment near to the first quarter of the moon.
Last year, stargazers in the northern hemisphere had the amazing opportunity to gaze at Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all at once.
To easily identify the planets this month, the educational astronomy app Star Walk recommends using the app Sky Tonight — which can be pointed at the night sky to give a live display of what is going on.
The planets are expected to be aligned in a 50-degree sky sector, which means that they will appear closer together from Earth in a small area above. This visual phenomenon differs from an astronomical alignment, which refers to when planets come together simultaneously on the same side of the sun.
Beth Biller, of the University of Edinburgh, told The MailOnline that some planets would be much easier to see than others, saying: “Venus and Jupiter are both very bright and easy to pick out and you may have already seen them close together over the past few weeks.
“Mars is a bit fainter, but still easily observed with the naked eye. Mercury starts getting tricky — you need to be at a dark site with a clear view of the horizon if you want to see Mercury. Uranus is the faintest and hardest to see – you’ll need binoculars or a telescope to see Uranus.”
Skywatchers don’t need to worry if they miss out on the spectacle, as Star Walk said a number of other planetary alignments will take place this year. Less than a month later Mercury, Uranus, Venus and Mars are expected to align once again in a 35-degree sky sector.
Then on April 24th, a 40-degree sector will take place seeing Mars, Venus, Uranus and Mercury gathering together — with even more planetary alignments happening throughout the summer.