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Inquests hear of breakdown of relationship between police and ambulance services after Hillsborough

The Hillsborough inquests have heard that the relationship between the bosses of South Yorkshire's police and ambulance services broke down in the days after the disaster.

Don Page, Chief Ambulance Officer in 1989, told the court he requested a meeting with Chief Constable Peter Wright because of concerns he had with press stories about casualties.

South Yorkshire Chief Constable Peter Wright at the Hillsborough disaster inquiry at Sheffield in 1989 Credit: Press Association

"There was a suggestion in the media that they were full of alcohol and they smelled highly of alcohol. My people were saying that there was a very, very few people in the fatality stage that had strong smells of alcohol on them."

– Don Page

He said Mr Wright told him: "That's our position. That's our stance and that's what we'll have to stand by."

Mr Page agreed that the ambulance service was not prepared to "sing from the same hymn sheet" as the police and said that was the end of the bosses' personal and professional relationship.

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Windermere and Furness Line to benefit

Credit: ITV Border

Windermere and the Furness Line will reportedly benefit from franchise plans announced by the Government this morning.

The new 'Northern Regional' service means that by December 2017, Windermere should have two trains per day to Manchester Airport from Monday to Friday.

It also means that the Furness line is expected to have eight trains a day to Manchester and Manchester Airport, as well as extra trains along the Cumbrian Coast that it's claimed will be timed to better serve workers' shift patterns.

Chancellor confirms NHS budget control in Greater Manchester

Plans to devolve NHS spending power across Greater Manchester have been confirmed by the Chancellor.

The region will become the first in the country to be handed full control of it's entire £6 billion NHS budget in exchange for an elected mayor in 2017.

George Osborne has denied Labour claims it'll mean a two tier health service.

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Noel Gallagher - 'No serious offer' for Oasis gig

Former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher says he has never had "one serious offer" to get his old band back together.

The musician, who walked out of Oasis in 2009 after regular rows with his lead singer brother Liam, was responsible for most of the band's hits including Live Forever and Wonderwall.

He told The Times: "Given all the rumours, I haven't had one serious offer for a reunion gig."

Last year, Liam sparked stories the band were getting back together with a series of cryptic tweets that led one bookmaker to suspend betting on the band playing the Somerset festival.

But Noel said: "Michael Eavis has never called up and asked if Oasis will play Glastonbury."

He refused to totally rule out any prospect of a reunion, saying: "It's always like this. At the end of the interview some guy will say, 'I've got to ask...' And I reply: 'If, if it was happening, do you really think I'd let the world know by telling you?"'

North West passengers won't get new trains for 5 years

Rail passengers in the North West who have been promised improved services will have to put up with travelling in 1980s Pacer trains until 2020 under Government rail franchise plans announced today.

And even this phasing out in five years' time has been questioned on value-for-money grounds by the Department for Transport's permanent secretary Philip Rutnam.

Earlier this week Mr Rutnam wrote to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin saying there would be large costs involved in replacing the Pacers with new trains, as well as "relatively few benefits".

Mr Rutnam said that investing in new trains would bring "no significant improvements in journey time, frequency or new services".

But Mr McLoughlin wrote back ordering Mr Rutnam to proceed with approving the invitations to tender for the new Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) franchises, whose terms include the 2020 replacement of the Pacers.

Mr McLoughlin said there were "wider issues to consider" and described the Pacers as uncomfortable and of low-quality.

Today, announcing the invitations to tender, Mr McLoughlin and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the requirements successful bidders will have to meet meant huge improvements for northern England train travellers.

They said there would be more services, more seats and improved facilities, with Mr Clegg describing it as "an historic moment for the North".

But rail unions dubbed the announcement "a pre-election stunt", with the RMT saying the plans would "condemn passengers to poor-quality, unsafe and de-staffed services".

The new nine-year Northern franchise starts on April 1 2016 and on the same day a new seven-year TPE franchise will start.

The Northern franchise operates local, commuter and rural services throughout the region, and a number of long-distance services linking major towns and cities such as Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, York, Manchester, Bradford, Preston and Blackpool.

The TransPeninne Express franchise provides longer-distance intercity-type services, connecting the major cities of Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Hull, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as Manchester Airport.

Companies shortlisted to run the new franchises were announced last August. Competing for Northern are Arriva, Govia and Northern, while on the shortlist for TPE are FirstGroup, Keolis/Go Ahead and Stagecoach.

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