The Mayor of Greater Manchester says he wants to reset the debate about plans for a clean air zone
Andy Burnham has blasted “frankly disgraceful” claims made about his wife by campaigners against a controversial new traffic management scheme.
In a lengthy personal statement issued on Friday the Mayor of Greater Manchester said people opposed to the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone (CAZ) had made “serious allegations”.
“Some of the claims that have been made about my wife are frankly disgraceful,” han sa.
“An example of one of the worst can be seen below. I have set out the facts and ask that this now stops.”
Mr Burnham then included a photograph of roadside sign which reads: “Re think the clean air zone. Get it scrapped. Andy Burnham is a nonce and his wife is shagging the French”.
It also falsely claims that the mayor’s wife owns shares in an unspecified company somehow linked to the clean air zone policy.
In his statement, Mr Burnham said he wanted to “reset” the often fraught debate over the policy, which will impose a daily charge on more polluting commercial vehicles that enter Manchester to improve the city’s air quality.
Burnham said of the allegations: “For the avoidance of any doubt, here are the facts. Marie-France [hans kone] is employed by Heavenly, a small marketing and brand agency. She works with a number of their clients, including Iduna Infrastructure Limited.
“Iduna owns Amey MAP Services Limited, which has a contract with TfGM to operate the public EV network under the brand name Be.EV. Marie-France has no direct financial relationship with Iduna. She does not own any shares in them and does not receive any bonus nor incentive payments from them.
“Even though this is a minor private interest in relation to EV charging – and not directly related to the CAZ – I still chose to declare it, and remove myself from any decision-making, so that there could be no perception of a conflict of interest nor any suggestion of privileged information being misused.
“More broadly, we do not own any shares in any company and receive no income other than our salaries.”
The Mayor also criticised those who presented the clean air zone as his creation. He said this narrative “has been mainly promoted by the Conservative Party, its MPs and councillors, because it suits their political purposes to distract people from their Government’s primary role in this policy”.
The implementation of the zone, which does not cover private cars, was paused earlier this month following anger from motorists who would have to pay the new charges.
The scheme was due to begin in May this year. It would charge non-compliant taxis and private hire vehicles £7.50 a day, light goods vehicles such as vans £10 a day, and coaches, buses, and HGVs £60 a day. These categories would only have to pay the charge if they do not meet emissions standards.