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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Harry Styles endorses candidate in US election race

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Harry Styles endorses candidate in US election race Harry Styles has become the latest celebrity to endorse Joe Biden for US president. The former One Direction star, 26, shared a campaign video from the Democratic contender on Twitter and added the message: “If I could vote in America, I’d vote with kindness.” Biden’s campaign video showed the politician and former vice-president under Barack Obama, 77, meeting voters in the lead-up to election day. It was captioned: “You deserve a president who will get up every single day and work to make your life better. If you elect me, that’s exactly what I’ll do.” British singer and actor Styles, who is not eligible to vote in the forthcoming election, follows in the footsteps of stars including Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift in backing Biden. Mel Brooks, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jennifer Lopez are also among those supporting the Democrat’s White House bid. Styles previously addressed President Donald Trump’s politics during an appearance on James Corden’s Late Late Show in 2017. He joked: “Of course, the big story of tonight is that Donald Trump shared secret information with the Russians last week. “The good news for Trump is that he has been named employee of the month by Russia.” Catwalk star Bella Hadid also shared a political message, encouraging her 34.8 million Instagram followers to vote. The 24-year-old posed next to a piece of street art which said: “Voting is a super power, use it don’t lose it”, while wearing a black and red tracksuit with matching face mask. Published: 28/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

HUNT We must sort this out

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HUNT: "We must sort this out." Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the Government must ensure hospital staff treating coronavirus patients have the protective equipment they need. He said there were concerns that not all NHS staff were receiving the correct personal protection equipment (PPE). "We must sort this out. We are asking people to put their own lives at risk on the NHS frontline. We have all seen the terrible scenes as to what is happening in Italy," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. "It is absolutely heartbreaking when NHS frontline professionals don't have the equipment that they need. "I think the Government has done a lot in the last week. I think they have unblocked the supply chains, but there is this question about whether it is the right equipment." Published: 21/03/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Knife attack takes place in Reading town centre

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Knife attack takes place in Reading town centre At least two people have been rushed to hospital with stab wounds after being attacked in Reading town centre. The casualties were taken to the emergency unit of the Royal Berkshire Hospital for treatment after an incident in Forbury Gardens, a spokeswoman told the PA news agency. Thames Valley Police said a man was arrested at the scene, and taken into police custody. A statement said officers and other emergency services attended at around 7pm, adding: “A number of people sustained injuries and were taken to hospital. “A police cordon is in place in Forbury Gardens as officers investigate. “We are asking the public to avoid the area at this time.” Two air ambulances and several police vehicles responded to the attack, with images on social media showing a significant police presence. Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that she was “deeply concerned” by reports of the incident. “My thoughts are with everyone involved, including police and emergency responders at the scene,” she added. It is understood Ms Patel is being kept updated on the situation. One eyewitness, who said he was around 10 metres from the scene, said the attack looked “completely random”. Lawrence Wort, 20, a personal trainer from Chippenham, told PA: “So the park was pretty full, a lot of people sat around drinking with friends when one lone person walked through, suddenly shouted some unintelligible words and went around a large group of around 10, trying to stab them. “He stabbed three of them, severely in the neck, and under the arms, and then turned and started running towards me, and we turned and started running. “When he realised that he couldn’t catch us, he tried to stab another group sat down, he got one person in the back of the neck and then when he realised everyone was starting to run, he ran out the park.” The leader of Reading Council Jason Brock tweeted: “Concerning reports from Reading town centre – please stay clear of the area as Police are dealing with a serious incident.” Freelance journalist Claire Gould, 33, who lives near the scene, told PA she saw the emergency air ambulance vehicles land on the nearby Kings Meadow on Saturday evening as a police helicopter circled overhead. She described hearing lots of sirens and said surrounding roads and a retail park had been cordoned off by officers. Published: 20/06/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Storms to continue as England hit by flash flooding

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Storms to continue as England hit by flash flooding Thunderstorm warnings are in place for most of England and all of Wales after heavy rain and flash flooding brought disruption to roads and railways on Thursday night. The Met Office has issued yellow thunderstorm warnings until Monday, with the potential for flooding and damage to buildings from lightning and hail. Storm warnings for Friday cover all parts of England south of York and the entirety of Wales, and the Met Office said lightning and flooding also pose a risk of delays or cancellations to train and bus services, and of road closures and power cuts. After another day of hot weather, storms struck in various parts of the country last night, with areas around Maidenhead, Berkshire, particularly hard hit. Further south, the M23 was one of many roads affected by the deluge, being temporarily closed in both directions between junctions eight and seven. Heavy rain which lashed southern England on Thursday afternoon forced parts of the M25 to be closed, while passengers were evacuated from a train which became stuck following a landslide in Kent. The Roads Policing Unit for Surrey Police tweeted the M25 was closed between junction six and eight to allow authorities to pump water off the road and allow those trapped on the hard shoulder to make their way through. Meanwhile, 19 people were evacuated from a train which became stuck following a landslide, according to British Transport Police. The train came to a halt between West Malling and Borough Green in Kent and rescue attempts were hindered by localised flooding, Network Rail said. A tweet by Network Rail Kent and Sussex said teams would be working overnight to clear mud which was washed onto the railway by torrential rain in the area. Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders said: “Up until Monday, thunderstorm warnings cover much of England and Wales, with parts of southern England and South Wales seeing the greatest likelihood of impacts. “The storms will not affect all areas, but where they happen there will be frequent lightning, gusty winds and intense, heavy downpours with 30 to 40 millimetres of rain possible in less than an hour and, in a few unlucky spots, a small chance of 60 mm falling in a short period. “With the continuing hot weather, large swathes of the UK continue to be at risk from thunderstorms, and potentially the impacts from heavy rain, into the early part of next week.” Neil Davies, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Isolated thunderstorms could bring sudden surface water and river flooding, which may lead to flooded properties and severe travel disruption in some areas. Further surface water and river flooding is also a possibility until Sunday.” The Environment Agency has a warning for expected flooding at Winford Brook at Chew Magna, south of Bristol, along with six alerts for possible flooding around Birmingham. Avon and Somerset Police were warning of delays on the A38, which was closed in both directions in Winscombe north of the A371 junction overnight after a burst water main caused a sink hole, in which a coach became stuck. Published: 14/08/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Majority of renters whose tenancies were up for renewal stayed put in March

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Majority of renters whose tenancies were up for renewal stayed put in March Rents fell in London and the South East, and the East of England Seven in 10 renters whose tenancies were up for renewal stayed put in March, the highest proportion for that time of year since 2008, according to an index. Some 70% of private sector tenants whose agreements were up for review renewed their tenancies rather than quitting, marking the highest proportion for the month of March since 77% in March 2008, Hamptons International said. The index also found that across Britain, average rents on renewed tenancies fell by 0.5% year-on-year in March to £928 per month - marking the biggest fall since this measure started in February 2014. The fall was driven by London and surrounding regions in southern England, as concerns about jobs and earnings increased. The Government has said home buyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while lockdown measures are in place to limit the spread of coronavirus. Published: 27/04/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Retail footfall still lower in June despite reopening turning point

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Retail footfall still lower in June despite reopening ‘turning point’ Retail footfall for June more than halved against the same month last year as shopper demand remains low despite the “turning point” of reopening thousands more stores. Retail footfall for June more than halved against the same month last year as shopper demand remains low despite the “turning point” of reopening thousands more stores. New figures from retail experts Springboard revealed that footfall across UK shopping destinations fell by 56.6% in June compared to the same month in 2019. However, the organisation said this reflected green shoots of improvement in the sector as it increased from a 73.3% year-on-year decline in May. Springboard stressed that the reopening of non-essential stores in England on Monday June 15 was a “turning point” for retailers. Footfall across all retail destinations for the week starting June 15 jumped by 40% against the previous week, as shoppers lined up go to their favourite fashion stores. The pent-up anticipation to shop again resulted in the significant spike, but footfall in the subsequent two weeks “slowed considerably”, Springboard said. Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “Long queues coupled with a restricted shopping experience due to social distancing could be the contributing factors to this sudden drop off in footfall. “This is concerning for the economic recovery path of bricks and mortar retail who are heavily reliant on customer experience.” In June, footfall was still particularly low on high streets, with many customers refraining from travel into city centres. High street footfall declined by 65.1% for the month, with footfall in London particularly badly hit, nosediving 80.8% lower compared to last June. Meanwhile, footfall at shopping centres slid by 62.3% for the month Retail parks were more resilient, as they reported that footfall declined by 32.2% as they continued to benefit from the presence of large supermarkets. Ms Wehrle said: “This is a sharp contrast with high streets and shopping centres which rely on a blend of shoppers, workers, students, tourists and residents to fuel spending. “The fact that much of the workforce continues to work from home, tourists and many students are absent, as well as the Government urging consumers to only use public transport for essential travel, means that footfall and therefore sales, will continue to be compromised in these retail destinations.” Published: 13/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Pay rise for 900000 public sector workers

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Pay rise for 900,000 public sector workers Public sector workers on the front line of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will be given a pay rise, the Chancellor has announced. Doctors, teachers and police officers are among those who will see extra money in their pay packet after a testing few months since Covid-19 hit the UK. More than 300 NHS workers have died in England alone after contracting the deadly virus, many doing so while caring for patients. Teachers continued looking after the children of key workers throughout the lockdown while police have been enforcing social distancing rules, which at their sternest forbade leaving the house except for specified circumstances. The above-inflation pay rise announced on Tuesday will see almost 900,000 workers benefit, with teachers and doctors seeing the largest increase at 3.1% and 2.8% respectively, according to the Treasury. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “These past months have underlined what we always knew, that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them. “It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.” Each award is recommended by independent pay review bodies, and this year the Government has accepted the suggested rise for each workforce. Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff will be given a 2.5% rise in pay as a result and members of the armed forces will receive a 2% uplift. Meanwhile, members of the judiciary and senior civil servants will also see their pay topped up by 2%. The pay awards for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April, whereas the pay rise for police and teachers starts in September due to those professions operating on a different pay schedule running from September to August. Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the pay rise was “good news” but claimed it would not make up for a “decade of real-terms pay cuts” for frontline workers. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for social care workers to join the ranks of those being offered a pay rise. “These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts,” she said. “Many public sector workers, like job centre staff and local government workers, aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too. “And the Government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.” Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea called for “more resources for local authorities” so council staff and social care workers could also be entitled to a “decent wage increase”. Published: 21/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Royal Family wishes the Queen a very happy 94th birthday

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Royal Family wishes the Queen 'a very happy 94th birthday' The royal family has wished the Queen "a very happy 94th Birthday" as the monarch marks the occasion in lockdown. The Queen is with her husband of 72 years, the Duke of Edinburgh, at Windsor Castle in Berkshire with a reduced household for their protection. Like the rest of the nation, the royals are staying away from one another as they follow the social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are at Anmer Hall in Norfolk with their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and their Kensington Palace social media accounts shared birthday congratulations for William's grandmother. They wished the monarch a happy birthday alongside a picture of William and Kate showing the Queen around the duchess's garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last year. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall's Twitter account also sent its birthday wishes, with a collection of touching archive photos of Charles and his mother. Charles, who has recovered from the Covid-19 illness, is at Birkhall in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with the Duchess of Cornwall, while the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex are all in their own separate homes around the country. Philip, 98, made his first major public statement on Monday since he retired nearly three years ago, thanking key workers including refuse collectors and postal staff for keeping essential services running during the Covid-19 outbreak. A Buckingham Palace source said the Queen's birthday will not be marked in any special way, adding that any phone or video calls she has with family will be kept private. The bells of Westminster Abbey - the church where the monarch was married and crowned - will also stay silent on her birthday for the first time in more than a decade. The abbey is currently closed, meaning the celebratory peal which has taken place in her honour on her actual birthday - April 21 - every year since 2007, will not be able to go ahead, the abbey told the PA news agency. "We are unable to ring our bells as the church is currently closed. So, it will be a virtual happy birthday this year via the abbey's social media channels," a spokeswoman for the central London church said. With the UK in lockdown and thousands dead from the coronavirus outbreak, there will also be no birthday gun salutes for what is believed to be the first time. The Queen decided the celebratory display of military firepower would not be "appropriate" at this time. Published: 21/04/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Government scraps complete primary schools return

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Government scraps complete primary schools return Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told MPs that primary schools in England will not be able to welcome all pupils back for a month before the summer holidays. The minister said he would “work with the sector” as he confirmed the Government’s ambition to return all primary schoolchildren to the classroom for four weeks before the end of the summer term had been dropped. Mr Williamson said the Government would like to see schools who “have the capacity” bring back more pupils where possible before the summer break. It comes after school leaders, teachers and governors urged ministers to reconsider plans for a full return to primary school – as they said it would be impossible amid capacity issues, staff shortages and social distancing. He told MPs in the House of Commons that the Government was still working towards bringing all children back to school by September. Published: 09/06/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Full Windrush review to be carried out

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Full Windrush review to be carried out The Home Secretary has promised a “full evaluation” of the hostile environment policy in the wake of the Windrush scandal. Speaking in the Commons, Priti Patel committed to the review as she updated MPs on progress being made to address concerns raised about Home Office practices. The pledge comes after Wendy Williams, in her critical independent review of the department’s handling of the Windrush scandal, recommended a full review of the policy – now branded “compliant environment”. The strategy, announced by the then home secretary Theresa May in 2012, aims through a series of administrative and legal measures to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for people who do not have leave to remain in the hope they will depart the country of their own accord. Ms Patel said: “What happened to the Windrush generation is unspeakable and no-one with a legal right to be here should ever have been penalised. “I’ve tasked my officials to undertake a full evaluation of the compliant environment policy and measures individually (and cumulatively) to make sure the crucial balance is right. “I have asked them to evaluate the changes that were made to immigration and nationality laws over successive governments to ensure that they are fit for purpose for today’s world.” Ms Patel previously said Ms Williams was “just a fraction away from even calling the Home Office institutionally racist”, describing the scandal as a “stain on this department”. She told MPs the scandal “scars” the Home Office “significantly”, adding her commitment to changing the department is “fundamentally solid and firm”. Ms Williams will return to the Home Office in September 2021 to review progress, Ms Patel said, adding: “I am confident she will find the start of a genuine cultural shift within the department – a Home Office that is working hard to be more diverse, more compassionate and worthy of the trust of the communities it serves.” Her ambition is for “a fair, humane, compassionate and outward-looking Home Office that represents people from every corner of our diverse society”, Ms Patel said. Mandatory training is being brought in for staff to make sure everyone in the department “understands and appreciates” the country’s history of migration and race. She told MPs everyone in the department must “see a face behind the case”, adding: “The injustices of Windrush did not happen because Home Office staff were bad people, but because staff themselves were caught up in a system where they did not feel they had the permission to bring personal judgment to bear.” There will also be a series of “reconciliation events” to help “rebuild the relationship” between the department and victims. Acknowledging there is a lack of diversity in senior leadership in the department, Ms Patel said: “I have raised this at a senior management level in my own department that particularly with our own staff members from black, Asian, minority ethnic communities, that are actually stuck at certain grades in my department. “That is not acceptable at all, it really isn’t.” She added that there were “simply not enough individuals from black, Asian or minority ethnic staff working at the top in senior roles and there are far too many times where I am the only non-white face in the room”. Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the Windrush scandal “must lead to real and lasting change” and said ministers “must get a grip” of the compensation scheme for victims. Last week Ms Patel said she wanted to see the compensation scheme process “sped up”, adding that it was “absolutely unacceptable” that some victims had died before receiving payments. Campaigner Patrick Vernon accused Ms Patel’s statement of paying “lip service” to the review but not responding to the “urgency” of the matter, adding: “The victims of the scandal should not have to wait any longer for justice.” Published: 22/07/2020 by Radio NewsHub