Online news sites ‘should be regulated’

Last local paper closes, so ring MP for news Amol Rajan’s media predictions for 2019 The independent review, undertaken by former journalist Dame Frances Cairncross, was tasked with investigating the sustainability of high-quality journalism. Its recommendations include measures to tackle “the uneven balance of power” between news publishers and online platforms that distribute their content. Services like Facebook, Google and Apple should continue their attempts to help readers understand how reliable a story is, and the process that decides which stories are shown should be more transparent, it said. “Their efforts should be placed under regulatory scrutiny – this task is too important to leave entirely to the judgment of commercial entities,” according to the report. A regulator would initially …

Mike Ashley cancels Patisserie Valerie bid

The retail tycoon, who also owns English Premier League football club Newcastle United, made his name building budget chain Sports Direct into Britain’s biggest sporting goods retailer. Mike Ashley bids for Patisserie Valerie Mike Ashley: The saviour of the High Street? What is Mike Ashley’s plan for the High Street? He has since become known for buying up struggling retail chains and bought both department store chain House of Fraser and cycle shop Evans out of administration last year. Sports Direct’s sprawling High Street empire also includes lingerie chain Agent Provocateur as well as shareholdings in Debenhams, French Connection and Game Digital. Last week, it emerged as front runner to buy Sofa.com. In addition to Patisserie Valerie, the company’s other …

London’s secret billion-pound guilds

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The companies do let out their halls, as the Goldsmith did for a speech by then-Foreign Secretary Lord Hague in 2010. But could they raise more? It’s the older institutions that Mr Ferris feels may not be pulling their weight. Many have investments in companies listed on the stock market. Some have large land holdings. Among the richest are the Mercers, which owns a number of blocks in Covent Garden. No public accounts In fact, the Mercers and Goldsmiths are the 55th and 73rd largest landlords in London respectively, according to Datscha, a commercial property data firm. Together, they are bigger landowners in the city than supermarket chain Sainsbury’s or the National Grid. But …

Ariana Grande breaks UK chart records

Grande also becomes only the second female artist to fill the top two spots at the same time. The last was Madonna, who was at number one and two simultaneously in August 1985 with Into The Groove and Holiday. ‘Peak popularity’ Thank U, Next’s pole position is no surprise. According to the Official Charts Company, it had been outselling the rest of the top five albums combined. Yet the success of Grande’s latest is particularly remarkable given how short the gap has been between her previous album and this one. Her last record, Sweetener, was released just six months ago, in August 2018. The intervening months have been turbulent for the 25-year-old. Her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died after an accidental …

Government housing delivery plan ‘flawed’

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the current formula did not take into account the needs of local communities. ‘Free-for-all’ Local authorities – by law – need to have an up-to-date plan for building new homes. If they are unable to prove that they have a five-year supply of land for housing, developers have greater freedoms to build where they want. The NAO points out that this risks ill-suited developments, while the LGA says it risks a “free-for-all”. The NAO says that between 2005-06 and 2017-18, 177,000 new homes per year were built on average, with the number never rising above 224,000. To meet its ambition for 300,000 homes a year, the department will need to oversee a 69% increase …

What’s behind Corbyn’s Brexit letter to May?

Owen Smith ‘considering’ quitting Labour May and Juncker talks ‘constructive’ Brexit: All you need to know Its absence now is designed to signify that Labour is serious about a deal. On one level, it is astute politics. EU negotiators have signalled their willingness to have a “closer relationship” with the UK than the May deal would allow. And that they are willing to be more flexible if a proposal could command a solid majority in Parliament. Win-win-win? Politically, the Labour leadership believe they have a “win, win, win” scenario. Win: They appear reasonable but Theresa May won’t play ball for fear of sacrificing her party’s unity on the altar of a customs union. She is potentially blamed by voters if …

PM in Belfast for Brexit deadlock talks

The talks come before Mrs May is due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday in an effort to secure changes to her Brexit deal. The EU has maintained it will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, including the backstop. Mrs May spent Wednesday morning meeting the Stormont parties. On Tuesday, she told business leaders in Belfast that she wants changes to the controversial backstop but she suggested that she is not seeking to remove it from her Brexit deal. Who has the PM been meeting on Wednesday? Mrs May is holding meetings about Brexit and Northern Ireland’s political deadlock with Stormont’s five biggest political parties: The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – the Conservative Party’s confidence-and-supply partner at Westminster …

Nissan chooses Japan over UK for new car

Nissan has made cars at Sunderland since 1986 and employs almost 7,000 people. Changing environment Commenting on its decision, Nissan also said that since 2016 “the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically”, including “changing emissions regulations”. In the UK, diesel cars that fail to meet the latest emissions standards now face a levy and a number of European countries, including the UK, have announced bans on both new diesel and petrol vehicles in the future. As a result, sales of new diesel cars in the UK tumbled by 30% in 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Analysis: The factors behind Nissan’s decision By Rob Young, BBC business reporter There’s been a run …

Scots’ life expectancy rise grinds to halt

What is the life expectancy of people in Scotland? Scotland has the worst life expectancy for all UK countries. Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a new born baby would live based on that area’s age specific mortality rates. How long are you going to live? Girls born in Scotland between 2015 and 2017 can expect to live until they are 81.1, according to the National Records for Scotland (NRR). Life expectancy for boys born in the same period is 77 years. But the NRR revealed last year that Scots’ life expectancy had fallen for first time in 35 years. What do the new reports say? The reports, both published by NHS Health Scotland, paint …

‘Smurf’ cats feline blue after ink fire

Image copyright Terry Oliver Image caption “This doesn’t seem to be doing the trick” The fire broke out in a boat and shed on Coronation Road in Clacton shortly before 21:00 GMT. Image copyright Terry Oliver Image caption This dog used to be black and white, but now it’s feeling blue all over Builder Terry Oliver, who lives close to the site told the BBC he first realised all was not quite right when he saw the first blue animal. “It’s not often you see a blue cat sitting on your driveway,” he said. “My little girl thought they looked like Smurf cats.” He added: “It’s quite blue around here and a bit strange.” A number of cats, dogs and …

Debate rages over Liam Neeson race row

The 66-year-old said he did not go through with any violence and expressed regret that he had reacted in such a “horrible” way. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionListen to Liam Neeson’s comments that sparked the outrage Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America on Tuesday, Neeson denied he was racist and said he hoped his remarks would start a wider conversation about racism. That conversation shows no signs of abating and commentators had their say in the press on Wednesday. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Natasha Richardson, pictured with Neeson in 2008, died after a skiing accident in 2009 Gary Younge, The Guardian We should, at the very least, admire [Neeson] for his candour. For all …

Veganuary: What did it cost you?

“To be vegan, it helps to be rich. If you open any vegan cookbook you come across all these expensive ingredients. “Pine nuts are crazy. They’re the most expensive. There is nothing cheap about them.” According to new research shared with the BBC, Mr Carey may have found his costs went up because he was vegetarian before he tried veganism. Image copyright Rachel Tranter Image caption Rachel Tranter with a bowl of vegan pasta According to Cleo, it is difficult to say for sure whether people save money in January because they have changed their diet as many people are tightening their belts anyway. However, Rachel Tranter from Abingdon told the BBC: “I didn’t do Veganuary to save money, but …

‘Unfair’ dentist fines investigated

‘Low incomes and elderly’ Many of the people facing fines, the dentists say, are “on very low incomes, the elderly, and those with learning difficulties”. The BDA says that when these fines for wrongfully claiming free treatment are challenged, about nine in 10 are overturned. Dentists say fines deterring poor patients Go to the dentists and get fined £100 Your stories: 10 fines at the dentists… that weren’t fine But dentists are worried that many people are so worried about the risk of being fined that they do not get dental treatment.

‘Millions’ of fake cigarettes seized in UK

Mr Ahamed was ordered to do 200 hours community service and pay £5,000 in costs. The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on the government to increase fines and penalties for those found guilty of trading in fake or tax-free cigarettes and tobacco. In another sentencing in Durham Crown Court last week, a 72-year-old man was ordered to pay a £35,000 fine after he tried to sell one box of 20 Brass cigarettes for £3.50 in a sting operation. He was caught with more than 100,000 illegal cigarettes.

Council’s transgender wig image ‘bigoted’

The questionnaire asks participants about their gender, with boxes for male and female. A third box, labelled transgender, has an image of a man removing a long wig. Questions transgender people hear Should the NHS pay for transgender fertility treatment? The picture was circulated on Twitter on Wednesday, with The Save Our Libraries Essex campaign describing it as “looking like institutionalised bigotry”. One Twitter user described it as a “gross misrepresentation with zero bearing on any transgender person”. Another said: “The depiction is not only awful but ‘man, woman or transgender’ is an extremely ignorant choice of genders.” ‘Negative stereotype’ Ms O’Connell, who ran for the parliamentary seat of Maldon in 2015 and 2017 for the Liberal Democrats, said: “I’m …

UK ‘could ban’ social media over suicide images

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAfter Molly Russell took her own life, her family discovered distressing material about suicide on her Instagram account Social media firms could be banned if they fail to remove harmful content, the health secretary has warned. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Matt Hancock said: “If we think they need to do things they are refusing to do, then we can and we must legislate.” But he added: “It’s not where I’d like to end up.” The minister earlier called on social media giants to “purge” material promoting self-harm and suicide in the wake of links to a teenager’s suicide. Molly Russell, 14, took her own life in 2017 after viewing …