PublishedJust nowcommentsCommentsSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesMars has stopped supplying supermarket chain Tesco with its Whiskas pet food in a row over prices.The two companies are engaged in a price dispute which Tesco said it hoped would be “resolved soon”.The UK’s biggest supermarket said it would not pass on “unjustifiable price increases” from suppliers its to customers. Mars said it could not comment on individual commercial relationships or situations.As the cost of living rises for shoppers, retailers like supermarkets are fighting to retain customers and protect profit.It comes after US food retailer Kraft Heinz pulled its products from sale at Tesco in a similar dispute over the price of its products including soup and ketchup.Tesco added: “We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.” The price rises from Mars, whose pet products include Whiskas, Dreamies and Pedigree, come as inflation is at a 40-year high, at 9.1%.What is the UK’s inflation rate and why is the cost of living going up? Customers are also struggling with rises in energy bills, which are anticipated to rise to £3,000 per year in October.”The pet food industry, like many others, is operating in a volatile context marked by wide-ranging inflationary pressures, and we continue to absorb these rising costs as much as possible,” said Mars.It added: “The in-store price continues to be at the sole discretion of the retailer.”Some Tesco stores have experienced a lack of Mars pet foods on their shelves as a result of the dispute, and there are also some stock shortages on Tesco’s website. Mars said: “We are aware that some of our Petcare products are currently out of stock at Tesco stores.”There are many reasons why our products may be out of stock in certain stores from time to time. We cannot comment on individual commercial relationships or situations.”More on this storyHeinz pulls brands from Tesco shelves in price row6 days agoWhy are prices rising so quickly?23 June
Triathlon has become the first British sport to establish a new ‘open’ category in which transgender athletes will compete. The British Triathlon Federation confirmed that for athletes over the age of 12, competitive women’s events will be reserved “for those who are female sex at birth”. The policy, which will begin from January, will see an ‘open’ category “for all individuals including male, [male and female] transgender and those non-binary who were male sex at birth.”It will apply to all events where there are prizes, times or rankings at stake, including at the grassroots level of the sport. Triathlon is an increasingly popular multi-disciplinary participation sport in the UK comprising running, swimming and cycling.”Where this is competitive activity, fairness is paramount,” said Andy Salmon, chief executive of British Triathlon. “Our sport is gender-affected.”We believe this is the right policy for triathlon in Great Britain, and the right time to publish it. We have taken legal advice and are confident it’s legally robust.”British Triathlon said the new approach followed a survey of more than 3,000 members that found 80% were in support of the two categories.Last week Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – following similar sentiment from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – told the heads of UK sporting bodies that “elite and competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex”. However Salmon said its new policy was “free from political pressure” and pre-dated Dorries’ comments. A number of British sports bodies are reviewing their transgender eligibility policies. British Triathlon’s new approach also comes just weeks after Fina, swimming’s world governing body, voted to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.It is also aiming to establish an ‘open’ category at competitions, for swimmers whose gender identity is different than their birth sex. Former Great Britain swimmer Sharron Davies, who has argued against transgender participation in women’s elite swimming, welcomed Fina’s decision. However, Britain’s Olympic diving champion Tom Daley said he was “furious” about the new policy.World Athletics president Lord Coe has hinted his sport will adopt a similar approach later this year. And the UCI, cycling’s governing body, has updated its transgender guidelines to double the period of time before a rider transitioning from male to female can compete in women’s races.Neither British Swimming nor British Cycling have announced any subsequent changes to their policies in line with their international governing bodies.British Triathlon said in a statement: “Our policy outlines that triathlon is a sport for everyone and that transphobic behaviour will not be tolerated.”We started this process at the end of 2021 and went through a period of independent consultation… this ensured that, along with the latest research, we heard from our community, key groups and individuals about their views and experiences.”We are easily and reliably able to observe the advantages – in terms of both performance outcomes and physiology/biology – those athletes who are the male sex at birth have over athletes who are the female sex at birth. We are also a sport made up of three distinct disciplines, each of which have a long history with clear differentials between the performances achieved between males and females.”We’ll now take time to develop guidance for event organisers, clubs, officials and coaches, to share this autumn, before the policy comes into effect from 1 January 2023. “British Triathlon wants to make clear that it does not tolerate transphobic behaviour, harassment, bullying or hate speech of any kind. Anyone commenting on our policy, should do so with empathy and consideration for all of those who have been involved and who may still have questions and concerns about how the policy impacts them.”Last month, rugby league’s governing body also banned transgender women from women’s internationals while it does further research on its inclusion policy to “balance the individual’s right to participate… against perceived risk to other participants”.
Published13 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesAfter a wave of high profile resignations, Number 10 will be keen to say they have stabilised the ship – there is a new chancellor, with a new approach, a new health secretary and a new education secretary.One of Boris Johnson’s allies claimed that Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid had failed to “tap up” support from other cabinet ministers, before announcing their resignations on Tuesday evening, although one more minister has yet to make his intentions clear.The PM’s ally says he will weather this storm – but the political waters remain very choppy.Some of Mr Johnson’s Conservative critics – including still-serving ministers – think he is holed beneath the water line.If- and I stress if – his premiership does go under, how might it happen?Further resignationsThe first possibility is that more resignations follow in the coming days.LIVE: Johnson faces MPs as more ministers quitJohnson fights on but hit by wave of resignationsGovernment resignations: Who is staying, who has gone?Already the number of junior ministers departing is beginning to pile up, including at least a few unexpected names, keeping up pressure on the prime minister.But Downing Street insist they have factored in some further resignations and don’t regard these as an existential threat. The tipping point – where there aren’t enough people to fill available posts – is still some way off.But not all of those who haven’t quit are loyal to the prime minister.While remaining publicly supportive, it’s possible that some ministers will be privately asking the PM to consider his position.If – as seems likely – he refuses to do so, this could provoke further departures, with one minister telling me they’d go if the PM tries to stay on until the summer recess.And some leadership hopefuls might just get nervous that Rishi Sunak will make all the running if they don’t at some point distance themselves from No 10 too.For example, one minister said that newly-appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi had been seen as a credible leadership candidate, but he had now “contaminated himself”.Another confidence voteAssuming the PM digs in, then next week’s elections to the backbench 1922 committee could prove crucial.If MPs standing on a platform of changing the leadership rules form a majority, it’s a moment of jeopardy for Boris Johnson.The PM survived a confidence vote last month and under current rules he is immune from another challenge for 12 months.Rebel MPs are attempting to get elected on to the committee to change that rule to allow a further confidence vote.It had been anticipated that the rules could be changed to allow another vote within a year, but that it would not take place until the Autumn, after the Privileges Committee pronounces on whether the PM had deliberately misled Parliament.But there is now some talk of calling a confidence vote much sooner with some people putting a timescale on this: within 24 hours of the rules changing, or certainly within days.And in fact if they felt the mood had changed significantly against the prime minister, the existing executive could also change the rules, even sooner, possibly this week.If Boris Johnson were to be defeated in a confidence vote, then nominations would be open for a new leader – with MPs potentially whittling the candidates down to the final two before the summer recess.And what is striking is that I have spoken to a number of Conservative MPs who backed Boris Johnson in the last confidence vote, who would not support him in the next one. This includes an MP who prominently supported him in the last leadership contest.As one Brexit and former Boris backer put it: “This can only go one way. I don’t want this to go on until the Autumn.”Snap electionSo another possibility has been raised.The chairman of the 1922 committee, Sir Graham Brady, could go to No 10 with – metaphorically – a pile of no confidence letters under his arm. He tells the PM the leadership rules will change and that he will lose any subsequent vote, so perhaps he should leave the premises before being forced to do so.Now, Boris Johnson – having scrapped the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – could respond by going to Buckingham Palace to seek a dissolution of parliament and a general election.No one in Downing Street has suggested to me that this is a possibility, but there is plenty of concerned chatter in and around Parliament.Westminster is, of course, nothing if not a hotbed of speculation.And Boris Johnson has, Houdini-like, escaped from tight political spots before. Though, ultimately, it did not end well for the legendary escapologist.
Published9 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe pound has fallen to a two-year low against the dollar reflecting traders increasing concerns about recession around the world as energy prices continue to soar.But sterling is also weak as markets worry about future UK economic growth, analysts said.Sterling could fall even further after predictions of economic stagnation and as inflation soars, they added.London stock markets also fell on Tuesday on worries about UK growth.But the resignation of two senior government ministers on Tuesday evening, including former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was not a significant factor in the pound’s fall, Rabobank head currency strategist Jane Foley told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.UK household energy bills to hit £3,000 per yearSunak letter reveals tensions over economy “The market is so much more concerned with growth, and what is this government going to do… the news in itself didn’t create too many additional woes,” she said.On Tuesday the pound fell below $1.19 for the first time since March 2020, when the first UK Covid lockdown was brought in.The dollar is performing strongly due to US interest rate rises and because investors see it as a safe bet.”Now many people are worried about recession – recession in the US, recession in Europe, and of course we’ve got our cost of living crisis here in the UK,” Ms Foley said.”Sterling is still weak on its own, and that is despite the fact that the Bank of England have hiked interest rates five times this cycle already, and the reason for that is that the market is very concerned about the growth outlook here in the UK,” she said.Sterling could fall even further, she said. One of the issues concerning investors is the shortage of UK labour, which hasn’t gone back to pre-pandemic levels “because we’ve lost a lot of workers”, she said.Many people left the labour market during the pandemic, and due to a combination of Covid and Brexit foreign workers who had left did not return.The FTSE 100 stock market in London fell nearly 3% on Tuesday.George Godber, a fund manager with Polar Capital, said gas prices were set to rise even further later in the year: “Our companies are struggling with this deteriorating economic outlook. How do businesses and consumers plan for rising gas prices, and the squeeze in energy [prices] that we’re seeing in the December contract for gas?”On Tuesday the BBC reported that UK household energy bills are heading to £3,000 per year this winter.The recent fall in sterling also came about by the UK government “aggravating the Northern Ireland protocol”, Mr Godber said.Investors have been worried that the escalating dispute over the post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland risks seeing the government scrapping parts of that deal, which could trigger a trade war.”International investors don’t like that, and it puts a lot of pressure on the pound, and that in turn feeds through to the economy,” he said. “The petrol prices are high because sterling has been weak.”Changes in prices at the pump for petrol are mainly down to the price of crude oil, and how the pound is performing against the dollar, because crude oil is traded in dollars.More on this storyUK household energy bills to hit £3,000 per year20 minutes agoSunak letter reveals tensions over economy10 hours ago
Published28 minutes agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Lancashire PoliceTwo men have been banned from taking a dog for a walk anywhere in England and Wales after being convicted of hare coursing.Warren Kelly, 36, and Andrew Dutton, 57, were banned from being in control of a dog away from their homes after being caught in Ormskirk, Lancashire.The pair were both given given five-year criminal behaviour orders after being convicted of four offences at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court.They were also fined nearly £500 each.Under the terms of the order, Kelly and Dutton must also not be with any person anywhere in England and Wales with a dog.Lancashire Police said the pair were “known to poach all over” Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Humberside, Merseyside, North Wales, Cheshire, West Mercia, Shropshire and Bedfordshire.PC Paddy Stewart said hare coursers “travel around the country committing cruel acts towards our wildlife and whilst doing so wreak havoc on our rural communities”.”Farmers regularly tell me of threats and intimidation when they challenge trespassers on their land who are involved in poaching,” the officer added.Image source, Lancashire PolicePolice said Kelly of Sycamore Drive, Chester, and Dutton, of Clover Place, also Chester, were also banned “from acting in a manner that is likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress” in large parts of Lancashire and Merseyside.This included Southport, Ormskirk and Kirkby and areas near Orrell, Greater Manchester.The bans are in place until 29 June 2027.The poachers were convicted of two offences under the Game Act, one under the Hunting Act, and a further anti-social behaviour offence.Why not follow BBC North West on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You can also send story ideas to [email protected] on this storyHare coursing crackdown as reports rise9 JanuaryDispersal order issued after rise in hare coursing29 December 2021Related Internet LinksLancashire ConstabularyThe BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey has told BBC Breakfast it is the “patriotic duty” of the Conservative Party to “get rid of Boris Johnson today”. His comments come after ministerial resignations yesterday piled pressure on the prime minister’s leadership.
Published3 hours agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesA mayor has defended launching a fundraising page to cover the fine of a man who threatened a teenager. Bernard John Higgins, from Hemlington, was convicted at Teesside Magistrates’ Court after confronting a youth allegedly responsible for causing trouble on the 65-year-old’s estate.Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston asked people to donate £1 each towards the £107 Mr Higgins was ordered to pay.He said it had been “wrong” for the pensioner to be prosecuted.Mr Higgins, who is known as John, was last week given a 12-month conditional discharge after pleading guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.But Mr Preston said he had met him and understood he had been assaulted twice as well as having his fence torn down.He described Mr Higgins as verbally fighting back against troublemakers who had made his life a misery and said the fundraising was an opportunity “to send a message… that we won’t stand for victims being punished for standing up to yobs”.’End of his tether’He told BBC Radio Tees: “I wanted to give the public the opportunity to show support. He lost his temper and was arrested after a campaign of abuse, harassment and torment by a group of kids who think it is OK to set fire to things, to abuse and bully.”To see this go to court when so little real crime is followed up by authorities feels wrong.”Mr Preston denied he was undermining the legal system and said people “should all follow and respect the law”.However, he added: “Of course we know sometimes the law gets it completely wrong and what we need to do is show support.”What I’m deliberately not saying is that it’s OK to go out and seek revenge. What John did, he shouldn’t have done, but he’s at the end of his tether.”Mr Preston said he had visited Mr Higgins and his “terrified neighbours” a number of times in recent weeks and described the trouble they had faced as being “out of control”.While the appeal had initially been intended to cover Mr Higgins’ court costs, any money raised will instead be used to pay for a “small tea party” at a nearby community centre as the £107 fine is now being covered by a group of independent Middlesbrough councillors.The total raised currently stands at £190.Follow BBC North East & Cumbria on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Send your story ideas to [email protected] on this storyElected mayor faces bullying investigation17 FebruaryCouncil dimwits cost taxpayers thousands – mayor21 October 2021Middlesbrough mayor tells of ADHD diagnosis5 October 2021
Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingImage source, Getty ImagesThe UK government is to provide almost £2m to help schools in Northern Ireland that want to transform to become integrated.Secretary of State Brandon Lewis signalled the move in a recent conference speech, but has now provided details.Existing schools can become formally integrated in a process that includes a ballot of parents.A number of schools have changed status to become integrated in recent years.At a conference organised by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) in June, Mr Lewis said that the demand for integrated education was not currently being met.He also said the government would promote the benefits of integrated education to parents, teachers and pupils.Image source, ReutersBut the umbrella bodies for both Catholic and Controlled schools were critical of the fact they were not invited to the conference.The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and Controlled Schools Support Council (CSSC) described their absence as “concerning” and “alarming”.Mr Lewis has now said the UK government will provide £1.9m to the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).Integrated education bill passes through StormontGovernment signals integrated sector supportNo religious mix in ‘nearly a third of NI schools’NICIE offers advice to parents and schools on the process of transformation and will get about £1.4m spread over the next three years.The IEF raises awareness of the process and the merits of integrated education and will get an additional £435,000 over the same period.The actor Liam Neeson is among those who have supported the IEF to encourage more schools to transform to integrated status.In a statement announcing the funding, Mr Lewis said that “seeing greater integration of education across Northern Ireland is an absolute priority for me”.”My hope is that integration will soon become the norm and not the exception in schools across Northern Ireland,” he said.A new law requiring the Department of Education (DE) to give more “support” to integrated education was passed by assembly members in March.But the commitments contained in the new law led some schools, education bodies and church representatives to claim it would “elevate integrated schools” above other types of school.More on this storyIntegrated education bill passes through Stormont9 MarchNo religious mix in ‘nearly a third of NI schools’11 November 2021Mixed response to new integrated Coleraine school9 MarchNI’s oldest integrated school marks 40 years6 September 2021
Published1 hour agoSharecloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingAfter surviving the Covid lockdowns, hospitality businesses are now being faced with a cost of living crisis, soaring inflation and staffing shortages.Gary Curley runs the runs the Sligachan Hotel on Skye. In 2019 his business would have 45 to 50 staff at this time of the year, but it currently has just 33.He and his wife have to fill most of the gaps caused by staff shortages.”My wife and I are pretty hands-on but this year we have been working in every department,” he says.”My wife’s been on breakfast, I’ve been in the kitchen, she’s been doing housekeeping, I’ve been out in the bar.”Every day we are having to jump in to help out and the days are getting longer.”‘Apocalyptic future’He says the staffing situation means long hours and compromises he does not want to make.”This is a business known for being open seven days a week, delivering good food and drink and having a friendly Scottish hospitality welcome, but we can’t do that now. “There are weeks when we can only open five days. We also close between 3pm and 5pm to give staff a break and get organised for dinner service.”There are days we are having to turn people away and we don’t want to do that.”Mr Curley said this was the most difficult year he had experienced in the industry, and blamed Brexit for the biggest issues.”In 2019, a third of our staff were from the European Union. Now we are just not getting applications from there.”Unless the government step in and take the issue seriously what you will see is a pretty apocalyptic future for hospitality.”Kelly Fairweather has three businesses that she is struggling to keep going.She owns The Selkie cafe bar in Dundee, a bakery, and a housekeeping business called At Your Service.She saw her number of staff in the cleaning business drop from 11 to just three when European staff disappeared after Brexit.Pub numbers fall to lowest on recordRail strikes are a catastrophe – hospitality bossesShe said: “We now have customers who used us weekly, now we can only see them once a month.”We also have a bakery which has been closed for three months because we have no staff. Across the three businesses we have 18 vacancies.”It’s like being in a boxing ring and constantly taking punches.”She saw the monthly electricity bill for her 28-seat cafe rise to £3,000 last month.Ms Fairweather said: “There are no caps, no rules on who provides our energy and in hospitality if you haven’t got three years of trading, you can’t get a contract, so these guys can put up their prices as they wish.”This month I have had eight texts from my provider saying my daily rate is going up and my price per unit is going up.”Dean Banks, who owns Haar restaurant in St Andrews, said that in 2019 about 30% to 35% of his staff were EU nationals. Now that has fallen to about 10%. “We have had to go through a process with lawyers and the government to be able to employ staff from the US, Australia and Canada,” he said.”It has been very costly for the business to do that.”He has also had to step back from his chef role to keep the business running.”I’ve had to come out of the kitchen more and help around the business, everywhere from running the restaurant some nights, running the bar area, kitchen porter work.”I have to work harder. I am here a lot more, doing about 100-110 hours a week because I want my business to do well, I want to keep my staff.”Image source, The SelkieThe latest quarterly survey carried out by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce found hiring staff was a challenge, with recruitment difficulties up 10% in the last quarter.And new data from the Altus Group showed businesses were failing, with 200 pubs in England and Wales shutting in the first half of 2022.Paul Waterson from the Scottish Licenced Trade Association said: “Pre-Brexit we were in a good position and then we lost a lot of staff and that is the main problem.”This means recovery from the pandemic is halted, the development of the trade has been halted, one in three businesses are trading at different hours and some are shutting down art of the week, it is a very difficult situation.”Liam Thomson from UK Hospitality said there were currently 40,000 hospitality vacancies in Scotland.He told BBC Scotland: “We have members reducing the levels of occupancy to 75% or 80%, because they don’t have enough staff to look after the guests. Some are only open to provide meals and drinks to residents for the same reason.”Our members are experiencing cost rises cross the board – food, fuel energy prices, inflation.”Many businesses are trying to keep prices down so it’s a fine balance and in trying to absorb those costs. We found two thirds of our businesses are not actually making any profit.”Businesses are now looking at how they will be able to operate beyond the summer and we are looking at a situation where we might lose them.”The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has called for tax cuts, to shield firms from the worst of the damage.More on this storyRail strikes are catastrophe – hospitality bosses18 JunePub numbers fall to lowest on record1 day agoNow businesses face soaring energy bills27 April
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment has swapped ceremonial duties on the streets of London for time in rural Norfolk.After a busy period linked to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the troopers are spending much of July in the county at their annual summer camp.More than 100 horses and cavalrymen undergo a series of equestrian training exercises, including a ride-out on Holkham beach.It gives the horses, bred from Irish Draught stock, experience of a coastal environment and builds trust between horse and rider.The mounted regiment is made up of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals.