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Stamp and collectibles trader Stanley said it expects to bring in a princely sum for royal wedding memorabilia next month.

The company said the wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton should give a one-off boost to revenues and profits through sales of commemorative stamps, mugs and coasters among other collectible items.

Gibbons said the event will also lift trade at recently-acquired collectibles firm Benhams, as the company specialises in first-day covers - postage stamps sent on their first day of issue - which are expected to sell particularly well on April 29.

Stanley Gibbons reported an 8% rise in pre-tax profits to £4.5 million in the year to December 31, while sales were up 13% at £26.4 million.

A number of products will be on offer around the wedding, including an album pulling together all the commemorative stamps issued for the occasion.

The company will also have a special royal wedding section in its store at The Strand, London.

 

Photo by Alex Segre

 

The "big six" power suppliers should sell off up to a fifth of their electricity output in a move to "break the stranglehold" they have over the market, the energy watchdog has said.

The major suppliers "failed to play it straight" with consumers, according to regulator Ofgem, and have eight weeks to comply with a series of radical proposals to overhaul the industry or face a referral to the Competition Commission.

The reforms include reducing the number of tariffs suppliers offer to avoid confusion over price and improving transparency by appointing an independent accounting firm to investigate the suppliers' books.

An additional investigation into Scottish Power's standard credit prices has also been launched.

Ofgem launched its review in November after it emerged that price hikes had seen suppliers' profit margins soar by 38%.

photo by conservativeparty

A leading economic forecast group has predicted an £8 billion windfall for the Chancellor due to stronger tax revenues and lower spending.

But the Ernst & Young ITEM Club said George Osborne must resist temptation to offer give-aways in this week's Budget and warned it was still early days on the "long and challenging road" to balancing the public finances.

ITEM, which is the only forecasting group to use the Treasury model of the economy, said public sector borrowing was on track to undershoot its target by around £8 billion in the financial year to the end of this month.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, the Government's watchdog, predicted borrowing of £148.5 billion in November, but the ITEM Club has forecast £140.2 billion, with tax receipts coming in around £4 billion ahead of expectations.

Andrew Goodwin, senior economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club, said it was still too early to judge whether the improved fiscal position can be sustained over the rest of the parliament, particularly as the recent surge in commodity prices has added more uncertainty to economic growth prospects.

 

photo by conservativeparty

 

George Osborne has delivered a strong hint that a 1p fuel duty hike due next month will be scrapped amid fears over soaring oil prices.

The Chancellor told the Conservative Spring conference in Cardiff that he had "heard" protests from motorists being "squeezed" by rising costs at the pump.

Signalling he was ready to ease the pressure by dropping the increase in his Budget later this month, Mr Osborne told delegates: "We've got another of the Labour Party's pre-prepared rises in petrol tax coming this April - one penny above inflation. When it costs £1.30 for a litre of petrol, £80 to fill up a family car, I know people feel squeezed."

He added: "And I say this to people watching: I hear you."

Despite Liberal Democrat doubts, the Treasury is still believed to be looking at the idea of a "fair fuel stabiliser" - where duty is reduced or raised to offset oil price movements.

The Chancellor also said the crucial March 23 package would include a series of measures to boost growth and tackle the "forces of stagnation" in Britain's economy. Among the "greatest scandals" under Labour was that for every 10 private sector jobs created in the South, just one had been created in the North and Midlands, he said.

photo by Daveand sue

 

A re-enactment of the moment 75 years ago when a Spitfire took to the air for the first time has taken place.

The iconic fighter, piloted by Carolyn Grace, made a lap of Southampton International Airport with its undercarriage down, just like the 1936 test flight that paved the way for the aircraft to become a mainstay of the RAF during the Second World War. She then treated the crowd to a display of aerobatics over the airport.

The aircraft, built in 1944 and credited with shooting down the first German plane on D-Day, had earlier been seen by thousands who came out in chilly conditions to see it fly over its birthplace, Southampton.

It was designed by the famous RJ Mitchell at Supermarine's factory in the south coast port and first flew from the then Eastleigh airfield - now Southampton International Airport.

 

Photo by Graphicmail

 

The Government has been urged to declare a moratorium on new employment laws for a year and reverse a planned increase in fuel duty to boost small businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses said the UK's five million smaller firms needed a stable economy to help create jobs in the wake of cuts in the public sector.

In a briefing to MPs in Westminster ahead of the Budget on March 23, the business group said a series of measures were needed, including a national insurance holiday for small companies and help for employers to take on more apprentices.

FSB chairman John Walker said: "The Budget must provide economic stability and look to ways to nurture entrepreneurship and allow small firms to grow in order to create employment opportunities.

 

Britain is looking to open up a new dialogue on security co-operation with Moscow, four years after breaking off contacts with the Russian security service following the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in London for talks with David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague as the coalition Government continues its efforts to rebuild relations with the Kremlin.

The killing of Mr Litvinenko, a dissident former KGB officer who was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London in November 2006, has cast a long shadow over relations between the two countries.

The following year the then Labour government broke off all links between Britain and the FSB - the post-Soviet successor to the KGB - after Russia refused to extradite another ex-KGB man, Andrei Lugovoi, wanted by police for the killing.

 

 

Photo by Simonrobling

 

Bus controllers were only told bombs had gone off on Tube trains after a fourth device detonated on a bus, the 7/7 inquest has heard.

There was a gap of nearly an hour between the first wave of three attacks on the London Underground at about 8.50am on July 7, 2005 and the bombing of a number 30 bus in Tavistock Square at 9.47am.

However, it was not until 9.53am that the senior official with the power to halt the capital's bus services was told bombs had been used on the Tube.

The families of some of the 13 passengers killed on the number 30 have questioned why London's entire public transport network was not shut down after the Underground attacks.

But Alan Dell, London's bus network liaison manager, said he would not have stopped the buses even if he had known about the earlier bombings. He told the inquest it was the role of London's buses to help move the 200,000 people evacuated from the Tube network that day.

"All the indications, with hindsight, were that the attacks were taking place on the Underground," he said.

Mr Dell did suspend all buses from running in central London after suicide bomber Hasib Hussain, 18, blew himself up in Tavistock Square.

But he said that takes up to 90 minutes, meaning that even if the order had been issued earlier it may not have stopped the attack.

The Metropolitan Police's control room received a report at 9.10am that a bomb had gone off on a train at Aldgate station but this was not passed on to Mr Dell, the inquest heard. At 9.53am when bus controllers got a call from London Ambulance Service to say a major incident had been declared and bombs had gone off across the capital.

Mr Dell said he thought this was the first time he learned a major incident had been declared. He added: "It's certainly the first time the word 'bomb' was used."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

 

photo by NW54 London

A nursery worker has been arrested following allegations of sexual assault at a childcare centre.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said the employee was arrested on Thursday after detectives received a report of abuse against a child at Starlight Childcare Centre in Winfrith - close to Dorset Police headquarters.

Ofsted has suspended the day nursery's licence pending police inquiries, a spokesman for the education watchdog said.

Police would not say whether the suspect was male or female but confirmed the person was released on bail while investigations continue.

A Dorset Police spokesman said: "It should be emphasised that this investigation is in the preliminary stages and, at this time, no person has been convicted of any offence.

"This investigation will be conducted by the child abuse investigation team.

"The primary concern of Dorset Police and its partner agencies - including social services - is the continued safety of all children who attend this nursery."

An Ofsted spokesman said: "Ofsted is aware of the police investigation and is working closely with police and the Wareham Childcare team. The nursery registration has been temporarily suspended."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

 

photo by quimby

 

A Muslim cleric has been convicted of raping a young boy as he attended Islamic education lessons at his mosque.

Mohammed Hanif Khan, 42, was also found guilty by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of sexual activity with a child, as well as the two counts of rape.

The charges relate to two boys who attended the mosque in Capper Street, Stoke on Trent, where he was imam, in 2009.

Prosecutor Tariq Bin Shakoor told the jury part of Khan's job was to lead prayers and give Islamic education lessons to boys at evening classes.

He told the court one of the boys claimed in police interviews that he was singled out by Khan after evening prayer on several occasions. He was sexually assaulted in various areas of the mosque which were not covered by CCTV, Mr Shakoor told the court.

The other boy was assaulted when he was an overnight guest at Khan's house, the jury of six men and six women were told.

But in his evidence to the court Khan, of Owler Lane, Sheffield, said he had a close relationship with the youngsters because he tried to help them with their unruly behaviour, adding that he would often be more lenient on the boys if they were late or did not turn up for classes at the mosque because he was aware they had issues at home.

Khan's lawyer, Robert Woodcock QC, asked him who had invited him to get involved in the family's business and he said it was mainly the mothers of the two boys who asked for his help.

Khan, who told the court he travelled to Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, India and Cyprus to complete his imam training, showed no emotion as the jury delivered its verdicts.

A further five charges were dismissed by Mrs Justice Dobbs because the jury could not reach a decision, and she adjourned the trial for pre-sentence reports to a date yet to be fixed.

 

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.