Culture

 

British Queen celebrates

UK news

 

Stores giant Debenhams has announced it will recruit 6,500 temporary workers to deal with the busy Christmas period.

The jobs will run from mid-November until the beginning of January, averaging 40 in each of the company's 163 stores.

Michael Sharp, chief executive of Debenhams, said: "These jobs are sure to be welcomed by local economies during the most financially challenging part of the year.

"Approximately a quarter of staff that work with us over the festive season will stay on in permanent roles, making this a crucial period in our employment calendar."

 

 

Phone maker BlackBerry is investigating a problem which has affected users in Britain, elsewhere in Europe, across the Middle East and in Africa.

Blackberry developer Research in Motion gave few further details, but phone companies whose customers use the smartphones said that internet access and BlackBerry's popular messenger service appeared to be affected.

 

Environmental campaigners have accused the Government of pushing forward with new nuclear power plants before lessons could be learned from the Fukushima disaster, ahead of the publication of a report on the crisis.

This week the Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected to publish the final report into the implications for the UK nuclear industry of the disaster at the tsunami-hit Fukushima reactor in Japan.

But Greenpeace is concerned that the inquiry has been conducted too fast to learn the lessons from the crisis which began when the nuclear plant was hit by a tsunami following the magnitude 9 earthquake in March, with information still emerging.

And the green group said the Government had not even waited for the final report, conducted by nuclear chief inspector Dr Mike Weightman, before signalling the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power plants this summer.

 

The Duchess of Cornwall has marked the 10th anniversary of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Camilla attended the DecAid Light for Life Ceremony - marking the end of the DecAid charity appeal to raise money for British armed forces charities.

During the service, held at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, a candle was lit for every serviceman and woman that lost their life in Afghanistan.

An avenue of young trees, with poppy wreaths at their base, also lined the path to the cathedral with each one representing a regiment who has lost someone over the past decade.

This week marks 10 years since the US and UK launched the campaign known as Operation Enduring Freedom in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Camilla's arrival was marked with a parade by the Somerset Army Cadet Force Band on the green in front of the cathedral.

 

The Duchess of Cornwall has marked the 10th anniversary of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Camilla attended the DecAid Light for Life Ceremony - marking the end of the DecAid charity appeal to raise money for British armed forces charities.

During the service, held at Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, a candle was lit for every serviceman and woman that lost their life in Afghanistan.

An avenue of young trees, with poppy wreaths at their base, also lined the path to the cathedral with each one representing a regiment who has lost someone over the past decade.

This week marks 10 years since the US and UK launched the campaign known as Operation Enduring Freedom in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Camilla's arrival was marked with a parade by the Somerset Army Cadet Force Band on the green in front of the cathedral.

 

 

Energy giant E.ON is to cut 500 jobs in its UK support functions to reflect the "changed nature of the business" following the sale of its distribution arm earlier this year.

The company said it is seeking up to 500 voluntary redundancies, likely to impact mainly at its head office in Coventry and other sites near Nottingham.

The announcement follows the sale of E.ON's distribution arm, Central Networks, in March and the subsequent concentration on the customer-facing business.

Chief executive Paul Golby said: "We had to undertake a deep and rigorous review of how much money we spend in order to ensure we keep costs as low as possible for our customers, become a more agile organisation and build a sustainable business in the UK.

 

 

The prison population in England and Wales has reached a record high for the second week in a row.

The total number of prisoners hit 87,120 - 278 higher than last week's record high of 86,842 and about 1,600 short of the usable operational capacity of 88,747, Ministry of Justice figures showed.

The rising prison population has been fuelled by tough sentences for those involved in last month's riots, with more offenders than usual being held on remand, but the Government has insisted there will be enough jail places for anyone sentenced to custody as a result of the violence and looting.

A Prison Service spokesman said: "We are managing an unprecedented situation and all the staff involved should be commended for their dedication and hard work during this difficult time.

"We currently have enough prison places for those being remanded and sentenced to custody as a result of public disorder. We are developing contingencies to increase usable capacity should further pressure be placed on the prison estate."

No places are currently activated under Operation Safeguard, which would involve using cells at police stations as accommodation for prisoners.

Other contingency plans could involve bringing on new accommodation early, using extra places in the public and private estate, or reopening mothballed accommodation.

 

Parts of England are facing dangerously high shortages of midwives as Britain's birthrate rockets, according to a professional body.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) said that while there are shortfalls across the country, some areas are worse than others, putting mothers and babies at risk.

Midwife numbers have not kept pace with the birthrate in England, which has risen 22% in the past two decades, an RCM report has claimed.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged by the RCM to honour his pre-election pledge to recruit more midwives.

The report said 4,700 more midwives are needed across England to keep up with added pressures, such as growing numbers of obese and older pregnant women.

Their figures showed the North East and North West had a shortfall of less than 10% while the East Midlands and East of England needed 41% more midwives, it was reported. Meanwhile, the South East was said to be more than a third short of staff.

 

NHS hospitals are making money by charging "ambulance chasing" lawyers fees to advertise in accident and emergency departments, former justice secretary Jack Straw told MPs.

He said 70 trusts had been paid a total of £2 million over the past five years as he attacked the "grubby" personal injury claims industry.

Mr Straw revealed proposals to clamp down on the compensation culture which he said had led to soaring motor insurance premiums.

The Government has already accepted one of his key demands by promising to ban the payment of referral fees in personal injury cases.

"In the last year alone there has been a 40% increase in the average premiums paid by Britain's motorists to insure their cars," Mr Straw said. "The principal factor behind these rocketing premiums has been a extraordinary increase in both the number and value of claims for personal injuries."

However the number of accidents had decreased and the increase had been "artificially generated by a new industry, unheard of 20 years ago, a claims industry with, I'm afraid, the complicity of the insurance companies themselves".

 

Family members of the first fallen British serviceman to be repatriated since ceremonies ended in Wootton Bassett were "overwhelmed" as they were joined by thousands of people in Oxfordshire.

The body of Sergeant Barry Weston, 40, of 42 Commando, was flown to RAF Brize Norton.

The Royal Marine, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, was the first serviceman to be repatriated to the airbase since flights resumed on September 1. They were moved to RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, in April 2007 when Brize Norton was closed for runway repairs.

The quiet and humble way in which Wootton Bassett turned out to honour the fallen won a place in the hearts of the British public.

On Thursday, the Oxfordshire townsfolk of Carterton emulated the respect shown in Wootton Bassett as they stood silently and bowed their heads. Forty standards were lowered opposite a purpose-built memorial garden in which the Union flag from Wootton Bassett was hung at half mast.