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British Queen celebrates

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British Gas is planning to cut around 850 jobs after reviewing resource levels in its services business, the company has announced.

The cuts, revealed just hours after grim new unemployment figures, will focus on management and support roles, said the firm.

A statement said: "Household budgets are stretched, customers are looking for maximum value for money, and if we are going to remain competitive and offer the best prices for our customers, we need to reduce our costs.

"We have therefore reviewed resource levels in our services business, and are now proposing a reduction of around 850 roles.

"We will work to ensure continued high levels of service for our customers. We will now move into a consultation period to discuss these proposals in more detail with our people and their representatives.

 

The Duke of Cambridge will fly search and rescue helicopter missions in the Falkland Islands next spring, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

William, a Flight Lieutenant with the RAF, will be posted to the remote outcrop in the South Atlantic from February to March for six weeks.

His deployment was announced in the summer but it has taken until now to work out when he could serve on the British overseas territory.

The 30th anniversary of the Falklands War will be commemorated next year and the duke's arrival may inflame relations between the British and Argentine Governments.

President Cristina Kirchner accused David Cameron in the summer of "mediocrity bordering on stupidity" when the PM said the islands should remain a British territory, if that was the wish of its inhabitants. She has insisted Argentina and Britain should negotiate over the South Atlantic islands, over which the two countries fought a 10-week war in 1982.

Based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, north Wales, the Duke of Cambridge qualified as an RAF Search and Rescue Force helicopter co-pilot last September. In recent months he has been intensifying his work with the aim of qualifying for a captaincy.

 

A second operation to clear travellers from legal settlements at Dale Farm may be necessary, a council leader has said.

Speaking as the operation to secure the UK's largest illegal travellers' site neared completion, Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said two keys challenges remained.

The first was to ensure that travellers did not reoccupy the six acre illegal half of the site in Crays Hill, Essex.

The second was to stop travellers over-occupying adjacent legal plots. Some 50 caravans are thought to be on the legal site at present, exceeding planning regulations.

Mr Ball said: "Although the majority of the 400 people who lived on Dale Farm have moved on and there have been no complaints of trespass linked to them, it seems many have moved on to the legal side of the site.

"This may exceed planning regulations and we will be looking at the extent of that. Also, because the caravans are packed very tight, it poses a health and safety risk.

 

Department store chain Debenhams has launched its first homewares catalogue in a move that will heap further pressure on ailing Argos.

The 68-page catalogue, which has been sent out to the chain's 195,000 store card holders, is designed to draw shoppers to its website and boost sales of electrical goods and furniture, which are not stocked in all of its stores.

It marks a step-up in the chain's competition with Argos, which last week revealed underlying profits fell 94% to £3.4 million in the 26 weeks to August 27 as customers cut-back on electrical items, such as TVs and computer game consoles.

Meanwhile, Debenhams reported a bullish performance, with pre-tax profits up 10% to £166.1 million in the 53 weeks to September 3, as it benefited from selling more of its higher margin exclusive ranges.

The chain's new chief executive Michael Sharp insisted the UK high street was "alive and well" and announced plans to modernise a further 25 stores and open nine new outlets over the next four years.

 

Anti-capitalist protesters in London are continuing their demonstration after the movement that began with Occupy Wall Street spread worldwide.

Thousands descended on the area around the London Stock Exchange on Saturday in a bid to replicate the huge demonstrations taking place in New York.

As night fell, protesters had pitched tents at the foot of the steps of St Paul's Cathedral after police cordoned off Paternoster Square where the Stock Exchange is located.

Scotland Yard had said it would be "illegal and disrespectful" to camp in front of the cathedral, but a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police later said: "We are not going to move anyone at this time."

The force said it had made efforts to ensure the protest was largely peaceful. Five arrests were made throughout the day - three for assault on police and two for public order offences.

 

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.