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Temperatures have plunged to minus 11C as Britain braced itself for more bitterly cold conditions ahead of a spell of snow this weekend.

Chesham in Buckinghamshire recorded a temperature of minus 11C at 5am, and forecasters expect a maximum of 2C across the UK during the day.

It comes after the Met Office raised fears for the elderly and ill by issuing its first country-wide Level 3 Cold Weather Alert of the winter.

The alert, which is the second most serious, is tied in to the Government's Cold Weather Plan and are relayed to organisations such as Age UK, which help the elderly through winter.

Meanwhile, severe weather warnings are in place until Sunday, with icy conditions expected in parts of the England and snow forecast in Wales, south-west Scotland and much of England.

Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association said: "Most places will see temperatures of no more than 1C or 2C today and a few won't get above zero. By tomorrow morning there's some patchy rain and snow arriving in north-west UK.

 

People living in Wales and the far west of England could wake up to a widespread dusting of snow on Monday as they start the working week.

Wintry conditions affected higher altitudes in the west of the country on Sunday, with some snow showers also hitting parts of The Pennines and the North York Moors.

But forecasters expect snow to spead to lower areas of Wales and the South-West peninsula by morning.

Rachel Vince, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather division, said: "It should affect lower areas by tomorrow, especially in Wales, including some of the bigger population centres.

 

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron launched a stinging attack on his European partners Thursday, slamming the eurozone as uncompetitive and branding a planned transaction tax "madness".

The British premier took the stage on the second day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the annual get-together for the global business elite, and revived his simmering feud with the ailing single-currency bloc.

In a speech destined to delight his own eurosceptic party back home and infuriate France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, Cameron scornfully dismissed French-led plans to introduce a tax on all financial trades.

"Even to be considering this at a time when we are struggling to get our economies growing is quite simply madness," he declared.

"Of course it's right that the financial sector should pay their share. In the UK we are doing exactly that through our bank levies and stamp duty on shares. And these are options which other countries can adopt."

  

 

Corby /PRNewswire/ --

As the economy continues to struggle, new research shows consumers are more likely to turn to coupon promotions to make Christmas as special as ever -

Key findings:

  • 32% of women (vs 27% of all shoppers) are looking for more promotional offers than they were this time last year as the belt tightening seen in 2010 continues to get worse this Christmas
  • Almost a quarter of shoppers (23%) who are looking for more promotions state they have less money than they did a year ago (up from 12% in April 2011)  
  • Only 8% of shoppers would remain loyal to their supermarket of choice if other retailers were offering better discounts at Christmas
  • 78% of shoppers are planning to use promotional offers when doing their Christmas shopping this year, with 54% stating they intend to use three or more different promotional mechanics
  • 74% of wealthier AB shoppers plan to use money off vouchers when Christmas shopping vs. the average of 59%

New independent market research from Gfk NOP commissioned by Valassis ltd, shows that more than ever, deal hungry consumers will be turning to coupons and vouchers to make their budgets stretch further throughout the festive period. The UK's flagging economy continues to put a squeeze on shopping habits, and surprisingly even time poor, cash rich AB shoppers intend to make smart use of coupons and vouchers to keep down the Christmas bills.

According to the research, 32% of women are looking for more promotional offers than they were this time last year (versus 27% of all shoppers). Top of the list of mechanics people intend to use for saving money was 'money off' product coupons, with 65% of shoppers planning to use this mechanic when doing their Christmas grocery shopping. Meanwhile 59% of shoppers will use 'money off' vouchers, which would, for example, give them £5.00 off a £40.00 basket spend, when doing their Christmas grocery shopping.

 

Manchester /PRNewswire/ --

As the festive period approaches, Christmas shoppers are being warned about expensive postage for Christmas gifts and cards. It is an issue that has been raised by Consumer Focus, which released a warning to those wishing to send Christmas cards and parcels over the next week. The consumer watchdog issued research that showed how the UK could save up to £75 million if people were to wise up to money saving alternatives.

It was revealed that eight out of ten people did not know the last dates for Christmas deliveries and that leaving post to the last minute could result in expensive postage fees and failed deliveries. Speaking to MyFinances.co.uk, Richard Hammond, Director of Postal Policy and Regulation at Consumer Focus, discussed the need to save money and avoid disappointment: 

'We'd urge people to start thinking about Christmas post and stocking up on second class stamps now. Posting and ordering gifts early will save money and ensure things arrive in plenty of time. Mailing early also gives your postie a fighting chance to deliver the huge surge in Christmas post on time."

 

Coleen Rooney was subjected to a £5,000 blackmail plot involving hundreds of personal family photos on her stolen camera, a court has heard.

Jennifer Green, 25, and Steven Malcolm, 42, both from Manchester, are accused of demanding the cash from the celebrity wife of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney.

Both defendants, who deny the charges, were arrested after Coleen Rooney's mobile phone went missing while at a concert at the MEN Arena in Manchester in May 2010. Green's partner, Lee Platt, has already admitted handling stolen goods and blackmail, the jury at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Deborah Gould, prosecuting, said: "The prosecution case is that these two defendants together with Lee Platt, who is the partner of Jennifer Green, came into possession of the camera and the memory card, and then sought by unlawful means to make money out of the situation.

"It would have been obvious to anyone who saw the contents of the memory card who the images on it were of and that they were personal family photographs of the Rooney family. Most importantly however, they would have realised, and did, that their contents had a commercial value because of the fact of Coleen and Wayne Rooney's celebrity.

 

The board of Lloyds Banking Group is expected to decide this week whether chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio is fit enough to return to work.

The Portuguese banker, who was signed off work last month with exhaustion, has already had one-to-one meetings with some non-executive directors about continuing in his post.

More discussions are set to take place this week before Thursday's board meeting, when a decision on Mr Horta-Osorio's future may be made, the Sunday Times said.

UK Financial Investments, which manages the Treasury's 41% stake in Lloyds, is also understood to have told the bank it is happy for him to carry on.

 

 

Millions of Christmas shoppers hit the stores this weekend, helping to boost dwindling retail figures.

Retailers across the UK slashed their prices to entice shoppers into stores over what is traditionally one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

More than 1.5 million shoppers flooded London's West End, spending £180 million on Saturday, the New West End Company, which represents 600 traders in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, said.

The company anticipates that a further £100 million will go through the tills on Sunday, with people taking advantage of weekend-only discounts and give-aways - and the added incentive of traffic-free streets on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Richard Dickinson, chief executive of the New West End Company, said: "Christmas has really gone off with a bang this weekend. Based on past experience we were confident that despite the slow start to seasonal spending, shoppers would get the tills ringing over the next two weeks but this weekend has exceeded expectations.

"Compared to VIP Day last year, when Sunday saw traffic come back into the area, retailers are reporting significant rise in sales, with winter fashion and technology the most popular items.

"It's a real shoppers market out there with stores offering discounts of up to 50% and the tactic is working with £20 million going through the tills in the first three hours of Saturday's trading."

 

The owner of Hungry Horse and Loch Fyne Restaurants has said that 3,000 new jobs are on the menu as it gears up for more growth in the eating-out market.

Suffolk-based Greene King wants to create the roles over three years as part of plans to boost its estate to 1,100 managed pubs and restaurants, up from the 950 it has now.

The expansion has been driven by strong food sales as consumers trade down from more expensive restaurant-only competitors.

Greene King said new sites and strong demand helped total food sales jump 16.3% in the first six months of its financial year. Overall revenues were a record £527.5 million, up 9% on a year earlier, and meant profits for the group lifted by 5.6% to £73.1 million in the six months to October 16.

The company said there were more opportunities for growth.

 

A political blogger has been summoned to appear before the Leveson Inquiry into press standards after evidence from former Number 10 communications chief Alastair Campbell was leaked online.

Mr Campbell submitted papers containing a string of potentially-damaging claims to lawyers ahead of his appearance before Lord Justice Leveson next week.

But a link to the 16-page document today appeared on the Order-order website run by Paul Staines, under the name Guido Fawkes. Writing on his blog, Mr Staines highlights contentious elements in Campbell's evidence and claims to have obtained the papers legally.

A statement issued by the Leveson Inquiry read: "Lord Justice Leveson was extremely concerned to hear that, on November 27 2011, a copy of the evidence that Mr Alastair Campbell intended to provide to the inquiry was published on the 'Guido Fawkes' website.

"The website asserts that this statement was obtained by 'legal means' but Lord Justice Leveson will be enquiring further into this claim and Mr Paul Staines will be required to give evidence."

Mr Campbell, a former Daily Mirror journalist and spin doctor to Tony Blair, said he was "genuinely shocked" to see his evidence in the public domain.

His statement will now be published on the inquiry website on Monday, rather than on Wednesday following his appearance as would be the norm.