Nurseries at risk as staffing crisis hits, campaigners say

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Nurseries in England are struggling to recruit qualified staff putting them at risk of closure, campaigners have said.

Since 2014, the government has said key nursery workers must have at least a grade C in GCSE English and maths.

But campaign group Save our Early Years said there was now evidence that this requirement was blocking staff career paths and deterring new starters.

The Department for Education said it was working with the profession on a future staffing strategy.

Figures from qualifications body Ofqual show about 12,500 students completed the Level 3 Early Years Educator course between July and September 2015, compared with 18,000 in the same period in the previous year – a fall of about 30%.

The course, which takes between one and two years to obtain, enables students to obtain their first jobs in nurseries and work with children aged under five.

‘Turn away children’

But industry leaders warn the drop in the number of those completing it is evidence of an impending recruitment crisis, which is already damaging the quality of childcare on offer to parents.

It also puts in jeopardy government plans to introduce 30 hours of free childcare to all three and four-year-olds from 2017, they say.

Under current rules, staff are only allowed to look after a specified number of children:

  • Aged one and under – One worker to three children
  • Two-year-olds – One worker to four children
  • Three and four-year-olds – One worker to eight children or one to 13 if the group is teacher-led.

Only staff with a Level 3 qualification, which requires students to have grades A to C in GCSE maths and English, are counted towards the ratios, making them essential to all nurseries.

Julie Hyde, executive director at the childcare qualifications awarding body Cache, said if the government did not reverse its decision, there would be “no nursery staff and therefore parents would have no childcare”.

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Liz Bayram, chief executive of the charity Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said nursery chains were able to move staff around to cover gaps, but sole nurseries would be hardest hit by the crisis, she added.

In the association’s survey of 75 Further Education college leaders, almost three quarters (72%) reported that enrolments on Level 3 courses had decreased in the latest academic year (2015-16), compared with the previous year.

A separate survey of 278 private nursery owners and managers across England suggested the main reasons for nursery staff leaving their jobs were low pay and a lack of progression due mainly to the GCSE requirements.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, which conducted the poll, said: “The serious staffing problems caused largely by these GCSE requirements can make these businesses unsustainable and force them to turn away children.”

‘Loved and hugged’

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London Early Years Foundation

June O’Sullivan provides care for 4,500 children at 38 nurseries across London.

As chief executive of London Early Years Foundation, she is currently grappling with her business’s recruitment and retention policy to try to fill 90 vacancies (of her 650 staff) for Level 3 nursery workers.

She fears that unless the government changes the requirements, the industry will end up with more unqualified staff and nurseries will see a high turnover of staff.

“People just don’t understand the importance of the harmonious relationship you have to build with the children, their parents and the staff,” she says.

If parents can’t be sure their children are in safe hands, in a place where they are loved, hugged and taught, this may affect their confidence in going out to work every day, she adds.

Ultimately, there may be fewer nurseries, especially in London, if funds are eaten up paying agency costs. “Nurseries are not great profit makers. There is very little margin,” she says.

‘Counterproductive policy’

Former childcare minister Liz Truss introduced the GCSE requirement in 2014 in an effort to raise the quality of care.

But campaigners want the new childcare minister, Caroline Dinenage, to accept equivalent or similar qualifications, such as Functional Skills, which also tests numeracy and literacy.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “It seems completely counterproductive to persist with a policy that is actively blocking qualified, passionate and able early years practitioners from entering the sector.

“To say that the GCSE requirement is causing a recruitment crisis is not an exaggeration,” he added.

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Writing in Nursery World earlier this month, Caroline Dinenage hinted at a possible shift in government thinking, saying: “Our Workforce Strategy is in development and I am looking at ways of getting the best individuals into the profession, while recognising that excellence can be measured by qualities other than exam results.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want to make sure we get the best staff into the early years sector.

“We are working with the profession to look at how we can develop people’s talents and keep our most experienced staff. This is backed up by record investment in childcare – £6bn per year by the end of this parliament.”

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Common painkillers ‘increase heart failure risk’

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Taking a common kind of painkiller is linked to an increased risk of heart failure, a study suggests.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen and diclofenac, are commonly used to treat pain and inflammation.

The British Medical Journal study looked at 10 million people, aged 77 on average, who took the drugs.

UK experts said the study was a reminder to consider the risks as well as the benefits of medication.

The study analysed data for the 10 million users – who were from the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany – and compared them with people who did not take the drugs.

The researchers, from University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy, found taking NSAIDs increased the risk of being taken to hospital with heart failure by 19%.

Since most people in the study were older – and those on NSAIDs were, in general, in poorer health – UK experts say the findings have very little relevance for most under-65s but may be a concern for elderly patients.

Use with caution

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said patients should be on the lowest dose possible of NSAIDs for the shortest possible time.

Prof Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: “This large observational study reinforces previous research showing that some NSAIDs, a group of drugs commonly taken by patients with joint problems, increase the risk of developing heart failure.

“It has been known for some years now that such drugs need to be used with caution in patients with, or at high risk of, heart disease.

“This applies mostly to those who take them on a daily basis rather than only occasionally.

“Since heart and joint problems often coexist, particularly in the elderly, this study serves as a reminder to doctors to consider carefully how they prescribe NSAIDs, and to patients that they should only take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

“They should discuss their treatment with their GP if they have any concerns.”

Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The consequence is that it is of very little relevance to most people below age 65 taking painkillers, but in the very elderly, say, above 80, that the effects are of more relevance.”

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Brexit: Italian PM Matteo Renzi warns UK over EU rights

Matteo Renzi

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Matteo Renzi gave a warning to British people

It will be “impossible” for Brexit talks to result in a deal that gives Britons more rights than others outside the EU, Italy’s PM has told the BBC.

Matteo Renzi warned that leaving the EU would be a “very difficult process” – but the problems could be solved only after the UK began the exit procedure.

He said the Brexit vote had been “a bad decision” but had to be respected.

Mr Renzi said he was ready to work with UK PM Theresa May to build the “best alliance” between the UK and the EU.

Mr Renzi said he had been shocked and saddened by the EU referendum result, but repeated Mrs May’s vow that “Brexit is Brexit”, saying democracy had to be respected.

Asked about whether there could be “flexibility” over EU rules on freedom of movement and access to the single-market, he said “I think this is a very interesting debate, because this debate will be a debate about the concept of rules in the EU.”

But he said that debate could only begin once the UK had triggered article 50 – the official procedure for it to start leaving the EU – and he warned: “It will be impossible to give to British people more rights than other people outside the EU.”

‘Best alliance’

“The people of the UK decided the way for the future,” Mr Renzi said. “Now the situation is that we can – and we have to – build the best alliance between the UK and the EU for the future because we will be the best friends for the next years.

“And at the same time I think this decision could push European leaders to invest in a new way for Europe.”

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Mr Renzi said he was ready to work with Theresa May

Mr Renzi said Brexit discussions would be handled by the European Commission – not individual leaders or countries.

However, he added that he was ready to work with Mrs May “to support this very difficult process”.

He said questions over the UK’s departure from the EU need to be solved “as soon as possible”.

Mr Renzi also blamed Brexit on David Cameron, saying the former UK PM had tried to solve internal problems within the Conservatives by called the EU referendum.

The Italian prime minister, who has called his own referendum in Italy on whether to restructure the country’s parliamentary system, said: “The problem was one problem.

“When David Cameron decided to use a referendum to solve some internal problems of the Conservative Party, this was the problem. We cannot use foreign affairs to solve internal problems.”


By Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor

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Brexit could push EU leaders towards a “new way”, Mr Renzi said

Matteo Renzi was in a hurry.

He’s always in a hurry. One of his nicknames is “frenzied Renzi” and this is a particularly busy week for him.

Here in Rome, Italian TV blasting out from bars and cafes features back-to-back rowdy studio debates about “Renzi’s Referendum”.

It’s now set for 4 December – all part of the Italian Prime Minister’s reformist drive to streamline and, he says, stabilise Italy’s economic and political landscape.

Still, despite the hectic schedule, he managed to sit and engage with me in a debate, not just about his own political fortunes but about Brexit and the chance he believes it offers to reboot the troubled European Union.

Italy’s constitutional conundrum

Mr Renzi’s comments come as Mrs May has been urged to stamp out disagreement between the government ministers she has appointed to deal with Britain’s exit from the EU.

Mrs May’s has put David Davis, Brexit Secretary, Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in charge of the process.

However, the Institute for Government said her decision risks creating fragmentation and incoherence about who does what.

The think tank – which has very close links to Whitehall – said the lack of clarity had already caused distractions which had wasted valuable time.

It called for another 500 officials to be hired to deal with Brexit – at a cost of £65m.

Meanwhile, the head of the business group representing German industry – the BDI – has called on the British government to pursue a “hard Brexit”.

Markus Kerber told the BBC the UK opting to leave the EU and the single market entirely was the only realistic option.

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Sir Terry Wogan: Stars pay tribute at Westminster Abbey

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The thanksgiving service was held on the 50th anniversary of the late broadcaster’s BBC debut

Chris Evans, Joanna Lumley and Peter Gabriel were among those to pay tribute at a celebratory memorial service for Sir Terry Wogan.

The Westminster Abbey service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 on the 50th anniversary of Sir Terry’s first BBC radio broadcast.

Radio 2 presenter Evans said: “Terry Wogan wasn’t the best – he is the best, and he will always be the best.”

Sir Terry, who died in January, used to host the Radio 2 breakfast show.

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Sir Terry’s daughter Katherine, son Alan, his widow Helen and their son Mark, left together following the service of thanksgiving

Sir Terry’s dulcet tones were heard echoing in the Abbey against a backdrop of archive images of the much-loved broadcaster as the service was opened by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall.

The Queen was represented at the service by lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey.

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Evans said he was invited to lunch at “Wogan Towers” when he took over the Radio 1 Breakfast Show

Evans, who appeared to be emotional as his tribute drew to a close, said Sir Terry’s best advice to him was when he began presenting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show in 1996, saying: “They either like you, or they don’t.”

He said he first began listening to the veteran broadcaster when he was 17, while driving his orange Mini, preferring Sir Terry’s “naughtier” and more entertaining Radio 2 breakfast show to its Radio 1 counterpart.

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Katie Melua, who performed at the memorial, had been championed by Sir Terry

BBC director general Tony Hall said during his tribute that “the bedrock of his (Sir Terry’s) life was his family”.

He spoke of the broadcaster’s “numerous” Eurovision quips, adding: “My own favourite comes from 2007, when he announced as the coverage began: ‘Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? Actually I do, I’ve seen the rehearsals!”‘

He added: “Thank you, Sir Terry, on behalf of everyone at the BBC, and all your audiences, for giving us so much sheer, unalloyed joy.”

Peter Gabriel performed That’ll Do from the film Babe: Pig in the City, which Sir Terry chose as his favourite Desert Island Disc track in 2012.

Katie Melua, whom Sir Terry championed on Radio 2, sang an acoustic version of her hit The Closest Thing to Crazy.

Other guests included Alan Titchmarsh, Tess Daly, Alesha Dixon, Maureen Lipman, Esther Rantzen, Gaby Roslin, June Whitfield, Jimmy Tarbuck, Simon Mayo, Aled Jones, Rory Bremner and Richard Stilgoe.

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Sir Terry Wogan’s service was attended by hundreds of guests

Broadcaster Gloria Hunniford said before the service: “It’s a very special event. I feel happy and sad. Sad because we have to be here to celebrate his life, happy that we’ve got a chance to say goodbye.

“He would be saying, ‘what’s this all about?’. But we never got a chance to say goodbye.”

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Joanna Lumley and Peter Gabriel both took part in the service

Radio 2 presenter Ken Bruce read a poem, WB Yeats’ The Song Of Wandering Aengus at the service, while Lumley recited a poem she wrote with Richard Stilgoe especially for the event, titled For the Former Greatest Living Irishman.

Their poem began: “How shall I praise him? Let me count the ways/I think he was the tops, the cat’s miaow; For pity’s sake, who else would you allow to mutter in your ear each dawn of days/Just rambling on, with nothing on his mind?”

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The service was also shown on big screens in the Abbey

Sir Terry’s children Alan, Mark and Katherine read prayers for their father and archive recordings of Sir Terry were played throughout the event.

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Other guests included Dermot O’Leary and Claudia Winkleman

The church collection was in aid of Children in Need, of which Sir Terry was life president. The BBC Concert Orchestra closed the service with a rendition of Floral Dance, a hit for Sir Terry in 1978.

Other music featured included Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Greensleeves and Arthur Sullivan’s Overture from The Pirates of the Penzance.

Meanwhile, Take That, Ellie Goulding and Rick Astley are among the acts who have been announced for a special BBC Children In Need Rocks concert to honour Sir Terry.

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Sir Terry and Fearne Cotton presented Children in Need together

Other artists will include Olly Murs, Gregory Porter, Michael Ball, Alfie Boe and Alexander Armstrong.

The event, on 1 November at London’s Royal Albert Hall, will be hosted by Fearne Cotton and Greg James.

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Terry Wogan began his career working as a radio DJ

A series of tribute programmes for Sir Terry are being broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.

A two-part special, titled Thank You For Being My Friend – A Tribute to Terry Wogan, featuring interviews with his friends and colleagues, is being aired on Radio 2. The first instalment of the programme, presented by Ken Bruce, was broadcast on Monday night, with the second aired on Tuesday.

The BBC One tribute, Sir Terry Wogan Remembered: 50 Years at the BBC, will be broadcast on Friday 30 September at 21:00 BST.

In January, Sir Terry’s family said the 77-year-old had died “after a short but brave battle with cancer”.

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Jeremy Corbyn: I will continue to make anti-Trident case

Media captionJeremy Corbyn says he disagrees with nuclear policy

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he accepts his party’s policy is to renew the UK’s nuclear weapons – but will continue to speak out against it.

Mr Corbyn told the BBC: “Anyone’s entitled to raise an opinion on it, and they will.”

Labour’s defence spokesman has said the party’s position should not change before the next election.

In his interview, Mr Corbyn also questioned whether air strikes against so-called Islamic State were working.

In other Labour conference developments:

Labour’s leader, who was re-elected by an increased margin on Saturday, is hoping to unite his party at its conference in Liverpool.

But there have been rows over proposed changes to the internal party rules and on Monday Labour’s shadow defence secretary, Clive Lewis, was said to be upset at last-minute changes to the section of his speech about Trident, the UK’s nuclear missile system.

Mr Lewis reportedly said later it was time for Labour to stop “picking at the scab” of its Trident policy.

Asked to clarify Labour’s policy on whether to go ahead with renewing the multibillion pound system, Mr Corbyn told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that “the position is that Parliament has voted on Trident, the existing party policy was for renewal”, adding that he was “not a supporter of nuclear weapons”.

The party’s defence review, led by Mr Lewis, would continue, he said.

Labour was divided when MPs voted in favour of Trident renewal voted in July.

Asked whether he accepted the party’s current policy, Mr Corbyn – a longstanding CND campaigner – said: “Of course I know what the party policy is and of course I understand the decision that was taken.

“Does it mean there are people in the party who have a moral objection to nuclear weapons, yes there are.”

He predicted problems to come for the government with the costs of the project, currently estimated at £31bn, and said he would never want to trigger a nuclear bomb if elected as prime minister.

Labour is united on the need for a nuclear-free world, he added.

Media captionIn full: Jeremy Corbyn’s BBC interview with Laura Kuenssberg

Mr Corbyn was also asked whether he would continue with UK air strikes against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. The Labour leader opposed both interventions and is a former chairman of the Stop the War Coalition.

“I am not sure it’s working,” he said.

“I think there has to be a political solution, which brings together everyone with the exception of IS to isolate them.”

Pressed on whether he would call a halt to the military action, he said: “As a Labour prime minister I would bend every muscle I have got to bring about a political settlement and peace.”

On taking office as PM he would “look at all the evidence” and decide how to bring this about, he added.

The Labour leader said it had been “a very busy year” since he was first elected last summer having entered the 2015 leadership contest as an outsider.

“It’s fun and I enjoy it,” he added.

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Smiler crash: Alton Towers operator Merlin fined £5m

Media captionVictims’ solicitor Paul Paxton said “money alone will never replace limbs”

Alton Towers operator Merlin has been fined £5m for the crash on the Smiler rollercoaster.

Sixteen people were injured in the June 2015 crash, including two teenage girls who needed leg amputations.

In April, Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd admitted breaching the Health and Safety Act.

The theme park originally said the accident was caused by “human error.” But prosecutors argued the fault was with the employer not individuals.

Smiler fine ‘means nothing’, says victim

Alton Towers sentencing: As it happened

Sentencing, Judge Michael Chambers QC described the crash on the £18m attraction as a “catastrophic failure” and said human error was not the cause as was suggested at first.

“This was a needless and avoidable accident in which those who were injured were lucky not to be killed,” he said.

‘Catalogue of errors’

He said the crash was foreseeable but accepted the defendant had taken full and extensive steps to remedy the problems that led to the crash.

Speaking outside court after sentencing, Paul Paxton, representing eight of the victims, said his clients had been “shocked and disappointed by the catalogue of errors”.

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Sixteen people were injured in the crash last June

He added: “Money alone will never replace limbs, nor heal the psychological scars.”

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said they were determined to “never repeat” the devastating accident and stressed the firm was not an emotionless corporate entity.

“In this context, the far greater punishment for all of us is knowing that on this occasion we let people down with devastating consequences,” he said.

“It is something we will never forget and it is something we are utterly determined will never be repeated.”

The court had heard on Monday how engineers failed to notice a carriage that had stopped midway around the 14-loop ride.

Media captionMerlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney said they were determined to “never repeat” the devastating accident

They assumed there was a problem with the computer and over-rode the stop mechanism setting another train in motion and into the empty carriage.

Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, said workers had not been been given a system to follow which would safely deal with the issue.

He said engineers had not read or seen the ride’s operating instructions.

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Vicky Balch, Daniel Thorp, Joe Pugh and Leah Washington (L-R), who were all seriously injured in the crash, attended the sentencing hearing

He also pointed out there were estimated winds on the day of the crash of 45mph but the manufacturer’s manual stated the ride should not be operated at wind speeds above 34mph.

Simon Antrobus, defending Merlin, said a press release in November blaming “human error” was wrong and had been corrected.

He said a safety procedure had been in place, including an alarm designed to sound when wind speeds exceed 32mph – but it did not go off.

Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17, each lost a leg in the crash, which took place at 13:50 BST.

How events unfolded

•When the park opened on 2 June 2015 four trains were operating on The Smiler; a fifth was stored away

•At 13:00 BST one of the trains developed a problem; technical staff were called

•An engineer thought it was a good opportunity to maximise the capacity for riders with the fifth train because the park was busy

•An empty test train was sent but failed

•Engineers pushed the train until it engaged with the system and it went off

•Another empty train was sent out. It got stuck, too, but in a different place

•Engineers were unaware of this, thought everything was working fine and handed the rider back over to operators

•The train with 16 passengers on was sent out and stopped

•The engineers looked but could not see the stalled car, thought the computer was wrong, and over-rode the stop. This set the 16-passenger train in motion and into the empty carriage

Daniel Thorpe and Chandaben Chauhan were also badly injured. All four were in court for sentencing.

The Health and Safety Executive – whose investigation concluded the accident could have been avoided – said Merlin had let its customers down.

“This avoidable incident happened because Merlin failed to put in place systems that allowed their engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running,” Neil Craig, head of the HSE in the Midlands.

Media captionA carriage containing 16 passengers crashed into an empty train that had stopped midway around the 14-loop ride.

“This made it all too easy for a whole series of unchecked mistakes, not just the single push of a button, to result in tragedy.”

Merlin would have been fined £7.5m had it not pleaded guilty.

The Smiler ride reopened in March.

Since the crash, a number of safety changes have been made including improved access and a policy of closing the ride when winds exceed 34mph.

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William and Kate travel in sea plane on tour of Canada

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have flown by seaplane to Vancouver on the latest leg of an eight-day Canada tour.

They made the 30-minute journey from Victoria in a Twin Otter aircraft and were greeted by thousands of people gathered on Vancouver’s waterfront.

The duke and duchess later met refugees at an immigration centre and went to the Kitsilano coastguard station.

It is first time the Cambridges have toured as a family of four, with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

The royal couple were greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who was on the harbour side, before meeting well-wishers on a walkabout.

He later paid tribute to the royal couple, saying they are “strong advocates for young people.

“Whether it’s speaking out about cyber bullying, creating more opportunities for young people to lead in their community through sport coaching, or helping children and young people affected by addiction in their families.”

He said the duke and duchess “understand the need to support and encourage the world’s youth”.

Departing Victoria for Coal Harbour, in British Columbia, the duke and duchess were given earplugs for the flight because, although it is the easiest way to travel from Victoria to Vancouver, it is also the noisiest.

A royal aide said: “It was very smooth flying. The duke was very interested in the landing and the different conditions they work in. They spent a lot of time looking at the incredible views from both sides of the plane.”

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Later, the couple spoke met a family who had fled the civil war in Syria, during a visit with Canada’s prime minister and his wife to the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISS).

Canada has resettled 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and February this year.

They met Alaa Al Mahameed, 36, and wife Yosra, 35, who came to Canada with their daughters Reemas, three, and two-year-old Reetaj, in August.

The duchess crouched to speak to the two young children and then asked their mother for their ages through a translator.

She asked: “Has it been difficult with young children?”

Yosra told her: “We feel safe here. Much more safe.”

‘One of the guys’

Prince William spoke to Alaa about the conflict in Syria, asking: “Was there a lot of devastation in your town? How bad was the situation?”

Alaa said he was relieved the children were born outside of Syria, in Jordan, but admitted: “It’s been difficult.

“We hope that things would get better and we could return to Syria but unfortunately things have not improved.”

The day ended with the duke being hailed “one of the guys” as he met the emergency services with his wife and the Trudeaus.

The duke – a former RAF search and rescue pilot, and current air ambulance pilot – shared his experiences with fellow first responders.

Raising questions about “macho culture”, he and the duchess went on to inspect the latest technology available to Canadian fire, police and coastguard services.

24 Sept Victoria, British Columbia: The duke and duchess, accompanied by their children, arrived in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

25 Sept Vancouver, British Columbia: The duke and duchess visited Sheway, the Immigration Services Society of British Columbia – for an event to celebrate young leaders in Canadian arts, music, sport, charity, business, and film, and then visited the Kitsilano coastguard station.

26 Sept Bella Bella and the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia: The duke and duchess will travel to the Great Bear Rainforest, visit the Heiltsuk First Nations community and attend a reception hosted by the province of British Columbia at Government House.

27 Sept Kelowna, British Columbia and Whitehorse, Yukon: The royals will tour the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia and take part in the BC government’s “Taste of British Columbia” festival at Mission Hill Winery before flying to Whitehorse, where they will be greeted by members of the Canadian Rangers.

28 Sept Whitehorse and Carcross, Yukon: William and Catherine will visit the MacBride Museum and meet members of Whitehorse’s cultural community before travelling to Carcross, where they will be welcomed by the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

29 Sept Victoria, British Columbia: The royal couple and their children attend a children’s party in the grounds of Government House, which will be attended by military families.

30 Sept Haida Gwaii, British Columbia: The duke and duchess visit Haida Gwaii, the archipelago on the northern coast of British Columbia, home to the Haida Nation. They will attend the opening of the new Haida Gwaii hospital and care centre. They will join local youths for a fishing expedition on the waters of Hecate Strait.

30 Sept Victoria, British Columbia: The royal couple will visit the Cridge Centre for the Family, which provides services and support for women who have experienced domestic violence. They will then meet families who have received support from the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre and later youth working with the Sail and Life Training Society. They end their tour with a public official departure ceremony at Victoria Harbour Airport.

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Ben Needham search: Kos dig starts for missing toddler

Ben Needham

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Ben Needham vanished on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991 when he was 21 months old

Excavations will begin on Monday at farmland on the Greek island of Kos in the hunt for missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham.

Ben was 21 months old when he disappeared on 24 July 1991 during a family holiday.

New information revealed 10 days ago suggested he could have been crushed to death by a digger.

South Yorkshire Police said the dig was expected to take 10 to 12 days with “unusual items” undergoing testing.

A spokesman added that a decision on whether to start work on a second site would be made after work had finished at the first.

The Needham family has been informed of the latest developments.

Builder claim

The new investigation was triggered by a friend of builder Konstantinos Barkas.

It was claimed Mr Barkas may have accidentally killed Ben while clearing land with an excavator close to where the toddler was playing on the day he vanished.

Mr Barkas reportedly died of stomach cancer last year, months before detectives from South Yorkshire Police arrived on the island for a renewed investigation.

His widow Varvara strongly dismissed any suggestions her late husband had killed Ben.

The boy’s mother and grandparents were renovating a farmhouse in the village of Iraklise when he vanished.

His family and supporters have led a campaign to find him, while his mother and police officers have appeared on Greek television to appeal for information.

Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police secured funding form the Home Office to send 10 officers to Kos to carry out further investigations.

The disappearance of Ben Needham

  • 24 July 1991: Ben Needham vanishes after travelling to Kos with his mother and grandparents.
  • September 1991: Ben’s family returns to England due to illness, but his mother Kerry Needham continues to campaign for her son to be found.
  • February 2011: Prime Minister David Cameron responds to Mrs Needham, offering to support South Yorkshire Police and to press the Greek authorities.
  • May 2011: BBC airs a programme called “Missing 2011″ which includes a segment on Ben.
  • September 2011: Greek police on Kos reopen Ben’s case.
  • October 2012: A police operation focusing on a mound of earth and rubble close to where Ben was last seen finds no trace of him.
  • October 2013: Police say a DNA test carried out on a man in Cyprus proves he is not Ben Needham.
  • March/April 2015: A DNA test on another man in Greece proves negative.
  • January 2015: South Yorkshire Police gets £700,000 from the Home Office to continue the investigation.
  • March 2016: The force secures a further £450,000 in funding.
  • May 2016: A team of 10 South Yorkshire Police officers visits Kos to carry out house-to-house visits.
  • September 2016: Police say two locations on the island will be excavated.

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John McDonnell: Intervention key to post-Brexit prosperity

John McDonnell on a visit to a start-up business on SundayImage copyright

A future Labour government would intervene in the economy to bring about a “manufacturing renaissance”, shadow chancellor John McDonnell is to say.

Digital advances are encouraging firms to return to the UK but the Conservatives are “too blinkered by their ideology” to take advantage, he will tell the party’s conference.

Labour, he will say, will not stand by and let industries like steel flounder.

He will also promise to “work with” wealth creators and entrepreneurs.

It comes as shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is to promise to replace any regional funding shortfalls in the UK caused by Britain’s departure from the European Union.

‘New deal’

In his keynote speech in Liverpool, Mr McDonnell – a close ally of leader Jeremy Corbyn on the left of the party – will commit Labour to supporting major industrial employers and firms in emerging sectors, such as clean energy.

Arguing that the tide has turned around the world against unfettered globalisation, he will claim advocates of the free market will be unable to fully exploit the opportunities presented by the UK’s exit from the EU.

“We need a new deal across our whole economy,” he will say. “Because whatever we do in Britain, the old rules of the global economy are being rewritten for us.

“The winds of globalisation are blowing in a different direction. They are blowing against the belief in the free market, and in favour of intervention.”

The future of manufacturing, he will say, lies in collaboration – underpinned by high-skilled labour and high levels of investment – rather than “dog-eat-dog competition”.

Citing the government’s response to the steel crisis, its cuts to solar and wind subsidies and its approach to RD funding, he will claim only Labour can unlock the true potential of the British economy.

“Be certain the next Labour government will be an interventionist government,” he will argue. “We will not stand by like this one has and see our key industries flounder and our future prosperity put at risk.

“When we return to government we will implement a comprehensive industrial strategy. After Brexit, we want to see a renaissance in British manufacturing.”

‘Entrepreneurial state’

The Labour leadership has alarmed some business leaders by calling for selective nationalisation – including the return of the railways to public ownership – and for business taxes to rise to fund investment and skills training.

But Mr McDonnell – who has previously called for “socialism with an iPad” – will reject claims that the party is anti-enterprise and its approach marks a return to the state planning of the 1970s.

“Our government will create an entrepreneurial state that works with the wealth creators, the workers and the entrepreneurs to create the products and the markets that will secure our long-term prosperity,” he will say.

Allies of Mr Corbyn are pressing him to use his increased authority following his re-election to set out bold policies on the economy and the public services – cementing the party’s anti-cuts agenda.

Speaking at a rally on Sunday evening, shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said anti-austerity was once seen as a “left-wing preoccupation” but was now Labour’s official position and Mr Corbyn’s re-election was a “turning point” for progressive politics across Europe.

Also speaking at the conference, former leader Ed Miliband said the confusion unleashed by the Brexit vote was an opportunity for Labour but only if it spoke for both those who voted to leave as well as remain.

Amid calls for the party to unite behind Mr Corbyn following his re-election on Saturday, MPs critical of his leadership said they wanted reassurances that there would be no constituency deselections and at least partial elections to the shadow cabinet.

Ben Bradshaw told activists “we all want unity as long as it’s not the unity of the graveyard”.

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Three arrested over Poplar ‘chicken shop row’ murder

Zdenek MakarImage copyright
Met Police

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Zdenek Makar died from head injuries

A 16-year-old boy is among three people to be arrested on suspicion of murder following a disagreement at a chicken shop in east London.

Zdenek Makar, 31, from the Czech Republic, died near All Saints DLR station in Poplar on Wednesday night.

The Met said it was believed he had been followed and attacked after an altercation inside Perfect Fried Chicken in East India Dock Road.

Two men, aged 19 and 29, have also been arrested on suspicion of murder.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Makar died from head injuries.

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Forensic officers examined the scene on Thursday

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A large area around the scene of the crime was taped off on Thursday

Image copyright

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Zdenek Makar, from the Czech Republic, was pronounced dead in the street near All Saints DLR station

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