It has been confirmed that millions of pensioners will be stripped of free TV licenses from August 1st.
The BBC has announced there will be no extension to the two-month stay-of-execution that was triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
It is estimated that 3.7 million over-75s will now have to pay £157.50 a year to watch their favourite TV shows.
In the 2017 Conservative election, they pledged to protect free licenses for the rest of Parliament, which was set to run until 2022.
However, the BBC had been responsible for the lifeline from June 2020 following a deal agreed in 2015.
The BBC says keeping licenses free for all over 75s would cost £745 million. Instead, the corporation is introducing restrictions that mean only over-75s who receive Pension Credit will be eligible.
BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said: “The decision to commence the new scheme in August has not been easy, but implementation of the new scheme will be Covid-19 safe.
“The BBC could not continue delaying the scheme without impacting on programmes and services.
“Around 1.5 million households could get free TV licences if someone is over 75 and receives Pension Credit, and 450,000 of them have already applied.
“And critically it is not the BBC making that judgment about poverty. It is the Government who sets and controls that measure.
“Like most organisations the BBC is under severe financial pressure due to the pandemic, yet we have continued to put the public first in all our decisions.
“I believe continuing to fund some free TV licences is the fairest decision for the public, as we will be supporting the poorest oldest pensioners without impacting the programmes and services that all audiences love.”
Shadow Culture Minister, Chris Matheson, issued a last plea for the government to take responsibility in the Commons today.
He said: “The BBC is cutting jobs and content to pay for the cost of the licence dumped on them by the Government – and pensioners are forced to choose between eating and watching TV.”
Culture Minister Matt Warman said: “The fact is that the BBC has had a generous licence fee settlement and it is deeply disappointing that they have chosen to go down the path that they apparently are going down.
“I would, of course, hope that there is yet time to reconsider that because he is right to say that television has been vital comfort for many people in the last few months.
Elf Bar vapes removed from supermarket shelves after illegal nicotine levels found
Experts described the findings as ‘deeply disturbing’ and warned of a risk to young people illegally using the vapes.
Elf Bar vapes have been removed from major supermarket shelves after being found to be 50% over the legal nicotine limit.
The vapes have been taken off the shelves after the company admitted to ‘inadvertently’ selling products in the UK with legal levels of nicotine in them, a Daily Mail investigation has revealed. The disposable ELFBAR 600s were found to have at least 50% more than the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid.
Chinese vaping giant Elf Bar ‘wholeheartedly apologised’ after independent lab tests by the Daily Mail found its ‘600’ line of its disposable e-pens were at least 50% over the legal limit for nicotine. Experts described the findings as ‘deeply disturbing’ and warned of a risk to young people illegally using the vapes, which are sold by major supermarkets.
UK supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons stores, did stock the vapes but most have now confirmed that they have removed them. According to ITV, a Tesco spokesperson said: “We have temporarily removed one ELFBAR vape line from sale as a precautionary measure, whilst the manufacturer urgently investigates these claims.”
Sainsbury’s followed suit with a spokesperson saying: “We are in close contact with our supplier and have temporarily removed the affected Elf Bar product whilst they investigate further.”
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We are taking this very seriously and we can confirm that we’re working closely with ELFBAR and Trading Standards to investigate this further.” With Asda confirming that they were ‘working with the supplier to investigate the matter’.
It is illegal for under-18s to buy vapes but with the brightly coloured packaging, a variety of flavours and sweet smells, it is no surprise they have become popular amongst young people.
A survey carried out by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that in 2022, 15.8% of 11-17 year olds had tried vaping, compared to 11.2% in 2021 and 13.9% in 2020. ASH also found that in 2022, 7.0% of 11-17 year olds were current users, compared to 3.3% in 2021 and 4.1% in 2020.
A Department for Social Care spokesperson stated that ‘local enforcement agencies’ are responsible for the regulation of such products.
They added that these agencies also have a duty of ‘taking action’ against non-compliant products including products that ‘do not comply’ with the 2ml nicotine limits.
Lap dancing club has licence renewed after claims it makes Manchester look ‘seedy’
The strip club has had its licence renewed despite objections from a local resident.
A lap dancing club in Manchester city centre has recently had its licence renewed despite claims from a local objector that it brings the area into ‘disrepute’ and makes it look ‘seedy’.
The ‘sexual entertainment’ venue based on Whitworth Street West, Deansgate, had its application for renewal granted by Manchester City Council despite objections from a local resident, as reported by the Manchester Evening News.
The resident claimed that the club’s proximity to Deansgate train station brings the city into ‘disrepute’, and that it ‘seems strange’ that visitors and children ‘have to walk past the front door of such a repulsive establishment as they form their first impression of Manchester’.
The sex establishment is located in close proximity to Deansgate Station, where many visitors and commuters get on and off the train in Manchester city centre. Representatives of the club dismissed the objection, arguing that it is based on ‘moral grounds’ which are not relevant to the local authority’s decision.
In an email, the objector – whose name is redacted in papers published by the council – calls for the club to move elsewhere, saying: “I live in Deansgate ward and have frequently thought that the presence of the strip club Obsessions, on the doorstep of one of our big intercity stations, brings the area into disrepute. Its exterior is poorly maintained, hinting at the seedy activity that occurs within.
“It seems very strange that visitors to our beautiful and culturally rich city centre, including international visitors and families with children, have to walk past the front door of such a repulsive establishment as they form their first impression of Manchester.
“I feel strongly that such a business should not be permitted such visibility, and that another location should be found for it. For these reasons, it is the duty of the council to take the opportunity of the licence expiring to rid Deansgate of this unsavoury enterprise.”
Speaking on behalf of the club at a town hall hearing on Monday February 6th, Heath Thomas said Obsessions has been licensed since 2006 and that the character of the area has not changed during that time. He also argued that the objection is on ‘moral grounds’ which is not a reason to refuse the licence.
Mr Thomas told the licensing panel that the property is maintained and is not an ‘eyesore’ locally, and that the police recently inspected the premises and confirmed it is meeting all of the conditions of its licence. No other objections were received in response to the application to renew the club’s sex establishment licence, as Mr Thomas added: “It is just this one email.”
Another lap dancing club in the city centre – Victoria’s in Dantzic Street – also had its licence renewed on Monday February 6th, with no objections received.
Nicola Bulley: Private dive team brought in as last images of missing mum released
Private dive teams have join the search to help find Nicola.
A team of private divers have joined search efforts to find missing mum, Nicola Bulley as last images of her from her doorbell camera have been released.
In what is now into the 10th day of the search for the missing mum-of-two, divers from the private Specialist Group International (SGI) are now assisting Lancashire Police. The firm’s founder, Peter Faulding, said he had offered the team’s services free of charge to the force.
The 45-year-old mum was last seen by a member of the public on a riverside dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre, in Lancashire, on Friday January 27th. Police believe she may have fallen into the River Wyre.
The mortgage advisor was captured on the doorbell camera of her home as she went on the school run before her disappearance. The images show her getting ready to set off on the four-mile journey from her home. Dressed in her walking boots and hooded raincoat, she is seen opening the boot of the family car as her dog, Willow, jumps in the back.
The private team of drivers have already been scouring the water as they join a team of volunteers, along with mountain rescue, sniffer dogs, drones and helicopters, but no trace of Ms Bulley has yet been found. The firm’s founder, Peter Faulding said: “We’re bringing extra divers, and we also bring hi-tech sonar.
“It gives us double the resources so we can cover an extremely large area.”
Police said SGI’s offer to assist in the search was ‘taken up after speaking with Nicola’s family’, saying: “We continue to lead an extensive and far-reaching multi-agency search using a wide range of specialist equipment and resources.”
Hoping the extra help would bring the family ‘answers’, friend, Emma Wight, added: “Following the theory or hypothesis of the police that Nicola is in the river, we need some evidence to back that up either way.”
After she was last sighted, Ms Bulley’s phone was found on a bench by the Wyre, along with a dog harness, some 25 minutes later.
It was still logged in to a conference call.
Lancashire Police have said there was no evidence of ‘anything untoward’ happening to her or any third-party involvement.
With Detective Superintendent Sally Riley saying officers were ‘as sure as we can be that Nicola has not left the area where she was last seen and that very sadly for some reason she has fallen into the water’.
Detectives said they were open to new information and criticised the online abuse of people who had been helping their inquiry, declaring it ‘totally unacceptable’.
Ms Bulley’s disappearance has drawn a lot of attention on social media with thousands of people commenting on the ongoing search. Many have wished the family well while some people have been speculating about what might have happened by discussing the family’s finances and relationships.
According to the BBC, Ms Bulley’s friend Heather Gibbons said ‘vile’ theories being shared online were hurtful, and that she was concerned that as Ms Bulley’s daughters get older ‘they will be able to look back and they will be able to see everything that was said’.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “The speculation and abuse on social media aimed at some people who are merely assisting our enquiry is totally unacceptable.
“We would urge people to remember that we are investigating the disappearance of Nicola, and the priority is Nicola and her family. We want to find her and provide answers to her family.”