At least five councils in the UK have banned smoking in pavement dining areas outside pubs, bars and restaurants, and a sixth could soon follow, according to reports this morning.
The local authorities, which includes Manchester City Council, have begun including the rules in their licensing agreements for establishments applying to place table and chairs outdoors.
While smoking in outdoor seating areas has already been prohibited in the last year as part of Covid-19 regulations, these new bans have come as the government attempts to make the country ‘smoke free’ within the decade.
All five councils are in England’s North; Manchester, North Tyneside, Durham, Newcastle, and Northumberland will be banning smoking on the pavements where outdoor hospitality venues have tables, the Guardian reports.
The councils have already begun stipulating smoke-free pavement drinking and dining rules in the past year, according to their licensing conditions.
This comes just days after it was announced that Oxfordshire would be the first county to enforce the ban.
The plan was agreed by public health officials before the pandemic began in February last year, and is now being implemented as lockdown begins to ease.
Oxfordshire’s policy document says ‘reducing the visibility of smoking’ will make it seem more abnormal, so children are less likely to start.
It adds: “By compelling smokers to remove themselves from defined areas to smoke, there is increased chance that they will consider stopping.”
In 2019, the government first announced a new ambition to make England ‘smoke-free’ by 2030. Smoke-free status is officially recognised by the Government when 5% or less of an area’s population are smokers.
Energy price cap and household bills to fall to lowest in two years in April
The price cap will take effect from April
The typical energy bill is to fall to £1,690 in April under the new price cap set by the regulator.
Energy bills will fall by £238 a year, or £20 a month this spring – the lowest price cap in two years – thanks to a mild winter bringing some relief to household bill payers.
The new cap is set by the regulator Ofgem, and will affect 29 million households in England, Wales and Scotland from April until June and is a 12.3% reduction from £1,928 in the current quarter.
The cap will be adjusted again in July and is expected to fall again to around £1,462 before rising to £1,521 from October, according to energy consultants Cornwall Insight.
Rules for Northern Ireland are different, but prices there are still falling. The cap does not limit how much customers will pay – those who use more will pay more.
The energy price cap is still higher than it was at pre-pandemic levels with households having to shell out more for their gas and electricity than they did before the energy crisis hit, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The poorest households will see equalised standard charges, which is the fee paid before any gas or electricity is used.
This means customers with prepaid meters will no longer be charged more for their connection than those who pay by credit or direct debit.
It comes after pressure from fuel poverty campaigners, who say despite the move, bills are still high and many households will continue to struggle.
Those with a meter will save £49 annually while those on direct debit will pay £10 a year more.
Analysts had feared that disruption to cargo ships in the Red Sea could push gas prices up further, but that has not happened so far.
As reported in The Guardian, Jonathan Brearley, the chief executive of Ofgem, said: “There are still big issues that we must tackle head-on to ensure we build a system that’s more resilient for the long term and fairer to customers.
“That’s why we are ‘levelising’ standing charges to end the inequity of people with prepayment meters, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling, being charged more upfront for their energy than other customers.”
The regulator will add £28 to customer’s bill to ensure there are sufficient funds for suppliers and support customers who are struggling.
Dame Clare Moriarty, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The government promised a new plan for energy bill support by April 2024 but will miss its own deadline.
“And the withdrawal of cost of living payments this spring will make it so much harder for many of those already finding it difficult to make ends meet. Without action, people will face a cycle of winter crises year after year.”
Energy firms will contact customers before April to inform them of their new price changes.
Motorists could have to retake driving test at 65 under new proposals
A petition is calling for people to have to retake their driving test at 65
New proposals would mean drivers have to retake their test when they turn 65 if they want their driving licence to remain valid.
If the new plans go ahead, older drivers will have to take another test to show they can drive safely if they want to continue using the roads past the age of 65.
The plans are part of a petition outlined on the Parliament website, according to The Express.
Campaigner Deniss Fomins, who started the petition, said: “I would like the Government to require drivers to retake their driving at 65, if they want their driving licence to remain valid.
“I travel a lot, and often see older drivers who I believe should not be driving. Some misuse turn signals, others appear to have sight issues.”
“Reactions also worsen with age,” he added.
The petition will have to reach 10,000 signatures to receive a reply and if it reaches 100,000 signatures, the government will have to consider it for debate in Parliament.
Currently, you don’t have to take another driving test as you get older, though when you’re nearly 70 your driving licence does run out.
But all you have to do in this instance is ask the DVLA to renew it. The DVLA will then send you a letter with a D46P form to fill in about three months before your 70th birthday. You can fill this in and send it back or use the online service.
The minimum legal age to be able to drive in the UK is 17, but you don’t have to stop driving at any certain age.
Steve Gooding from the RAC Foundation doesn’t think we should make drivers retake their driving test once they reach any certain age, but he does think motorists should have their eyes checked.
Mr Gooding said: “One thing that would allow all drivers not just those at an arbitrary old age to help judge their fitness to drive would be compulsory eye tests when licences are renewed.”
President of the AA Edmund King has previously highlighted the huge backlog in driving tests, which would make re-examining older drivers difficult.
Mr King said in a previous statement: “At the moment, it is very difficult for new drivers. In many areas, there’s something like a six-month delay, there’s a 500,000 [test] backlog.
“If you then add in checks for older drivers, it really would set the calendar back by years.”
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Jonnie Irwin’s widow says ‘sadness is huge’ in heartbreaking update
‘I can’t even let myself think what another week without Jonnie will be like let alone another year another 10 years’
Jonnie Irwin’s wife Jessica Holmes has shared her grief in an Instagram update after losing him to cancer earlier this month.
The A Place In The Sun presenter died on February 2nd at the age of 50 after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2020, which then spread to his brain.
The TV personality previously shared at the time that he was initially given six months to live.
He spent the last months of his life with his family, on holiday, renovating their family home and meeting up with friends and colleagues.
Jonnie leaves behind Jess, who he married in 2016, and their three children: Rex, three, and twins Rafa and Cormac, two.
In a heartbreaking post shared with her 12,000 followers on Instagram, Jess wrote: “It still doesn’t feel real. The sadness is huge. I can’t even let myself think what another week without Jonnie will be like let alone another year another 10 years.
“I have been truly touched by all the support from friends and strangers. But nothing compares to how I have been picked up by my family and Jonnies sisters , your support and love means everything to me. “
The accompanying image showed a picture of sun shining over cliffs by the sea, as she added: “I am loving watching the boys enjoy some days in the sun and having a change of scene is just what we needed.”
Fans and friends dashed to the comments section, flooding her with support and sending their love.
One person wrote: “The world is sad with you…one foot in front of the other…sending love.”
Another put: “It’s super hard, taking strength from friends and family helps as does time, you just do it your way with their help and keep him in your heart, talk to him and love him from afar as only those who have lost can.”
And someone else typed: “You and the boys have been in my thoughts during this time of grief. Words are not enough. Jonnie was an inspiration to so many people and he’ll never be forgotten.”
Jess confirmed the devastating news of Jonnie’s passing in a heartfelt Instagram earlier this month.
Alongside a picture of Jonnie laughing at a dinner table in good times gone by, she wrote: “Good night my favourite. Thank you for everything. I will always love you.
“The hardest day has come, a day I prayed wouldn’t come. It’s with all the the saddness in the world that I confirm Jonnie has passed away earlier today.
“His magical brain that continued to fight to the end has now gone to sleep. He has given me more than I could ever have wished for, 8 bonkers years of love and adventure and 3 amazing boys.
“I will continue to make you proud but only with your love still finding me and guiding me for the rest of my life, me and the boys still need you. Jonnie you really were the most handsome man I ever knew and I am so sorry for this cruel end. It really wasn’t fair and you didn’t deserve any of this.
“You gave so much time to others and touched everyone you met, I have never experienced anything like the effect you had on people. I love you so much and forever proud of you.”
Jonnie had initially kept his diagnosis private but made the decision to go public with it in a bid to convince others suffering symptoms to go and seek help as early as they can, as well as inspire those living with life limiting prospects to live the time they have to its fullest.
Speaking to Hello! Magazine in an exclusive interview at the time, he said: “I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it.
“But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.”