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Minimum marriage age to be raised from 16 to 18 in England and Wales

The new law will see adults who arrange child marriages face up to seven years in prison

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The minimum marriage age in England and Wales is to be raised from sixteen to eighteen under a new law hoping to prevent illegal child marriages.

While sixteen and seventeen year olds can currently marry with parental consent, campaigners have been warning that this legal loophole has been exploited and used to coerce some young people into child marriage.

The new law, proposed by Conservative MP Pauline Latham and first introduced in June last year, could see adults who arrange the marriage of children face up to to seven years in prison and receive a fine.

Latham said the legislation will also apply to cultural or religious marriages that are not registered with the local council, and will ‘transform the life chances of many girls’. 

The legislation, which had its third reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday, will receive Royal Assent later this week, meaning it will become law from then.

The move has been praised by anti-child marriage campaigner Payzee Malika, who was coerced into marriage at the age of sixteen. Her sister Banaz was also murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing’.

She tweeted yesterday: “On my way to Parliament for The Third and Final reading of our Child Marriage Bill… Struggling to put in to words what this means.

“I feel so many emotions. This is real life change. This is for me, for Banaz, for any child impacted by child marriage.”

In a separate tweet, Payzee tweeted: “I’m just a girl from Kurdistan. I couldn’t imagine in a million years I would be working to end child marriage, sitting in Parliament hearing an incredible woman talking about the need to end child marriage.

“I will keep saying it, this is life saving. This is change.”

Figures released by the ONS last year show that 140 teenage girls and 43 teenage boys were married with parental consent in 2017.

Last year, Health Secretary Sajid Javid drafted a bill to end the rule that allowed sixteen and seventeen year olds to marry with their parents’ permission, arguing that research showed most of these unions were ‘coerced or forced for cultural and religious reasons’.

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Wetherspoons to close pubs across UK with CEO blaming ‘people drinking at home’

CEO Tim Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’.

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Wetherspoons has announced a number of closures of its low budget pubs across the UK and is looking to sell more off.

Low-cost pub chain JD Wetherspoon, owned by Tim Martin, has announced plans to close 11 of its pubs due to spiralling costs and are putting 35 more up for sale. The moves comes after the high street chain suffered a huge £30m loss and has described the plans as a ‘commercial decision’.

Chairman Mr Martin has said the closures are down to people opting to ‘drink at home’, especially after the Covid lockdowns.

The hospitality chain said like-for-like sales surged by nearly 18% over the last three months of 2022, when compared with the same period in 2021. However, sales still remained 2% lower than the equivalent pre-pandemic period in 2019.

 

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Mr Martin, told the PA News Agency: “The aftermath of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions have been far more difficult than anyone thought.

“That is the picture for the whole pub and restaurant industry. People thought that after lockdown there would be a boom in people suffering from cabin fever but, instead, it has almost been the opposite situation as people have got in the habit of staying in.

“That’s the big thing that means sales are down on 2019. Things are improving now but it’s slow.”

Is your Wetherspoons local at risk of closure? Here’s the full list of pubs which have been sold and are up for sale.

Pubs which have been sold:

  • Harvest Moon, Orpington
  • Alexander Bain, Wick
  • Chapel an Gansblydhen, Bodmin
  • Moon on the Square, Basildon
  • Coal Orchard, Taunton
  • Running Horse, Airside Doncaster Airport
  • Wild Rose, Bootle
  • Edmund Halley, Lee Green
  • The Willow Grove, Southport
  • Postal Order, Worcester
  • North and South Wales Bank, Wrexham

Pubs still up for sale:

  • The Butlers Bell, Stafford
  • Worlds Inn, Romford
  • Silkstone Inn, Barnsley
  • Wrong ‘Un, Bexleyheath
  • The Percy Shaw, Halifax
  • Jolly Sailor, Hanham
  • The Alfred Herring, Palmers Green
  • The Moon & Bell, Loughborough
  • The Widow Frost, Mansfield
  • Resolution, Middlesbrough
  • Foxley Hatch, Purley
  • The Rising Sun, Redditch
  • Sennockian, Sevenoaks
  • Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis, Southampton
  • The Colombia Press, Watford
  • The Malthouse, Willenhall
  • The John Masefield, New Ferry
  • The Crosse Keys, Peebles
  • Lord Arthur Lee, Fareham
  • The Saltoun Inn, Fraserburgh
  • General Sir Redvers Buller, Crediton
  • Plough & Harrow, Hammersmith
  • Thomas Leaper, Derby
  • Cliftonville, Hove
  • Tollgate, Turnpike Lane
  • Asparagus, Battersea
  • Millers Well, East Ham
  • Hudson Bay, Forest Gate
  • Angel, Islington
  • The Billiard Hall, West Bromwich
  • Capitol, Forest Hill
  • The Bankers Draft, Eltham
  • Moon on the Hill, Harrow
  • The Bank House, Cheltenham
  • Last Post, Loughton

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Son of woman who died of hypothermia because she ‘couldn’t afford heating’ speaks out

He assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them.

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David Dixon/Geograph & Google Maps

The son of a woman who died of hypothermia after saying that she couldn’t afford to put her heating on has spoken about his tragic loss.

Mark Bolton, 61, assured his mother not to worry about the bills and that he would help her to pay them, but she had refused his offer. Barbara Bolton, 87, told her relatives that she felt cold when they visited her home on Dawson Street, in Bury.

She was rushed to Fairfield general Hospital where she was diagnosed with hypothermia and also had a chest infection. Despite the efforts of doctors and medical staff around her, Barbara’s condition deteriorated and sadly, she passed away on January 5th, just a number of weeks after she was admitted.

Mark said he spoke to his mum every night and that she worried about her heating bills, despite his assurances he would cover the costs, telling The Mirror: “She was concerned about all her bills because she was a pensioner.

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“She was careful, she was mindful of the prices and worried about them going up. But she was very stubborn and proud about paying her own way.”

Barbara was found sitting in her kitchen by one of her grandchildren when they went round because they couldn’t get hold of her, when she said that she ‘felt cold’.

Police coroner’s officer, Jane Scullion, told the hearing: “Barbara was admitted to hospital on December 11th 2022, with hypothermia, and a chest infection.

“During that time she continued to deteriorate. After a discussion, she was placed on end-of-life care and passed away.”

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Assistant coroner for Manchester North, Julie Mitchel, adjourned the inquest and requested statements from her doctor, and also asked for a medical cause of death to be provided.

She said: “Her death was particularly accelerated by hypothermia and there is a possibility of self-neglect due to the lack of heating so her death has been referred to the coroner.”

Barbara’s neighbours said they were ‘shocked’ and ‘saddened’ upon the news of her death, and said she had lived there for several decades.

One man said: “I think Barbara must have lived here about 50 years. I know that she was working at the chemist in Tesco until fairly recently. It’s so sad.”

And a woman said: “I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. It’s so sad. She was a really nice woman and lived here for years but more recently kept herself to herself.”

A full inquest, which will explore the circumstances which led to Barbara’s death, will take place at Rochdale Coroners’ Court later this year.

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Police issue warning to anyone heading to the Trafford Centre this weekend

Police have a warning for visitors of the Trafford Centre travelling by car.

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Police say they have noticed an increase in the number of vehicles being stolen, particularly from the Trafford Centre.

Thieves are using signal jammers and scanning devices to steal customer’s cars using the Trafford Centre car park. Among the cars being targeted are Land Rovers and Ford Fiestas in a spate of shopping centre motor thefts around the Trafford area.

Officers have already made 11 arrests since January 10th this year, with one car being recovered. As they launch ‘Operation Lexford’ — which aims to robustly tackle vehicle theft in the area Greater Manchester Police are issuing a warning to car owners.

GMP have been working in partnership with the Trafford Centre security team and together they have now set up ‘Operation Lexford’ to prevent crime and target those who are coming to Trafford to steal specific types of vehicles.

Greater Manchester Police

Chief Inspector Shoheb Chowdhury of GMP’s Trafford District, said: “This operation is an excellent example of GMP’s commitment to tackling vehicle crime across Greater Manchester.

“A lot of the work GMP does to tackle the issue may not be visible but catching those responsible remains a force priority. Cars are of great value to people and we understand that having a car stolen can have a huge impact both financially and emotionally.”

Reassuring the vehicle owners using car parks in Trafford, he added: “As part of the operation, there will be an increased police presence at the Trafford Centre and we will be holding weekly police surgeries with focus on providing people with tailored crime prevention advice.

“We will continue to work to bring offenders to justice, but I would ask the public to help us to help them, by being vigilant when visiting the Trafford Centre, and to follow our simple crime prevention advice found on the crime prevention page on our website.”

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A spokesperson from Trafford Centre also said: “Our security and customer services teams take car theft very seriously and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police on this issue. We minimise car theft on-site through the use of ANPR, CCTV and camera patrols so all vehicles entering and leaving the car parks are monitored and logged.

“This data and footage is made available to GMP as required. We also deploy high profile patrols in all car parks to deter thieves and run multiple police operations on-site to apprehend offenders.”

GMP officers have also issued some advice for vehicle owners to help them in preventing the thefts including: double checking your car is locked, investing in a faraday bag, not leaving your belongings on display, investing in a tracking device and using a steering wheel lock.

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