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Packets of cigarettes are set for ‘biggest price rise ever’ next month

Sad news for smokers!

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lil artsy / Pexels & Piotr Drabik / Wikimedia

Packets of cigarettes will see the ‘biggest price rise ever’ next month, with costs expected to increase by 12.7%.

The move comes after Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said he wants to raise tobacco duty in line with inflation in next month’s budget on March 15th. Due to inflation being at its highest rate in years, many smokers had hoped the Chancellor would put a hold on the hike.

If you were planning on giving up this expensive vice, whether that be to improve your health or your purse, now might just be the right time. For those who wish to be free to choose to continue with their habit, it looks like you will be paying out more.

Smokers will see a packet of 20 go up by £1.15, meaning they will have a tobacco tax of at least 2% and levies of 12.7 %. As reported by the MailOnline, cigarettes make 1.2% of all tax revenue, which equates to almost £11 million in taxes.

The government is trying to discourage new people taking up the habit and ultimately hoping that the number of smokers in the UK will continue to fall to less than 5% of the population by the end of the decade.

Lindsay Fox / Flickr

The news might not come as a surprise to many because they are such a big money maker for the government through taxation, and they usually go up to meet inflation. 

As reported in The Mirror, The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) group has come forward to oppose the level of increase, stating that the ‘primary purpose’ of increasing tax above inflation is to reduce the affordability of tobacco products. The group pointed out that RPI is ‘not a good measure of affordability’ at the current time when peoples’ wages are not inline with inflation.

In a statement, ASH said: “A better measure of affordability is average earnings, as is used in Australia and we recommend that the UK switch from using RPI to average weekly earnings increase as the foundation for the tobacco tax escalator.

“The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that average weekly earnings will have grown by 5.4% in the fiscal year 2022-3, and are expected to grow by 4.2% in 2023, while the figures for RPI are 13.0% and 8.3%.”

Wlodi / Flickr

In the Spring Statement last year, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that cigarette prices were not going to rise as part of his budget. This meant that the last time cigarette prices were increased was in October 2021 when 88p was added to the most expensive pack increasing it from £12.73 to just over £13.60.

Over the last couple of decades, the government has actively worked to prevent more smokers with the introduction of several new laws, such as smoking no longer being allowed in ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ public places and workplaces, and health warnings having to be displayed on packets.

Currently, the UK is working toward making the country ‘smoke-free’ by 2030 which would mean that less than 5% of UK adults would partake in the habit.

The Spring Budget is set for March 15th 2023 and currently, it is expected that the Chancellor has planned a ‘slimmed down’ budget with no immediate tax cuts.


Aldi closing 890 stores for one day over Easter to give staff a well-earned break

Check your local Aldi’s opening hours this Easter Bank Holiday weekend

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Jeff Buck / Geograph & Google Maps

Aldi will close almost 900 stores next month in order to give staff a day off over Easter.

The budget supermarket has issued a message to all shoppers ahead of Easter weekend. The announcement will affect 890 supermarkets over the Easter Bank Holiday in April and customers have been given a warning of the change in advance.

The long Easter weekend begins on Good Friday April 7th and ends on Easter Monday 10th, giving many office workers and schools four days off. Aldi will be changing how most of its stores operate over this upcoming long weekend, as 890 of its supermarkets are set to close on Easter Sunday (April 9th) to give its staff a well-deserved day off.

Over the Easter weekend, Aldi stores in England and Wales will be open until 10pm on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Stores will be closed on Easter Sunday, but will be open until 8pm on Easter Monday.

Google Maps

The opening times of some stores may vary, so shoppers should check the details for their local Aldi online before making the trip. Aldi has previously been praised for closing stores on Easter Sunday. 

Meanwhile, Aldi’s rival Tesco has also announced a major change ahead of the Easter period. For the first time ever, the grocery giant has changed its iconic logo.

The new logo rolled out across supermarkets, delivery vans and billboards from Monday March 20th, and shoppers who spot it are in with a chance of winning £1,000 to spend on whatever they want, says Tesco.


From March 20th until Wednesday march 29th, shoppers who spot the limited edition logos across any format can enter the competition for a chance to win £1000 by sharing an image of it on their Instagram grid or Twitter feed using the hashtag #CrackingEaster, or post a photo of it under the promotional post on the Tesco Facebook page.

The giveaway will see 100 lucky entrants win £1,000 to spend at Tesco, to help them enjoy Easter with family and friends.

Shoppers can visit Tesco stores from today to be in with a chance of winning.


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‘State-of-the-art’ snow leopard habitat at Chester Zoo given go-ahead

‘The plan is designed to enhance our position as one of the world’s best conservation, animal and leisure attractions between now and 2030’

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Eric Kilby / Wikimedia & Tambaco The Jaguar / Flickr

Exciting new plans to launch a state-of-the-art snow leopard habitat at Chester Zoo have been released after being given the green light.

The North West’s hugely popular visitor attraction and animal conservation had its planning application given the rubber stamp by Cheshire West and Chester Council on Thursday March 16th. The zoo plans to build a new animal holding facility with on-show and off-show animal enclosures, and a public viewing area.

It will be situated at the eastern edge of the site in an existing enclosure. It currently houses a Blesbok habitat and Wetland Bird Nursery, which are being relocated to the Conservation Breeding and Management Area (CBMA), located on Caughall Road.

A statement submitted from Chester Zoo with the planning application read: “The plan is designed to enhance our position as one of the world’s best conservation, animal and leisure attractions between now and 2030.

Chester Zoo

“Building on the success of our ground-breaking islands habitats which first opened in 2015 to bring South East Asia to life in Cheshire, the remainder of the zoo will be sensitively transformed through the creation of large scale themed zones.

“As a leading tourist attraction, it is imperative that we continue to invest and improve our facilities for excellent education, animal welfare and visitor satisfaction. The snow leopard is an iconic species with significant public draw and should help drive visitation to the zoo during a period with no other major visitor developments taking place.

“The intention is to construct the enclosure on an existing animal habitat with no increase to staff numbers or traffic as part of this application.”

Eric Kilby / Wikimedia

Highways officer Paul Parry requested a condition be added to the planning consent for full details of the phasing of the demolition and construction traffic for the development to be provided prior to the works.

He stated: “It is considered that the overall proposals would not give rise to such a significant increase in the level of typical daily zoo visitor traffic that would have an additional severe impact on the operation or safety of the local highway network.

“There will be construction traffic related to the build out period and this will result in construction vehicles using Caughall Road to access the site. Whilst this will have an impact on Caughall Road it is considered that, as it will be finite construction period, a refusal reason based on construction traffic impacts would not be robust grounds for a refusal.

Mike Peel / Wikimedia

“I would expect to see a Construction Traffic Management Plan in place to set out how such traffic and its impacts would be managed and mitigated for.

“I would expect such a plan to have control measures set out within it to avoid construction vehicle movements, including larger vehicles undertaking deliveries etc. at the school drop off and pick up periods for Acresfield Primary School.”

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Doggy soft play with bouncy castle and ball pools is reopening ‘bigger and better’

It’s set to be ‘bigger and better’

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Bark N Bounce

A doggy soft play area is preparing to reopen its doors in Greater Manchester for the  new season and will be ‘bigger and better than before’.

Bark N Bounce doggy daycare is set to reopen its doors next month at its site in Boothstown near Worsley, Salford. From Saturday April 1st, it will be offering stay and play sessions, birthday parties and breed meet-ups for puppies and dogs — a huge hit with owners.

It also offers a place to stay at the site’s Keepers Boarding Kennels to have a run around, as owners can book a play session as part of their pet’s stay.

The indoor and outdoor ball pools are hugely popular among the pet pooches, but there’s plenty more to keep them entertained including an 18 ft bouncy castle with slides, tunnels and more for the doggos to explore and enjoy.

Bark N Bounce

The venue first opened as a secure outdoor field area in 2019, but later expanded with a 90ft indoor section too — allowing the animals to play in all weathers while their owners could keep dry too.

Now, as it’s all set for reopening for the spring and summer, some new additions are also being added, including a drinks trailer and some outdoor seating so that the human customers can enjoy a drink and a snack while their dogs are busy playing.

Owner Harley Chester said: “We’ll be opening from April 1st and can’t wait to see customers old and new. We’ll have all the equipment that the dogs love, including the bouncy castle, ball pools, tunnels and slides and are adding a few extra bits that we think people will love.”

Bark N Bounce

There are less weekend slots available for private bookings this year, meaning priority will be given to people with five or more dog bookings, with the remaining slots going live on the website from the end of March.

You can book on the stay and play group sessions, or book for private hire, for either just your dog, or your dog and their friends. Group Sessions cost £15 and run for 90 minutes. Private sessions and birthday parties cost £20 for up to two dogs, with additional dogs at £10 each. These run for 55 minutes.

You can add extras including personalised banners, party hats, mini party bags, and a mini buffet. You will find Bark N Bounce at Keepers Cottage, Vicars Hall Lane, Boothstown, Manchester M28 1JA.

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