Housing and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has said shops can stay open longer, urging councils to waive rules restricting hours.
Currently, retail shops have to apply under the town and country planning act to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, a process which can take weeks.
In seeking to help retail and some 125,000 jobs, the government has allowed non-essential shops to reopen from Wednesday after a month of a second-national lockdown.
Mr Jenrick revealed that shops should be able to stay open for 24 hours if they wish throughout both December and January, with next month being ‘the most important December ever for retailers’.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Jenrick said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.
“How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council.
“But I suggest we offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.
“Therefore as Local Government Secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond if wish.”
He added that flexible deliveries will ‘keep the streets free for the rest of us’ and that stores can ‘replenish their shelves whenever they want’.
Brits are being told to support retail by going on a ‘shopping splurge’ over Christmas.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told The Mirror: “While reopening offers a lifeline for many shops, it will be the public who have the final say.
“Thankfully, Christmas is the perfect reason to shop, knowing that every purchase we make is a retailer helped and a job supported.”
She added: “High streets, shopping centres and retail parks have all seen footfall nose-dive during lockdown, with closed shops estimated to have lost around £2billion per week in lost sales.”
Andrew Goodacre, head of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “This is the most important December ever for retailers and the high streets throughout the UK.
“We need customers to return to the shops and enjoy a traditional Christmas shopping experience and support the local community at the same time”.
Jenrick went on to add that he will be slashing regulations for British shopkeepers, adding: “Today I am… announcing a temporary relaxation in shop opening hours this Christmas and through January, asking councils to allow extended hours for shoppers on every high street Monday to Saturday.
“None of us I suspect enjoy navigating the crowds.
“And none would relish that when social distancing is so important to controlling the virus in the final furlong before the vaccine rollout commences.”
New government proposals could see cat owners fined £500
Here’s everything you need to know…
Cat owners could be slapped with hefty fines under a subtle new rule change proposed by the government this week.
The new plans propose that all cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they are twenty weeks old – there, the cat’s details will be stored and kept up-to-date in a database.
If a cat owner is found to not have microchipped their cat, however, they will have twenty-one days to get their pet microchipped or risk facing a fine of up to £500.
Government figures show that out of the 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, as many as 2.8 million are still not microchipped. And, according to Cats Protection, eight out of ten stray cats coming into their centres are not microchipped.
The charity added that the procedure only costs between £20 and £30.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.
“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”
Chill Factore forced to close after section of roof damaged by Storm Barra
Major damage to the roof has forced the popular attraction to close
The Chill Factore has been forced to close after a section of its roof was damaged from severe winds brought on by Storm Barra.
All activities at the Beyond building, which houses an indoor ski slope, have been cancelled for the rest of the day, with car parks surrounding the Trafford attraction closing ‘with immediate effect’.
In a statement on its website, Chill Factore said: “The Beyond building has sustained some damage due to the severe winds.
“As a result we’ve made the difficult decision to close our building and surrounding car parks with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of our guests and team.
“All activities for the remainder of the day have been cancelled and we are in the process of contacting guests with bookings for today to rearrange their activities.
“We are awaiting contractors to come and assess the damage and we will provide more information as soon as possible through our website & social media accounts.”
This comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning in various areas across Greater Manchester ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.
The second named storm of the season hit the region today, bringing with it plummeting temperatures plummeting and heavy rainfall.
Forecasters say travel disruption is ‘likely’, especially over higher routes, as is delays to rail and air travel. There is also the ‘slight chance some rural communities may become cut off’.
The Met Office said: “A deep area of low pressure moving in across the UK from the Atlantic is likely to bring high winds to many parts of the UK.
“Strong winds arriving into the west through the morning, spreading inland and reaching eastern areas through the afternoon and early evening. Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected widely, with 60-70 mph in exposed coastal locations.
People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law
The law has been named after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother last year
The Prime Minister has backed a newly proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison.
Following the horrifying death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Boris Johnson has announced that his government will be amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make ‘whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes’.
Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.
“The Attorney General is also urgently considering the facts of this case and the sentence handed down, but this is a Government that will always legislate for the toughest possible sentences for such repugnant crimes.”
Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed last week for at least twenty-nine years for his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.
However, the attorney general announced over the weekend that the sentences are to be reviewed to ‘determine whether they were too low’.
According to The Guardian, the AGO has twenty-eight days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal.
Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on June 16th 2020, as a result of a serious head injury inflicted by Tustin. His body was also covered in 130 bruises.
It was later discovered that the six-year-old had been starved, beaten and poisoned with salt in the weeks leading to his death.
Harrowing footage recently released by West Midlands Police show a weak and emancipated Arthur struggling to lift his duvet from the living room floor, where he had been forced to sleep.
Social worker and member of the House of Lords Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last ten years meant abused and neglected children like Arthur were being missed by the authorities.