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Thames Tideway: Inside the £4bn ‘super sewer’ that will help protect London’s river from pollution | UK News

With a rattling clank the sliding doors shut on the makeshift lift and we start to track down the wall of the biggest vertical shaft I’ve ever seen.

A concrete tank 60 metres deep and 18 across dropping down to a tunnel junction beneath, its epic scale feels like something I’ve only seen on film: Dune or Bond.

The reality is less glamorous. It will fill with what we flush.

Sky News has been given rare access into the ‘super sewer’ or Thames Tideway, as it’s officially called.

It has three of these giant tanks along nearly 20 miles of tunnel, each wide enough to hold three double decker buses side by side.

Total build time will be nine years at a cost of around £4bn: an expensive solution to a massive problem.

In an average year, 39 million cubic metres of water contaminated with sewage is dumped into the River Thames.

London‘s Victorian sewers were built after the Great Stink of 1858, a stench from the river so bad that parliament couldn’t sit.

They were engineering marvels of their time, but over 100 years later a deliberate design decision has become a major flaw.

The foul water from our homes flows into the same pipes that carry rainwater running off roads and roofs. So downpours can overwhelm the system – especially as London has grown.

Sewage spills out of pipes like these whenever there's significant rain in London
Sewage spills out of pipes like these when there’s significant rain in London
The new sewer will send overflows to an east London treatment plant

We have more people flushing toilets and more of those tile and tarmac hard surfaces. To prevent sewage backing up into homes, it is deliberately dumped in the river.

Lucy Webster, external affairs director for Thames Tideway, tells Sky News: “When they were designed, that would have been a very, very rare event.

“But today, with all its development, with population growth, it’s a very regular occurrence. And pretty much whenever it rains to any significant degree in London, it will be overflowing directly into the River Thames. “

Anger over ‘billowing brown plumes’

The super sewer will catch those overflows and send the sewage to a treatment plant in Beckton, east London and in a torrential downpour it’ll fill those huge tunnels. It’s like a new river network under London.

Paying for these costs each London household £18 per year – but polluted rivers and coasts are a national problem and, if it is to be solved, that bill will spread.

Campaign group Surfers Against Sewage recorded 14,000 untreated leaks last year and 700 incidents of human illness from sewage.

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October 2022: Huge sewage spill spotted in Cornwall

Billowing brown plumes in rivers and around our coasts have caused a popular and political outcry.

This week the government announced plans to make it easier to fine water companies for sewage leaks and many campaigners say they should find the money for the clean-up from their profits.

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But Alastair Chisholm, director of policy at the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, says no one is being realistic about the scale and cost of the job nationwide.

“At the moment it’s looking like a bit of a car crash. We’ve got campaigners taking government to task. We’ve got government and other politicians shouting from the rooftops that they want to really punish the water companies.

“We’ve got the water companies needing to invest amounts of money that potentially are unaffordable for customers. There’s going to have to be a real reckoning with reality. And I think that’s going to come over the next 12 months.”

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The price for removing sewage from our natural waterways is high but nature is paying the price for doing nothing.

Chris Coode, from healthy river pressure group Thames 21, has witnessed the result of big leaks.

“You have a big slick of sewage in the river and as bacteria break down the organic matter they will use up oxygen,” he explains.

“So you’ll end up with huge areas of deoxygenated water. Fish can’t breathe, so you’ll see them sometimes at the edge, gasping. And you can have thousands of dead fish.”

Thousands of Eurovision tickets made available for Ukrainian refugees | UK News

Thousands of tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest will be allocated to displaced Ukrainians living in the UK.

The competition will take place at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine because of the Russian invasion.

As part of the UK’s commitment to honour Ukraine at the song contest, around 3,000 tickets will be made available so those forced from the country can attend the live shows.

The UK government has also announced £10m in funding to “help ensure the event truly showcases Ukrainian culture” on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country.

The money will support Liverpool City Council and the BBC’s partnerships with Ukrainian artists and performers to create a show “celebrating music and how it unites people from around the world”.

It will also support security and visa arrangements, as well as other operational aspects of the contest, and Liverpool City Council’s schools, community and volunteering programmes.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine means the contest cannot be held where it should be.

“But we are honoured to be supporting the BBC and Liverpool in hosting it on their behalf, and are determined to make sure the Ukrainian people are at the heart of this event.”

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Ukrainian refugees in Liverpool celebrated after the city beat Glasgow to host the contest

Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, added: “The UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion has been exemplary and this gesture is another example of that commitment.

“We are grateful to the UK Government, Liverpool City Council, and the BBC for their efforts to honour Ukraine’s culture and people through this event.”

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said that Ukraine will be “at the heart” of all of the city’s Eurovision plans.

She added: “We’re delighted with the news that displaced Ukrainians are being given the opportunity to come to the city in May – this is their Eurovision after all.”

Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, who were triumphant at last year’s competition in Turin, Italy, will perform during the show as part of the tributes to the country.

Read more:
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Everything you need to know about Eurovision 2023
Ukraine picks Eurovision entry after bunker competition

Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko, who has commentated on Eurovision in Ukraine since 2007, will also appear during the live shows to give insight from Ukraine’s commentary box in the arena.

This announcement comes on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion which forced millions of Ukrainians from their homes, with many finding refuge in the UK.

Those who are based in the UK through the Homes for Ukraine Scheme, the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Ukraine Extension Scheme will be able to apply for tickets for the song contest.

Tickets for displaced Ukrainians have been subsided by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with a £20 charge to be applied to each sale.

Spaces will be offered for all nine live shows, including the semi-finals, the preview shows and the live final on 13 May.

Ukrainians recite ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ lyrics in powerful film to mark first anniversary of war | World News

The lyrics of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” have been recited by Ukrainian people in a powerful film to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

The one-minute video released by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) shows the devastation unleashed by Vladimir Putin’s war, with millions unable to return to their homeland after being forced to flee.

It begins with a black screen and the caption: “Ukraine. February. 2023.” A cast of actors still living in Ukraine then recite lines from the anthemic Gerry and the Pacemakers song, over music by German-born British composer and pianist Max Richter.

A young boy, seen sitting on a swing in front of a hollow tower block, delivers the iconic line: “And don’t be afraid of the dark, at the end of a storm.”

The footage, shot this month, also shows a boy in a bomb shelter, a doctor in a hospital, a couple and a dog owner outside their homes, and a woman and child sitting on a bus.

Entitled “Never Alone”, it was made by a predominantly Ukrainian crew and directed using a remote camera.

Although the people featured in the film are actors, they represent real stories of people who have been helped by DEC charities.

The video ends with a black screen saying: “The UK raised over £400 million so the people of Ukraine didn’t walk alone” and images of aid workers who travelled to the country to offer help.

The DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal has raised £414m since launching on 3 March 2022, including £25m donated by the government through the UK Aid Match scheme.

A woman and girl seen in the film
A woman and girl seen in the film

In the first six months of the response alone, aid delivered using DEC funds included (but was not limited to):

  • 1.9 million people provided with access to clean water
  • 392,000 people who received food assistance, including hot meals and food parcels
  • 338,000 people who received cash payments to meet their basic needs
  • 127,000 people who accessed basic services at transit centres for the displaced
  • 71,000 people who accessed primary healthcare services
  • 114,000 people who received legal help and support
  • 10,000 people who were provided with temporary accommodation

Read more:
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A couple sitting outside what remains of their home
A couple sitting outside what remains of their home
A dog owner standing outside his proprty
A dog owner standing outside his property

Film director Rick Dodds said: “This film is a time capsule of Ukraine in February 2023 – exactly one year since the conflict began.

“We cast Ukrainian people still living there – so that we could capture their resilience, their strength, and their Ukrainian stoicism for all to see.

“The poetic words of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ then took on a different power when delivered by this cast in such dramatic and real locations.

“For example, a woman stood outside her house that has been blown apart saying ‘though your dreams be tossed and blown’. Or a young boy in a bomb shelter saying ‘with hope in your heart’.”

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DEC director of fundraising and marketing, Simon Beresford, hailed the “incredible generosity” of the British public.

“We’re really proud of the fact that we could work with a Ukrainian cast and crew to make this film,” he said.

“Choosing to shoot it in Ukraine added layers of complication to the project, but we think has made it much more authentic and impactful.

“Everyone who worked on the film in Ukraine has been affected in some way by the conflict and their creative input has been invaluable to the project.”

Roald Dahl classic texts to be kept in print after outrage over changes to author’s books | UK News

Publisher Puffin has announced the release of the Roald Dahl classic collection “to keep the author’s classic text in print” – following widespread criticism of his books being re-written.

The 17 titles will be available later this year and will include archive material relevant to each of the stories by the much-loved but controversial children’s author.

The classic collection will sit alongside the newly-released Dahl books for young readers, which have been rewritten to “cater for the sensitivities of modern audiences”.

However Puffin sparked outrage after announcing Dahl’s books would be edited to remove or rewrite language deemed offensive.

Content including references to weight, mental health, violence, gender and race were amended – in a move branded “absurd censorship” by author Sir Salman Rushdie.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the editing of Dahl’s books, quoting the Big Friendly Giant’s warning not to “gobblefunk” with words.

The Queen Consort urged authors to be “true to their calling” days after the row over the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s author’s books erupted.

In her first public appearance since recovering from COVID-19 on Thursday, Camilla launched her book project, previously known as The Reading Room, as charity re-named The Queen’s Reading Room.

She told guests including children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Booker prize winner, Ben Okri: “Thank you, on behalf of book-lovers and book clubs everywhere, for sharing your talents with us and for everything you do to promote literacy and a love of literature.

“Please keep doing so and please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.

“But let there be no squeaking like mice about your achievements, but only roaring like a pride of lions.”

Closeup of a bookshelf of colourful Roald Dahl book covers and spines
Closeup of a bookshelf of colourful Roald Dahl book covers and spines

‘We have listened to the debate’

Managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, Francesca Dow, said: “We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation.

“As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care.

“Roald Dahl’s fantastic books are often the first stories young children will read independently, and taking care for the imaginations and fast-developing minds of young readers is both a privilege and a responsibility.

“We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print.

“By making both Puffin and Penguin versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.

“Roald Dahl once said: ‘If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important’.

“At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books.”

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Paul Mescal: Actor tells of his fury after ‘creepy’ fan groped him as he posed for selfie outside London theatre | Ents & Arts News

Oscar nominee and Normal People star Paul Mescal has described his “fury” after a fan groped his backside.

Mescal said he was outside London’s Almeida Theatre, where he’s starring in an acclaimed production of A Streetcar Named Desire, when a woman asked for a photo.

“As we posed for it, she put her hand on my ass. I thought it was an accident, so I like (moved away) but the hand followed,” he told ES Magazine.

“I remember tensing up and feeling just, like, fury. I turned to her and said, ‘What’re you doing? Take your hand off my ass’.”

The 27-year-old said it was “uncomfortable for everyone involved” and he didn’t want to “call somebody out in front of the theatre”, but that “it was so gross, creepy”.

However, Mescal described his experience of fame so far as overwhelmingly positive.

“97% of it is really nice – then 3% is somebody, like, grabbing your ass,” he said.

The Irish actor entered the spotlight after starring with Daisy Edgar-Jones in the 2020 adaptation of Sally Rooney novel Normal People.

His breakout role in the BBC series saw him portrayed by some fans and media as a sex symbol.

Mescal will be thrust into the Hollywood limelight at next month’s Oscars, where he is nominated for his role in coming-of-age film Aftersun.

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He told The Hollywood Reporter the best actor nod was “a big surprise” and that he was looking forward to the famous Oscars afterparties.

“I’m hoping that the Oscars afterparties are going to be fun – because I think the Irish can show up in that setting,” he said.

His compatriots Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Kerry Condon are all nominated for their roles in The Banshees Of Inisherin.

“I feel like [Irish actors] always over-represented ourselves,” Mescal added. “Just in terms of population, we’re punching above our weight.”

Sunak to urge world leaders to ‘move faster’ to arm Ukraine as he leads minute’s silence on war anniversary | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is to urge fellow world leaders to “move faster” to arm Ukraine’s troops as he leads a minute’s silence on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

The prime minister is expected to use a G7 meeting on Friday to call on allies to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine as there is an urgent need for Kyiv to gain a “decisive advantage” on the battlefield.

Mr Sunak will lead the UK in a minute’s silence at 11am to mark the anniversary in front of the Downing Street door.

He will be joined by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives from each of the 11 nations that are part of the British-led Ukrainian troop training programme, Operation Interflex.

UN demands Russia withdraw troops – Ukraine war latest

“For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset,” Mr Sunak is expected to tell G7 leaders in a virtual meeting.

“This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence.

“The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward.”

Mr Sunak will also reiterate his offer of UK support to countries able to provide jets to Ukraine as he and his wife, Akshata Murty, hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of Number 10.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Western countries to send fighter jets to Ukraine and while the UK has announced training for Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard jets it has not sent any planes.

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Johnson: ‘Send jets to Ukraine’

Former PM Boris Johnson has joined those calls and told Sky News on Thursday the UK needs to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with the aircraft.

But so far, neither Mr Sunak or his defence secretary Ben Wallace have not made a steadfast commitment to do so.

Sky News exclusively reported on Thursday the Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence, despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Read more:
PM has ‘no interest in defence’ as UK ammo stockpiles proved ‘inadequate’ by war
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A look back on a year of war in Ukraine

On the eve of the anniversary, Mr Sunak said: “As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country.

“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict.

“As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who met Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv recently, said the UK’s support “is as firm and unstinting today as it was on that dark day one year ago”.

He said his party stands “in lockstep with the government” in continuing support to Ukraine “regardless of what other political disagreements we may have”.

Boris Johnson calls on UK to ‘break the ice’ by sending Ukraine fighter jets – and warns China against ‘historic mistake’ | Politics News

Boris Johnson has said China will be making an “historic mistake” if it supplies Russia with weapons – as he urged the UK to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

Speaking to Sky News’ Mark Austin as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches, the former prime minister said he was “very concerned” to see China’s top diplomat meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday.

Asked about the possibility of Beijing supporting Russia’s war effort with weapons, he said: “I think it would be an historic mistake by the Chinese… Why does China want to be contaminated by association with Putin, who has revealed himself to be this gangster and adventurer? I think it would be a big, big mistake by China.

“But what it shows is the the urgency of us giving the Ukrainians what they need to succeed this year and to make sure that 2023 is their victory.”

Putin marks military holiday after missile warning; NATO ‘cannot allow Moscow to win’ – War latest

Mr Johnson, who was prime minister when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, has spoken after Sky News exclusively reported that The Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Asked whether the UK defence industry should be put on a “war footing” in light of its low stocks of ammunitions, Mr Johnson replied: “I certainly think we need to be making sure that we equip ourselves with what we need. But if you look at the UK’s own defences and how to make sure that our own country is protected and the entire Euro-Atlantic security area is protected, then the best thing you can do, the most economical thing you can do is to make sure that Putin fails in Ukraine and that the Ukrainians win.”

Mr Johnson added: “What I’m saying is that we should continue to supply the munitions that we can. We need to make more munitions.”

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The race is on to rearm Ukraine

Johnson says Ukraine can use jets to recapture territory

The former prime minister has been speaking as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges Western powers to supply his country with fighter jets to support their war effort.

However, there are fears among Western leaders Ukraine would use the jets to strike targets inside Russia.

Mr Johnson appeared confident Ukraine would only use them to defend their country and encouraged the government to supply some of the UK military’s Typhoon jets.

“What the Ukrainians want is F-16s. As it happens, we don’t have F-16s but we do have Typhoons. I think there’s an argument for the UK breaking the ice and giving them some Typhoons. If it’s a question of of training people up to use those machines – we can do that.”

Mr Johnson added he has “no doubt” Ukraine can recapture territory from Russia if it has fighter jets to take out their artillery positions and command and control centres.

Read more:
PM has ‘no interest in defence’ as UK ammo stockpiles proved ‘inadequate’ by war
Ukraine war: The race to rearm could decide who wins the conflict
British prisoner of war in Ukraine reveals Russinan torture methods

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Ukraine war: Five keys moments

‘The decisive moment of the early 21st century’

The former prime minister was also asked about a warning from President Zelenskyy that there could be a third world war if Ukraine loses the conflict.

“I think there is a real risk that if Putin can manufacture any kind of success out of this, then he will be able to continue to threaten not just Ukraine, but all the parts of the former Soviet empire that he wants to intimidate.

“And everybody else around the world will draw the conclusion that aggression pays off and that borders can be changed by force.

“This is an absolutely critical moment for the world. This is a pivot moment. This is a hinge of fate. This is the decisive moment in the early 21st century.”

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Mr Johnson also questioned Mr Putin’s reasons for launching his invasion and said: “He was never really threatened by Ukraine as a potential NATO member. There was no question of establishing NATO’s missiles on Ukrainian soil any of that nonsense.

“This has purely been done by Putin to bolster his flagging position at home and to try to reconstitute the old Soviet empire… I think it would be a terrible signal if he has any kind of success.

“It would be a terrible signal for the world, for everywhere, where we care deeply about borders that should not be changed by force.”

Keir Starmer promises to ‘give Britain its future back’ as he sets out five missions for government | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer has promised to “give Britain its future back” with a “mission-driven government” as he set out his priorities if he wins power at the next election.

The Labour leader set out five goals which will be at the core of his manifesto.

They are:

  • Secure the highest sustained growth in the G7
  • Build an NHS fit for the future
  • Make Britain’s streets safe
  • Break down the barriers to opportunity at every stage
  • Make Britain a clean energy superpower

In a keynote speech in Manchester, Sir Keir said: “These missions will form the backbone of the Labour manifesto. The pillars of the next Labour government.

“They will be measurable, so we can track progress and be held to account. Long-term so we can look beyond the day-to-day. Informed by experts and the public, so we can build a coalition for change. And each will support our drive for growth. Each will help us get our future back.”

Sir Keir said he is already speaking to experts and business leaders about how he can achieve his goals.

Politics live: Labour leader unveils ‘five missions’

On the economy, he said growth will be “powered by good jobs and stronger productivity in every part of the country”.

On making the UK a clean energy super power, he said the first steps will be to insulate 19 million homes, train people in green jobs and create Great British Energy – a new, publicly owned company that will generate renewable sources.

Sir Keir said he is “not concerned about whether investment or expertise comes from the public or private sector – I just want to get the job done”.

This stands in contrast to his position in 2019, when the Labour party pledged to nationalise energy, rail, mail and water.

Sir Keir has since promised to take a “pragmatic” approach to nationalisation and told the audience in Manchester “if the aspiration is merely to replace the public sector while extracting a rent to privatise the profits, that takes us nowhere”.

Asked by Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby how he can be trusted when he has junked many of the policies he won the Labour leadership on, Sir Keir insisted his missions had been “hard thought through” and “reflect the challenges the country faces”.

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Sky News’ Beth Rigby has asked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer if his lack of detailed policy proposals will turn off voters.

Answering further questions from media, he denied there was no money to fund his plan, saying all his missions will be “fully costed”.

But he added: “Reform is as important as the money we put in.”

‘Sticking plaster politics’

Sir Keir is expected to set out further detail on his policies in the coming weeks.

It comes as the party continues to ride-high in UK nationwide polls, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating slumps.

During his speech, the Labour leader repeatedly hit out at the Conservatives for “13 years of sticking plaster politics” which he blamed for many of the country’s problems.

Read More:
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Listing some of those he said: “The only country in the G7 still poorer than it was before the pandemic. The worst decade for growth in two centuries. Seven million are on waiting lists and rising. You don’t see this everywhere.”

He said his missions are “a case for change, a new government and a new way of governing”.

He added: “Britain needs both and with Labour Britain will get both. That’s what today is about, a Britain that gets its future back.”

Dangerous plug-in heaters promoted in fake reviews and dodgy ads fail fire safety tests | UK News

Dangerous plug-in heaters are being sold online – taking advantage of those trying to stay warm despite surging energy bills, Which? says.

Some of the products were featured in fake reviews and dodgy ads, leaving people at risk of fires or electric shocks.

Ten mini plug-in heaters – some as cheap as £12 – were tested by Which? and all of them failed safety tests. Four of them – three on eBay and one on Amazon – were a fire risk.

All of the models tested did not meet the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said the products were illegal, could cause serious harm, and show that online platforms must do more to protect consumers.

She added: “The government must urgently legislate to strengthen product safety, including giving online marketplaces greater legal responsibility for unsafe products sold on their sites so that consumers are far better protected.

“Self-regulation of online platforms is simply not working. These platforms have put in place inadequate measures which leave consumers at risk. The government must give these platforms greater responsibility to protect people online.”

Among the problematic heaters was the Plug-In Wall Heater 500W sold by a third-party seller on eBay.

Which? said the plastic surround holding the heating element in place melted and the heating element slipped down to create another melted area, which was against the outer grill, meaning that touching it could result in shock or burns.

Several versions of this heater sold on Amazon, eBay and Wish all failed, and Trading Standards also issued a recall notice for another model sold on eBay that appeared to be identical.

An electric portable plug-in heater, sold on Amazon, had counterfeit fuses that had been used in the plug for the heater. They posed a risk of electric shock, fire or even an explosion, Which? said.

Another plug-in wall heater, sold on eBay, posed a risk of fire or electric shock, with internal wires soldered directly onto a circuit board, while another circuit board was just loose within the product.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon and we require all products offered in our store to comply with applicable laws and regulations.

“Two products were removed in December, including one in relation to safety concerns, and we have proactively removed similar items and introduced measures to prevent new products going on sale.

“We have removed the remaining two products while we investigate. If customers have concerns about an item they’ve purchased, we encourage them to contact us directly so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”

An eBay spokesperson said: “We take the safety of our users very seriously. We had already removed three of the five listings that Which? flagged to us. One of the two remaining listings is selling a different product and the other one has already ended.

“We use block filter algorithms aimed at preventing unsafe products from being listed. These filters blocked 4.8 million listings in 2022 and are updated on a regular basis.

“On the rare occasion that an unsafe product does make it on to site, we swiftly remove it and provide product safety education to the sellers to prevent relisting.”

Wish said: “Product safety is a top priority for Wish. The listing highlighted by Which? has been removed from our European platform, and we are monitoring for any identical or similar listings. We will take further action as appropriate.”

Google was asked for comment but had not provided one.

Is the UK equipped for a smarter, more streamlined, silicon-clad future? | Science & Tech News

Tony Blair and William Hague are both in their 60s. Perhaps not the first people you’d expect to be calling for the UK to get with the times and “discover its place in this new world”.

Their report – which calls for the government to roll out a “digital ID” for everyone in the country – isn’t the first to highlight the opportunities the UK could enjoy as a global leader in research and development which is already home to some of the world’s best universities and high-tech companies.

What’s significant about their call for action, is that it comes from two former political foes. They warn their successors in government and opposition that unless they unite with a shared drive to embrace science and technology, they risk being stuck in the past.

“We are in danger of conducting a 20th-century fight at the margins of tax and spending policy when the issue is how we harness this new revolution to reimagine the state of public services.”

(L-R) Tony Blair and William Hague. Pic: AP

Their report highlights the opportunities to be gained from re-organising government to drive science and technology throughout political and public life: Bringing AI technology into public services from digital IDs to recognising NHS data as a “competitive asset”; overhaul planning to prioritise growth in the research and development sector; and fast tracking the latest technology into the education system.

Much of the substance of the report, from planning reform to embracing AI, could have been lifted straight out of the current chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s “plan for growth” outlined in a speech in January.

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In fact, the importance of the high tech, low carbon economy has been central to pretty much every chancellor and shadow-chancellor’s thinking in recent times.

But none of them has shown much evidence of delivering it.

A focus on technology uncertain due to Brexit and Northern Ireland

The report’s timing is apt. One of the greatest current challenges to the UK R&D sector is uncertainty around government support post-Brexit.

Whether we remain allied with the EU’s science funding arrangements or go it alone has been in limbo with little hope of resolution until negotiations around Northern Ireland are settled.

It’s just emerged £1.6bn in science funding has been returned to the Treasury from the new Department for Science Innovation and Technology because of continued uncertainty about European involvement.

£1.6bn that now won’t be spent on UK research. Ironic given the Blair/Hague report calls for an end to Treasury “micro-management” of R&D funding.

And there’s little evidence of political cooperation around Europe, let alone our technological future outside of it.

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Given the speed at which many technologies advance, AI and genomics almost unbelievably so, its understandable that policy lags behind.

But does the current climate leave any of our politicians the time and energy to lead Britain into a smarter, more streamlined, silicon-clad future?