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London and Surrey fires: Firefighters battle large blazes around the capital with one declared a ‘major incident’ | UK News

The fire service in Surrey has declared a major incident as crews battle an open fire – as crews in the capital fight three other large blazes, with people in west London told to keep their doors and windows shut.

In Surrey, a fire at Hankley Common near Farnham has drawn “several fire engines” to the area.

The fire service tweeted: “There is a great deal of smoke so please avoid the area, windows and doors should be closed if nearby and pets kept indoors.”

Read more: Dramatic satellite pictures show the impact of the heatwave as high temperatures hit country

Pictures online show plumes of smoke rising over the county, with people as far away as Guildford reporting they can see it.

The fire service later tweeted to ask those nearby to stop calling 999 to report smoke clouds, after receiving “an incredibly high” number of calls.

It added some local roads have been closed as a result of the incident.

Fire crews in London are also battling wildfires – with blazes in Rammey Marsh in Enfield, and Cranford Park in Hayes.

In Enfield, close to Epping Forest, London Fire Brigade (LFB) said around 100 firefighters were battling the grass fire, which had grown to the size of four football pitches.

The service urged people to help prevent further fires by not having barbeques and disposing of cigarettes correctly.

A fire in Hayes can be seen from across west London, with the LFB adding 70 firefighters are at the scene. It says people in the area should close doors and windows.

Big Jet TV, which live commentates on planes landing at Heathrow, says that visibility is reducing at the airport, sharing a picture of a smoke covered runway from the nearby fire at Hayes.

In east London near Newham, another fire is being dealt with in Thamesmead. LFB say 65 firefighters and a fire boat are at the scene close to London City Airport, with those nearby asked to keep doors and windows closed.

It comes after a swathe of wildfires in London and the surrounding area after last week’s record temperatures left the ground tinder-box dry.

The UK hit record temperatures on Tuesday, with Coningsby in Lincolnshire reaching a sweltering 40.3C (104.5F) – the first time since records began that the mercury has exceeded 40C in the country.

Some parts of the UK saw significant damage as a result of the extreme heat, such as house and wildfires, melting airport runways and expanding railway tracks.

Board of Cricket Scotland resigns with immediate effect following racism claims | UK News

The board of Cricket Scotland has resigned with immediate effect following allegations of racism.

The directors sent the letter of resignation to the interim chief executive officer this morning.

It comes after Sky News revealed yesterday that a “devastating” review into Scottish cricket has found it be institutionally racist.

Scotland correspondent James Matthews reported that the review – expected to be published on Monday – has led to multiple referrals to a number of organisations, including Police Scotland, for racist behaviour.

A spokesperson for Cricket Scotland said: “Cricket Scotland will work in partnership with SportScotland with immediate effect to ensure appropriate governance, leadership and support is in place for the organisation and the sport in the days ahead, and these arrangements will be reviewed after the publication of the report into racism in cricket in Scotland and updates given accordingly.”

In the letter to the interim chief executive Gordon Arthur, the board wrote that “we are all truly sorry” to everyone who has experienced racism in Scotland, and “we believe we must now step aside to enable the required progress to be made in the coming months”.

The board had six members who stepped down.

A spokesperson for SportScotland said: “This has been an exceptionally challenging time for everyone involved in Scottish cricket.

“We have been made aware of the board’s decision and as the national agency for sport, we will take immediate steps to provide significant additional governance and leadership support to Cricket Scotland.”

Aamer Anwar, who is representing two of the complaints, said that his clients welcomed the resignations.

Leading wicket-taker spoke of abuse

The review was conducted following allegations made by Scotland’s all-time leading wicket-taker Majid Haq that Cricket Scotland was “institutionally racist”.

In an interview with Sky Sports, last November, Haq and former team-mate Qasim Sheikh spoke of abuse that both had suffered throughout their careers.

Both men said they were treated differently from team-mates because of the colour of their skin.

The following month, SportScotland appointed Plan4Sport – an organisation that specialises in issues around equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – to conduct a review, which has taken contributions from several hundred people.

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Former Scotland cricket player Qasim Sheikh told Sky News he felt he was treated differently because of his skin colour

Cricket Scotland is ‘dysfunctional’

On Saturday, it was revealed that investigators will support the claims of institutional racism within Scottish cricket.

One source told Sky News: “The fundamental claim at the start of this was about institutional racism at the heart of cricket. This review concludes that it’s very much the case.”

Mr Anwar spoke to Sky News ahead of the report’s publication and said: “Cricket Scotland is dysfunctional and institutionally racist – if that is confirmed by this review, it will be devastating for Cricket Scotland.

“There are those within the organisation who should be ashamed of their treatment of Majid and Qasim and so many other cricketers who gave their lives to cricket but saw their careers taken away from them.

“In any other walk of life, the individuals responsible would find themselves out of a job, in a jail cell, or banished from public life.

“Yet, when it comes to cricket, they are rewarded with promotions and status.

“Racism exists in Cricket Scotland and my clients know that has been the case for many years, through generations of cricketers.”

Cricket - Holland v Scotland - Twenty20 International - The Brit Oval - 3/6/09 Scotland's Majid Haq Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Harding
Majid Haq is Scotland’s leading wicket taker. Pic: Action Images/Paul Harding

Read more from Sky News:
Rafiq calls for ‘total clear-out’ of Yorkshire leadership
England Test captain vows to change cricket’s dressing room culture

Events in Scotland follow a racism scandal in English cricket.

Last year, several top officials resigned from Yorkshire County Cricket Club following allegations by former captain Azeem Rafiq.

He complained of institutional racism at the club and said abuse regarding his Pakistani heritage had left him close to taking his own life.

Roads to Port Of Dover ‘flowing normally’ after days of long queues | UK News

Traffic into the Port of Dover is returning to normal following days of queueing for France-bound travellers.

The port said on Twitter that, as at 2.15am on Sunday, the system brought in temporarily to handle traffic had ended, and that freight traffic was now able to travel straight to the site.

It added that tourist traffic was also “clear” and the approach roads – the A2 and A20 – “are flowing normally”.

Travellers setting out at the start of the British school summer holidays, as well as the usual flow of goods lorries, had faced long delays because of slow border checks.

The UK government had blamed a shortage of French border staff, and the French government had argued that passport checks were taking longer now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union.

On Friday, 8,500 cars were processed, but by lunchtime on Saturday, the number processed had already reached more than 17,000.

One family with three children in the car told Sky News they were stuck for nearly 11 hours, while another said they had been queueing for three hours, but they still had a long way to reach border control.

Natalie Chapman from haulier group Logistics UK said some lorry drivers had waited “in excess of 18 hours” to cross the Channel.

Read more:
Bumper-to-bumper traffic in Dover as UK and France argue over who is to blame for disruption

Nine tips to reduce how much fuel you use
London Southend Airport offers to host flights being cancelled by bigger, struggling airports

Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Staffing at French border control at the Port of Dover is "woefully inadequate" causing holidaymakers to be stuck in long queues, the Kent port said. Picture date: Friday July 22, 2022.

French regional prefect Georges-François Leclerc was asked by BFM TV if French customs officers were to blame for the delays seen on Friday and Saturday.

He said they were not, adding: “The Port of Dover, which is a private port, found it easier to blame the French police.”

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is competing to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister, said: “This is a situation that has been caused by a lack of resource at the border.

“That is what the French authorities need to address and that is what I’m being very clear with them about.”

Anneliese Dodds, Labour Party chair, said the government had failed “to get a grip” on the problem, labelling it “chaos”.

Peabody housing association ‘sorry for our part’ after leaving woman dead in her flat for more than two years | UK News

A housing group said it is “devastated” and “sorry for our part” in failing to realise one of its tenants had been left dead in her flat for two and a half years.

Sheila Seleoane, 58, was last heard from in August 2019, the last month she made a rent payment.

When police forced their way into her flat in Peckham in February 2022 – after neighbours noticed a balcony door swinging open following Storm Eunice – her body had to be identified by dental records.

Residents had reported the presence of maggots and flies to Peabody Group “within weeks” of the August date she had last been confirmed alive, but the housing association closed the case the month after.

“We didn’t ask the most fundamental question – is Sheila ok?” said Peabody’s chief executive, Ian McDermott.

“I am so sorry this happened,” he said. “We’ve apologised to the family. We’re deeply sorry for what happened.

“The biggest apology though I think does go to the residents of Lord’s Court. They did tell us that something was wrong.”

Six months after Ms Seleoane made her last rent payment, Peabody made an application for direct payment of Universal Credit.

The housing association has not repaid this money but has pledged to do so.

According to an independent investigation commissioned by Peabody, the COVID-19 lockdown “exacerbated the length of time the body remained undiscovered, but was not the cause of the delay”.

Peabody said that it had recorded 89 attempts to contact Ms Seleoane, but recognised these were not substantive and none were successful.

By October 2020 the housing association had contacted the Metropolitan Police to perform a welfare check on Ms Seleoane and an officer incorrectly told them she was safe and well.

The force said that the staff member had since left the force but would have faced a professional standards enquiry if they had still been employed.

A coroner’s inquest this week found that the police and Peabody had missed numerous opportunities to discover her body.

Dr Julian Morris delivered an open verdict and said: “To lie undetected for in all likelihood over two years is difficult to fathom in 2022.”

2022 Commonwealth Games: What legacy is in store for Birmingham after hosting the games? | UK News

After years of planning there are now just days to go until the Commonwealth Games begin in Birmingham.

With a billion people expected to tune in to watch the opening ceremony on Thursday, Britain’s second city will be in the spotlight.

But among people who live in Birmingham there are those who doubt whether they will benefit from the millions of pounds of public money that have been spent on the games.

Work to build a world class aquatic centre in Sandwell and carry out a multi-million pound transformation of Birmingham’s Alexander stadium has been set against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis, in a city that his home to some of the country’s most deprived neighbourhoods.

Read more: Esports to be involved as a pilot event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games

Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Pic: Birmingham 2022
The Sandwell Aquatics Centre was built brand-new venue for the Commonwealth Games. Pic: Birmingham 2022

On an industrial estate in the shadow of spaghetti junction, Nechells Green Amateur Boxing Club holds classes for children of all ages.

In recent months some parents have said they can no longer afford the £2 lesson fee.

Mark Holt, the head coach, has taken a decision to allow those children in for free.

“If we weren’t here I think half of the kids would be out on the streets, round the chip shops, hanging around with their mates, up to no good,” he said.

“At least I know if they’re here they’re being looked after.”

The club lost its previous venue when the council sold off a community centre in Nechells three years ago.

As a grassroots club, it had hoped to benefit from the Commonwealth Games being held in the city, but Mark said they’ve received “nothing at all”.

Nechells Green Amateur Boxing Club
Nechells Green Amateur Boxing Club has received ‘nothing at all’ from the games

“The amount of money the council is spending on, to me, things that they don’t need to do, I think it needs to go on the younger kids, trying to keep kids off the street more than anything else,” he said.

“I run a boxing club so I’d like to see boxing clubs get it but you know there’s football teams out there that are struggling, swimming clubs, things like that so the money needs to be put to the younger kids.”

Birmingham was awarded the games in 2017 after the Commonwealth Games Federation stripped Durban of the right to host the event for failing to meet promises made in its bid.

The total cost of the event is expected to be around £778m, with the city council and local partners contributing around £184m.

A legacy plan drawn up by organisers promises that the games will bring people together and improve health and well-being.

Recently retired triple jumper Nathan Douglas competed in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Glasgow and on the Gold Coast.

He spent much of his career based in Birmingham and is convinced the games will bring benefits to people right across the city by encouraging participation in sport.

Nathan Douglas
Nathan Douglas, recently retired triple-jumper, was based in Birmingham

“It’s a very diverse and multi-cultural city, probably up there as the most so in the country,” said Mr Douglas.

“What I hope is it’s going to inspire local people to move, you know to help them with their health and wellbeing physically, mentally and so for me that’s what I look at hopefully as the legacy of the games.”

Training has been taking place in schools, with young people making up some of the 14,000 volunteers who will help deliver the games.

Sharoana Handley, 14, a pupil a Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury is going to be a kit bearer for the swimmers.

She sees it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity” to see world class athletes up close.

“It’s a great opportunity for younger people in Birmingham to see and aspire to be just like them,” she told Sky News.

Sharoana Handley
Sharoana Handley, 14, will be a kit bearer for the swimmers

Ian Reid, the chief executive of Birmingham 2022, said “bringing a spotlight to the city and the region is really important for Birmingham”.

She added: “We’ve seen the impact of, for example, the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and the Olympics in London so I think the perception of the city, putting it on the international stage, giving it wall to wall exposure, I think will be hugely beneficial.”

But you don’t have to look far from the athletics stadium to see evidence of major projects that won’t be ready in time for the games.

Building of an athletes village in Perry Barr was delayed due to the pandemic. Instead athletes will be housed in three “campus” villages at the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, and the NEC Hotel Campus.

But organisers say the regeneration of the Perry Barr area will be a key physical legacy of the games and work will continue on the site to deliver more than 5,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

The Alexander Athletics Stadium is seen in front of the city after the announcement that Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Britain December 21, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples
The Alexander Athletics Stadium is located in Perry Bar in Birmingham. Pic: Reuters

Councillor Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council, told Sky News the city “will see well in excess of a billion pounds invested into Birmingham as a result of hosting the games”.

He said: “For every £1 the council is investing the government is investing £3 and I can’t think of any other deal that we could have done with the government that would have brought that level of investment into the city.

“I absolutely believe that the people of Birmingham will look back on the Commonwealth Games and say that was the moment this city changed for the better.”

Saidul Haque Saeed, from community organisation Citizens UK Birmingham, hosted an event where families from across the city called on games bosses to “commit to a legacy which improves the life chances of the poorest children”.

“Birmingham is the ‘Commonwealth city’ as our diversity makes it the place where you’re likely to meet other Brummies from every Commonwealth heritage,” he said.

“So, we welcome the power of sport to bring people together from different communities: visitors and residents alike.”

But he said families want to see a legacy that includes every child in the poorest areas being able to try out a new organised sport for free.

“We have hope but not 100% confidence the legacy of the £750 million spent on the Games will improve the lives of our city’s poorest families,” he said.

The next rail strike: What you need to know as industrial action continues | UK News

More than 40,000 rail workers will strike next week after talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs, and conditions.

Members of two unions will walk out on Wednesday, 27 July, affecting rail services across the country – the latest industrial action adding to the country’s transport woes.

Who is going on strike?

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Avanti West Coast.

The train operator I use is not on the list, so my travel won’t be affected, right?

Not necessarily.

Network Rail said all train operators may be affected, whether they are part of the dispute or not.

Signallers, for example, control train movements across the whole country.

Will the London Underground be affected?

The industrial action doesn’t involve workers at Transport for London, but there could be disruption on the lines that share track with Network Rail.

These are the District, Bakerloo, and Elizabeth lines, as well as the London Overground.

There could also be disruption the morning after the strike – 28 July – as things return to normal.

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What if I do have to use the trains?

Passengers have been told to expect disruption and only travel if necessary.

But if you really are determined or desperate, be aware that trains will start later and finish much earlier than usual.

The timetable will be published later today (Saturday 23 July) but Network Rail said it will be “very limited” – around 20% of services will run.

Some parts of the country will have no service at all.

What events could be affected by the rail strike?

The women’s Euro 2022 semi-final is in Milton Keynes on the day of the strike.

The opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games is in Birmingham the next day.

I’ll just drive or fly

That’s not going to be much fun either.

Roads are busy with summer holiday traffic – the Port Of Dover had queues of up to six hours on Friday, while the usual culprits such as parts of the M25 and M5 are still best avoided during busy times.

As for flights, staff shortages at airports and airlines have resulted in thousands of flights being cancelled and delayed – with no end in sight.

What are the strikes about?

Network Rail’s lead negotiator Tim Shoveller said the company had offered workers a two-year 8% pay deal with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, and other benefits.

He said the RMT had “walked away without giving their members a voice or a choice”.

“Our door remains open to try and avert this pointless action that will cost strikers dear.

“We will now consider how we will move forward with our reform plans despite the RMT obstinacy.”

The RMT said there has been no change or improvement in the pay offers it has received.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said Network Rail had “upped the ante, threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw our planned strike action”.

“The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.

“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone.”

Read more:
RMT’s Mick Lynch criticises ‘politicians’ prattle’ over rail workers’ pay

Nine tips to reduce how much fuel you use
London Southend Airport offers to host flights being cancelled by bigger, struggling airports

What do the train operators say?

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the operators, said: “Sadly, these RMT strikes will upset passengers’ summer plans, undermine businesses and upend the industry’s recovery, making it more difficult to fund a settlement.

“We want to give our people an increase in pay, but we have a responsibility to do that by making reasonable changes to long outdated working practices – already successfully introduced in some parts of the network – which will improve punctuality, reliability and passenger experience.

“The alternative is to ask passengers to pay more when they too are feeling the squeeze, or asking the taxpayer to contribute even more towards the running of the railway on top of the record amounts spent keeping trains running during the pandemic and with revenue still 20% down on pre-COVID levels. Neither of those options is fair.

“Rather than going ahead with these counterproductive strikes, we ask the RMT’s leadership to continue talking so we can come to a deal that works for our people, our passengers and for taxpayers.”

And the government?

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The rail industry has to modernise and be brought into the 21st century for the benefit of passengers and staff.

“We’re extremely disappointed to see that instead of staying at the table, RMT executives have chosen to walk away once more.

“We continue to encourage RMT to do the right thing by their members and passengers alike and call off the strikes.”

If there is no breakthrough, what happens next?

More strikes.

Members of drivers’ union Aslef at eight train operators will go on strike on 30 July. This will affect Chiltern, LNER, Northern, TransPennine Express, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains. Earlier this month, Aslef members at ScotRail voted to accept an improved pay offer from their bosses.

There are more RMT strikes planned for 18 and 20 August.

‘We hope they will soon find loving homes’: Giant rabbits rescued by RSPCA | UK News

A group of giant rabbits is recovering well after being rescued by the RSPCA.

The Flemish giant rabbits were found in small hutches on an allotment in Ashington, Northumberland, earlier this month.

They were in cramped and dirty conditions and had been left to breed with each other.

The largest rabbit weighed more than 8kg – the same as a medium-sized dog such as a Jack Russell or King Charles spaniel.

Its ears were 7in (almost 18cm) long.

Flemish giant rabbits are popular pets but they are also still bred for their fur and their meat.

The RSPCA said it is believed these rabbits were being bred to be eaten.

Around half of them were adults and half were babies – two of the adults were of average size but their litters were crossed with the giant rabbits, so the babies (or kits) are likely to grow into large rabbits.

‘We hope they will soon find loving homes’

Inspector Trevor Walker, who helped to rescue the rabbits, said: “These poor rabbits were living in cramped and dirty conditions which would have been very unpleasant for them especially in the heat.

“Luckily a vet found they are all in good condition, although one is on medication for weepy eyes and a wound on the back of his neck, but we hope they will soon find loving homes.”

Anyone interested in adopting the rabbits can look on the RSPCA’s website for the Find A Pet section.

Mr Walker said: “They will make good companion animals, as they have nice temperaments.”

Pet owners struggling with cost-of-living crisis

The RSPCA is seeing an increase in rabbits needing rescue and adoption, with some pet owners unable to care for them due to the increasing demands of the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Walker said: “We would really urge people to do their research before taking on a pet, and also to make sure you get your pet neutered at an early opportunity to prevent unwanted litters of animals.

“All of these rabbits will be neutered, micro-chipped and vaccinated before finding new homes.”

Last surviving Battle of Britain pilot, 103, reunited with WWII fighter plane | World News

The last known surviving Battle of Britain fighter pilot has been reunited with a Hurricane aircraft, the type he flew during the war.

Group Captain (retired) John ‘Paddy’ Hemmingway, who turned 103 this week, was the guest of honour at the Irish Air Corps’ centenary year Veterans Day at Casement Aerodrome in Co Dublin on Friday.

As part of the ceremony, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, comprising an Avro Lancaster bomber and a Hawker Hurricane, flew in formation over Dublin before landing at the aerodrome.

Group Captain Hemmingway was brought to the vintage fighter in a wheelchair, and its engines were powered up, so he could once again experience the sight and sound of his WWII “office”.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight being escorted over by the 'The Silver Swallows'
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight being escorted over Dublin by the 'The Silver Swallows'.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight being escorted over Dublin by the ‘The Silver Swallows’.

The RAF’s Air Marshal Sir Rich Knighton said: “Group Captain Paddy Hemingway, the last of The Few, is a true inspiration and his accomplishments are as relevant today as they were more than 80 years ago.

“As a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain, he defended the skies over the UK daily, much as our Typhoon pilots do today. He fought bravely to uphold our values and way of life in the face of tyranny, laying the foundation for the way we deliver collective Air Defence through NATO to deter those who would do us harm.

“Paddy deserves our deep gratitude for all he did to preserve the freedoms we now enjoy.”

Born in Dublin in 1919, John Hemmingway joined the RAF in 1938 and, following the outbreak of the Second World War, was assigned to 85 Squadron in France.

He was credited with destroying a Heinkel He 111 bomber and a Dornier Do 17.

During the Battle of Dunkirk, he flew supporting missions over the Channel, before flying Hurricanes in daily sorties during the Battle of Britain throughout the summer of 1940.

In August 1940, he was forced to bail out over the Thames Estuary when his plane was damaged. He was shot down again over Eastchurch in Kent just a week later.

Squadron Leader Mark Sugden (Hurricane Pilot) speaking with Group Captain John 'Paddy' Hemingway shortly after landing
Squadron Leader Mark Sugden speaks with Group Captain Hemingway after landing

‘Today we are both proud Irishmen’

On 1 July 1941 Hemmingway was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

He went on to be part of the planning for D-Day before flying Spitfires in Italy.

The veteran airman celebrated his 103rd birthday last Sunday, and lives in a Dublin nursing home.

“Today we are both proud Irishmen”, said General Officer Commanding of the Irish Air Corps Brigadier General Rory O’Connor.

“Seeing the iconic and historic Lancaster and Hurricane flying in Irish skies was very special.

“The arrival of the aircraft serves as a reminder that the Irish Air Corps flew Hurricanes during the Emergency [as WWII was officially known in Ireland].

“I was honoured to host Group Captain Hemingway and be there when he was reunited with his World War II aircraft type.”

(L-R) Air Marshal Sean Reynolds,  Group Captain John 'Paddy' Hemingway, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, Brigadier General Rory O'Connor, Air Marshal Sir Rich Knighton
(L-R) Air Marshal Sean Reynolds, Group Captain John ‘Paddy’ Hemingway, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor, Air Marshal Sir Rich Knighton

It was the first visit to Ireland by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

The aircraft will take part in the Bray Air Display in Co Wicklow over the weekend.

A-level and GCSE results could be impacted as 72-hour exam board staff strike announced | UK News

The delivery of thousands of GCSE and A-level results could be impacted as workers at exam board AQA prepare for a 72-hour strike.

The walkout was announced by Unison over pay.

Members will walk out for three days from Friday 29 July to Sunday 31 July – with warnings that industrial action could escalate unless talks are reopened.

This year, GCSE students will get their results on Thursday 25 August, while A-Level results will be released on Thursday 18 August.

While results can be mailed to students or available on email, most students collect their results in person.

Many of the staff involved in the strike say they are struggling to make ends meet following successive below-inflation pay awards, Unison said.

Staff were given an increase of 0.6% last year, with 3% offered this year, which Unison said is a real-terms pay cut.

Unison official Lizanne Devonport said the workers have been left with “no other option” but to strike.

GCSE and A-level examiners have been asked to be more generous this year, with advanced information released to help students with assessments.

The decision to publish details of topics that appeared was taken to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on education.

Holidaymakers stuck in long queues as Port of Dover ‘critical incident’ declared | UK News

Holidaymakers are stuck in long queues heading into the Port of Dover – with French immigration being blamed for causing a “critical incident”.

The delays are “in excess of four hours”, P&O Ferries said, adding: “Please arrive prepared for a prolonged wait. Carry snacks and additional water with you.”

One traveller said they were moving “50 metres per hour”, tweeting: “At this rate it’ll be 34 hours before I get to the port!”

Another said: “Sat in lanes waiting to get to border control. Zero movement.”

The port said “woefully inadequate” French staffing was to blame for “major disruption” and a “critical incident” had been declared.

Its chief executive, Doug Bannister, told Sky News: “The cause of it is French immigration controls.

“We’ve been let down this morning despite the planning of the last several months to get ready for this day.”

The port said it had shared predicted traffic volumes with the French authorities “in granular detail” as it prepared for the summer holiday season.

Mr Bannister added: “This is causing major disruption. French border controls are not properly staffed.”

Foreign Office minister Graham Stuart agreed with the port’s assessment, telling Sky News the “French authorities” were to blame and it was not a “Border Force problem”.

The French have added “three additional booths”, he said, and “by yesterday morning, they had two of the three up and running”.

The transport secretary and French ambassador have both been involved, Mr Stuart said.

Car queue at the check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Staffing at French border control at the Port of Dover is "woefully inadequate" causing holidaymakers to be stuck in long queues, the Kent port said. Picture date: Friday July 22, 2022.
People are queuing for several hours

In a long statement, the port said it had “worked so hard in good faith” with local and government partners over the course of several months as it prepared for the “busy summer”.

It added: “We are deeply frustrated that the resource at the French border overnight and early this morning has been woefully inadequate to meet our predicted demand.”

Dover said it had “trained a new team of passenger champions to be on hand and assist customers at the port”.

It went on: “We know that resource is finite, but the popularity of Dover is not a surprise.

“Regrettably, the Police Aux Frontieres (PAF) resource has been insufficient and has fallen far short of what is required to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer getaway period.”

The port said it was stressing the “importance of adequate French border resource for the coming days and weeks on which we had previously been assured”.

It concluded: “We have to work as a team.”

Roads to watch for delays over the weekend

  • M25 anticlockwise Junction 4 Bromley to Dartford
  • M4 eastbound Junction 30 Cardiff East to Junction 24 for the A449 Monmouth
  • M25 anticlockwise Junction 17 Maple Cross to Junction 12 for the M3
  • A303 westbound past Stonehenge
  • M25 clockwise Junction 7 M23 to Junction 16 for the M40
  • M5 southbound Junction 15 Almondsbury Interchange to Junction 23 for the A38 Bridgwater
  • M25 anticlockwise Junction 17 Maple Cross to Junction 12 for the M3
  • Source: RAC

Elsewhere, a “slow-moving convoy” has joined the M5 in a protest against high fuel prices, police have said.

The Avon and Somerset force said a “protest convoy of about 10 vehicles” had entered the motorway northbound at J24 for Bridgwater.

Police warned previously that the M4 and M32 could also be affected.

Fuel Price Stand Against Tax, a Facebook group with 53,000 members, shared a post suggesting activists will assemble “nationwide” to make their voices heard.

Protests are planned in Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester.