Tag Archive: britain

FOOD FRAUD: 37% say takeaways are the least trusted type of food outlet in the Midlands

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A new food fraud report shows that almost two thirds of people in the Midlands (64%) regularly take measures to ensure their food is legitimate, and 17% avoid certain foods altogether that they believe could be susceptible to fraud.

As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, new research reveals that only 11% of people in the Midlands have confidence in the European food chain and just 9% in the global chain, fewer than one in every ten people.

Takeaways are the least trusted type of food outlet in the Midlands (37%) followed by online (20%) and convenience stores (15%). The least trusted product types are processed foods (36%), red meat (16%) supplements and animal feed (15%).

Almost three quarters (70%) believe there to be an issue with food fraud in the UK, with a quarter also believing that they have personally experienced it (25%). Hearing about high profile cases of fraudulent food in the media, such as the horse meat scandal in 2013, is the most common cause of reduced confidence in nearly half of consumers (44%).

The NFU Mutual Food Fraud Report 2017, published on 7th September, also reveals that one third of consumers across the region (34%) are less trusting of products and retailers than they were five years ago, compared with only 10% whose trust has increased. A further 34% believe that food crime is likely to increase in the future.

Commenting on the report, Frank Woods, Retail Sector Specialist at NFU Mutual, said:  “There has never been a more important time for tackling food fraud and getting regulation right as we plan to leave the European Union, but Government proposals for where we will get our food from are already under tough scrutiny from industry and consumers alike with concerns over skilled workers and quality.

“Producers are under immense pressure to offset price rises caused by the weakened value of sterling and higher import costs, squeezing already tight budgets and resources and potentially cornering them into using cheaper global suppliers that may be more vulnerable to fraud.”

The UK food and drink industry could be losing up to £12bn annually to fraud, entering the food chain through means including falsified or inaccurate documentation, and redirection of waste products back into the supply chain or re-dating of stock.

Frank continued: “Our research exposes the damaging effect that various influencers have had on consumer confidence over time. Much of the industry is addressing this by changing its supply strategy and supporting British producers - likely to be popular with a majority of consumers who want to support local businesses on home soil. How British producers and retailers will be supported and enabled to deliver the quantity of food required and improve consumer confidence remains to be seen.

“Our Food Fraud Report provides businesses with the research findings alongside advice from NFU Mutual experts and partners to help them combat fraud and appeal to customers through transparency and trust.”

The NFU Mutual Food Fraud report, which is designed to understand challenges facing businesses working across the ‘field to fork’ supply chain, explores attitudes and influencers of trust, perceived blame, impact upon behaviour and awareness of food crime. The report includes viewpoints and advice from major industry bodies including the British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation, British Hospitality Association and National Farmers Retail & Markets Association.

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HISTORICAL: Preet Kaur Gill’s win as Britain’s first female Sikh MP is landmark achievement

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POIGNANT: Preet Kaur Gill’s election as MP of Birmingham Edgbaston comes almost 100 years after the fight to allow women the vote

POIGNANT: Preet Kaur Gill’s election as MP of Birmingham Edgbaston comes almost 100 years after the fight to allow women the vote

 

The recent General Election results has overseen a huge shift in power as Labour managed to wrestle back some of the Conservative stranglehold with two Sikh Labour Candidates earning seats for the first time.

Labour candidate Preet Kaur Gill has become the first female Sikh MP having gained the Birmingham Edgbaston seat with a majority vote replacing Gisela Stuart who stepped down when the election was called by Theresa May.

Preet Kaur secured 24,124 votes to hold Birmingham Edgbaston for Labour with a majority of 6,917, beating her Conservative counterpart Caroline Squire who mustered 17,207 votes.

This is a major landmark achievement for the Sikh community showing they are becoming a growing influence in UK politics and that parties in future must learn from Labour’s success this time with regards to representation where the Sikh community is concerned.

Bhai Amrik Singh who is the chair of the Sikh federation spoke of Gill’s appointment as MP and explained how it won’t be easy for her and fellow Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh who became the first Turban wearing Sikh MP as his Labour candidacy won the Slough seat.

Singh said: “There are high expectations of Preet and Tanmanjeet, first and foremost they need to serve their constituents and strengthen the Labour party as there could be another general election within six months.”

The chair of the Sikh federation also spoke of the Sikh community and what this means to them he said: “The Sikh community in the UK and beyond will also be closely observing their achievements.

“They have so much to offer and we are convinced they will make the Sikh community proud.”

The consensus on social media was an outpouring of positivity with Gill being congratulated both in the UK and back home in India.

One Tweet which stood out in particular was from Anita Anand where she poignantly spoke of the historical importance of this event by @tweeter_anita.

One Tweet which stood out in particular was from Anita Anand where she poignantly spoke of the historical importance of this event by @tweeter_anita.

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Search launched for Britain’s ‘Best Young Driver’ but they must be aged 10-17

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The search is on for the best drivers from across the country – but unusually, those behind the wheel have to be under 17.

In fact, entrants to the Young Driver Challenge 2017 can be aged just 10, so up to seven years before they can take their test, or even drive a car on public roads.

The competition is run by Young Driver, which is the country’s largest provider of pre-17 driving tuition, having given over 400,000 lessons at more than 40 venues across Britain.

Until the end of July, instructors at all of Young Driver’s venues are on the hunt for the best youngsters to put forward to a national final which will take place at the NEC in Birmingham on September 30th.

Forty finalists will compete in two categories – 10-13 years and 14-16. The Challenge aims to encourage youngsters to consider responsible and safe driving, with top marks given to those who show the best levels of control and awareness.

Entrants drive a real, dual-control car, with a fully qualified driving instructor, and are marked on driving skills and manoeuvres, including parallel parking, independent driving, emergency stops, steering, judgement and positioning. Prizes on offer include both pre and post-17 driving lessons and £500 off an Admiral car insurance policy.

Kim Stanton, who heads up Young Driver, said: “We’re delighted to be running the Challenge for the fourth year. In previous years our judges, which include ex-police drivers and advanced instructors, have been stunned to see how good these youngsters are, and the level of responsibility they show behind the wheel. These awards give us a great opportunity to show the wider public that too!

“The aim of Young Driver has always been to create a safer next generation of drivers, and the way to do that is to start teaching youngsters over a longer period of time and from a younger age. Research shows this can half the accident rate when it comes to them passing their test, as by the time they’re on the roads they have mastered the mechanics of driving and can concentrate more on interactions with other road users.”

Teen expert Nicola Morgan, is an award-winning author and international speaker, specialising in writing for and about adolescent development, performance and wellbeing, including the books ‘Blame My Brain’ and ‘The Teenage Guide to Stress’. She explains further: “The brain learns to do anything well by repetition. Every time we repeat an activity, whether mental or physical, we are actually creating and then strengthening physical pathways between neurons (nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord), which allow us to become confident, fluent and expert in something. The more times we do something, the stronger those pathways become; the stronger they become, the more ‘automatic’ the skills in question become.

“There is a danger in learning to drive in a short space of time and with the minimum repetitions needed to pass the test but not to become expert.

“The skills required to drive confidently and safely (especially while distracted) have not been firmly embedded as neural pathways in the brain. Without these strong pathways, a huge amount of focus goes on the things that should be automatic (such as gear-changing and position in road) leaving less focus for noticing and dealing with sudden road changes, such as another driver stopping suddenly.”

For more information about entering the Young Driver Challenge 2017, log on to www.youngdriver.com.

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THE ENEMY WITHIN: Sayeeda Warsi explores the tale of a Muslim Britain

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Being a British Muslim for the past decade or so has been a brutal affair. How did this state of affairs come to pass? What are the lessons and challenges for the future - and how will the tale of Muslim Britain develop?

Sayeeda Warsi draws on her own unique position in British life, as the child of Pakistani immigrants, an outsider, who became an insider.

She became the UK's first Muslim Cabinet minister, to explore questions of cultural difference, terrorism, surveillance, social justice, religious freedom, integration and the meaning of 'British values'.

Looking at changing attitudes and policy, especially over the last fifteen years, ‘The Enemy Within’ examines in close focus whether our counter terrorism strategy has been effective or counterproductive and what Britain's Muslim communities might have become had the war on terror not happened.

Britain has often found groups within its borders whom it does not trust, whom it feels have a belief, culture, practice or agenda which runs contrary to those of the majority.

From Catholics to Jews, miners to trade unionists , Marxists to liberals and even homosexuals, all have at times been viewed, described and treated as 'the enemy within'. Muslims are the latest in a long line of 'others' to be given this label.

Uncompromising and outspoken, filled with arguments, real-life experience, necessary truths and possible ways forward for Muslims, politicians and the rest of us, this is a timely and urgent book.

Sayeeda Warsi, Britain's first Muslim Cabinet minister, is also a lawyer, businesswoman and racial justice campaigner. Appointed a life peer at the age of thirty-six, she served as Chairman of the Conservative Party, in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as Minister for Faith and Communities. In the summer of 2014 she resigned from government, citing its 'morally indefensible' policy on Gaza.

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Lord Ahmed announces deal agreed to ease restrictions on flights between the two nations

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Unlocking Britain-India tourism potential

About 2.5 million passengers fly direct between the UK and India each year, with 88 scheduled services per week in each direction between the two nations.

Tourism from India makes an important contribution to the UK economy.

In 2015, there were 422,000 visits from India to the UK, bringing more than £433 million to the country.

Now, the UK has agreed to ease restrictions on India on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries, following successful talks in India this week.

Limits on flights from key Indian cities including Chennai and Kolkata have been scrapped, allowing for a greater range of flights for passengers while providing a boost to trade and tourism for the UK and India.

Building new links with important trading partners is a key part of the government’s plans for a Global Britain, opening up new export markets and creating jobs and economic growth.

CAPITALISING: Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said Britain is unlocking new trade and tourism opportunities to boost economy

CAPITALISING: Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said Britain is unlocking new trade and tourism opportunities to boost economy

 

India is a rapidly expanding and important market for aviation and the agreement signed today will allow airlines to develop new services and routes.

Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “India is one of our closest allies and key trading partners and this new agreement will only serve to strengthen this crucial relationship.

“We are unlocking new trade and tourism opportunities which will boost our economies, create new jobs and open up new business links.

“This is great news for both the UK and India and is yet another sign that we are open for business and ready to build and strengthen our trade links.”

Indian Civil Aviation Minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: “The increase in number of flights between the UK and India is encouraging news for our businesses and tourists.

“We already enjoy strong ties with the UK and we welcome such continued association which in the long run will not only encourage business activity, but also people-to-people contact.

“I am sure that this agreement will bring direct and indirect benefits to many sectors of the economies of our two countries”.

The agreement was formally signed during a visit to India by Lord Ahmad, where he led a delegation of British companies for the 2017 CAPA India Aviation Summit. The Cabinet Minister of Civil Aviation, Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju, signed on behalf of India.

The final decision on additional flights between the UK and India is a commercial one for airlines.

 

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Happy New Year UK: A year of ‘unity’ ahead for Britain

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VISUAL: Fireworks once again lit up the sky in London for over 100,000 onlookers

VISUAL: Fireworks once again lit up the sky in London for over 100,000 onlookers

Brits across the country welcomed in the New Year in traditional style this past week with fireworks galore lighting up the night sky as Big Ben chimed 12.

It was of course in the capital where the most highly-anticipated display was seen as London, once again, stole the show.

Consisting of some 12,000 individual fireworks, over 110,000 people, from almost 100 countries, gathered on the banks of the Thames to watch the spectacle unfold.

In the annual Prime Minister’s message, Theresa May said this is the year for a ‘truly united Britain’.

UNITED: Prime Minister Theresa May wished the nation a happy New Year in the annual Prime Minister’s message

UNITED: Prime Minister Theresa May wished the nation a happy New Year in the annual Prime Minister’s message

Her message read: “The New Year is a time to reflect on what has passed and to look ahead to the opportunities to come. And this year, as I consider all that 2017 has in store, I believe those opportunities are greater than ever. For we have made a momentous decision and set ourselves on a new direction. And if 2016 was the year you voted for that change, this is the year we start to make it happen.

“I know that the referendum last June was divisive at times. I know, of course, that not everyone shared the same point of view, or voted in the same way. But I know too that, as we face the opportunities ahead of us, our shared interests and ambitions can bring us together.

“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. These ambitions unite us, so that we are no longer the 52% who voted Leave and the 48% who voted Remain, but one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.

“So when I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind – the knowledge that I am there to get the right deal – not just for those who voted to Leave – but for every single person in this country.

“Of course, the referendum laid bare some further divisions in our country – between those who are prospering, and those who are not; those who can easily buy their own home, send their children to a great school, find a secure job, and those who cannot; in short, those for whom our country works well, and those for whom it does not.

“This is the year we need to pull down these barriers that hold people back, securing a better deal at home for ordinary, working people. The result will be a truly united Britain, in which we are all united in our citizenship of this great nation; united in the opportunities that are open to all our people; and united by the principle that it is only your talent and hard work that should determine your future.

“After all, it is through unity that our people have achieved great things: through our precious union of nations – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; through our union of people – from sports teams to armed forces; businesses to charities; schools to hospitals; and, above all, through our union of communities and families.

“Of course, it isn’t just big, global events that define a year – it is the personal things. 2017 might be the year you start your first job or buy your first home. It might be the year your children start school or go off to university, or that you retire after a lifetime of hard work. These things – life’s milestones – are the things that bind us, whoever we are.

“As the fantastic MP Jo Cox, who was so tragically taken from us last year, put it: “We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.

“We have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that – to bring this country together as never before, so that whoever you are, wherever you live, our politics, economy and society work for you, not just a privileged few.
“So as we look ahead to a year of opportunity and unity, let me wish you and your family a peaceful, prosperous and happy New Year.”

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Indians in Britain support Modi’s landmark initiative but face dilemma

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Rajpal Lall and wife Harinder from Leeds say that though they appreciate what Modi is attempting to do, they feel NRIs haven't been given any guidelines about what to do with as Rs 500 and 1,000 notes they have

Rajpal Lall and wife Harinder from Leeds say that though they appreciate what Modi is attempting to do, they feel NRIs haven't been given any guidelines about what to do with as Rs 500 and 1,000 notes they have

Many Non Resident Indians (NRIs) in Britain have lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s landmark initiative to abolish high-denomination banknotes in one of the nation’s biggest crackdowns in history.

The total amount of black money deposited in foreign banks by Indians is unknown but reports claim it totals US$50 trillion.

However, NRIs are left facing the dilemma on what they should do with any 500 and 1,000 rupee notes that they have in their possession.

With no guidelines from the Indian Government as to how Indians living abroad should proceed in exchanging any currency they may have, many have slammed the rude and unhelpful attitudes at the State Bank of India and ICICI bank branches in Britain.

British branches of the Indian banks have simply said that they cannot accept the rupee notes.

Now Indian jewellers in England are taking on the rupee currency in exchange for gold at hiked prices, as they stand a better chance to move the money out of the country and deposit in India through their commercial bank accounts.

Says Mrs Harinder Lall from Leeds: “I support the initiative for the better economic good for India, but the manner in which this has happened is so wrong. With only four hours notice before the rupees were no longer legal tender, millions of people are left in a very vulnerable position.

“For us in the UK, we are stuck with this dead money. There should have been some guidance for us from the banks here about how we should deposit the rupees or exchange them

Harinder's husband Rajpal adds: “Overall we are supporting this decision that Modi has made. One, it targets corruption. Two, it gets rid of black money.

“However, we do think the manner in which this has all happened is unfair because the Indian government hasn’t helped people outside of India, all non-resident Indians. They haven’t been helped or given any guidelines regarding how to exchange the notes. 

“The Indian banks in Britain are not accepting them. The State Bank of India or the ICICI bank in the UK, in our honest opinion, have not been helpful at all. In fact they are rude and they just don’t want to know.

“We can do two things with the rupees we have. We can either throw them away which means collectively we all lose out. Or then we can hope that relative going to India within the next few weeks (and if they are willing) will take the notes and exchange them for us. 

“We think the way the government has gone about it is ridiculous. They’ve helped the rich, but not the average person. There have been at least 25 people who have died and regardless of age, they haven’t helped them. It hasn’t been planned. There’s chaos in the banks and the huge queues at the cash machines. 

“Our family in India are in a similar situation. 

“We had been in India and our return flight was on Monday evening (7th November). When we landed we realised any money we had (500 and 1,000 rupee notes) was dead.
“Had we known a little bit more in advance, we could have left it with a family member and they could have deposited it for us.”

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Multicultural memorial: Remembering Asians who fought in the Great Wars

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GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Indian troops at a gas mask drill

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Indian troops at a gas mask drill

As Remembrance Day has been and gone and people have put their bright red poppies away for another year, what our readers may not know is: more than 3.5million soldiers from the Asian subcontinent fought for Britain in the two conflicts, with tens of thousands killed in action.

The 2.5million men and women who came over to do their bit in World War II became the biggest volunteer force in history.

Secretary general Farooq Murad, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We need to remind not only the Muslim community but also the general public that the Muslim contribution to the defence of this nation runs deep.”

During World War I, Muslim troops in the Indian Army fought on the Western Front. By the end of the Great War, India had sent more than 1million troops.

More than 47,000 died and 65,000 were wounded.

In World War II, some 2.5million men and women fought for Britain, with 36,092 killed, 64,354 wounded and almost 80,000 taken prisoner.

More than 400,000 Muslim soldiers fought in World War One , yet a recent survey by British Future -a think-tank dedicated to racial integration - has revealed that only 22 per cent of people know of their sacrifice.

CULTURES AND CONFLICT: Over 100,000 Sikhs came to do their bit in the Great Wars

CULTURES AND CONFLICT: Over 100,000 Sikhs came to do their bit in the Great Wars

British Future project co-ordinator Avaes Mohammed has overseen a scheme to educate Birmingham children about the part Muslims from India played in the Great War.

Avaes, assisted by Birmingham historian Jahan Mahmood, gave history lessons to a Muslim group from Lozells and a group of non-Muslims from Kingstanding .

The youngsters then interviewed descendants of soldiers who fought in the war.

The project was one of four across the country that made up “An Unknown And Untold Story – The Muslim Contribution To The First World War”.

At the outbreak of war, the Indian army was 1.3 million strong, with the ranks including 100,000 Sikhs and 800,000 Hindu troops.

Of that massive force, 62,060 were killed in action. They gave their lives at epic battles such as the Somme and Ypres. Hundreds were killed in a gallant, but futile, engagement at Neuve Chappelle.

More than 1,000 of them lost their lives at Gallipoli and nearly 700,000 sepoys fought in Mesopotamia.

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Oh Twaddi! Citizen Khan’s ‘Guide to Britain’ book published on 20th November!

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Christmas is still over 50 days away but now’s the time to start thinking about stocking fillers for family and friends.

What better present than the new Citizen Khan book, written by Mr Khan (Adil Ray) himself?

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, is a self-confessed fan of the hit BBC show, and said: “‘I would like to thank Mr Khan for guiding me over the years. Thanks, Uncle.”

The lovable, self-appointed community leader Mr Khan shares everything you need to know about living in post-Brexit Britain, such as bringing up the perfect daughter, educ-asian, romance and how to 'get our country back' (to how it was when all the Pakistanis came).

He offers advice you'll struggle to find anywhere else: how do you make curry for white people? How do you make curry for brown people? How do you eat a custard creamie? Where should you go on holiday? And most importantly, what is the correct amount of toilet paper to use in one sitting?

Featuring previously unseen photographs of Mr. Khan's early years, this guide is designed to sit on your coffee table, in your glove box and on your toilet cistern - at hand whenever you need it. Oh Twaddi!

Adil Ray is the creator and star of BBC One’s primetime sitcom Citizen Khan. He is also a broadcaster and presenter with over twenty years’ experience in television and radio.  

Citizen Khan is one of the BBC's highest-rating comedy shows and currently its longest running sitcom. This autumn will see transmission of the 5th series, and audiences of up to 5 million viewers. The new series will run from 4th November through to Christmas.

The book will be published on 10th November, the hardback copy being £20.

www.adilray.com | @therealmrkhan  

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Can Bradford make it six years running?

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EXCITED: The team at Visit Bradford, along with some of the participating restaurateurs in this year's competition, along with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford

EXCITED: The team at Visit Bradford, along with some of the participating restaurateurs in this year's competition, along with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford

Curry Capital of Britain competition is back

Curryhouses from Bradford are joining forces to cook up some fantastic food...it can only mean one thing – the Curry Capital of Britain competition is back.

The city, which has been crowned victorious in the contest over the past five years aw over 60 honoured guests, VIPs and dignitaries descended on City Hall this week to enjoy a right royal celebration, marking Visit Bradford's official entry into the Curry Capital of Britain competition 2016.

Sitting down to fantastical tables set with faux-grass cloths and gingham-covered vases filled with fresh wild flowers, everyone agreed the atmosphere and ambience was at an ‘all time high’ - and that the thoughtful setting added authenticity and pizzazz to the event.

Having previously won the competition and awarded the accolade of Curry Capital for a record-breaking five years in a row, the stakes were high to ensure that this year's entry was award-worthy of title number six.

This year, the destination marketing organisation's entry has been all about celebration.

The bid launched with the cadets of 2387 Squadron Air Training Corps in Thornbury taking part in a special sponsored Curry Capital Olympics and culminated with an indoor garden party in the Banqueting Suite of City Hall, to tie in with the Queen celebrating her 90th birthday earlier this year.

Bradford Council leader Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said Bradford had done ‘exceptionally well’ in the Curry Capital awards to win the national competition five years running.

She said: “The quality of our restaurants is, of course, renowned but what has also set us apart is the way which food has been used across all the events to bring communities together.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe added: “I know the tourism team has worked really hard to put in another excellent bid. We're hoping it's another winner.”

As well as Cllr Hinchcliffe and judges from the Curry Capital of Britain competition, other guests included the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford – and two winners of a social media competition - to experience the exclusive VIP event; and Grace Neil and Hazel O'Neill – two ladies also celebrating their 90th birthdays this year – acting as honorary 'Queens of Curry' at the royal-themed garden party.

Guests enjoyed an array of garden-party-style finger food – but prepared with an Asian twist  by the restaurants taking part in this year's bid.

In addition, guests were entertained with outdoor games, such as a hoop toss and skittles, as well as enjoying a live display of authentic Indian dancing.

Tricia Tillotson, tourism manager at Visit Bradford, said: “It’s been a huge success. Everyone who attended said what a wonderful time they had and that they thoroughly enjoyed the theme of our 'Royal Garden Party'.”

She continued: “As this year's bid has been all about celebrating extraordinary achievements, from our record-breaking Curry Capital of Britain wins, to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and of course Her Majesty's 90th birthday, it seemed fitting for our bid to culminate in a celebration that was fit for the Queen.

“In fact, yesterday's event even took place in a room where the Queen once dined herself while visiting Bradford.

“Of course, the event would not have been possible without the generous support of all of our stakeholders and sponsors. I'd like to thank them all and whatever the outcome of the competition now, we can honestly say we did our best and have had a brilliant time celebrating our achievements in the process.”

Unlike previous years, the format of the 2016 competition is changing. The initial competition will decide Curry Capitals of England - minus London - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The national winning teams, plus London, will then go head-to-head to compete for the title of Curry Capital of Britain.

Voting for their winner of Curry Capital of Britain 2016 is still open. People can vote via www.visitbradord.com/currycapital, email vote@fedrest.com, or in person via the Visitor Information Centre.

Voting closes for the Curry Capital of Britain competition on 1st September.

The winner of the Curry Capital of England competition will be announced on 13th September, with the overall winner of the Curry Capital of Britain revealed week commencing 10th October.

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RACISM SHOCK: Has Britain been shown a reflection of it’s ugly fascist-self since Brexit?

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BOMBED: A halal butcher’s shop in the West Midlands was destroyed with a petrol bomb earlier this week. Owner Jamal Hussain stated a 6ft tall white man wearing a blue jacket lit the petrol bomb outside the shop before throwing it in, luckily no one was hurt during the incident.

BOMBED: A halal butcher’s shop in the West Midlands was destroyed with a petrol bomb earlier this week. Owner Jamal Hussain stated a 6ft tall white man wearing a blue jacket lit the petrol bomb outside the shop before throwing it in, luckily no one was hurt during the incident.

In the aftermath of Brexit, much of liberal Britain has come to a stark realisation of how suppressed “in-the-closet” racist attitudes have been with a sharp 57 per cent rise of hate crimes since Friday 24th June.

With some 17 million opting to leave the European Union, it has become shockingly apparent how anti-migrant Great Britain is and this has become a historic indicator of racism and xenophobia in the UK.

Cards have been handed out outside homes and schools saying “No more Polish vermin”, a Muslim schoolgirl was cornered by group who shouted “Get out we voted leave” and a video has emerged of a group of teenagers shouting “get back to Africa” at a US army veteran on a Manchester tram. Reports continue to pour in of fascist behaviour.

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The rhetoric used of “taking our country back” from “them” by “regaining control of our borders” during the Brexit campaign, has created a climate where targeting vulnerable minority communities has become legitimised.

Yet this collective howl has been a long time coming. Data published from a British Social Attitudes survey in 2014 found that increasing numbers of Brits openly admitted racial prejudice.

Despite not a single country representing the EU (28 in total) being Muslim, British Muslims and Asians of other faiths are suffering an explosive increase of faith-based hatred, with visibly Muslim women being a hot target for abuse.

Recounting the recent instances of abuse, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham speaking in the House of Commons in response to an urgent Ministerial Statement on hate crime said: “Attacks on Muslim women and even reports of women on mobile phones speaking a foreign language being screamed at in the street.

REFERENDUM LEAVE CAMPAIGN: The rhetoric used of “taking our country back” from “them” by “regaining control of our borders” has created a climate where targeting vulnerable minority communities has become legitimised

REFERENDUM LEAVE CAMPAIGN: The rhetoric used of “taking our country back” from “them” by “regaining control of our borders” has created a climate where targeting vulnerable minority communities has become legitimised

“What is happening to the Britain that we have known? This isn’t taking our country back, this is turning Britain into a place we have never, ever been.

“Hate crime, by its very nature, is a rejection of the British values that have always bound us together. Non-British nationals living in Britain today will feel worried about their safety and in need of reassurance.”

Burnham also called for MPs on both sides of the Brexit debate to now unite and tackle race hate.

The term “migrant” has become a catch-all term for ‘other’ people except white British, thanks to politicians and mainstream press. The word might mean refugees, Muslims, Eastern Europeans or Black Africans in Calais, depending on the headline.

refugees not welcome (800x533)

Managing Editor of Asian Express Andleeb Hanif has said; “It’s regrettable but Britain has been shown a reflection of its ugly racist self.

“As a country we have failed - extremist views of white supremacy is in showcase as hate crimes continue to be reported at an unprecedented level.

“This may be a pivotal juncture for this country to address the extremely worrying numbers of far-right attitudes to foreigners.

“Though it’s been reported that anti-Muslim hate crime had increased 200% in 2015, the recent spate of brutally outlandish and harmful behaviour of extreme white British mentality has caused shockwaves and disbelief. This kind of behaviour hasn’t been seen since the days of the National Front – our first generation Asian faced this in the 60s, 70s and 80’s. We thought those days were long gone.

“Since the outcome of the EU referendum, it's become clear that Britain has regressed as a nation - actually no (let me correct myself), the truth about how suppressed racism has been has come to light - it's been seething under the surface all this time and now has reared its ugly fascist head unashamedly and publicly.

“Whether someone voted in or out, it’s apparent that Great Britain Plc has some serious "race" issues which are spewing out after decades of pretentious "good behaviour" by “in-the-closet-racist-attitudes” – it’s imperative that the Government and faith leaders work together to restore calm.”

EXTRA CASH: Following reports of an increase in attacks after voters backed Leave during the EU referendum, Cameron urged all sides to “utterly condemn” them

EXTRA CASH: Following reports of an increase in attacks after voters backed Leave during the EU referendum, Cameron urged all sides to “utterly condemn” them

In the Commons on Monday 27th June, Prime Minister David Cameron described incidents of racism directed at migrants in the wake of the referendum result as “despicable”, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordered Scotland Yard to be “extra vigilant”.

Mr Cameron said extra cash for security measures will be available as part of a fresh push to “drive appalling hate crimes” out of Britain, while the Crown Prosecution Service will issue new guidance to prosecutors on racially aggravated crime.

He said: “Whatever we can do we will do to drive these appalling hate crimes out of our country.”

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EU –bah –gum! Leeds voters see an almost 50/50 split decision

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GOODBYE BRUSSELS: Hedon Market Place in Hull had firm support in the Leave camp

GOODBYE BRUSSELS: Hedon Market Place in Hull had firm support in the Leave camp

As millions of Brits across the country headed to their local polling stations on Thursday 23rd June, European leaders held their breath to find out the results of the EU referendum.

Ultimately, by a majority of less than four per cent, the UK voted to leave, with over 33 million people turning out to voice their opinions.

Breaking down these figures, we can see how the West Yorkshire public voted, with a mixed message from the electorate across the region.

In Leeds, the city’s residents were split down the middle with 50.31 per cent wanting to stay in the EU and 49.69 per cent wanting to leave.

A total of 387,337 people voted, which represented 71.33 per cent of the 543,037 electorate.

Leeds’s 358 polling stations had closed at 10pm, with the usual last minute rush before the deadline and the start of a regional count at the First Direct Arena.

York and Harrogate also leant towards remaining.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the county, more people voted to leave the EU with majorities in Bradford (8.46 per cent), Kirklees (9.33 per cent) and Calderdale (11.35 per cent).

Wakefield had the biggest majority of Brexiters in Yorkshire, with a resounding 66.36 per cent in favour of leaving – a majority of 32.73 per cent.

Amjad Bashir, Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber and ‘Leave’ campaigner said people had ‘nothing to be worried about’ from the decision to leave the EU and that it was time to ‘look forward to a bright new future’.

When the results were announced, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “I believe that Britain is better off within the European Union, but the British people have clearly spoken... and their democratic will must now be fulfilled.

“I want to send a clear message to the British people and to businesses and investors around the world this morning - there is no need to panic.”

Mr Khan added: “We all have a responsibility to now seek to heal the divisions that have emerged throughout this campaign - and to focus on that which unites us, rather than that which divides us.”

Sadiq Khan’s sentiments echo what the late, much-loved Batley and Spen Labour MP Jo Cox thought with her now famous words: ‘We have far more in common than that which divides us’.

Her husband, Brendan Cox said the murdered MP - who was pro-EU - would have stayed positive after last night’s vote.

He wrote on Twitter this morning: “Today Jo would have remained optimistic and focused on what she could do to bring our country back together and around our best values.”

According to a YouGov poll, 75 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds voted ‘Remain’ in comparison to only 39 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

There have been calls for another EU referendum with the government asked to implement a rule that says ‘if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 per cent, based on a turnout less than 75 per cent there should be another vote’.

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Go? Stay? Which way? G7 say Brexit is damaging to growth

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IMPORTANT MEETING: The communiqué said that an exit from the EU would be extremely bad for the UK’s economy

IMPORTANT MEETING: The communiqué said that an exit from the EU would be extremely bad for the UK’s economy

A meeting which brings together the world's leading seven industrialised nations -known as the G7 - discussed Britain’s exit from the EU this past week.

They agreed that should the UK leave the European Union, it would pose a ‘serious threat to global growth’.

The group, who gathered together in Japan, warned in its final statement that a UK exit from the EU would reverse the trend of increased global trade, investment and jobs.

G7 set global growth as a priority for dealing with threats to security and the world's economy.

As Britain prepares for a referendum on 23rd June, the warning about the economic consequences of the UK leaving the EU comes just in time.

A vote to leave would “reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create,” the G7 leaders said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been campaigning for Britain to stay within the 28-country bloc, with recent polls suggesting a lead for those who support remaining.

President Barack Obama has already urged Britain to remain a member of the EU, warning last month that a decision to leave, known as ‘Brexit’, would put the country ‘at the back of the queue’ for a free trade deal with the US.

The G7 has also released an action plan to tackle terrorism and said they would improve border control and aviation security.

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BUTLINS HOLIDAY: Felt like “a Britain First rally”

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BUTLIN’S WEBSITE SAID: "Get ready to boo the bad guys and cheer your favourites as the atmosphere is always electric and guaranteed to have everyone on their feet enjoying themselves."

BUTLIN’S WEBSITE SAID: "Get ready to boo the bad guys and cheer your favourites as the atmosphere is always electric and guaranteed to have everyone on their feet enjoying themselves."

Popular holiday resort chain Butlins have been embroiled in a racism row after audiences were encouraged to boo at a ‘stereotype Muslim’ during one of their wrestling entertainment shows at their Skegness camp.

Complaints were made by parents after the Asian wrestler, named ‘Hakim’ was introduced by the announcer on the night. Crowds were urged to boo the character.

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Leisure camp apologises for 'racist' wrestling match that urged families to boo Muslim fighter

Heading down to the ring, waving a green flag with Arabic writing, he faced off against the ‘Union flag trunk wearing’ Tony Spitfire.

Wrestler Tony Spitfire (right) was urged to knock out the Muslim baddie 'Hakim'. Photo Credits: Gareth Nash

Wrestler Tony Spitfire (right) was urged to knock out the Muslim baddie 'Hakim'. Photo Credits: Gareth Nash

 

Leading a chorus of ‘Eng-er-land’ chants, Tony was the ‘good guy’ for the bout whilst Hakim took up the role of ‘villain’.

In attendance on the night was Christian Ceriso, from Newcastle, who was holidaying at Butlins with his wife and two young daughters, aged eight and six.

SHOCKED: Christian Ceriso, who was at Butlin’s with his young family said the wrestling match “was ten of the most awkward minutes I think I have ever sat through”

SHOCKED: Christian Ceriso, who was at Butlin’s with his young family said the wrestling match “was ten of the most awkward minutes I think I have ever sat through”

After arriving late to the wrestling, he says he was greeted by a ‘lazy stereotype of a Muslim character’, which only served to promote racism in the crowd.

“It was ten of the most awkward minutes I think I have ever sat through,” he told the Asian Express.

Mr Ceriso said that at the time he felt like he’d been ‘dropped into the middle of a Britain First rally’ and that it was ‘a horrific race hate-filled ten minutes of everything wrong on racial stereotypes.’

“I have grown up in the era of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy and completely understand the need for a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’,” said Christian Ceriso.

“It just seems these promoters have gone a lazy way about establishing these roles.”

Mr Ceriso hasn’t spoken to his daughters about the match since, yet has made a complaint to Butlins.

“I understand we were led to believe that Hakim was this evil foreigner against the good English guy,” he said.

“In English wrestling I don’t think we need racial, religious or national stereotypes to establish who is good or bad.”

Butlin’s have said that they have lodged a complaint with Superslam Wrestling – the company that organised the show.

Resort director, Chris Baron, has since released a statement explaining how parts of the show did not follow ‘agreed content’.

Mr Baron said: “We had a wrestling company in on Saturday who did a show we are not happy about.

“That part of the show was not agreed. It was not funny or acceptable. It is a company we have used for years and years.

“For some reason they tweaked that part of the show, which we did not know about. Our entertainment manager picked it up straight away.”

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Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 13.37.21

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House prices rising again

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PROFITABLE: Annual increases in a house’s value can often exceed annual salaries

PROFITABLE: Annual increases in a house’s value can often exceed annual salaries

Homeowners will see an increase in the prices of their property

Homeowners in Britain might be sitting on a bigger profit, regarding an increase in the value of their properties, than first thought, according to new figures revealed this week.

A new official house-price index by the Office for National Statistics shows that values were rising at an annual average of 6.1 per cent between 2003 and 2011 – which is considerably more than the Land Registry's estimate of 4.6 per cent.

According to the new index, the average house price in December 2011 in England and Wales was £185,000 compared with £157,000 on Land Registry data and £222,000 for England alone on the existing ONS series.

The ONS will publish more recent data in June.

The index, which will replace the existing ONS and Land Registry series, also suggests house prices rose quicker than stated in widely used surveys from mortgage lenders - Halifax and Nationwide.

House prices are so important because houses are often people’s largest single asset and annual increases in its value can sometimes even exceed their annual salary.

In 2014, regulators placed curbs on mortgage lending to discourage risky borrowing, and on Tuesday the Bank of England recommended that lenders tighten their credit checks on loans to landlords.

Whether the arrival of the official house price index from June will make the housing market any more comprehensible remains to be seen, but industry experts have been calling for the index now for many years.

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Scouting all Asians!

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PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY: Haroon Adam (right) and Usman Umar (left) give up all their free time to helping the people of Dewsbury thrive and reach their best potential

PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY: Haroon Adam (right) and Usman Umar (left) give up all their free time to helping the people of Dewsbury thrive and reach their best potential

Historic association is searching for the next generation of scouts and leaders

For decades it has been the stepping stone for kids to achieve personal growth - the epitome of Englishness - as British a tradition as a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

And now, as Prime Minister David Cameron pushes British Values on an ever-diverse Britain, it is young Asians who are being called upon to earn their badges and ‘tie a knot’ with the Scouts.

In Dewsbury, one leg of the Muslim Scouts have been working hard to give over 50 children the advantage sin life which support interests and needs of young people.

An umbrella organisation within the UK Scout Association, the group has representatives and members all over the country.

Haroon Adam is one of the organisers and also founder of the Muslim-led initiate ‘Engage’ in Kirklees.

The group aims to bring people of all faiths together to stand against Daesh and prevent radicalisation, messages he promotes through his work with the scouts.

However, despite demand rising for membership with the Muslim Scouts, it is a lack of volunteers that is hampering any further progression.

Only girls are currently enrolled in the Dewsbury group with a waiting list of up to 40 boys.

Haroon is therefore appealing for more volunteers to get onboard to help the community’s young people, holding an open day for volunteers and parents on 10th April.

He said: “We have 30 to 40 boys wanting to join the scouts but we can’t cater to their needs because we don’t have enough volunteers. Hopefully our presentation will get peoples’ interest sparked.

“Our young people will tell volunteers about what they can expect from joining Scouts, and also ask parents if they want to be leaders.

“We already have a good group here yet we need more to help break down the stereotype that Scouts is only for non-Muslim children.”

He added: “I’m hoping all parents will get involved, mothers and fathers, as it gets them out of the house and this whole thing can become a family activity.”

Usman Umar, a fellow organiser with the Muslim Scouts, is a prime example of how volunteering can be done around you professional and personal life.

He has been a youth worker for 29 years, whilst also acting as a rotating chair of Dewsbury Engage, the secretary and treasurer for Dad’s Group, and chair for his local Neighbourhood Watch.

Despite so many commitments he said the Scouts are an important part of his life, beneficial to both children and adults.

He added: “It may seem like we’re doing it just for the kids but there are other factors to consider like trying to get parents out of the house and involved with their kids and the community.

“Parents get new skills, there’s a sense of belonging and British Values are promoted.”

The Muslim Scouts are open to young people, aged between six and 16, with sessions held every Sunday at Kick Off, Dewsbury, by volunteers.

Activities range from axe-throwing to bouldering; kayaking to archery and raft building to rope skills, plus much, much more.

A taster session for current members will run on 10th April from 12pm until 3pm, calling for new volunteers and parents to come on down, before an open day for prospective new members will be held in July.

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Empowering Britain: MEP targets EU exit for a stronger UK

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PASSIONATE ABOUT POLITICS: Amjad Bashir is the Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber

PASSIONATE ABOUT POLITICS: Amjad Bashir is the Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber

He’s worn the purples of UKIP and the blues of Conservative in recent years, yet it is the white rose of Yorkshire that Amjad Bashir describes as his biggest love.

The Yorkshire and Humber Tory MEP has lived in the county since arriving in the UK as an eight-year-old back in 1960.

During his early years, he learnt the language, and broke down his own cultural barriers being one of only a handful of Asian pupils at a predominantly white British school.

Today, he continues to interact with languages of the world as a member of the European Parliament and challenges a range of topics across the continent.

“I have always had an interest in politics but it wasn’t until I took a step back from my businesses that I actually started to get involved with different parties professionally,” he said.

“In 2012 I joined UKIP because at that time, they seemed to be the only party fighting for a referendum to leave the EU. I felt strongly about it and these same targets did not seem to exist with the Conservatives who I had supported since the days of Thatcher.

“However, by 2014, I strongly felt that UKIP had outdated its usefulness.”

The son of a textile merchant, Amjad grew up in a back-to-back terrace house in Bradford, and watched on as his own front room was converted into a mini business empire which he self-confessedly had a helping hand in toppling.

Eventually finding a love for the food industry, his first independent venture – Kebabeesh, became one of Bradford’s most loved dining hot spots, before Zouk Restaurant was later launched.

In 2002, his two sons became involved in the business operations and eight years later Amjad says he was in a position to retire from the kitchen and head out into the political world.

He rejoined the Conservative party in 2014 in what was a highly publicised move, following a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron.

He said: “The Prime Minister not only gave me his assurances that a referendum will take place but he also told me it would be on the manifesto.

“Unlike UKIP, I felt the Conservative Party had the ability to influence and implement this change.”

Amjad is currently a proud supporter of the ‘Out Vote’ for the upcoming referendum.

At a cost of up to £50million a day for memberships, he says the UK is being ‘penalised for its success’ with the cost of membership dependent on the country’s economy.

“Why are we paying such extortionate fees for something we do not need,” he added.

“Speaking from a business point of view, there is just too much red tape involved with the EU. Businesses must not worry that a victory for the ‘Out Vote’ will mean they cannot trade in Europe.

“Angela Merkel will not tell BMW or Mercedes that they can no longer sell to the UK and other countries will still trade with the UK. We will just have more power.”

An EU referendum debate with Amjad Bashir and several other dignitaries will be held at Bradford’s Carlisle Business Centre on Saturday 9th April from 12pm to 2pm.

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Parents of Jihadi Jack arrested

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JIHADI JACK: Jack Ibrahim Letts, or ‘Jihadi Jack’, thought to be Britain's first white convert to join Daesh

JIHADI JACK: Jack Ibrahim Letts, or ‘Jihadi Jack’, thought to be Britain's first white convert to join Daesh

Mum and dad sent money to Syria so that son could buy glasses

The parents of a British man, who purportedly travelled to Syria to join Daesh, have revealed they were arrested by police.

Jack Letts, 20, from Oxford, who has been labelled ‘Jihadi Jack’ by some media outlets has OCD, a severe mental health disability.

It is reported that he left the UK to join the militant group when he was 18 and now goes by the name Ibrahim or Abu Muhammed.

John and Sally Letts told Channel 4 News they were arrested after they sent him money for new glasses and food.

Thames Valley Police confirmed it had made two arrests. A spokesman said: “A 55-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman from Oxford, were arrested on suspicions of sending money to Syria, which could be used for terrorism purposes... and were bailed until 17th February.”

His parents said Jack had converted to Islam but dismissed the claims that he had joined Daesh as ‘false’ and said he travelled to the region for humanitarian reasons.

Mr Letts said to BBC news: “I think it's crazy that we can't send a penny... to help him because we'll be seen as supporting terrorism.”

Mrs Letts added: “It's the worst feeling in the world. You feel completely helpless. Your child's out there, they have no support, they're still reliant on you, he's sending desperate messages to us saying it's cold, or he doesn't have food.”

The South East Counter Terrorism Unit (Sectu) said it was aware of the recent media reports and was investigating.

“This investigation began in March 2015 and is ongoing,” Sectu added.

“We are unable to comment [on] any specifics... but would like to say that anyone who knows of someone who may be potentially vulnerable to being drawn into terrorist-related activity, including travelling abroad to conflict zones, should contact local police.”

 

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HP cartridges wash up on UK shores

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 POLLUTION: Ink cartridges have been washing up on beaches in the UK (Pic credit: ‘Lego At Sea’ Facebook)

POLLUTION: Ink cartridges have been washing up on beaches in the UK (Pic credit: ‘Lego At Sea’ Facebook)

Sea-life may be threatened due to plastic in the sea

Hundreds of ink cartridges are washing up on beaches around Britain and Europe after being lost at sea more than a year ago.

The plastic cartridges have been found along the UK's south and west coasts, as well as in Ireland, France, Portugal, the Azores, and the Hebrides.

Environmentalists say that any plastic in the sea presents a hazard for wildlife, from dolphins that may swallow cartridges, to sea birds whose wings may get covered in the ink.

HP says it is finalising a financial donation to help the clean-up.

Thousands of zingy pink plastic detergent bottles washed up on beaches in Cornwall earlier this week, likely to be the result of an unrelated loss of cargo at sea.

Beachcomber Tracey Williams, who lives in Newquay, first found the printer cartridges last summer.

HP said in a statement that the cartridge spill was the result of an Atlantic storm more than a year ago, where a number of cartridges were lost at sea.

The statement also said it is ‘unable to provide details on the number of cartridges or exact location’ of their loss.

It added: “Based on global standards, we can confirm there is no risk to sea life from the ink as it is water based.

“We are looking into how best to support the collection of the cartridges and very much appreciate the support of the local beach cleaning organisations and individuals who have been doing so."

The company was finalising details of a donation, a spokeswoman added.

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Britain urges North Korea not to nuke: US navy worried about bomb threat

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WORRY OF WAR: North Korea are allegedly testing a nuclear device

WORRY OF WAR: North Korea are allegedly testing a nuclear device

The US navy is concerned about tensions on the Korean Peninsula after a nuclear device was tested in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

A senior US officer said last week that it is a move that could prompt tighter military ties between neighbours Japan and South Korea.

“A huge explosion occurred, and that should make all countries concerned,” Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, told Reuters reporters.

He said the Seventh Fleet stood ready to support US forces in South Korea if necessary.

A recent landmark agreement seeking to end tensions over Korean women and girls forced to work in wartime Japanese brothels has improved relations between Japan and South Korea.

Doubts have been voiced by the US government and weapons experts about whether the device tested by North Korea on Wednesday was a hydrogen bomb, as Pyongyang had claimed. 

The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has urged South Korea to ‘exercise restraint’ in its response to North Korea’s nuclear test, after Seoul resumed  propaganda filled broadcasts across the border that the regime in Pyongyang regards as an act of war.

Speaking during a visit to Japan on Friday, Hammond said he understood why South Korea had retaliated by restarting the broadcasts to coincide with what is thought to be the 33rd birthday of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Hammond told reporters: “North Korea acts in a totally provocative and irresponsible way, so I can understand the pressure South Korea is under to respond.”

But he added: “We have to be bigger than the North Koreans and urge South Korea and other like-minded countries in the region to exercise restraint.”

Josh Earnest, spokesman for President Barack Obama, has disputed North Korea's claim that it had detonated a Hydrogen bomb.

He said: “The initial analysis that has been conducted... is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful Hydrogen bomb test.”

Mr Earnest says the test does not lead the US to believe North Korea has expanded its military capability.

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Studying elsewhere

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Statistics released last week suggest that the number of students coming to Britain to study from other Commonwealth countries has fallen by more than 60 per cent over the past three years.

Academics arriving from countries, such as Pakistan and India, have slumped from an estimated 100,000 to 35,000 according to the latest immigration report published last week.

The official report, issued by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlights the steep decline, with many students seeming to opt for studies in the US and Australia rather than in the UK.

LEARNING: Latest statistics suggest students from Commonwealth nations, such as Pakistan and India, are turning their backs on the UK as they travel elsewhere for education

LEARNING: Latest statistics suggest students from Commonwealth nations, such as Pakistan and India, are turning their backs on the UK as they travel elsewhere for education

UK University bodies and critics of the country's immigration policy have been warning the UK government over toughening visa policies driving overseas students, who pay much higher fees, to alternate locations.

Most recently, a House of Lords committee had accused the government of creating an unwelcoming atmosphere for international students from countries like India.

“It is important to note that both India and China are important markets for UK universities seeking to attract international students they're getting the cold shoulder and heading elsewhere,” the Lords Science and Technology Committee said in a report last month.

“The rules are seen as too complex and subject to endless changes, the visa costs are not competitive, and the rules relating to work after study are so limiting that prospective students are heading to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere.”

The official migration figures, released on the day the UK is voting in its European Union elections, also show a rise in the arrival of EU citizens to the UK in the year to December 2013.

The ONS found that 201,000 EU citizens came into the UK as long-term immigrants, seen as a statistically significant increase of 43,000 over the previous year.

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UK pledges support for Pakistan’s growth

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Britain will drive economic growth and investment in Pakistan by helping to create jobs, increase tax collection and cut through red tape to make it easier for small and growing enterprises to do business, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced.

The announcement came during a two-day visit to the UK by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, including a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday.

The Prime Minister David Cameron holds a bilateral meeting with Nawaz Sharif the Prime Minister of Pakistan at No10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister David Cameron holds a bilateral meeting with Nawaz Sharif the Prime Minister of Pakistan at No10 Downing Street.

The UK will also support a new approach to delivering health reform in Punjab, with technical assistance and funding through existing health programmes. This will include increasing immunisation coverage across the province, improving care for new born and maternal health and improving basic health units across the province.

In addition, the UK will continue to support work to provide vocational skills, jointly funding a programme providing skills training for 135,000 poor people, 40 per cent of them women, and promoting a competitive skills training market. Existing work is now being scaled-up to cover almost half of Punjab Province, with a focus on ten growth-oriented industrial sectors.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “Making it easier for small and growing businesses to get ahead and helping to create jobs will mean hundreds of thousands of people across Pakistan can improve their own prospects, support their families and send their children to school.

“Providing British experts to support a tax campaign and to build the Pakistan Government’s own expertise will mean Pakistan can increase its own tax base. That reduces the need for international aid funding and helps to lay the foundations for a more stable and self-sufficient Pakistan.”

New commitments from the UK include

· Support for over 200,000 small and growing  businesses to help create more than 400,000 jobs, half of them for women and young people, and provide a boost to the economy of some £400million-worth of new manufacturing and services;

· Technical support and training to help banks work with small businesses to manage investment more effectively, and to help government reduce red tape and make it easier for small and growing enterprises to do business;

· The DFID-funded HMRC Developing Countries Tax and Customs Capacity Building Unit to provide expert advice to help Pakistan build its own capacity and implement reforms needed to increase tax take from nine per cent to 15 per cent of GDP by 2018.

· As well as expert support to help Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenues design and implement a country-wide tax awareness campaign.

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Britain may force standardised cigarette packets

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Britain looked set to force tobacco companies to standardise cigarette packaging after a government review this week, that the move would help cut smoking rates.

Ministers were criticised for delaying a final decision.

A review commissioned by the government in November showed "compelling" evidence that plain packaging would improve public health and cut the number of child smokers, junior health minister Jane Ellison said.

"It is in my view highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco," Cyril Chantler, who conducted the review, said in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

cig
Draft regulations and the results of a short consultation would be published this month allowing the law to come into force by May 2015, the month of the next election, she said.

The opposition Labour Party welcomed steps towards a ban on branded cigarette packets, but criticised the government for delaying a final decision by holding a consultation.

Labour health spokeswoman Luciana Berger said there was an overwhelming body of evidence in favour of standardised packaging and there was no excuse for further delays.

"Over 70,000 children will have taken up smoking since the government announced the review," she told parliament. "How many more children are going to take up smoking before this government takes firm and decisive action?"

Tobacco firms say the move would encourage counterfeiting and smuggling and have little effect on smoking rates. Britain's tobacco market is worth about $28 billion a year, according to Euromonitor International, and Britain collected 8.56 billion pounds ($14.24 billion) in duty on cigarettes last year.

If the government sticks to its resolve, Britain would be following Australia, which in 2012 brought in laws forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain green packaging with graphic images showing the damaging health effects of smoking.

New Zealand and Ireland have said they will introduce standardised packaging too.

Shares in the two big London-listed tobacco companies, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco both dropped by about 0.5 percent on the government statement.

"You can only look at Australia who have had plain packaging for over a year. What you see is increased illicit cigarettes and consumers down-trading and neither of those things are particularly positive for the tobacco industry," Panmure analyst Damian McNeela said.

In Australia, the government has been criticised for not doing enough to defend the merits of its packaging legislation and the debate over whether the ban has worked has suffered from a lack of hard data.

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