UK News

French woman faces deportation after 42 years as Home Office email went to “junk folder” | UK | News UK News

A French citizen is facing deportation after living legally in the UK for more than 40 years.

Leonarda Zarcone, 74, applied for EU settled status after Brexit but missed the deadline to provide more information after an email went to her junk folder.

The Home Office said it tried to contact her several times but now Ms Zarcone is facing the “shock of (her) life”.

The retired chip shop owner was told she did not have residency and had lost the right to live in the UK from an airport immigration officer when she came back to the UK after a family wedding in France in September.

She was eventually given a 28-day visitor stamp and allowed through border control.

Ms Zarcone lived in the UK as a child and moved permanently with her husband and two eldest children in 1981.

She cares for her husband and daughter and said she is worried and “really upset”.

“All my family and my roots are here. It’s really frightening,” she told the BBC.

The family ran a traditional British fish and chip shop in Leicester until she retired seven years ago.

Her son and husband also submitted EU settlement claims and were both approved, leaving Ms Zarcone to assume hers would be approved too.

But the Home Office demanded more evidence that she had lived in the UK continuously for five years and she missed the deadline to respond.

Her son David Brunetto said: “She’s receiving a state pension, so she’s paid into the system.

“She’s paid her taxes. She’s paying council tax. There’s lots of proof.”

Ms Zarcone made a new application in September which was rejected as invalid, and then her visitor’s visa expired.

She received a letter from the Home Office about the “consequences of staying in the UK unlawfully”, such as detainment, prosecution and deportation.

Ms Zarcone said her youngest daughter and grandchildren were born in Leicester, and the prospect of being separated from her family is upsetting.

She added: “I’m really sad. I’m really angry. Where can I go? When my family lives here and my children.”

She has turned to an immigration lawyer for help, Tito Mbariti, who said her case is “shocking, as bad as it gets”.

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 17:02:00

UK News

Stoke-on-Trent has the worst air polluted city centre in the UK, study finds | UK | News UK News

Stoke-on-Trent has the worst air polluted city centre in the country, according to a fieldwork study. Recordings taken at high streets in the 25 largest towns and cities in the country, over a two-week period, found that 76 percent are exceeding the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual level of air pollution.

But six towns and cities had more than double this level – including Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Leicester, Coventry, Hull, and Bradford.

At other end of the scale, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Reading had the lowest air pollution, according to the study by GRIDSERVE.

Sam Clarke, chief vehicle officer at the tech-enabled sustainable energy business, said: “With millions set to hit the high street this festive period, we wanted to look at the state of the nation’s air quality in the locations people will be doing most of their Christmas shopping.

“It’s shocking to see that so many were above the World Health Organisation’s annual recommendations for air pollution, and that one in 10 shoppers are even planning on foregoing the high streets altogether due to air quality.”

The brand enlisted a planning consultancy to gather the samples using an air quality monitoring device, at 11am on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, to ensure as much comparability as possible between the locations.

Researchers monitored the level of PM2.5 pollutants in the air – meaning particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter.

Separate readings were taken 200 metres apart on high streets, and samples were also taken in central parks, and on an additional road with traffic present.

The WHO’s recommendation, acknowledged by the Government’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, is that annual levels of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3).

Particulate matter (PM) is everything in the air that’s not gas, and consists of many chemical compounds and materials. Because of their small size, they can enter the bloodstream and cause illnesses such as asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.

It comes after a poll, of 2,000 adults, found 36 percent have concerns over the health of the local community due to air pollution, or the health of their family (26 percent) or themselves (25 percent).

One in four (26 percent) are trying to find greener ways to travel, while 12 percent avoid shopping where there are lots of cars – or just forgo the high street in favour of online shopping (11 percent).

And a similar amount (10 percent) are going to do more of their Christmas shopping virtually this year, to avoid high-street air pollution.

Sam Clarke added: “If we’re to reach the World Health Organisation’s annual target of 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 in our air, collectively we need to change our behaviours.

“With vehicle emissions being a key contributor, anything we can do to travel more greenly – from walking more, to cycling, and including electric vehicles – is a very valuable step forward to improve the air we breathe daily.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 10:44:00

UK News

Oxfam workers to stage 17 days of strikes in pay row | UK | News UK News

Oxfam workers will walk out for the first time in the charity’s history due to pay row.

Hundreds of employees at the charity’s shops and offices will begin strike action on Friday, December 8. The United members will be on strike for 17 days throughout the month.

The union claims average wages have seen a real-term cut of 21% since 2018. The workers voted by 83% in favour of strike action in a ballot with an 82% turnout after they rejected a pay offer of £1,750 or 6%, whichever is higher, plus a one-off payment of £1,000 for the lowest earners, said Unite.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oxfam wants to end poverty and says it is on the side of unions. Yet its own workers report having to use food banks, it refuses to engage with the only union representing its workforce and it is considering using unpaid labour to break a strike.

“This is rank hypocrisy from an organisation that should know better. Oxfam is an extremely wealthy organisation and can afford to put forward an acceptable offer without impacting its charity work in the slightest. Its workers have their union’s total and unflinching support as they strike to make sure that happens.”

The workers will strike at Oxfam offices and more than 200 shops on December 8-9, 14-17, 20-24 and 26-31 – and Unite warned industrial action will intensify if the dispute is not resolved.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed that tomorrow’s strike is going ahead, we do understand the frustration of colleagues who are facing a steeply rising cost of living.

“We are proud to be a Real Living Wage employer and are doing what we can to address colleagues’ concerns within the limits of the resources we have available. Communities we work with to fight poverty are also facing rising costs, so our resources are stretched but we are committed to finding a solution. We hope that discussions with Unite taking place at Acas tomorrow will help us move forward.

“We are doing everything we can to minimise disruption and to support all colleagues – those on strike and those who are working – through this period.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-08 00:46:00

UK News

Nicaragua island up for grabs for less than a London flat | UK | News UK News

An entire tropical island, named Iguana Island, is now up for grabs at a price less than an average London flat.

This five-acre paradise is nestled 12 miles off the coast of Nicaragua, in the Caribbean Sea.

Surprisingly, the island is on sale for just $475,000 (£389,751.75), which is cheaper than an average London flat.

According to Rightmove, the average cost of a flat in London in 2021 was £528,621.

And despite the listing price, the current owners said they are still open to reasonable offers.

The island is adorned with coconut palms and banana trees, and features a three-bedroom property with two bathrooms, a wrap-around porch, a dining room, a bar and a swimming pool.

The house is beautifully decorated with yellow walls, green windows, and classic, dark wood furniture.

Each bedroom comes with a double bed, a set of drawers, and decorative frames.

There are also additional accommodations on the other side of the island, perfect for guests or staff members, all built to modern standards by an American developer.

A stroll by the ocean reveals a boardwalk ideal for peaceful walks by the sea, and a 28-foot observation tower, offering stunning views across the water to distant rainforests.

The surrounding waters, teeming with tropical fish and reefs, make it a haven for snorkelling or scuba diving enthusiasts.

The island is also known for its fish cuisine, with an abundance of angler fish, snappers, mackerel, barracuda, tuna, billfish and wahoo.

The island comes with long-serving staff, including an on-site manager and caretakers, who are willing to stay on with the new owners of Iguana Island.

The island comes with a backup generator, septic system and water catchment system, ensuring you’re always prepared. It also has water, television, internet, cell service and electricity.

Despite being secluded, it’s only a 45-minute plane ride to Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, or a short boat trip to Bluefields, a small town in Nicaragua.

The new owners will have easy access to local amenities, including restaurants, bars, and shops.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 19:16:00

UK News

Xmas has begun as Blackpool Pleasure Beach reveals festive pantomine | UK | News UK News

Holiday hotspot Blackpool Pleasure Beach has launched its own Christmas show and the Daily Express can confirm it’s perfect for all the family.

In recent years Blackpool’s world-famous Illuminations have extended their season by two extra months through to January – to attract more winter guests.

Now visitors can make a full festive weekend of it by first going to see Beauty and the Beast at the Pleasure beach’s own theatre The Globe, then stay overnight in the resort’s new four-star luxury hotel ‘Boulevard’.

Based on the South Shore promenade, Boulevard – or simply BLVD – is the trendy new hotel that has already seen visitors flock to the Lancashire town.

With the package aimed to help families save a few pennies over the costly Yuletide period, the deal enables visitors to see The Globe’s new Beauty and the Beast show while checking in at BLVD for a night’s relaxation.

Rather than set the whole Disney story in rural France, The Globe’s show starts off in rainy Bolton with quips about the sad demise of Wilko, fish and chips and topical news like French bed bugs.

The romantic and hilarious Beauty and the Beast show features a string of stars including Charlotte Dawson, the daughter of late TV star and comedian Les Dawson.

The 31-year-old TV personality plays evil witch Fortulicious and her return to the stage comes just four months after the birth of her second child, Jude, who already has a big brother called Noah, aged two.

She said: “Pantomimes are a firm staple at Christmas time. There is something so special about stepping into costume and taking the stage to make people laugh, and create memories that will last a lifetime.”


Alongside Charlotte is Lancashire-born ITV weather presenter Emma Jesson, who plays Belle’s mum, who said of the show: “Blackpool Pleasure Beach is the home of excellent entertainment, and I feel really lucky and excited to be part of it.”


But much of the best physical comedy pours from West End and cabaret icon Simon Green AKA Betty Legs Diamond as the Prince’s/Beast’s riotous aide Chandelier.


After performing for 16 years in Funny Girls, Simon has returned to Blackpool and is once again entertaining audiences, revealing: “I spent a lot of my career in Blackpool. 

“Putting on a costume, getting on stage, and making people laugh? Count me in!”


And joining Charlotte, Emma and Simon on stage are the seaside town’s own talented superstars Sarah Ward and Ashley Luke Lloyd – playing Belle and the Prince.


Running until Christmas Eve, there are still dozens of shows left.


Blackpool Pleasure Beach was founded way back in 1896 by A. W. G. Bean and family-owned and operated ever since – with the current managing director Amanda Thompson OBE actually Bean’s great-granddaughter.


Amanda is also Beauty and the Beast’s executive producer, saying: “We have a gifted cast who we are incredibly proud of, and we can’t wait to showcase their talent to our audiences. This is not one to miss!”


* Beauty and The Beast runs on selected dates until 24th December with tickets starting from £12 per person. To book, call 0871 222 9090 or visit


* For the BLVD hotel deal visit

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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 11:05:00

UK News

‘My girlfriend asked me if she was fat – she started crying when I answered’ | UK | News UK News

A man shared how answeing his girlfriend’s question about her weight landed him in trouble – leaving the online community divided. The man, who is in his first relationship, reached out to the social media forum Reddit to ask for opinions on the controversial matter.

The unnamed man explained how the couple had been together for 18 months. However, one question by the love of his life caused a minor turbulence in their relationship.

He wrote: “Her mother bought a champagne dress for her to wear to her aunt’s wedding. She put it on and showed me.

“I told her she looks really beautiful in it then went back to reading. A couple of minutes later she asked if she looks fat in the dress. I glanced at her, looked for a second and then told her no.”

He then shared how his answer made his girlfriend “really upset.”

He added: “She got really upset, saying that I should be able to say that she’s not fat without looking. I only looked because I wanted to be able to answer completely honestly. Was I wrong?”

The post on Reddit has already gained more than 1.5k comments and more than 3.5k people have responded.

One person said: “Honest questions require honest answers. To win boyfriend points however, you have to go further than a yes/no. Look her up and down and say something cute – sweetheart, you look stunning in that dress, I am proud to be your bf.”

A second added: “Depends on the girl if that works tbh. Some might see it as avoiding answering the question since there was no direct “no, you don’t look fat in that dress”

“Do I look fat in this” is honestly the biggest trap question. And i say that as a woman. Either “you are lying. I DO look fat. You are just trying to make me feel better” or “Why do you say yes! Are you saying I’m fat!” Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

“I run for the hills if anyone asks me that. Man or woman. Maybe smile and say “no you don’t look fat, honey. But you do look absolutely stunning in that dress. How did I get so lucky?” Answer the question. Compliment and hope for the best.”

A third chimed in: “I learned very quickly that the trouble you get in for not answering these questions is substantially less than the trouble you get in for answering these questions. Either way, you’re in trouble.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-07 00:36:00

UK News

Sycamore gap tree revived as it finally starts to show ‘signs of life’ | UK | News UK News

The National Trust have said there are “positive signs” that seeds and cuttings taken from the Sycamore Gap tree will create new descendants.

The tree, which had stood for two centuries, was felled in an act of vandalism – leaving people furious. Teams from the National Trust collected material at the scene which they hoped would be “viable for propagating” to produce new saplings and trees.

Officials have since said they are “hoping” the trunk of the original tree could still regrow, but it could be three years before they know whether this is even a possibility.

Andy Jasper, who is director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: “After discovering the felled tree, our teams were quickly on the scene to collect material that would enable us to propagate from the tree.

“This work is taking place in our specialist rare plant propagation nursery and although this wasn’t really the right time of year to do this work, we are encouraged by positive signs of life, and are hopeful that over 30 percent of the mature seeds and half of the cuttings will be viable, which means we can hopefully grow new descendants from the tree in the future.

“Over the next year, we’ll be doing all we can to nurture the seeds and cuttings, in the hope that some will grow into strong, sturdy saplings – providing a new future for this much-loved tree.

“We are also hoping that the trunk of the original tree will regrow, but it could take up to three years before we know if this is possible. As with many things in landscape restoration, we need to be patient and take the time to let nature do its thing.”

The iconic landmark rose to fame after it featured in the 1991 Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

The tree was also popular with locals in the area, as well as photographers and artists.

The National Trust said it is also working on a “fitting tribute” to the tree to ensure its legacy lives on.

Officials said this follows an unprecedented public response to the felling on National Trust and Northumberland National Park’s social media channels.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-06 14:08:00

UK News

‘So what if they go bust?’ BBC faces furious calls for TV licence to be scrapped | UK | News UK News

A former MEP has slammed the proposed hike of the BBC licence fee to more than £170 saying it’s a tax on the British people and should be scrapped.

The mandatory charge for watching the BBC is thought to be rising by nine percent in April taking the annual rate to around £173, following an agreement with the government to freeze the fee for the past two years.

But Reform UK deputy leader Ben Habib tore into the national broadcaster saying he believed rather than the licence fee going up it should be cancelled altogether.

He said: “I think the BBC should all of its licence fee income cancelled. I can’t see a justification for it.

“It’s effectively a taxation on the British people and if it’s going to be a taxation on the British people, the BBC should be providing a public service.

“And I don’t the BBC provides anything beyond any other news channel, or any other channel for that matter.

“I often find myself watching GB News to find out what’s going on in the world, a much broader perspective than what (the) BBC has, which increasingly pumps its own ideology on the climate, it’s own ideology on immigration, it’s own ideology on Brexit, or its anti position on Brexit.”

Mr Habib concluded that he could not see “what the public service provision of the BBC is”.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has denied that the Government is “ripping up” a licence fee deal with the BBC, following reports that Rishi Sunak is set to block a nine percent hike in the annual charge.

For the past two years the licence fee has been frozen at the price of £159 but it was previously agreed it would rise in line with inflation after April 2024.

The corporation is seeking to make £500 million of savings in the face of high inflation and the two-year freeze on the fee, which provides most of its funding.

The Prime Minister has previously said that the BBC needs to be “realistic” about what people can pay “at a time like this” and the BBC should be looking to “cut its cloth appropriately” as the country continues to deal with the heightened cost of living.

Ms Frazer has said that a £15 rise in the BBC licence fee to more than £170 would be “high”.

She told Times Radio: “What that means is that we’re in a position where people are struggling with the cost of living. And as a Government, we tried very hard to make sure that those costs are low. And the licence fee is due to rise, although we froze it for two years.

“But as it rises, the BBC needs to be realistic about how much it can rise by. We want to make sure we protect licence fee payers and make sure that it just rises at an amount that people can afford.”

Asked about a rise to more than £170, she said: “Well, obviously, that’s high. This is something that we’re looking at, at the moment. And we’ll be making a decision on this in due course.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “The Government and BBC agreed a six-year licence fee settlement in January 2022, which froze the licence fee for two years with increases in line with inflation from 2024.

“As is usual practice the Government sets and confirms the cost of a licence each year and this remains unconfirmed for 2024/25. The BBC will continue to focus on what it does best: working to deliver world-class content and providing great value for all audiences.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-06 10:25:00

UK News

Christmas dinner cost below overall grocery price inflation, with sprouts 4.3% cheaper! | UK | News UK News

The cost of a traditional Christmas dinner for four people is up by just 1.3% on last year – well below overall grocery price inflation, research has revealed.

That means an increase of 41p, making a turkey and all the trimmings cost £31.71.

Analysts Kantar said it was good news for hard-pressed consumers as fierce competition between supermarkets is seeing ­certain items on the festive plate falling in price.

Brussels sprouts are now 4.3% cheaper than 12 months ago, while Christmas puddings are 2.4% less. And sparkling wine costs 5.9% less on average.

But shoppers will have to fork out even more money for turkeys this Christmas, with average costs jumping by 6% compared with 2022, according to research by The Grocer magazine and analysts Assosia.

Prices soared last year after bird flu hit supplies, and they have climbed again as food and energy costs have risen,.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “The scene is set for record-breaking spending through the supermarket tills this Christmas. The festive period is always a bumper one for the grocers, with consumers buying on average 10% more items than in a typical month. Some of the increase, of course, will also be driven by the ongoing price inflation we’ve seen this year.”

Overall, grocery inflation slowed again in November to 9.1%, down from October’s 9.7%.

Supermarket sales are expected to surpass £13billion for the first time this December, with December 22 set to be the busiest day for festive grocery shopping.

It comes as the British Retail Consortium expressed concern about sales volumes more widely in the run-up to Christmas, fearing that cost-of-living pressures are taking their toll on budgets.

After official figures showed sales at Covid lockdown levels during October, the BRC suggested that encouraging signs for spending in early November did not hold up for the month as a whole.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Black Friday began earlier this year as retailers tried to give sales a boost in November. While this had the desired effect initially, the momentum failed to hold through the month, as households held back on Christmas spending.”

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This notice was published: 2023-12-05 22:01:00

UK News

‘Neighbour from hell’ BBC slammed for ‘suffocating local news’ | UK | News UK News

The BBC has been accused of being a “bad neighbour” by top local media representatives, who have issued a joint statement claiming the BBC is “suffocating” media businesses in “every city, town and village in the UK”.

Leading figures from British commercial publishers have branded the network a “neighbour from hell” and asked bosses to consider rolling back plans to extend its national reach. Plans are currently underway to increase the number of local websites under the BBC umbrella, 34 in total.

But the six local publishing representatives have said the move amounts to “stealing” from other “proud, independent news sites”. Four editorial directors; Iliffe Media’s Ian Carter, Newsquest’s Toby Granville, Reach PLC’s Paul Rowland, and National World’s Gary Shipton, joined hands with Jeremy Spooner and Martin Wright, chair for News Media Association Independent Publishers Forum and editor in chief for the Midland News Association, and delivered a damning assessment of the BBC’s plans via the Press Gazette.

In their opinion piece, the group said the broadcasters seem “to be on a mission to be the only show in town” as they expanded their regional reach.

They added that it appeared the BBC plans to “start writing news stories online which you can already get from local newspapers” as other, private sites grapple with social media firms responsible for driving traffic.

As a publicly funded entity, they said the public is “underwriting the biggest threat local journalism has ever faced”. The group added: “It is splashing your cash on local news websites and making it increasingly difficult for proud, independent news sites to survive in the long term.”

The local media representatives have drawn issue with a plan announced in October 22 that would create 130 new journalist posts in English communities. Usually, they said, such an increase in local coverage would be “welcomed”, but the BBC’s plans would “put at risk thousands of existing jobs on titles known to their communities for generations”.

When announcing the plans last year, the BBC denied that expanding its digital local news coverage would endanger the work of other publications. The broadcasters claimed evidence does not suggest it “crowds out other providers”, and that there was “no reason to think” it would do so in the future.

It added: “Industry analysis and international comparisons show it is the decline of advertising revenues that’s the biggest challenge to local commercial journalism – not the BBC.” has approached the BBC for comment.

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This notice was published: 2023-12-05 15:05:00