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Morning news headlines for January 29, 2014

Clegg announces Syria refugee plans, Obama hopes to narrow gap between rich and poor

National news

CLEGG ANNOUNCES SYRIA REFUGEE PLANS

Britain is to take in some of the most vulnerable refugees from the Syrian civil war, including torture survivors and victims of sexual assaults, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced.

No figure is being put on the number of displaced people the UK will take, but hundreds are expected to arrive over the coming year.

The UK is not signing up to take a quota of refugees under the United Nations sanctuary scheme to resettle up to 30,000 vulnerable Syrians in Western nations, but Mr Clegg said the UN High Commission for Refugees backs the Government’s plans.

SURGE IN OVER-90S NEEDING AMBULANCE

The number of very elderly people needing to go to hospital by ambulance has risen 81% since 2009/10, according to new figures.

Analysis by Labour showed that 300,370 people over the age of 90 were taken to A&E by ambulance in the last year, a substantial rise on previous years. In 2009/10 the figure was 165,910.

The data comes from tables of ambulance activity in England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

GO-IT-ALONE OBAMA WARNS CONGRESS

Barack Obama has used his biggest speech of the year to push for narrowing the gap between rich and poor - and pledged to sidestep Congress “whenever and wherever” necessary to bypass the political gridlock that has bedevilled his presidency.

The US leader’s State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress and millions of Americans watching at home served as the opening salvo in a fight for control of Congress ahead of the November election.

Democrats, seeking to cast Republicans as uncaring about the middle class, have urged Mr Obama to focus on economic mobility and the disparity between the wealthy and poor.

CORRIE STARS SPEAK AT ROACHE TRIAL

Actors from Coronation Street are expected to be called to the witness box today at the trial of fellow star William Roache, who is accused of a string of sexual offences.

Anne Kirkbride, who as Deirdre Barlow is on-screen wife to Roache’s character Ken Barlow; Chris Gascoyne - his son Peter Barlow in the ITV soap; and actress Helen Worth, who plays Gail Platt, are expected to give evidence in Roache’s defence.

Roache, 81, denies two counts of raping a 15-year-old girl in east Lancashire in 1967, and four indecent assaults involving four girls aged between 11 or 12 and 16 in the Manchester area in 1965 and 1968.

DLT TO GIVE THIRD DAY OF EVIDENCE

Former Radio One disc jockey Dave Lee Travis will spend a third day giving evidence today against allegations of indecency.

The 68-year-old former Top Of The Pops presenter has repeatedly denied indecently assaulting 10 women and sexually assaulting another.

The alleged offences date back to the height of his fame in the 1970s and continue into the 21st century.

KIDS-IN-CARS SMOKING BAN MOVE

Smoking in cars carrying children could become illegal if a vote in the House of Lords is passed.

The plan will go before peers today as Labour proposes an amendment to the Children and Families Bill, the BBC said.

Labour wants to see a specific offence created to discourage people from smoking around children.

MAUDE BACKS PLAN TO SWITCH SOFTWARE

Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft.

Some £200 million has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant’s Office suite alone since 2010.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free “open source” software such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.

BARCLAYS ’TO CLOSE 400 BRANCHES’

Barclays will close a quarter of its 1,600 branches in the UK and cut hundreds of investment banking jobs as it aims to slash costs to meet targets, it is reported.

The bank will replace around 400 branches with smaller sites in Asda supermarkets, the Financial Times said.

It is also understood to be preparing to axe several hundred jobs at a senior level in its investment banking business, on top of around 1,700 losses made in the division last year.

BRUCE ELECTED LIB DEM DEPUTY LEADER

Sir Malcolm Bruce has been elected as the new deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The veteran MP - who has already announced he is standing down from the Commons next year - beat competition from colleagues Lorely Burt and Gordon Birtwistle.

The contest, decided by a vote of MPs, was triggered after Simon Hughes quit to become a coalition minister last month.

£300M TAX BREAK FOR RETAIL FIRMS

Hundreds of thousands of small retail businesses will benefit from tax breaks worth £300 million in a long-term economic plan to revitalise local economies.

The Government has also earmarked £100 million to support major infrastructure projects in key Enterprise Zone business areas, and a further £15 million to help develop business spaces at universities in eight major English cities.

The funding was announced today by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who promised £415 million to back businesses, boost high streets and create jobs.

 

 

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