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April 27 - May 3 2011
μWorld News PAGES 14-17
μComment PAGES 18-21
μObituaries PAGES 22-23
μExpat Life PAGES 30-32
Florida killings 16 year-old charged with murders of two British holidaymakers
WORLD NEWS P14
‘Good Friday massacre’ Assad’s troops kill up to 90 in bloodiest day of Syrian uprising
Country house rock Why stately homes are the places to hang out this summer
BP fires first shots in oil battle The legal wrangling over blame for the Gulf of Mexico spill begins
5 3 8 9 18 44 5 6 18 36 44 49
Bonus Ball 42
Bonus Ball 10
There were three winners of Wednesday’s £1.6m jackpot but no one won Saturday’s £4.3m prize
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Left: friends Laura Higgs, Abi Robinson, both 18, Abbi Robertson, 17, and Hannah Geal, 18, cool off in the sea at West Wittering, West Sussex. Right: St Paul’s Cathedral appears through the smog in central London last Friday, after a nationwide air pollution alert
By Harry Wallop and David Millward FOR many Britons, summer started with a vengeance last week.
Beaches were full, swimmers braved the cool waters of Windermere and ice cream sellers reported a brisk trade as the temperatures climbed and many workers spent more time concentrating on their tan than their spreadsheets.
Travel company figures suggested that many people had taken advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to book a last-minute break in the run-up to the unprecedented four bank holidays.
Tourist officials in Bournemouth said more than 70,000 people were on its beach by lunchtime last Wednesday, up from 39,000 on Tuesday and a record number for April.
There was a down side, however. As the country faced the hottest Easter weekend for nearly 30 years, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a nationwide smog alert.
Temperatures reached 78F (26C) in the South East last Friday, making it hotter than Lisbon, Madrid and Rome.
However, in Scotland, parts of the east coast were shivering in a cold sea haar. While Glasgow enjoyed a comfortable 18C, the mercury failed to get into double figures on some towns and villages on the North Sea coast.
The royal wedding, combined with the Easter bank holiday, has encouraged many people to take an extended spring break. Some people are enjoying a 13-day break, but taking only five days off work.
Ryanair said it had seen a 10 per cent rise in bookings compared with the same time last year, with the Canary Islands, Greece, France, Spain and Portugal particularly popular. The Association of British Tour Operators said two million Britons headed abroad for a long weekend from last Friday to Tuesday, with Spain the favourite destination.
Visa has reported that credit card bookings were 104 per cent higher for the two days preceding the royal wedding than in the same period a year ago. The company has also seen a surge in overseas demand for trips to Britain, with a 244 per cent increase in foreign bookings for inbound flights.
There were other signs that the holidays had started early, even for those not travelling abroad, with eBay reporting a record number of paddling pool sales in April. The British Beer and Pub Association said that it was expecting an extra 100million pints to be drunk over the next two weeks.
Nearly 40 areas of Britain exceeded European safety limits for air pollution, posing a risk to health.
Pollution in towns and cities including London, Oxford, Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds was as much as twice the safe levels, according to official data.
The pollution poses a particular risk to asthmatics, the elderly and heart patients, who are being advised to be vigilant to any change in their conditions and to seek medical help if they experience difficulties.
Britain has been warned that it faces a potential £300million fine from the European Commission if pollution levels continue to breach the legal limits.
The hot weather and high pressure is being blamed for pollution settling. Defra has advised people to avoid taking exercise outside if they are susceptible to pollutants and not to take unnecessary short car journeys.
They are concerned by two forms of pollution created by vehicle exhausts. The first, ozone, is produced when nitrogen dioxide reacts with air in strong sunlight. While benign in the atmosphere, at ground level it is dangerous to health.
The second pollutant takes the form of tiny particles, known as PM10s, which can lead to headaches, burning eyes, coughing and an increased risk of heart attacks. If Britain breaches EU limits for particulates on more than 35 days this year, it will face prosecution at the European Court of Justice.
Research has found that particulate matter causes between 12,000 and 24,000 premature deaths a year in Britain. In 2007, scientists at the University of Southern California found that children who lived within 500 yards of a main road had stunted lung development. Last Wednesday, 39 sites in the UK exceeded the limit for PM10s. The pollution has been exacerbated by the number of people driving.
Simon Birkett, of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, said: “It is a scandal the so-called ‘greenest government’ is still virtually silent on the long-term impacts of air pollution on health.”
A Defra spokesman said the Government was determined to improve air quality and had committed more than £5million to reducing London pollution.
By Andrew Porter GEORGE OSBORNE was given a triple boost last week with a series of official statistics indicating better times ahead.
Retail sales figures unexpectedly rose last month, car production also increased and public borrowing fell.
The data gives the Chancellor some respite after poor economic figures earlier this year and growing concern over his stringent deficit reduction plans. Mr Osborne will hope that quarterly production statistics out this week follow suit by showing a return to growth.
The retail figures for last month revealed growth of 0.2 per cent. The City had expected a five per cent decline. Department stores fared even better, with sales rising by 1.4 per cent, helped by the launch of the new Apple iPad.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said the increase in sales volumes suggests “the consumer is not quite as flat on his back as had been feared”.
Car production, meanwhile, rose by 14.8 per cent last month and business leaders welcomed the figures on public sector net borrowing,
which was £5 billion below expectations at £18.6 billion.
Last week Labour seized on figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility which it says show households will have to borrow more money to maintain living standards.
The March forecast shows household debt rising from £1.6 trillion this year to £2.1trillion in 2015 or from 160 per cent of disposable income to 175 per cent.