Colors: Purple Color

 

Birmingham and Nottingham residents lead the way with water saving as Severn Trent donates £1m to local charities

Severn Trent set its customers the challenge of saving a daily average of 150 million litres of water and raise £1 million pounds for local charities, after the hot weather at the end of May and into early June saw record levels of demand.

 

And customers have responded – with a bit of help from the recent wetter and cooler weather – demand dropped from a high of 2.2 billion litres a day, by more than enough to make sure Barnardo’s, Macmillan Cancer Support, Crisis, and local branches of Mind and Age UK will all receive a share of the donation.

 

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO said: “What a fantastic effort by everyone, but special shout out to people who live in our Central region, who cut their usage by the best part of 20%, and in Nottinghamshire who weren’t all that far behind.

 

“But the really great news is that, together, everyone’s done enough to make sure our lovely local charities will get hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to help them with the fantastic work they’re doing in the communities we serve.

 

“It’s important we all carry on though, we know the cooler weather in June played a big part in how much water was used but, with temperatures starting to heat up again, it’s still really important we carry on doing our bit by using less water.”

 

Severn Trent launched the challenge after experiencing the driest May in 100 years which, combined with so many people being at home because of the COVID crisis, saw the highest demand for water Severn Trent had ever seen.

 

Since then the company has also been monitoring usage across its region, with figures showing customers in Birmingham, Nottingham, and Worcestershire and Gloucestershire saving the most water throughout June.

 

% change

29thMay-30June*

Central / Bham

17.89%

Cheshire

1.20%

Derbyshire

10.06%

Leicestershire

12.18%

Nottinghamshire

16.09%

Shropshire

5.54%

Staffordshire

7.52%

Warwickshire

11.63%

Worcs & Gloucs

14.17%

 

“Even though this charity challenge is over, the real challenge is for everyone to carry on saving water,” adds Liv

.

“June was rainy and a lot cooler than May so we didn’t see as many jet washers or paddling pools being used. So, when the hot weather returns, we need people to make those simple water saving changes like switching from a hose to a watering can, or reusing your paddling pool water, to help make sure there’s enough water for you and your neighbours for the essential things like drinking and washing.”

 

Hugh Sherriffe, Barnardo’s Central, Regional Director said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Severn Trent and their customers for raising vital funds for Barnardo’s through this water saving initiative. The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on many children and families and Barnardo’s is needed now more than ever to provide support to those who need it most. Whether it be emotional support for people’s mental health and wellbeing or more practical support such as food vouchers or hampers, this donation will have a really positive impact on many children and their families.”

 

Some of the top ways to help save water throughout Summer include:

 

• Not using the sprinkler every day; lawns are really resilient and will quickly bounce back to green when it rains again;

• Water the plants with a watering can, instead of a hose – this will help save loads of water, and avoids over-watering them;

• Have fun in your garden but keep an eye on how much you’re using the paddling pool – an average pool uses as much as three people would use in a whole day. So make sure you cover it up with a bed sheet, and reuse it the next day;

• If you’ve got a traditional toilet without the two button flush, order a free Buffaloo from Severn Trent that’ll reduce how much water you use each flush; and

• Filthy cars are the new fashion – as long as you’re keeping your windows, mirrors and lights clean maybe your car would like to get a little dirty for a change.

 

 

 

Up to 47 jobs could go at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with the venue warning its survival was at risk. The jobs, at one of the country's foremost producing theatres represent about 40% of its workforce.

The Rep’s Artistic Director Sean Foley welcomed a £1.5bn emergency package from the government for the arts sector. However, the theatre said it had lost 80% of its income, a position it described as "unsustainable".

It said it was looking at a range of cost-saving measures and "with great sadness" would be consulting with staff about redundancies.

The theatre, based in Centenary Square, celebrated its own centenary in 2013 and its stage has featured the likes of Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi, among others.

A joint statement from executive director Rachael Thomas and artistic director Sean Foley, said: "Our role as custodians of this much-loved theatre, with its historic legacy, is to ensure that it survives the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Even after the new measures are taken into account, we believe that survival is threatened if we do not act now. We could still be facing many months of being unable to trade and must therefore take action to mitigate the loss of income by reducing our costs."

 

Chief Scientific Adviser, Vallance, says there’s no reason to change working from home

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said that there is "absolutely no reason" to change the guidance on working from home,

Since late March the government has advised people to work from home if possible to help curb coronavirus. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled a change, saying: "I think we should now say, well, 'Go back to work if you can.'"

Sir Patrick said home working was still a "perfectly good option" for many.

Speaking to the Commons science and technology committee, he said it was his view - and one shared by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - that distancing measures were still important for containing the virus.
He said: "Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it's easy to do. I think a number of companies think it's actually not detrimental to productivity. And in that situation, there's absolutely no reason I can see to change it."

It comes as the government continues to try to balance the economic and health risks of the pandemic.

Asked about Britain's response to the virus, Sir Patrick said: "It's clear that the outcome has not been good in the UK, I think you can be absolutely clear about that. There are many factors that are going to play in this as we look and say, 'what is it that makes some countries having done worse than others?', and there will be decisions made that will turn out not to have been the right decisions at the time."

In mid-March, Sir Patrick said it would be a "good outcome" for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000. The latest figures show 45,119 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, up by 66 on the previous day.

Sir Patrick said it was "quite probable" that the virus will come back "in different waves over a number of years", but stressed the UK was still going through the first wave. "When people talk about second wave now, actually, what I think they're talking about really is a re-emergence of the first wave," he said.

"All we have done is suppressed the first wave and when you take the brakes off you would expect it to come back." It comes after a report, requested by the scientific adviser, suggested the UK could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths during this winter. This could be seen as "the tail end of the first wave still", he said. During the session, Sir Patrick told MPs the government was advised to implement lockdown measures earlier than they did.

In the run up to lockdown, he said steps were taken to mitigate the virus, including isolating households and advising against visiting pubs and theatres which caused "quite extreme" changes in behaviour. But he said after data suggested the number of virus cases was doubling every three days, Sage recommended - either on 16 or 18 March - that the "remainder" of measures to curb coronavirus should be introduced.

Speaking in the Commons afterwards, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "16 March is the day when I came to this House and said that all unnecessary social contact should cease - that is precisely when the lockdown was started." Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that "advising people to socially distance is not the same as imposing a lockdown. That week-long delay could have cost thousands of lives".

In June, former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier.

The beginning of lockdown has usually been dated to the evening of 23 March when Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and people were told to mostly avoid leaving home and all non-essential shops were closed. In fact, Mr Hancock has previously said that is when lockdown began.

In a debate in the Commons on 2 June, he noted that the daily death figures were "lower than at any time since lockdown began on 23 March". Sir Patrick also said there was no assumption that a vaccine for coronavirus would be available in the immediate future, after encouraging early results from clinical trials raised hopes of finding one.

"Our assumption is we won't have it and when we get it we will be thrilled," he said.

Conservative MP Mark Logan asked Sir Patrick about his face covering, which he wore as he entered the session but took off while giving evidence. "It's a fairly standard cloth face covering," he said. "It's got a nose thing to make sure it doesn't slip off my nose and it's got several layers."

Asked how long he would wear it for and whether he washes it, Sir Patrick said: "I think you should wear them for short periods. As I say, I don't think it's something you can wear all day in indoor environments - there's some evidence for that.

"And yes, like my other clothes, I wash it."

Two of the UK's biggest High Street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, have announced 5,300 job cuts.

Boots has said 4,000 jobs will go, while John Lewis is shutting down eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

The moves come amid warnings that new economic support from Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not be enough to stop millions of workers losing their jobs.

Mr Sunak admitted that he would not be able to protect "every single job" as the UK enters a "severe recession".

Boots is consulting on plans to cut head office and store teams and shut 48 of its more than 600 Boots Opticians practices. It has not yet said which outlets will close, but about 7% of its workforce will lose their jobs.

John Lewis said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will not reopen as the coronavirus lockdown eases. It also plans to shut down its At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and travel sites at Heathrow airport and London St Pancras.

Chancellor Sunak unveiled a series of measures on Wednesday aimed at saving jobs, including a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee retained to the end of January 2021.

He also announced measures to benefit the hospitality sector, including 
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the moves to support restaurants, pubs and cafes could also help retail.

"We very much hope that when people go to their local pub or their restaurant to eat out, those are often in the centre of towns, hopefully that will encourage the footfall to those areas so we get more people going to our shops as well," Mr Dowden said, speaking after announcing the reopening of gyms, indoor pools and outdoor theatres.

Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are among many prominent US figures targeted by hackers on Twitter in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The official accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West also requested donations in the cryptocurrency.

"Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," a tweet from Mr Gates' account said. "You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000."

The tweets were deleted just minutes after they were first posted.
Twitter took the extraordinary step of stopping many verified accounts marked with blue ticks from tweeting altogether. There were reports that password reset requests were also being denied.

Dmitri Alperovitch, who co-founded cyber-security company CrowdStrike, told Reuters news agency: "This appears to be the worst hack of a major social media platform yet."

Twitter said it was looking into the incident and would issue a statement soon.

On the official account of Mr Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief appeared to offer to double any Bitcoin payment sent to the address of his digital wallet "for the next 30 minutes".

"I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19," the tweet added, along with a Bitcoin link address. One such tweet from Musk's account was deleted, only for another one to appear, then a third. As well as rapper Kanye West, his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former US President Obama, Mr Biden, who is the current Democratic presidential candidate, and media billionaire Mike Bloomberg, major companies Uber and Apple were targeted.

The Biden campaign said Twitter had "locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet".

A spokesman for Bill Gates told AP news agency: "This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing." These "double your Bitcoin" scams have been a persistent pest on Twitter for years but this is unprecedented with the actual accounts of public figures hijacked and on a large scale. The fact that so many different users have been compromised at the same time implies that this is a problem with Twitter's platform itself.

Early suggestions are that someone has managed to get hold of some sort of administration privileges and bypassed the passwords of pretty much any account they want. With so much power at their fingertips the attackers could have done a lot more damage with more sophisticated tweets that could have harmed an individual or organisation's reputation.

But the motive seems to be clear - make as much money as quickly as they can. The hackers would have known that the tweets wouldn't stay up for long so this was the equivalent of a "smash and grab" operation. There are conflicting accounts of how much money the hackers have made and even when a figure is settled upon, it's important to remember that cyber-criminals are known to add their own funds into their Bitcoin wallets to make the scam seem more legitimate.

Either way, it's going to be very hard to catch the criminals by following the money. Law enforcement, as well as many angry users, will have some strong questions for Twitter about how this could have happened. Cameron Winklevoss, who was declared the world's first Bitcoin billionaire in 2017 along with his twin brother Tyler, tweeted a message on Wednesday warning people not to participate in the "scam".

In the short time it was online, the link displayed in the tweets of targeted accounts received hundreds of contributions totalling more than $100,000 (£80,000), according to publicly available blockchain records.

The Twitter accounts targeted all have millions of followers.

The government has announced that leisure facilities and beauty services in England will be allowed to reopen with pools, gyms, nail bars and tattooists being able to open their doors again, and team sports - starting with cricket - being allowed to resume.

Announcing the changes at a briefing at Downing Street, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged people to "work out to help out".

Outdoor performances will also be able to resume with limited audiences.
It came as the UK reported the deaths of a further 85 people who tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths to 44,602.

Dowden said "all the data was continuing to move in the right direction" despite the reopening of pubs and restaurants last weekend.

He said normal life was "slowly returning" and that this was an important milestone for the country's performers and artists, who had been "waiting in the wings since March".

"I'm really urging people to get out there and to play their part," he said. "Buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses."

But the culture secretary warned the measures were conditional and reversible, adding that the government would impose local lockdowns if cases started to spike.

What will reopen when?

Outdoor pools and outdoor theatres will be able to reopen from Saturday 11 July
Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket
Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen "subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services" from 13 July
Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen from 25 July
Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be allowed in professional environments and Mr Dowden said specific scientific studies on the risks had been commissioned
Small pilots of indoor performances, with socially distanced audiences, will also take place to help work out the best way for them to restart

Not all forms of beauty treatment will be able to go ahead, as some are deemed too high-risk. These include face waxing, sugaring or threading services, facial treatments, make-up application and eyebrow treatments.

Vanita Parti, chief executive of walk-in beauty chain Blink Brow Bar, said that at first she had welcomed the news but then she received an email from the British Beauty Council telling her no treatments to the face would be allowed.

"I'm furious. We can't reopen," she said. "This will kill so many businesses."
Guidance for the reopening of sports facilities has been published, including on cleaning regimes, social distancing and protection for staff.

Measures include limiting the number of people using a facility at one time, reducing class sizes and spacing out equipment. Face coverings will not be mandatory in gyms. Small numbers of supporters will be able to watch outdoor sports, provided social distancing measures and group size rules are followed.

Each sport will have to submit an action plan to the government of how it will operate safely, with sports where a single ball is used having to show how they can reduce the risk of it transmitting the virus.

The government said a team led by England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam had been visiting sports sites to see the sector's preparations to reopen safely.
When put to him that the restrictions would make exercise "less fun", Mr Dowden said people would get used to the new measures.

He said: "The judgment we've taken with this [pubs] and swimming pools and elsewhere is it is better to reopen with those restrictions than not reopen at all."

Actors' union Equity welcomed the reopening of outdoor productions but called for further protection for venues, while Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said more clarity was needed regarding indoor performances.

The announcements follow the government's pledge of £1.57bn to support the arts industry.