Birmingham's famous National Exhibition Centre (the NEC) that attracts 2million visitors a year is to go on sale as Birmingham City Council decide that the group needs to move into the private sector to remove council-run financial restraints. The sale will also help to pay the £1.1bn bill that the City council needs to pay due to the equal pay settlement.Written by Lucy Moseley on 6th March 2014
Redbrick on the week
UN monitors fired on in Syria The head of the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that monitors trying to reach the Syrian village of Qubair, where 78 people are said t...
UN monitors fired on in Syria
The head of the UN, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that monitors trying to reach the Syrian village of Qubair, where 78 people are said to have been killed, were fired upon. No one was hurt in the shooting. Envoy Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council the crisis could soon ‘spiral out of control’. Mr Annan earlier told the General Assembly his six-point peace plan was not being implemented despite having been accepted by Damascus. Opposition activists blame the killings at Qubair on pro-government forces but the government accuses ‘terrorists’ for the atrocities. The American government said it strongly condemned ‘the outrageous targeted killings of civilians including women and children’ in Qubair. The UN has 297 unarmed observers in Syria to verify the implementation of a peace plan negotiated by Kofi Annan. It includes a ceasefire, meant to have taken effect in mid-April.
Spanish banks receive €100bn Euro loan
Spanish banks have been supported by a loan deal worth up to €100bn Euros from the rest of the Eurozone. The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has hailed the decision as a victory for the European common currency: ‘It was the credibility of the euro that won,’ he told reporters. The US and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also welcomed the move. Mr Rajoy told a news conference in Madrid that efforts by his centre-right government to restore Spain's public had avoided a wider state bailout. The rescue, Mr Rajoy added, would speed up the ‘flow of credit loans to families, to small and medium enterprises, to self-employed workers’. The rescue fund amounts to about 2,100 Euros per person in Spain. The planned Eurozone loans at preferential rates are aimed at bolstering Spain's weakest banks, left with billions of Euros worth of bad loans following the collapse of a property boom in recent years and the recession that followed. The money will come from two funds - the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which comes into force next month and will be formally requested at the next Eurozone finance ministers' meeting.
Flooding in west Wales
Hundreds of residents and holidaymakers in mid Wales have suffered damage to their homes and caravans after being evacuated as floodwaters swept in. About 1,000 people were moved to safety on Saturday, with an estimated 150 rescued, many from caravan parks. Villages in Ceredigion were flooded by 5ft (1.5m) of water with record high river levels in parts of Aberystwyth. Villagers who were evacuated because of the risk of flooding from a reservoir were later told it was safe to return home. Police said a controlled release of water from a disused quarry at Pennal, Gwynedd, had eased pressure on a wall. Earlier, police were trying to evacuate 600 people from the village after a slight breach in the reservoir's dam. The Welsh Ambulance Service said one person had been taken to Aberystwyth's Bronglais Hospital on Saturday suffering from mild hypothermia.
Cameron, Clegg and Osborne to appear at Leveson
It has been announced that David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Gordon Brown will appear before the Leveson Inquiry next week. The inquiry’s witness list shows that the prime minister will be the sole witness on Thursday. Mr Osborne and Mr Brown will give evidence on Monday, with Mr Clegg appearing on Wednesday. Labour leader Ed Miliband, former Prime Minister Sir John Major and Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman will give evidence to the inquiry at London's Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond will also give evidence on Wednesday. The prime minister has backed Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt amid calls for him to resign over his department's relationship with News Corp during its bid to take full control of BSkyB. At the last hearing before a week's adjournment on 31 May, Mr Hunt faced six hours of questions on his handling of the bid. He accepted that friendly messages he exchanged with News Corp's James Murdoch while he was responsible for deciding on the BSkyB issue were, with hindsight, inappropriate. But following his evidence, Mr Cameron decided not to order an investigation into whether the culture secretary had breached the ministerial code of conduct.
Jubilee ended with RAF flypast
Four days of Diamond Jubilee events culminated on Tuesday in an appearance by the Queen on the Buckingham Palace balcony in front of huge crowds. There was also a flypast by World War II aircraft and the Red Arrows. The Queen had earlier attended a service at St Paul's Cathedral where the Archbishop of Canterbury praised her ‘lifelong dedication’. But Prince Philip, has been absent from her side as he remained in hospital with a bladder infection. He was released from hospital on Saturday and celebrated his 91st birthday on Sunday privately. The Queen recorded a two-minute message of thanks to the nation which was broadcast at 1800 BST on radio and television in the UK and across the Commonwealth. She called her Diamond Jubilee ‘a humbling experience’, saying she had been ‘touched deeply’ by seeing so many people celebrating together.
Foreign languages to be compulsory from seven onwards
Learning a foreign language will be compulsory from the age of seven in English primary schools in an overhaul of the national curriculum, the education secretary is soon to announce. Michael Gove will also say later this week that children as young as five will be expected to learn by heart and recite poetry. The plans will be put out to public consultation later in the year, ahead of a scheduled introduction in 2014. They come amid concerns over a decline in pupils taking foreign languages at GCSE. In 2010, 43% of GCSE pupils were entered for a language, down from a peak of 75% in 2002. Under Mr Gove's plans, primary schools could offer lessons in Mandarin, Latin and Greek, as well as French, German and Spanish.
Funeral of Robin Gibb takes place in Thame
The funeral of Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb was held on Friday in his home town in Oxfordshire. Hundreds of fans lined the streets of Thame as a lone bagpiper led a procession through the town. Gibb's body was carried in a horse-drawn carriage, followed by two Irish wolfhounds and guests, including his brother Barry and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini. Gibb, 62, died of kidney failure in May after battling cancer and pneumonia. The horse-drawn carriage passed through the town prior to a private church service attended by his family and close friends being held. Barry Gibb, the only surviving member of the Bee Gees trio, told the congregation in St Mary's Church: ‘Life is too short. In Robin's case, absolutely too short.’
Moseley protest over demolition of tree
People living in Moseley, Birmingham protested against the demolition of a 100-year-old chestnut tree. About 20 protesters gathered at the junction of Oxford Road and Wake Green Road, the site of a proposed Tesco supermarket development. Martin Mullaney, a former councillor, said it was not clear if contractors had permission to cut the tree down. He said: ‘It's a landmark tree and Moseley is a green leafy area. We were prepared to get arrested if needs be.’ Police were present at the protest but no one was arrested. Birmingham City Council did not comment on the proposed development.