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Britain shuts down for the Queen’s funeral: Bin collections, driving tests and hospital appointments cancelled



• Major supermarkets will close on September 19 for the Queen’s funeral

• Services to be delayed include hospital appointments and bin collections

Bin collections, driving tests, hospital appointments, cinemas and major supermarkets are among the businesses and services which will be halted as the country marks the Queen‘s funeral on Monday.

Costa Coffee is one of the latest chains to announce its closure, following confirmation from supermarket giants Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Aldi, Morrisons, Iceland, Lidl, Poundland, and M&S that they will shut.

All driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales have been cancelled on the day of the Queen’s state funeral, the DVSA has confirmed.

Candidates who are booked in for practical tests on September 19 will have them postponed and be given the next available date.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich were one of the local councils who confirmed bin collections next week will be delayed following the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Local councils have begun announcing delays to bin collections on Monday as the country grinds to a halt for the Queen’s funeral (stock image)

‘This is due to the bank holiday, and to allow staff, like the rest of us, to pay their respects to our late monarch,’ they said.

There will also be no North East Derbyshire District Council bin collections on Monday. Collections would resume on Tuesday, Councillor Ross Shipman confirmed.

Thousands of patients have had hospital appointments cancelled because of the national bank holiday, according to openDemocracy.

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Major cinema chains including Cineworld, Odeon and Showcase will shut their sites on September 19 in a mark of respect.

English Heritage, which cares for historic monuments and buildings including Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Eltham Palace and the Roman forts on Hadrian’s Wall, said all of its sites would be closed.

And Center Parcs will shut for 24 hours from 10am on Monday, ordering devastated holidymakers to leave their sites.

Mass cancellations compounded with backlogs caused by the pandemic could mean long waiting times for the next available driving tests.

A DVSA spokesperson said: ‘Our thoughts are with His Majesty King Charles III and the Royal Family at this sad time.

‘In line with National Mourning guidance our services will continue during the mourning period.

‘We are suspending all but our most essential our services on 19 September due to the Bank Holiday and State Funeral, allowing individuals, businesses and other organisations to pay their respects to Her Majesty.

‘We are contacting all our customers affected.’

By the end of May, some 530,387 learners were waiting for an available test slot, according to AA Driving School.

The driving test backlog has increased by 34,263 at the end of May 2022 compared to a year earlier, data provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency following a freedom of information request showed.

Lily Paterson-Neil, 19, from London, had her practical driving test booked for September 19 before heading off to start university later this month, but this has now been cancelled.

She has not been given a new date but fears it could take ‘months and months’ until a new test becomes available.

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She said: ‘Because of the backlog it was hard to book a test originally.

‘I’m not hopeful I’ll get a new date any time soon, because everything is so majorly booked up, months and months in advance.

‘I don’t see how they are going to find a slot to fit us in. I’m thinking it will take at least a couple of months, maybe even Christmas time.’

DVSA’s chief executive, Loveday Ryder continued: ‘We’re working hard to provide more tests, and we’re starting to see that work pay off with more tests available to book.

‘But also we’re asking learners and instructors to do their part to help in making sure everyone who is heading for a driving test appointment is fully prepared, has got the right car, the right documents and knows the time, date and location of their test.

‘By working together, we’ll see the right people coming for their test, the pass rate increase and waiting times drop.’

The DVSA said it was trying to bring average wait times down to less than 10 weeks by the end of the year.

Non-urgent procedures and appointments at some NHS trusts will be postponed, according to reports.

One pregnant woman told openDemocracy that her appointment at a London hospital trust had been cancelled.

‘I’m really disappointed,’ she said. ‘Yes, it’s a routine scan, but that’s another week or two until I’m seen and wondering whether my baby is healthy – which means quite a lot of anxiety, sitting and waiting.’

She reportedly received a text message from the NHS which said: ‘We regret that due to unforeseen circumstances, your appointment to see a member of the team in the Fetal Medicine Centre on Monday 19th September has been cancelled. A new appointment date will be rescheduled shortly.’

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Many Twitter users have been claiming their hospital appointments have been cancelled.

One twitter user named Corry wrote: ‘My breast cancer appointment on Monday was also cancelled today. LUCKILY my consultant is going to call me tomorrow instead.

‘My heart breaks for those left waiting. The wait is agonising enough without it being delayed because of someone else’s funeral.’ (Daily Mail)

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Breaking: Aborted coup in Burkina Faso



• Captain Ibrahim Traoré head of Burkina Faso junta

• Junta says its intelligence and security services have foiled a coup attempt

An attempted coup in Burkina Faso was thwarted on Tuesday by security and intelligence services, the ruling junta announced on Wednesday.

It did not provide specifics or the name of the coup plotters, but said arrests have been made, while manhunt has begun for other collaborators.

In a statement it said officers and others had planned to destabilise the country with “the dark intention of attacking the institutions of the Republic and plunging our country in chaos.”

“Investigations will help unmask the instigators of this plot,” the junta said.

The junta on Monday suspended French news magazine Jeune Afrique for publishing “untruthful” articles that reported tension and discontent within Burkina Faso’s armed forces.

The next day thousands of pro-junta demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou and elsewhere to show their support, citing rumours of a brewing mutiny against the authorities.

The junta came to power after two military coups last year, triggered in part by worsening insurgency by armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State that has destabilised Burkina Faso and its neighbours in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Over 50 Burkinabe soldiers and volunteer fighters were killed in clashes with militants in early September – the heaviest losses in months.

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56,000 schools shut over eye virus outbreak



A patient suffering from an eye infection gets examined by a doctor at a hospital in Lahore on September 27, 2023. More than 56,000 Pakistan schools will shut for the remainder of the week in a bid to curb a mass outbreak of a contagious eye virus, officials said on September 27. – AFP photo.

More than 56,000 Pakistan schools will shut for the rest of the week in a bid to curb a mass outbreak of a contagious eye virus, officials said Wednesday.

Millions of students will stay home from tomorrow after Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, announced blanket closures having recorded 357,000 conjunctivitis cases since the start of the year.

The fast-spreading eye infection causes redness, itchiness and discharge from the eyes and contamination can spread through hand contact, as well as coughing and sneezing.

“The closure has been announced as a proactive measure to give maximum protection to students against the infection,” Punjab Education Department spokesman Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

There are 127,000,000 residents in eastern Punjab province and 56,000 state schools, as well as thousands of independent schools also subject to the shutdown.

“We hope this will break the cycle of the infection in the province,” Ali said.

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Army put on standby as UK Police hand in weapon



• UK police officer holding his firearms

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is offering soldiers to support armed police in London after dozens of police officers stood down from firearms duties, BBC reports.

More than 100 officers have turned in permits allowing them to carry weapons, a source told the BBC, in support of a fellow officer who has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Chris Kaba.

The officer, named only as NX121, who appeared in court last week, has been charged over the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022.

Kaba died hours after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the vehicle he was driving in the Streatham area of South London.

It later emerged that the Audi Mr Kaba was driving, which did not belong to him, had been linked by police to a gun incident the day before.

His death prompted a number of protests and renewed allegations of racism within the force.

The Ministry of Defence said it received a request, known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, from the Home Office to “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.

A MACA is offered to the police or the NHS in emergency situations. The military helped medical staff in the Covid pandemic and covered for striking border staff and paramedics last year.

The Met said it was a “contingency option” that would only be used “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available”.

Military staff would not be used “in a routine policing capacity”, it added.

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On Saturday, the Met said its own officers still make up the vast majority of armed police in the capital but they were being supported by a limited number of firearms officers from neighbouring forces.

Announcing the review, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the public “depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us”.

“In the interest of public safety they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures.”

She said that officers have her “full backing”.

“I will do everything in my power to support them,” she added.

In his letter to the home secretary, the Met Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” should not have been allowed to develop.

Sir Mark said he would “make no comment” on any ongoing legal matters, but “the issues raised in this letter go back further”.

He said firearms officers are concerned that they will face years of legal proceedings, “even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given”.

“Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour,” he wrote.

But in instances where officers act improperly, Sir Mark said the system “needs to move swiftly” rather than “tying itself in knots pursuing good officers through multiple legal processes”.

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