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

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• 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.

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

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

SEE ALSO:  Mother, daughter shot dead in their home by man looking for his ex-wife, gunman kills self 

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.

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‘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.

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

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‘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.’

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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.

SEE ALSO:  UK Foreign Workers, Students decline by 30%

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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UK Foreign Workers, Students decline by 30%

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The number of foreign workers and students moving to the United Kingdom has plummeted by nearly 30 per cent this year, according to new figures released by the Home Office.

The drop, from 121,000 to 85,200 in the first five months of 2024, aligns with both the Conservative and Labour Parties’ promises to reduce net migration.

This is the most significant decrease since the pandemic, with skilled workers, students, and health and care visa holders constituting the majority of migration to the UK. Last year, the three categories, along with their dependants, collectively received 1.13 million visas.

The figures indicated a significant drop in visa applications across various categories, including a 25.4 per cent overall decrease in visas for foreign workers, students, and their dependants.

The number of dependants brought in by students fell by nearly 80 per cent, while health and care worker visa applications decreased by 75.6 per cent.

The Telegraph of UK reports that the decline was largely attributed to measures implemented by the government, including restrictions on foreign workers and students bringing dependants, increased salary thresholds for skilled workers, and curbs on the shortage of occupation visa schemes.

According to the data, net migration stands at 685,000 for the year ending December 2023, down from a record high of 764,000 in the previous year.

The Conservative government’s objective was to decrease immigration by 300,000, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledging to “halve” migration and continue decreasing it annually if his party is re-elected.

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Labour’s manifesto also pledged to reduce net migration, although the party has not specified a target or timeline. The party proposed to link training to immigration, requiring sectors applying for foreign worker visas to first train British citizens.

SEE ALSO:  UK court jails man for removing condom without lady’s consent

Home Secretary James Cleverly took to his X handle to attribute the decline to his actions, stating, “I took action to drive down legal migration.

“Data released this week show visa applications have dropped 30 percent amongst key routes. Labour opposed these actions at every opportunity. If you want to reduce migration, vote Conservative on 4th July.”

The Migration Advisory Committee chairman, Prof Brian Bell, said the Prime Minister has a “fighting chance” of reducing net migration to pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year.

This development comes ahead of the July 4 election, with immigration policy playing a crucial role in the campaigns of both major political parties.

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UK court jails man for removing condom without lady’s consent

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The convict, Guy Mukendi

A United Kingdom, UK court on Thursday jailed a man for removing without consent a condom that he was wearing during sex, in what London’s Metropolitan Police called a “milestone” legal case.

Guy Mukendi, 39, of South London, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison after being convicted in April, the London force said.

He had been arrested in May last year following a report of sexual assault made by a young woman in Brixton, south London.

The Met, as the capital’s police force is known, said the woman had consented to have sex with Mukendi on condition that a condom was used.

But during sex, he removed the condom without the victim’s knowledge.

Non-consensual condom removal — sometimes referred to as “stealthing” — is classified as rape in England and Wales.

The Met said such prosecutions are “very rare” due to under-reporting but that they are dedicated to pursuing “justice” for victims.

“This milestone case comes as the Met continues its pledge to be more suspect-focused in their approach to crimes that disproportionately affect women and girls,” the force said in a statement detailing the prosecution.

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Mukendi was found guilty on April 2 at Inner London Crown Court and was sentenced at the same court on Thursday.

“Throughout this investigation, Mukendi denied any wrongdoing — but our officers built a compelling case against him to leave no doubt in the jury’s mind,” said Detective Constable Jack Earl, who led the investigation.

“We were dedicated to securing justice for the victim and will continue to raise awareness that this crime is a form of rape.”

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AFP

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Wreckage of missing Malawi VP’s plane found with no survivor ⁠- Military

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Malawi's Vice President, Saulos Chilima,

Malawian searchers have found the wreckage of a plane that was carrying Vice President Saulos Chilima, a military source said Tuesday, a day after the aircraft went missing in bad weather.

The military plane carrying Chilima, 51, and nine others disappeared on Monday after it failed to land in the northern city of Mzuzu due to poor visibility and was told to return to the capital, Lilongwe and there was no survivor in the wreckage.

Photographs shared with AFP by a member of the military rescue team showed army personnel standing on a foggy slope near debris bearing the registration number of the Malawi Army Air Wing Dornier 228-202K aircraft.

President Lazarus Chakwera was due to address the nation. It was not immediately clear if there were any survivors.

Rescuers had been combing a fog-cloaked forest south of Mzuzu on Tuesday, after authorities located the last tower it transmitted to before the plane disappeared.

Earlier, army commander General Paul Valentino Phiri said other countries, including Malawi’s neighbours, had been aiding the search effort, with support including helicopters and drones.

The group departed just after 9:00 am (0700 GMT) from Lilongwe on Monday to attend the funeral of a former cabinet minister some 370 kilometres (230 miles) away in Mzuzu.

Malawi’s former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri was also on board.

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First elected vice president in 2014, the charismatic yet stern-talking Chilima is a widely loved figure in Malawi, particularly among young people.

But in 2022, during his second stint in the job, Chilima was stripped of his powers after being arrested and charged with graft over a bribery scandal involving a British-Malawian businessman.

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Last month, a Malawian court dropped the charges and he resumed his official duties.

AFP

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