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Lib Dems: Double council tax for countryside second home owners

Owners of second homes in rural beauty spots could face paying double the rate of council tax under Liberal Democrat plans to ensure local residents are not priced out of the property market.

Lib Dems: Double council tax for countryside second home owners Credit: ITV News/ Louisa Felton

Nick Clegg is in St Austell this morning launching his party's countryside charter, with plans to create 300,000 new jobs in rural areas.

He spoke to ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan:

A source said "we are not saying this will be imposed" but local authorities in areas including Cumbria, Cornwall and Devon have said they would be interested in higher council tax rates to "discourage" second home ownership.

Rural areas play a large part in Britain's economy with the rural economy worth £210 billion. The Liberal Democrats want to unlock this potential so rural areas and the rest of the UK can thrive.

In order to prosper, rural areas need good local services, appropriate infrastructure and more housing.

– Nick Clegg

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Dutch police detain suspect over British Embassy fire

Dutch police have detained a man in connection with a fire at the British embassy in The Hague.

"One man has been detained in relation to the fire at the British embassy this morning," the Twitter message said. "The cause of the fire is being investigated."

Nobody was injured in the fire, which broke out at 7.30am and has been extinguished, Dutch public television reported.

Wonga posts pre-tax loss of £37 million

Payday lender Wonga has reported a pre-tax loss of £37.3 million for 2014 after revenues declined by 31% on a year earlier.

Payday lender Wonga has reported a pre-tax loss of £37.3 million for 2014 Credit: PA

It slumped into the red after revenues fell by almost £100 million last year.

The firm's figures follow a significant drop in UK consumer lending while the controversial lender attempts to clean up its tarnished image.

Revenues declined to £217.2 million in the period.

We know it will take time to repair our reputation and gain an accepted place in the financial services industry, but we're determined to deliver on our plans and serve our customers in the right way.

– Wonga Executive chairman Andy Haste

Sturgeon: I will lead coalition deal negotiations

Nicola Sturgeon says it would be her - rather than her predecessor, Alex Salmond, or the SNP's leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson - who would lead any coalition negotiations after an inconclusive election result, despite not standing for a seat in the House of Commons.

She told the Daily Mail: "I'll be there. I'm the leader of the SNP, I'll be in charge of any decisions and negotiations and anything that happens after 7th May."

Sturgeon: I will lead any coalition deal negotiations Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Ms Sturgeon also indicated that a second independence referendum for Scotland could be triggered if the UK votes to leave the EU in 2017.

She said a "substantive change in circumstances" would be needed to re-run the poll, adding: "If there was a vote that ended up taking Scotland out (of the EU) against our will - that's the only concrete example."

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Meditation therapy 'as effective as anti-depressants'

"Mindfulness meditation" could be as effective as medication at preventing depression, a two-year study has found.

A form of meditation could be more effective than tablets at treating some forms of depression, scientists have said Credit: Reuters

Oxford University scientists found that people with depression who practiced mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) had a 44% chance of relapsing, compared with 47% of those using anti-depressants.

The Buddhist technique, which aims at focusing on the present moment and developing self-awareness, could offer millions of people a new option in their treatment for depression, the researchers concluded.

Published in the Lancet medical journal, the studies looked at 424 patients from 95 general practices and split the group in half, with 212 on anti-depressants and 212 undergoing MBCT, while gradually reducing their medication.

"We believe these results suggest a new choice for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions," lead author Professor Willem Kuyken wrote in the report.

Fine and settled day with plenty of warm sunshine

It will be another fine and settled day today with plenty of warm sunshine.

Any patchy mist to the east will burn back to the coast through the morning, with just some fair weather cloud along the coast of East Anglia through the day.

It will be another fine and settled day today. Credit: Met Office

Patchy cloud will move across the far northwest with light rain possible and temperatures will struggle here, but in the best of the brightness we could see 20 degrees Celsius (68 F).

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