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Lorry driver shortage could affect Christmas deliveries

Credit: PA

A shortage of lorry drivers could affect deliveries this Christmas, the Freight Transport Association has warned.

Areas up and down the country are said to be badly affected with 94% of operators saying it was a real cause for concern.

Shoppers are expected to spend £1.7 billion on online shopping in the run up to Christmas and all items have to be delivered before Christmas 25.

But the FTA said the shortage was a long-term issue that would spread beyond the festive period.

FTA skills policy manager Sally Gilson said: "With just a month to go until Christmas Day it is clear that the festive season is at the forefront of our minds. But driver shortage is not just a seasonal issue but a long-term problem.

"We have long voiced our worries regarding driver shortage and are calling on the Government to support the freight industry with funding in order to encourage new drivers to enrol in the logistics industry."

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Gazelle and pomegranate are mascots for first European Games

Jeyran the gazelle and Nar the pomegranate. Credit: Baku 2015

Organisers of the 2015 European Games in Baku have unveiled a gazelle and a pomegranate as the competition's official mascots.

Jeyran the gazelle will be the tournament's cultural ambassador while Nar, "a sun-loving, playful pomegranate," enjoys "participating in new sports," the announcement said.

The first ever European Games takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan in June 2015 and includes athletics, boxing, swimming and wrestling.

Thirteen arrested in child porn raids

Thirteen men have been arrested in a series of child porn raids in Cheshire.

The suspects, aged between 20 and 68, are being questioned on suspicion of uploading and distributing indecent images of children on the internet.

Police said computers and other devices which have internet access were seized.

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Hunt's former headmaster calls school plans 'offensive'

Tristram Hunt told private schools to help state institutions or risk losing tax breaks. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The headmaster of the shadow education secretary's former school has said Labour's plans to strip private schools of tax breaks worth hundreds of millions of pounds unless they do more to help the state sector could be deemed "offensive bigotry".

In a speech yesterday, Tristram Hunt told private schools to start doing more to help state pupils or risk losing £700 million-worth of tax breaks.

But Mark Beard, head of the independent University College School (UCS) in Hampstead, north-west London, said the shadow cabinet minister should be considering "new, helpful initiatives" to raise standards in state schools..

"Rather than rely on independent schools to solve the issues for the 93% of children who are educated in the state sector, isn't it time for Labour to come up with some new, helpful initiatives rather than espousing what some might deem an offensive bigotry?"

– Mark Beard, University College School

Seven arrested in child sex exploitation probe

Seven people have been arrested in Greater Manchester as part of a probe into child sexual exploitation.

Six men and a teenage boy are being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to commit sexual acts with a child.

The arrests took place following raids in the Rochdale and Oldham areas.

Police said the suspects, aged between 16 and 47, were of mixed ethnicity.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Aston said: "The team were initially looking at reasons why two girls, aged 15 and 13, and a 13-year-old boy were going missing from home.

"Officers spoke to one of the girls who suggested they were being groomed between 16 September and 17 October 2014.

"A swift investigation was launched and agencies worked together which has resulted in these arrests across the Rochdale and Oldham areas plus the safeguarding of three vulnerable children."

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