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RMT protest over privatisation of East Coast

A leading rail union is staging a a series of protests including one in Doncaster to mark the final day of a train company being run in the public sector.

RMT protest in Doncaster

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has organised demonstrations along the East Coast Main Line today, including London, Doncaster and Edinburgh. The union is opposed to the franchise being switched to private operators Virgin and Stagecoach.

Six years ago the East Coast Main Line collapsed into chaos when National Express threw the keys back because they couldn't extract enough profit. That followed an earlier spectacular private sector failure on the line when Sea Containers went bust. It was left to the public sector to not only rescue this vital north-south rail link from total meltdown but to turn around its performance and to start handing hundreds of millions of pounds back to the taxpayer in contrast to the rip-off private companies. This weekend, in an act of gross national betrayal of the British people that will cost us dear, the route is being handed over to Virgin/Stagecoach to be run again solely in the interests of private profit, taking a third gamble after the two previous corporate failures. This re-privatisation is based on pure, hard-right, Thatcherite ideology and is an act of industrial vandalism that will smash apart Britain's most successful rail company for just one reason - it is publicly owned. On Saturday RMT will mark this latest scandal on Britain's privatised railways and the union will renew the fight to return the entire network to public ownership - a policy supported by 70% of the British people.

– Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT

Virgin, who will in part take over running of the franchise say passengers will get "new services, faster and more frequent journeys." Richard Branson's company argue the taxpayer will benefit from the privatisation.

Announcing the deal in December, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:

This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

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Country's largest onshore wind farm opens in Lincolnshire

The country's largest wind farm has been opened by the Energy Secretary in Lincolnshire today.

The country's largest wind farm has been opened by the Energy Secretary in Lincolnshire today.

The 34 turbine site in Keadby, North Lincolnshire is expected to contribute £43.3 million to the UK economy and create 723 jobs.

SSE, who built the wind farm, also plan to invest £8.5 million in funding for local projects for the next 25 years.

Onshore wind is the cheapest form of low carbon power we have. It powers millions of homes and provides thousands of green jobs for people across the UK. But the benefits of onshore wind projects like Keadby don’t stop there.

– Ed Davey, Energy Secretary

Today marks the culmination of SSE’s £98m construction project to build England’s largest ever onshore wind farm and its opening reflects SSE’s determination to provide the energy people need in a reliable and sustainable way, contributing significantly to the UK economy. SSE takes its responsibilities as a developer very seriously and makes a positive impact in the areas where it operates. Working in tandem with the local community is central to the success of Keadby, that’s why we’re investing £8.5m in local projects supporting everyone from toddlers to trainees over the next 25 years.

– Paul Smith, SSE Managing Director Generation

Hull Council approve new budget

Hull City Council has approved new budget proposals which include a 1.95 per cent rise in council tax.

The authority said it was struggling against central government cuts of £41 million.

Councillors said the increase of council tax was preferable to adding to the £28 million the council already needed to save in 2015/16. Library opening hours will also be limited in an attempt to cut costs, while leisure services will be transferred to an "arms-length" council company.

Ahead of the city hosting the City of Culture celebrations in 2017, the city's gallery is to be refurbishes with £1 million in capital funding and a further £500,000 is to be put towards hosting the Turner Prize that year.

For the full budget proposals click here

Jobs under threat at Fox's biscuit factory

Dozens of jobs are at risk at one of West Yorkshire's largest employers.

Stock image of biscuit production Credit: Press Association

Up to 80 of the 910 employees at Fox's biscuit factory in Batley could be made redundant as bosses confirm staff are being consulted.

A spokesperson said:

We can confirm we have entered into a period of consultation with some of our colleagues at our site in Batley. It is far too early to say what impact this will have, but some roles will regrettably be at risk of redundancy. However, we will be working hard with colleagues to minimise the impact of our proposals and look at all alternative options, including voluntary redundancy, redeployments and the creation of some new roles

– Fox's Biscuits spokesperson

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Morrisons appoints former Tesco director as new chief executive

Bradford-based supermarket giant Morrisons has appointed the former head of Tesco's Asian operation as its new chief executive.

David Potts started his career at Tesco at the age of 16 Credit: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc

57-year-old David Potts, who rose through the ranks of Tesco after starting his career as a shelf stacker, will take charge of the UK's fourth biggest supermarket chain on 16 March.

Dalton Phillips announced his resignation in January after five years at the helm Credit: Press Association

He replaces Dalton Phillips who was ousted last month following a long period of declining sales and profitability.

Morrisons reported a 3.1% drop in like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 January.

Mansfield's B&Q shuts its doors after 26 years

B&Q has announced that it is closing its store in Mansfield town centre after 26 years in business.

The lease on the building has expired and will not be renewed Credit: Press Association

35 jobs will be lost when the DIY retailer shuts its doors for the last time on Baums Lane on Saturday 6th June.

Officials have said that the lease on the building has expired and will not be renewed.

The firm’s nearby stores on the Old Mill Industrial Estate at Mansfield Woodhouse and Mansfield Road, Sutton will remain open.

445 jobs at risk as Selby fruit factory set to close

A North Yorkshire factory which supplies fresh fruit to supermarkets is to close, putting 445 jobs at risk, after it lost a crucial contract with Asda.

Employees at Yorkshire Fresh Fruit (YFF) in Camblesforth, near Selby, were told the news by Icelandic parent company Bakkovor on Friday.

Bakkavor can confirm it is entering into a period of consultation with all 445 employees at its Yorkshire Fresh Fruit (YFF) business in Selby, North Yorkshire with regard to a proposed closure of the YFF business following the loss of a major customer.

The consultation process will last 45 days during which time YFF will be working closely with UNITE, the recognised union for the site, as well as considering all representations made on behalf of the Company’s employees. Bakkavor appreciates that this is an unsettling and difficult time for everyone at YFF and would like to stress that this proposal in no way reflects the commitment and hard work of the employees at the site. The Company will work closely with elected staff representatives to keep all staff appropriately updated throughout the consultation period.

– Bakkovor
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