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Lifeline thrown to Vauxhall workers in Ellesmere Port

Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port has agreements to build the Astra until 2021 Credit: PA

The leader of the UNITE Union says that the boss of Peugeot has given assurances that Britain's Vauxhall plants will see out their existing production runs, but also raised the issue of Brexit uncertainty.

Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said he came away from a meeting with PSA Group chief executive Carlos Tavares without his "optimism being dented" and said their discussion had been "open and relatively positive". Mr McCluskey also said that Mr Tavares was "very pro-union" and talked about "not being here to shut plants".

Ellesmere Port has agreements in place to build the Vauxhall Astra until 2021, while the Luton plant is under contract to manufacture the Vauxhall Vivaro van until 2025.

However, The PSA boss is said to have raised the issue of uncertainty surrounding Britain's future outside the European Union during talks over PSA's proposed takeover of General Motor's loss-making European arm.

The news comes after Mr Tavares said on Thursday that the deal could result in "speedy" cost savings and as the car industry braces for the potential impact of life outside the single market.

Len McCluskey says he's that the early signs are positive.

I had a constructive meeting with the chief executive in which I made the case for how important Vauxhall is to the UK, the excellence of its plants and operations across the UK and how successful they have been.

The meeting was reassuring. We discussed how PSA's approach is to increase market share and expand production, rather than close plants. I was assured that the commitments to the plants would be honoured.

There was also recognition that members of the Vauxhall pension fund will be no worse off.

– Greg Clark, Business Secretary

Ranulph Fiennes to continue multi-mountain challenge despite injury

Credit: Marie Curie

Sir Ranulph Fiennes will continue his attempt to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the 7 highest mountains on each continent, despite having to abandon the challenge due to injury last month.

Credit: Marie Curie

The Congleton explorer was forced to stop his climb up Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America in January, after suffering from severe back pain. The 72-year old was just hours from the top of the 6,962m peak when he was airlifted off, leaving the future of his whole challenge uncertain. You can watch his dramatic rescue below.

“I was very disappointed to abandon my Aconcagua attempt, particularly so close to the summit. But experience has taught me that not every challenge will be a success – it took three attempts for me to successfully climb Mount Everest for example.

– Sir Ranulph Finnes

Fiennes will now continue his ‘Global Reach Challenge’ and will tackle Mount Carstenz, the highest peak in Australasia, at the beginning of April. He has previously climbed climbed Mount Everest in Asia Mount Kilamanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe and Mount Vinson in Antarctica.

Credit: Marie Curie

To complete his Global Reach Challenge and claim a world first, Sir Ranulph still needs to successfully climb Aconcagua in South America, Carstenz in Indonesia and Denali in North America.

“I have now had a good report from the doctor so I am going to try and do the last three mountains, starting with Carstenz in April. Unless something is seriously wrong with my health, I am determined to keep going. I am looking forward to it and I just hope that my back behaves itself.

– Sir Ranulph Finnes

The money he raises helps Marie Curie provide vital care and support to people living with a terminal illness and their families. So far he has raised over £18m in total for charity.

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Watch: Gary Barlow musical opens in the West End

Tonight is the official opening night of a brand new musical in the West End called The Girls.

It tells the incredible true story of the WI ladies who bared all for a charity calendar and have raised millions for research into Leukaemia.

It's got a stellar cast and is written by none other than Gary Barlow and his partner Tim Firth.

Duncan Wood was at a royal gala performance of the show for us last night - and a warning there is flash photography in this package.

  1. Amy Welch, ITV News

Under the hammer - the livestock auction closing after more then a hundred years

Chelford market in Cheshire Credit: ITV News.

Livestock auction Chelford market in Cheshire will close at the end of next month after more than a hundred years.

It comes as owners of rural businesses say they fear being hit hardest by the government's planned rise in business rates.

Our correspondent Amy Welch reports.

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