Monday 14th December:
- UK GPs begin giving vaccine – A couple in their 80s will be the first recipients in a GP surgery and are said to be “very excited”.
- A partial ban on gay and bisexual blood donors has been lifted – The overhaul is designed to move away from a policy of blanket restrictions based on sexual orientation and to one of individual risk-based assessment.
- John Downey, a man charged with murdering two soldiers in 1972 is set to mount a legal bid to have the case halted, a Belfast court has heard – He is being prosecuted for a car bomb attack which killed two Ulster Defence Regiment members; Alfred Johnston and James Eames in Enniskillen in 1972.
- Public sector housing rent is set to rise by 1% in 2021 for the Isle of Man – Under the changes, weekly payments increase by between 73p and £1.52, depending on the size of the property.
Tuesday 15th December
- Flower and bulb growers say their “biggest issue” at present is the uncertainty around any Brexit deal – Diane Collison, from Collison Cut Flowers in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, said Brexit could add “up to 20%” to their costs.
- Snapchat: Young people targeted in Crimestoppers safety campaign -Since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in March, Crimestoppers Wales has engaged with 60,000 young people through Snapchat alone.
- According to official figures, the highest number of redundancies have been proposed and recorded in Northern Island – More than 10,000 redundancies have been proposed with Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate now standing at 3.9%.
- Three councils in Scotland move to level 3 restrictions – It means that 80% of Scotland’s population – about 4.35 million people – across 21 local authorities will be living under the level three rules when the changes come into force.
- £26,000,000 fine issued for Barclay’s due to poor treatment of customers – Among those poorly treated were bereaved people whose financial issues should have been better assessed.
- According to official statistics, Hospitality has been the worst hit sector for unemployment – Figures show that the sector has accounted for a third of all job losses during the pandemic. There were 819,000 fewer workers on UK company payrolls in November than at the start of the pandemic, official figures show.
- MSPs have backed the general principles of the Scottish government’s new hate crime laws – Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said hate crime was a “constant threat” to society and victims must be protected.
Wednesday 16th December
- Hornby stops non-UK orders due to price confusion of Brexit – Model railway maker Hornby is pausing all international orders until January 2021 because of uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules.
- ‘Radical’ changes to farming in post-Brexit plan – Farmers look after 80% of Wales’ land area – about 1.84 million hectares – so the proposals matter hugely for both nature and the rural economy.
- Rangers face competition investigation over replica kit pricing – The investigation is centred on the price at which Rangers-branded football kits were sold in the United Kingdom.
- Channel Islands supermarket ‘preparing’ for disruption – The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society is building up “safety stock” should the UK leave the European Union with no deal, it has been confirmed.
- Wales to go into lockdown from 28th December – First Minister, Mark Drakeford announced non-essential shops must shut from Christmas Eve. All hospitality businesses will have to close from 18:00 on Christmas Day.
- Network Rail have been fined £135,000 after negligence of maintenance led to serious injuries of 13 year old boy – He came close to the 25,000-volt overhead cable and received an electric shock that caused serious burns.
- ‘My season rail pass has risen £12,000 since 1997’ – Fares will rise more than expected in 2021, although the 2.6% increase will be delayed until March.
Thursday 17th December
- UK Government are urging people to plan ahead for their journeys over the Christmas period – Between 23 and 27 December, people can form a “bubble” of two households in Wales and three in the rest of the UK.
- Despite ‘gridlock’ fears, Allens West housing has been approved – Plans for an 845-home estate on Teesside have been approved. More than 150 objections were lodged with additional worries about a lack of shops and the loss of trees.
- A ferry in Birkenhead has been deep-cleaned after Covid-19 outbreak – The Belfast-bound Stena Line ferry was barred from leaving Birkenhead on Tuesday night after six crew members were found to have coronavirus.
- Plans have been submitted for a rail station near Inverness Airport – The two-platform station has been proposed for a site at Dalcross on the Inverness to Aberdeen line.
- Plans for a second-home tax hike plan in Gwynedd could help to tackle housing ‘crisis’ – Council tax could be doubled on second homes in Gwynedd to help fund a £77m plan to provide 1,500 affordable homes.
- The Bank of England have warned that the future of the economy is ‘unusually uncertain’ – The Office for Budgetary Responsibility, the government’s independent forecaster, predicts the UK economy will shrink by 11.3% this year – the biggest decline in 300 years.
- UK designer wins $1m Toyota prize to manufacture his wheelchair innovation – The Phoenix I uses smart sensors to detect if the user is leaning forward or backwards and adjusts its centre of gravity to prevent tipping or falling.
- New Irish Sea border agreement has been announced by the UK and EU – The UK and European Union have announced formal agreement on how the new Irish Sea border will operate in January.
- River Wye ‘failing on pollution targets’ – The NRW research was prompted by excessive growth of algae, often caused by high phosphate levels in the water.
- Furlough scheme extends for another month – Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme for one month until the end of April next year.
- Peter Weir’s proposal for free school period products approved – Peter Weir brought a paper on ‘period poverty’ to the executive meeting on Thursday. Now that it has been approved, the scheme is expected to be in place for September 2021.
Friday 18th December
- Openreach have created 5,300 new jobs to speed up fibre rollout – To achieve this, BT’s Openreach division is recruiting 2,500 people for engineering jobs and estimates its construction partners will take on 2,800 more.
- Emergency fund for arts bodies ‘is £16m short’ – Emergency funding of £7.75m for arts organisations is available as part of a wider £29m package of support for the cultural sector agreed by the Stormont Executive.
- Child abuse referrals up nearly 80%, says NSPCC – Calls to its helpline resulted in 923 referrals to police and social services between April and November.
- Pre-Christmas lockdown restrictions hit retail sales – Sales fell by 3.8% last month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, bringing to an end a six-month streak of rising trade.
- Northern Ireland are set to get an extra £200m in peace funding post-Brexit – This is on top of £300m that was announced by the government last year and £105m pledged by the EU.
- Cwm Taf health board ICU ‘full with Covid patients’ – Every intensive care bed in one of Wales’ health boards is being taken by Covid patients, a medical director has said.
- Welsh bomber who attacked Prince Charles’ investiture dies at 87 – John Jenkins organised explosions to disrupt the Prince of Wales’ ceremony in Caernarfon in 1969.