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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, July 31

The ongoing coronavirus situation is changing by the hour with announcements being made about businesses and services that are being forced to adapt and change.

Punchline is committed to trying to keep you up to date with all the news that matters to you and your business.

Our team will update this story throughout the day, to ensure that the latest important developments can be found in one - clickbait free - place.

If you or your business has any news, views or advice to share with the Gloucestershire business community, get in touch with Punchline team at news@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk.

Friday, July 31

Update #1151 - 17.01 Update on coronavirus mobile testing unit locations

In addition to the regional testing centre at Hempstead Meadow in Gloucester which offers around 700 tests a day, a mobile testing unit also visits other sites around the county.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 can have a test. To book a test or for more information on testing, go to the NHS website or call 119.

Find out the latest dates for the mobile testing unit here. 

Update #1150 - 16.54 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 120

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 120 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm yesterday (July 30).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 46,119 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total 303,181 people have tested positive for the virus, as of 9am this morning (July 31).

Update #1149 - 16.38 Free school meals this summer for eligible local children

Local food charities in Cheltenham are celebrating this week following the announcement that they have secured £4,818 from Gloucestershire County Council, to provide meals for children on free school meals over the summer holidays, as part of its Holiday Hunger Programme.

The charities, led by Family Space working under the #feedcheltenham banner, have been supporting each other through the crisis with some additional help from Cheltenham Borough Council and GCHQ. 

The strengths of the relationships developed through the crisis led to the collaborative bid that will see frozen meals being distributed through seven local centres across Cheltenham.

READ MORE 

Update #1148 - 15.23 New data reveals firms' concerns over Brexit

Three in four businesses are concerned about a further economic shock arising from a non-negotiated exit from the EU, the UK's biggest trading partner, according to a new survey from the CBI.

Of 752 firms surveyed between 25th June and 15th July, a third said they were very concerned by the prospect of exiting the EU without a trade agreement, with 42 per cent saying they were moderately concerned.

Informal talks between the two sides continued this week, following the latest negotiating round. Though disagreement remains over issues including fisheries, fair competition provisions and financial services, progress has been made amid the challenges of the pandemic.

SEE MORE 

Update #1147 - 15.16 Call for action to prevent rise in vacant shops

A leading retail trade association has called on the Government to ensure small shops are not left with "unpayable debts" after a further rise in the number of vacant premises.

And without action, the British Retail Association says there will be "unprecedented retail and business failures".

The overall vacancy rate across the UK rose for the eighth consecutive quarter, rising from 12.2 per cent to 12.4 per cent to the end of June.

READ MORE 

Update #1146 - 12.55 Government delays planned easing of restrictions

The Government has postponed the reopening of venues which were due to reopen from tomorrow for at least two weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the decision had been taken to "squeeze that brake pedal... in order to keep the virus under control" with face coverings becoming mandatory in all public indoor settings on August 8.

Casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks which had been due to reopen from tomorrow will remain shut until August 15 at the earliest while wedding receptions of up to 30 people will be not be allowed as planned.

And beauty treatments restricted since salons reopened earlier this month have also been delayed further.

Indoor performances and pilots of larger audiences at sports venues - including the World Snooker Championship which started today in Sheffield - will not go ahead.

The move comes after new rules were announced overnight banning separate households from meeting indoors in parts of north west England in and around Manchester.

Update #1145 - 12.33 VAT change would help out to drink out

The Government has been urged to extend its VAT cut on food in pubs to include beer.

The call comes from the British Beer & Pub Association, which wants the Government to follow the lead of Italy, Spain and other European nations after an EU directive allowing the targeted reductions of VAT.

While the trade association says it has been encouraging its members to sign up to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which starts on Monday, it says extending the VAT cut to beer would greatly support brewers and community pubs.

SEE MORE 

Update #1144 - 11.17 Post-lockdown sales soar at ScS

Furniture retailer ScS has experienced orders returning to almost the same level as they were at before the coronavirus crisis.

The furniture retailer, which has stores in Cheltenham and Gloucester, said that orders since 24th May had increased by 92.2 per cent compared with last year, as reported by Retail Gazette.

However, store sales fell by 92.5 per cent during lockdown, as they were forced to close their doors for two months.

READ MORE  

Update #1143 - 10.21 Three years to return to normal says BA boss

IAG, owners of British Airways, lost £3.8billion in the first half of the year amid predictions that air passenger levels will not return to pre-coronavirus levels until 2023.

BA has announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs after passenger numbers fell 98 per cent between April and June.

Chief executive Willie Walsh told the BBC: "That figure of 12,000 is the maximum that would be required I'm would hope that it will be significantly lower than that.

"The industry will recover from this crisis, though we do not expect this to be before 2023, and there will be opportunities for IAG to capitalise on its strength and leadership positions."

Update #1142 - 10.20 NatWest writes off £2.billion for bad loans

NatWest Group has reported a £770million loss for the first six months of 2020 after putting aside an additional £2.1billion to guard against defaulting on loans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company, which changed its name from Royal Bank of Scotland Group last week, made a profit of £2.7billion last year.

It has now put aside almost £2.9billion against non-repayment of loans and expects that to rise to between £3.5billion and £4.5billion by the end of the year.

Lloyds yesterday increased its provision for bad loans by £2.4billion to £3.8billion while earlier this week Barclays revealed it had set aside £1.6billion in the second quarter, taking its total to £3.7billion for the first six months of the year.

Update #1141 - 10.16 Sky revenue hit by lack of live sport

A drop in sports package subscriptions during lockdown has been blamed for a £575million fall in revenues for Sky.

The broadcaster saw 214,000 customers leave in the three months to the end of June as revenues fell 15.5 per cent year on year to $4billion.

Subscription revenues fell by 9.4 per cent to $3.5billion as TV advertising revenue plunged 43 per cent to $321million.

While the company retained 99 per cent of its customers, five per cent of sports subscribers were lost as live action all but disappeared throughout the opening months of lockdown.

Update #1140 - 10.13 Biggest monthly house price rise in 11 years

House prices in the UK jumped by the highest monthly amount for 11 years in July, according to mortgage lender Nationwide.

The 1.7 per cent rise in average house prices was the largest since August 2009 and means they are 1.5 per cent higher than a year ago.

But they remain 1.6 per cent below the peak in April before the impact of the coronavirus restrictions was felt.

The Bank of England said mortgage levels quadrupled in June after a record low in May, but were still more than 40 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

Update #1139 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Thursday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45,999 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 38 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday - no increase for more than a week.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,878 as of Thursday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 540 cases

Cheltenham - 436 cases

Stroud - 267 cases

Tewkesbury - 258 cases

Cotswolds - 2011 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases 

Thursday, July 30

Update #1138 - 16.17 Update on coronavirus mobile testing unit locations

An important part of managing any future spread of COVID-19 is the speed at which people can be tested and isolation measures put in place, should an outbreak occur.

In addition to the regional testing centre at Hempstead Meadow in Gloucester which offers around 700 tests a day, a mobile testing unit also visits other sites around the county.

Find out the latest dates and locations 

Update #1137 - 15.31 Tui to shut 166 high street stores

The UK's largest tour operator Tui is set to shut 166 of its high street shops in the UK.

It is thought the closures will affect up to 900 jobs across the country, with 630 workers and about 350 stores remaining after the cost-cutting measures.

In a statement, the business said that the decision was down to a shift in customer behaviour including increased online shopping.

Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK and Ireland said: "We want to be in the best position to provide excellent customer service, whether it's in a High Street store, over the telephone or online, and will continue to put the customer at the heart of what we do.

"It is therefore imperative that we make these difficult cost decisions, look after our colleagues during such unprecedented uncertainty and also offer a modern customer service."

Update #1136 - 15.06 City's future under threat from unitary council plan

Two thousand years of history should be protected, if the government pushes ahead with plans to reorganise local government, according to the Liberal Democrats.

The government is expected to publish a White Paper on scrapping the two tier system of local government in September.

Were the proposals to get the go-ahead it would mean Gloucestershire's six district councils would be scrapped and replaced with a single unitary council for Gloucestershire or possibly two unitary authorities - splitting the county in half.

READ MORE 

Update #1135 - 13.28 New £200,000 sports facilities for Prestbury

Work has finished on new sports and exercise facilities for the village of Prestbury in Cheltenham.

The £200,000 facilities on Prestbury playing fields include a multi-use games area (MUGA), a third of a mile circuit, an adult outdoor gym area and enhanced children's play area. The new facilities are in addition to the football pitch, youth pitch and tennis courts already in the immediate area.

The new development was made possible by financial contributions from Bovis and Bloor Homes, as part of their development on Starvehall Farm. The facilities were constructed by Caloo Ltd, UK specialists in outdoor fitness and playground equipment.

Linda Langrish from Prestbury Parish Council, who chaired the working group for the project said: "This is a great facility for the whole community, with something truly for everyone - the MUGA for team sports, the enhanced children's play area, the adult outdoor gym equipment and the daily mile circuit for all ages to encourage regular exercise.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1134 - 12.57 Redundancy threat for Waterstones

Book chain Waterstones is to make a number of staff at its London Piccadilly head office redundant, as it recovers from the impact of lockdown.

Waterstones, which has stores in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Cirencester, said the redundancies were part of a number of measures to bring the company's overheads in line with its current level of sales, as reported by The Bookseller.

SEE MORE 

Update #1133 - 12.17 Argos axes its 'take home' catalogue

Highstreet and online retailer Argos has announced today that it is to cease printing its physical product catalogue which was produced in 1972.

The business is said to have produced more than one billion copies of its catalogue in the last 48 years.

Reports suggest Argos is looking to shift investment into digital-only alternatives and the coronavirus outbreak is thought accelerate its plans.

Mark Given, chief marketing director at Sainsbury's (owners of Argos) said: "Over the decades the Argos catalogue has charted the nation's changing tastes and trends in everything from must-have toys to the latest gadgets and devices.

"Just as our customers' tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We're seeing an increasing shift towards digital shopping, using our mobile app, website and in-store browsers."

Update #1132 - 12.02 New law to ensure furloughed employees receive full redundancy payments

Furloughed employees who are then made redundant will receive redundancy pay based on their normal wage, under new laws being brought in today by the Government.

Employees with more than two years' continuous service who are made redundant are usually entitled to a statutory redundancy payment that is based on length of service, age and pay, up to a statutory maximum.

This legislation, which will come into force from tomorrow (July 31), will ensure that employees who are furloughed receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal wages, rather than a reduced furlough rate.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: "We urge employers to do everything they can to avoid making redundancies, but where this is unavoidable it is important that employees receive the payments they are rightly entitled to." 

Update #1131 - 11.19 Coronavirus isolation period extended

The UK's chief medical officers have announced that people who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, instead of the original seven.

This change comes as the Government tries to avoid a second wave of the virus.

Chief medical officers add that the change is "particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission".

Update #1130 - 11.10 Samsung profits jump as a result of working from home

Smartphone maker Samsung Electronics has revealed a rise in earnings, largely down to millions working from home during the coronavirus lockdown.

The South Korean firm has said its second quarter operating profits rose by 23 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

Better than expected results were also aided by an increased demand for computer chips, pushing up prices in the global market.

In a statement, Samsung said: "The memory business saw robust demand for cloud applications related to remote working and online education as the impact from COVID-19 continued, while demand for mobile was relatively weak."

Update #1129 - 10.06 Jobs at risk at Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is the latest restaurant chain to hire advisers to look into the possibility of an insolvency agreement, which could mean significant job losses.

Pizza Hut Restaurants, which has a branch in Gloucester, has instructed professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal to consider the merits of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), as reported by Sky.

While a final decision has yet to be taken, it's thought that a CVA is a real possibility for the chain. It is unclear how many restaurants or jobs could be at risk from a restructuring process.

READ MORE  

Update #1128 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Wednesday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45,961 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 83 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday - no increase for more than a week.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,874 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of five on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 540 cases

Cheltenham - 435 cases

Stroud - 267 cases

Tewkesbury - 257 cases

Cotswolds - 209 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases

Update #1127 - 08.23 Profits leap at Games Workshop

Profits at Games Workshop, the maker of fantasy war game miniatures, were up 10 per cent, despite the shutdown of the entire business for six weeks due to the coronavirus crisis.

Sales for the year to the end of May were up five per cent at £270m, while pre-tax profit was £89.4m, above the retailer's forecast of £85m, as reported by the Financial Times.

READ MORE 

Wednesday, July 29

Update #1126 - 17.11 Majestic to open new stores under plans for post-lockdown growth

With branches in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and Cirencester, specialist wine retailer Majestic Wine has confirmed plans for future growth.

The business said its experience of lockdown was partly behind the new strategy which aims to increase sales by more than 10 per cent over the next five years.

Despite closing their shop doors to walk in customers during the outbreak, Majestic saw an influx of more 150,000 new customers utlising their local delivery service, which is run through a nationwide store van network of over 240 vehicles.

READ MORE 

Update #1125 - 15.27 County company boosts sales by over 500 per cent since March

A producer and distributor of infection control products based in Huntley in the Forest of Dean has reported a 533 per cent boost in sales since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand for CorrMed's bespoke, infection resistant medical bags increased significantly from the beginning of the year. In March, the company secured a deal to supply the UK's NHS Nightingale Hospitals with an order of 300 units.

READ MORE  

Update #1124 - 14.23 Eat Out to Help Out - look for the logo

More than 53,000 outlets across the UK have so far signed up to the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme - and a new official government online finder is available to help diners locate them.

Customers who want to take advantage of the scheme are advised to look out for the logo, as Eat Out to Help Out stickers and posters start to appear in the windows of restaurants, cafes, bars and other establishments across the country.

The logo means diners that eat in will benefit from a 50 per cent discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, on food and non-alcoholic drinks, any Monday to Wednesday in August - and no voucher is required. Customers can take advantage of the offer as many times as they like during the month.

READ MORE 

Update #1123 - 12.30 Coronavirus cases rise at Avonmouth site

Twenty-eight workers have now tested positive for Covid-19 at a concrete-making plant in Avonmouth.

Balfour Beatty has closed the Bristol site, which supplies the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, as reported by the BBC.

A second deep clean of the site will take place this week, after the first was carried out last weekend.

Bristol City Council said measures have been put in place to prevent the outbreak spreading into the wider Bristol community.

READ MORE 

Update #1122 - 12.19 Nissan shares fall by 10 per cent after warning of record loss

Japanese car maker Nissan's shares have dropped by 10 per cent after a warning that it would see a record-breaking annual loss.

The business said that it expects a £3.5bn operating loss this year, blamed largely on the impact of coronavirus.

Chief executive Makoto Uchida said: "The market outlook remains uncertain and we may see a further deterioration in demand due to a possible second wave of the pandemic."

He added that the firm would not make dividend payouts to shareholders this year.

Update #1121 - 11.55 Bike voucher scheme website crashes moments after going live

PM Boris Johnson's plan to get Britain cycling suffered a slow start after the website offering free bike repair vouchers crashed just after its launch.

The initiative was set to provide 50,000 'Fix Your Bike' vouchers worth £50 each as part of the Government's new Better Health campaign.

The website for the public to apply for the vouchers was due to go live at 11.45pm last night (July 28). But unfortunately, users were unable to access the site and instead received an 'Error 404' message.

The website is reported to have been fixed at around 4am this morning.

Update #1120 - 11.20 Sales fall at Travis Perkins

Sales at Travis Perkins were down 20 per cent for the first half of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

The UK's largest building materials group, which has stores in Gloucester, Stroud, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and across the Forest of Dean, reported a turnover of £2.78bn, compared with £3.48bn last year. Like-for-like sales in its general merchanting business across the second quarter of the year were down 42.8 per cent, as reported by Construction News.

The company announced last month that it was set to close 165 branches, around eight per cent of its business, with a loss of 2,500 jobs.

SEE MORE 

Update #1119 - 10.33 Card Factory sales exceed expectations

Despite an expected fall, sales at greetings card retailer Card Factory were above expectations, following the reopening of stores last month.

Like-for-like sales at the retailer, which has stores in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Cirencester and Stroud, were down 21.6 per cent, compared to an expected fall of 50 per cent.

Despite transactions decreasing since 2019, Card Factory's average spend has risen by 24.9 per cent since stores began reopening on 15th June, as reported by Retail Gazette.

READ MORE 

Update #1118 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Tuesday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45878 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 119 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday - no increase for more than a week.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,869 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of two on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 540 cases

Cheltenham - 435 cases

Stroud - 264 cases

Tewkesbury - 256 cases

Cotswolds - 208 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases

Tuesday, July 28

Update #1117 - 16.45 Pool will make a splash next year promises council

Stroud District Council and Friends of Stratford Park Lido have vowed to reopen the pool next year after the 2020 summer season was ruled out.

Stratford Park Leisure Centre partially reopened on Saturday, but the spring-water pool will remain shut as it takes around three weeks to fill with painting and safety checks pushing any opening until close to the September closing date.

Councillor Mattie Ross, chairman of the community services and licensing committee, said: "It's a much-loved facility and we know it's a disappointment that it can't be opened this year.

"But I want to make it absolutely clear that we intend to open it as usual in May, subject to public health restrictions."

The pool has been a popular spot for generations since it was built in 1937.

Update #1116 - 14.56 Warning over post-furlough impact

Closing the furlough scheme could push unemployment to 10 per cent by the end of the year according to an economic research group.

Around 9.5 million people on the Government's Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme which is due to be phased out from next month and finish at the end of October.

But the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said its closure would lead to the surge in job losses.

Deputy director Garry Young said: "Unemployment is going to rise to about 10 per cent by the end of this year before dropping back next year and we think that an extension of the furlough scheme would have been a relatively inexpensive way to limit that rise in unemployment."

Update #1115 - 14.31 Stroud Book Festival looks for support to head online

Stroud Book Festival has launched a Crowdfunder appeal to ensure it can go ahead online as planned.

The fifth annual festival will take place free via its YouTube channel from November 4-8 after receiving an emergency Arts Council grant to cover running costs.

But it said the Crowdfunding campaign - which has raised almost £3,000 towards its £10,000 target - was needed to cover the cost of producing the programme.

SEE MORE 

Update #1114 - 14.16 Cash continues to flow at St James's Place

St James's Place has outstripped predictions of analysts to post an increase of net cash inflows over the first six months of the year.

The Cirencester wealth manager's figures to the end of June show net cash inflows rose two per cent to £4.5billion, up from the predicted £4.4billion - the same as last year's figure.

The gross inflow of funds dropped from £7.4billion to £7.3billion as 96 per cent of client funds were retained, leading to a total of funds under management of £115.7billion - down from £117billion at the turn of the year.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #1113 - 12.56 Greggs on a roll as sales recover

National bakery chain Greggs said it had seen an "encouraging sales trend since shop reopening" as lockdown eases across the country.

The business did however report a £65.2m loss for the first half of 2020 after the forced closure of all of its 2,050 stores for most of the second quarter.

This £65.2m loss compares to a £36.7m profit over the same period last year.

Temporary store closures saw a 49 per cent sales dip on a like-for-like basis and turnover in the 26 weeks to June 27 down to £300.6m, compared with £546.3m across the same period in 2019.

READ MORE 

Update #1112 - 11.48 Mitsubishi pulls out of UK market

Colt Car Company said it "did not, at any point, anticipate" Mitsubishi's withdrawal from the UK and Europe.

The Cirencester-based company has had a long-term relationship with the Japanese manufacturer, acting as importer to the UK market since 1974.

Mitsubishi announced it was freezing the introduction of new models into Europe with immediate effect.

According to a letter sent by Colt to retail partners, the company said it had no choice but to reduce fixed costs by 20 per cent and concentrate on core markets.

The letter said that Colt "did understand that MMC (Mitsubishi Motor Corporation) was facing difficulties and we were anticipating that there may have been some further delays in, and adjustments to, their future product plans."

Full story 

Update #1111 - 11.45 Pub closures cost £30billion in lockdown

Pubs, restaurants and hotels suffered an almost £30billion loss while they were forced to close by coronavirus restrictions.

The trade body UKHospitality said revenues were down 87 per cent between April and June when compared to the same period a year ago - sales falling £29.6billion to £4.6billion.

With pubs closed throughout lockdown from March 23 to July 4, the only income some had were from offering a takeaway service.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "These figures substantiate our message that businesses still need support from government, if we want to avoid more business failures and job losses.

"While it's great that some businesses are trading again, for many opening their doors remains unviable, while some parts of hospitality are still legally required to stay closed."

Update #1110 - 10.16 British Airways warned of industrial action

British Airways has been warned of looming industrial action over its plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff have been told if agreement was not reached, they could be handed their noticed and re-hired on lower salaries.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, has written to BA chief executive Alex Cruz about the company's timetable to make the changes by the end of next week.

He wrote: "We will work every hour between now and then to convince you not to do so.

"You can take this letter as our commitment to do that. However, you can also take this as an intention to defend our members by moving towards industrial action with immediate effect."

Update #1109 - 10.14 Eight unemployed people for every opening

Around eight people are claiming benefits supports for every vacancy in the UK - up from 1.5 before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures come from the Institute for Employment Studies as job openings fell to 333,000 - the lowest levels since such records began in 2000 and a fall of around 500,000 since the start of the year.

With the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits climbing by 112 per cent to 2.6 million since March, that means 7.8 per vacancy.

Website TotalJobs said searches for vacancies rose by 30 per cent in June.

Update #1108 - 09.58 Cheltenham site sees firm going up in the world

An indoor climbing company has opened its second site with an 8,000sq ft specialist bouldering centre in Cheltenham.

Boulders Limited has used a £238,500 funding package from NatWest to transform the unit on Centrum Park, Tewkesbury Road.

After six months of renovations, the centre features custom-built bouldering surfaces across the ground and mezzanine floor, suitable for all ages and climbing abilities, offering group sessions and one-to-one lessons.

READ MORE 

Update #1107 - 08.30 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 7

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 7 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm on Monday (July 27).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 45,759 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total 300,111 people have tested positive for the virus, with 106,572 tests processed in the 24 hours prior to 9am yesterday (July 27).

Monday, July 27 

Update #1106 - 16.44 Council to cut carbon emissions with new technology

Stroud District Council is set to slash the carbon emissions from two of its biggest buildings, by investing in a greener way of heating them.

Gas boilers will be replaced by water source heat pumps at the council's Ebley Mill headquarters and Brimscombe Port Mill.

The new technology should save carbon dioxide emissions of up to 156 tonnes every year across the two sites. And, thanks to an annual payment from Ofgem's Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), most of the initial set-up costs will be recouped over the course of 20 years.

READ MORE 

Update #1105 - 14.52 Chancellor considers online tax options

Chancellor Rishi Sunak could introduce an online sales tax in an attempt to even the playing field between high street shops and booming online retailers.

Sales online have soared since the introduction of coronavirus restrictions while traditional shops were forced to close.

According to the Guardian, the Chancellor is considering taxing internet shopping in England and Wales as an equivalent to business rates.

A consultation paper said the Treasury was "exploring the potential strengths and weaknesses of alternative property and online taxes put forward as possible replacements for rates".

The Times said Mr Sunak is considering a levy of around two per cent on online goods or a tax on consumer deliveries.

Update #1104 - 14.35 Gloucestershire restaurant group goes into liquidation

Due to the coronavirus uncertainty and loss of trade, a Gloucestershire restaurant group has been forced into liquidation with the loss of 25 jobs.

Mark Boughey and Tim Ball of liquidators Mazars have been appointed to oversee the process at La Haye Restaurants Limited based in Bourton-on-the-Water.

The Company, which was established in 2016, started out as a fish and chip shop and restaurant in July 2016. After significant investment a larger, newly equipped fish and chip shop and restaurant opened in February 2018. This was followed by an ice cream parlour in May 2018, a larger fully refurbished restaurant, and a pizzeria.

READ MORE 

Update #1103 - 13.16 Gloucester Shopmobility to reopen its doors

Shoppers with mobility problems in Gloucester will find it easier to shop from tomorrow as Gloucester Shopmobility reopens its doors.

After closing in March due to lockdown, staff have been busy working to make the service secure and safe for its customers and staff.

Changes will be reviewed every three weeks, but customers will still receive the same friendly service they have enjoyed from Shopmobility for the last 30 years.

A revised opening schedule, hire terms and queueing system - including drop-off and collections bays - have been designed to ensure all Shopmobility customers arriving and leaving can follow social distancing rules.

READ MORE 

Update #1102 - 11.10 Gloucestershire police call off Open Day

One of the highlights of Gloucestershire's policing calendar is the latest local event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to take place at Waterwells police headquarters in September, the Gloucestershire Constabulary and Police and Crime Commissioner's Open Day has been called off due to concerns over how the event could run safely with social distancing measures.

Held since 2014, last year the free event saw 11,850 members of the public take the chance to meet the police, sit inside a patrol car, watch police dog demonstrations and even see a riot in action.

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Update #1101 - 10.42 Report: Economy not back until 2024

The UK economy may not return to its pre-coronavirus level until the end of 2024, according to a leading economic forecast.

The EY Item Club's projections had said GDP would return to the level seen at the end of 2019 by early 2023, but its latest predictions have pushed that back 18 months as hopes of a V-shaped recovery fade.

EY said the economy will fall by a record 20 per cent between April to June - against the 15 per cent predicted last month - before a growth of around 12 per cent in the third quarter of the year.

And the predictions put the forecast contraction for the year at 11.5 per cent, worse than the eight per cent forecast in June.

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Update #1100 - 10.21 Businesses braced for tough quarter ahead

More than one in five small business owners expect performance to be "much worse" over the next three months.

The Federation of Small Business' latest quarterly Small Business Index found 23 per cent of the 1,400 owners surveyed expect the drop in performance from the previous quarter - up 13 per cent from this time last year but down on the first three months of this year,

At the other extreme, the number who expect prospects to be "much improved" rose to 13 per cent.

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Update #1099 - 10.11 No hesitation to lengthen quarantine list

Travellers from more countries could be added to the list of those who require quarantine when entering the UK.

Spain was added to the list over the weekend with only a few hours' notice after a spike in coronavirus cases, leaving holidaymakers facing 14 days of quarantine when they return.

A Government source told Sky News: "The evidence is kept under constant review and if this changes and the risk increases in any country, we will not hesitate to act - as the Spain decision shows."

Update #1098 - 10.09 Ryanair figures brought back down to earth

Ryanair has reported a loss of £169million from April to June after the coronavirus pandemic all but wiped out flights across its key European market.

That compares to a profit of around £221million for the same period last year.

Passengers fell from 41.9 million a year ago to just 500,000, mainly on repatriation and medical flights, as revenue fell from close to £2billion to £114million.

Having restarted services at the start of this month, the airline expects to be running around 60 per cent of its normal schedule in August, rising to 70 per cent in September.

Update #1097 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Sunday show  the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45,752 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 14 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 228 according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday - no increase for more than a week.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 193 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 1,864 as of Sunday afternoon - an increase of four on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 539 cases

Cheltenham - 433 cases

Stroud - 263 cases

Tewkesbury - 255 cases

Cotswolds - 208 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases

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