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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, July 24

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 24 

Update #1096 - 17.10 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 123

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 123 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm yesterday (July 23).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 45677 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total, 297,914 people have tested positive for the virus.

Update #1095 - 17.00 Magnum sales turn up the heat for Unilever

The sales of ice cream made in Gloucester helped Unilever post a four per cent climb in pre-tax profits across the first half of the year.

Unilever, which owns the former Walls site at Barnwood, made £3.5billion with increased sales of ice cream, stockpiled toilet rolls and household cleaning products such as Cif and Domestos.

But the company reported a drop in personal hygiene products such as Lynx deodorant and Dove Soap.

READ MORE 

Update #1095 - 15.52 Council streamlines process as outdoor application law passed

Cotswold District Council has launched its streamlined application process to allow restaurants, pubs and cafes to place tables and chairs outside.

The Business and Planning Act, designed to make it easier for hospitality businesses to extend licenses to outdoor areas as they look to reopen and follow social distancing guidelines, became law yesterday.

Punchline-Gloucester.com reported earlier this week how Cheltenham Borough Council was gearing up to process applications while Forest of Dean District Council had agreed to cover the cost of applications.

READ MORE 

Update #1094 - 14.48 GFirst LEP unveil restart plan for Gloucestershire

GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire's Local Enterprise Partnership, has launched an ambitious plan to get the county's economy back on its feet.

It contains an unprecedented package of interventions to get businesses trading again and restore business, consumer and community confidence, as well as offering support to those who do lose their jobs.

Chief executive David Owen said: "The county is commencing on a long, complex and difficult journey in a world that has been turned upside down in just a few months.

"We have produced three reports, the first an Economic Impact Report produced by Hardisty Jones outlining the likely impact on the county, districts, and business sectors.

"This analysis was to assist GFirst LEP develop a sector-based, economic recovery plan that would help each of the district authorities in Gloucestershire to develop place-based recovery plans."

Full story 

Update #1093 - 14.45 Centrica selling US retail arm

Centrica, owners of British Gas, is concentrating on its UK and Ireland markets after selling off its energy retail firm in the US.

Direct Energy, one of North America's largest gas and electricity suppliers, is being sold to NRG Energy for £2.8billion.

Centrica reported pre-tax losses of £264million in the first six months of the June, down from £569million from the same period last year as it lost five per cent of its home energy customers.

Chief executive Chris O'Shea said: "Centrica delivered a resilient performance against the unprecedented backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our mission now is to turn around the company by putting customers at the heart of everything we do and creating a simpler, leaner, more modern and more sustainable company."

Update #1092 - 14.34 Crowe maintains perfect record in securing loans

National audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe has helped Gloucestershire and Midlands companies raise £16.6million under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

That is a 100 per cent success rate for the firm which has offices in Cheltenham - against a national average of 50 per cent.

Midlands corporate finance partner Andy Kay said: "CBILS is intended to provide financial support to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and through it, they can raise up to £5million in the shape of term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance or asset finance.

"The loans are in high demand, so it is very important to submit your application right first time."

READ MORE 

Update #1091 - 12.49 City breathes easy during lockdown

Air quality in Gloucester improved dramatically during coronavirus lockdown, says Gloucester City Council.

While figures are yet to be verified and confirmed, initial readings show a reduction of Nitrogen oxides (NOx), a vehicle pollutant, of up to 45 per cent in key areas such as Barton Street.

The trend is being seen across the UK and the globe, as people travelled less during Covid-19 restrictions. When they did travel, many left their cars at home in favour of walking or cycling. It is assumed that other pollutants will have followed a similar trend.

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Update #1090 - 11.32 GE Aviation at the eye of Team Tempest

GE Aviation has signed up as part of a collaboration of leading aerospace companies to develop game-changing technologies.

Team Tempest is a collaboration between BAE Systems, Leonardo UK, MBDA UK, Rolls-Royce and the Ministry of Defence to develop the technologies at pace and in an affordable manner.

GE Aviation will work on open architecture and infrastructure for electrical power and avionics systems at its Bishop's Cleeve facility.

John Haigh, executive product leader for electrical distribution at Bishop's Cleeve, said, "We are honoured to be a part of Team Tempest.

"Our specialism in high-voltage interfaces, along with deep domain experience across defence platforms, will help bring a solid base of expertise to the team."

Full story 

Update #1089 - 11.30 Big films not coming soon from Disney

Disney has dealt a blow to cinemas ahead of reopening following coronavirus restrictions by delaying the release of major films.

The latest instalments in the Avatar and Star Wars franchise have been delayed by a year with Mulan, which had been scheduled for a delayed August release, removed from schedules completely.

Cinemas in the UK have been able to open since July 4 but most are yet to restart screenings.

Update #1088 - 11.27 Online helps lift sales close to pre-lockdown levels

Retail sales across the UK returned to near lockdown levels in June, helped by a continued rise in online sales and food sales.

The Office for National Statistics said the amount of goods sold last month rose by 13.9 per cent from May, despite a continuing struggle for clothing sales.

Food sales were 5.3 per cent higher than February - the last full month before coronavirus restrictions were introduced - while sales outside shops grew by 53.6 per cent.

Online sales accounted for £3 in every £10 spent by customers.

Sales at non-food stores, which were able to reopen from June 15, was 15 per cent lower than February.

Update #1087 - 11.07 Masks no excuse for abuse of workers

Face coverings have become compulsory in shops in England amid appeals for customers to be kind to shop workers.

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl issued the appeal after figures from the Association of Convenience Stores revealed half a million shop workers had been physically or verbally assaulted in the last year.

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Update #1086 - 09.55 Cult Hotels ahead of the social distancing trend

Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton can hardly be accused of not being on trend and his latest venture is right up with the times - complete with social distancing built in.

The latest arrival in his Lucky Onion portfolio of Cotswolds hotels and restaurants is a new concept in contactless hotels.

First of the Cult Hotels to open its doors is newly-refurbished The George in Cheltenham which consists of five Grade II listed Regency townhouses with 46 bedrooms.

READ MORE 

Update #1085 - 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 Thursday (July 23) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45,554 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 53 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, there have been a total of 229 confirmed deaths 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 1,852 as of yesterday afternoon. An increase of two on Wednesday's figures. 

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 539 cases

Cheltenham - 429 cases

Stroud - 259 cases

Tewkesbury - 255 cases

Cotswolds - 204 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases

Thursday, July 23

Update #1084 - 17.22 Brexit deal "unlikely" be the end of year

The chief negotiators on both sides have warned a deal over Brexit by the end of the year is not close.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier labelled it "unlikely" while his UK counterpart David First said the UK must prepare "for all possible scenarios".

Speaking after the latest round of talks in London, Mr Frost said: "Considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas.

"We will keep working hard to bridge the gaps and find a way through."

Mr Barnier said the UK's demands on fisheries were "simply unacceptable".

Update #1083 - 17.20 Dyson cutting 600 UK jobs

Bagless vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson is cutting 900 jobs with 600 of them set to go in the UK.

Founded by Sir James Dyson, who topped the Sunday Times Rich List in May, the company employs 4,000 people in the UK among a global workforce of 14,000.

It is thought most jobs will be lost in retail and customer service with a company spokesman saying it would aim to avoid compulsory redundancies.

He said: "The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour and therefore requires changes in how we engage with our customers and how we sell our products."

Update #1082 - 17.15 Are you open for business? Punchline can help

Restrictions are easing and Gloucestershire is open for business and it is time to spread to word - which where Punchline can help.

Readership figures for Punchline-Gloucester.com have remained high throughout the coronavirus crisis - helped by businesses keen to keep abreast with the news from across the county via our website and daily email newsletters.

And as we emerge into the 'new normal', getting the word out there that your business is alive and kicking and succeeding has never been more important.

Which is where we come in with an opportunity to spread the word about your business.

READ MORE 

Update #1081 - 16.36 Barton Street takes walk on the right side for safety

Walking in one busy Gloucester street has been transformed with the introduction of a one-way pedestrian system.

Narrow pavements had made it difficult for pedestrians to socially distance in Barton Street without walking in the road.

So signs and stickers have been installed by Gloucester City Council, with the help of Gloucestershire County Council's Highways team, to help keep people safe and apart.

Councillor Dawn Melvin, cabinet member for economic growth and recovery, said: "It's really important for the city and its local business owners that we get people back on to high streets and in to shops, but it's got to be safely.

READ MORE 

Update #1080 - 16.01 Gloucester Cathedral reopens with safety award

Gloucester Cathedral has reopened for daily worship and visitors - complete with certification for its work following COVID-19 guidelines.

The Cathedral has been awarded Visit Britain's We're Good to Go status for its work ensuring safety advice is followed with cleaning and social distancing measures in place.

Safety measures include limiting capacity, a one-way system throughout the building and hand-sanitising stations with reviews of procedures to ensure updated advice is followed.

READ MORE 

Update #1079 - 14.56 Make the most of new apprenticeship incentive payments available to employers

Following the chancellor's update on July 8, the government has announced significant support for apprenticeships as part of their 'Plan for Jobs'.

The government is introducing incentive payments of £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire aged 16-24, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from August 1st 2020 to January 31st 2021.

These payments are in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government already provides for non-levy employers who hire new 16-18 year-old apprentices. That's a total benefit of up to £3,000 per apprentice paid directly to businesses.

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Update #1078 - 12.40 United Gloucestershire needed to save hospitality says Ian Mean

Councils across Gloucestershire have been urged to unite in the fight to save hospitality jobs across the county.

The call comes from Ian Mean, Gloucestershire director for Business West, who fears many firms in the hospitality sector will not survive or be forced to lay off furloughed workers without help.

He said: "Restaurants, pubs and hotels have suffered so much worry and misery through lack of business during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We simply have to do all we can to try and save a lot of these businesses and the thousands of people who work in them."

READ MORE 

Update #1077 - 12.10 Gloucestershire garden products business sees lockdown sales soar

Gloucestershire-based garden products retailer Wildlife World has seen a 400 per cent increase in online sales compared to this time last year, after securing a six-figure loan from Lloyds Bank.

The Tetbury business initially experienced a sudden downturn in orders when garden centres were forced to close their doors in March and had to furlough almost half of its 25-strong team.

However, the loan from Lloyds Bank, made through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), has enabled the retailer to develop its website to facilitate the increase in online transactions and continue to design and buy new products while income temporarily slowed.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1076 - 11.40 Sue Ryder faces huge coronavirus funding gap

With fundraising activities stopped for the foreseeable future and the prospect of a tough winter to come, Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is calling on local people to help.

Gloucestershire's only in-patient palliative care unit is facing a funding gap of £1.6m over the coming months.

When charity shops were closed overnight and fundraising activities forced to stop immediately, the drop in income meant that, for the first time ever, the hospice's future was in doubt.

Leckhampton Court was forced to launch an emergency funding appeal in response. Gloucestershire people dug deep and have so far raised more than £234,000 to help the hospice continue to provide essential palliative care for the county.

READ MORE 

Update #1075 - 10.47 No rush to sign up for eating out scheme

The Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme to attract people back to eating out with half-price vouchers has seen just a quarter of eligible businesses sign up.

With less than two weeks to go before it starts, HRMC said 32,362 have signed up to the scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his summer statement earlier this month. out of around 130,000 eligible restaurants, bars and cafes.

Designed to help the struggling hospitality industry and support 1.8 million jobs, the scheme offers diners 50 per cent off meals (up to £10 per head) at participating venues from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.

Venues will apply the discount to the bill and claim the money back weekly through an online service.

An HMRC spokesman said: "Businesses are working hard to ensure their premises are Covid-safe and have plenty of time to sign up. HMRC anticipate a high level of take-up but respect that some restaurants may not choose to take part."

Update #1074 - 10.45 Lockdown spend almost £800 each

Men outspent women as people across the UK spent almost £800 apiece on non-essential items during lockdown, according to new research.

Barclaycard said we spent £40billion on the likes of books, videos and wine subscriptions while at home during the coronavirus restrictions - an average of £771 per person.

Men spent an average of £1014 - with sports clothing and equipment the biggest single expense - compared to £571 for women.

People at home with children under 18 spent £2,070 during lockdown.

Update #1073 - 10.43 Fraser Group warn of closures over rates decision

The Fraser Group has warned it may be forced to close stores due to the Government's decision to delay the next revaluation of business rates until 2023.

The owners of Sports Direct and House of Fraser, which runs Cavendish House in Cheltenham, said the Government had "buried its head in the sand" over the issue and the decision was "raising unfair and uneconomic revenue sums from already distressed businesses".

A company statement said: "Not only has it kicked the can down the road, it has also kicked businesses when they are clearly down.

"How many more businesses on the high street have to disappear and jobs be lost before the Government takes this issue seriously."

The group, owned by Mike Ashley, did not say how many sites were included in a review.

Update #1072 - 08.25 One new coronavirus case in Gloucestershire in the last 24 hours

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

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus related deaths remain at 229 with no increase on the day before.

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 1,850 as of Tuesday afternoon. This is an increase of one on figures from the day before. These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 539 cases

Cheltenham - 428 cases

Stroud - 259 cases

Tewkesbury - 255 cases

Cotswolds - 203 cases

Forest of Dean - 166 cases

Wednesday, July 22

Update #1071 - 16.48 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 79

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 79 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm on Tuesday (July 21).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 45,501 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total 296,377 people have tested positive for the virus, with 193,745 tests performed in the 24 hours prior to 9am this morning (July 22).

Update #1070 - 16.28 Cheltenham film fans at the drive-in

Football fans will be replaced with film buffs as Cheltenham Town becomes the home of a drive-in cinema next month.

Cheltenham Borough Council's licensing sub-committee allowed the application for a series of films under a Temporary Event Notice, including independent snooker-based thriller Break on August 15-16.

Concerns raised by police over traffic management were addressed in the virtual meetings.

Committee vice-chairman Councillor Paul McCloskey said: "Break Films is a small, innovative company whose launch plans for their film Break were completely derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic."

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1069 - 16.01 Unclear road ahead prevents Stagecoach forecast

Stagecoach said it is unable to make a profit forecast due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on public transport.

And the UK's largest bus and coach company, which operates throughout Gloucestershire, said talks have begun to continue government support beyond October.

Funding has helped bus operators to maintain services since March amid lower passenger numbers and will run out at the end of October without a potential 12-week extension.

READ MORE 

Update #1068 - 15.20 Nearly 10,000 people supported by telephone service

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, local health services joined forces to help GP surgeries support and care for their most vulnerable residents through a newly established telephone support service.

The Vulnerable People's Telephone Support Service, which ran from April 15 until July 2 when the government announced a relaxation of shielding restrictions, was operated by staff from NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire County Council.

In total, the team contacted nearly 10,000 individuals who had been identified by their GP surgery as being at highest risk of ill health and linked them up with suitable support services, depending on their needs.

And that's why Punchline has nominated them as one of our Business and Community Champion's - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1067 - 14.09 LinkedIn make cuts as job market shrinks

LinkedIn is cutting around 960 jobs after feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the number of firms recruiting staff.

The Business networking site, which is owned by Microsoft, is based in California but has offices around the world including London.

The cuts in the group's global sales and hiring divisions involve roughly six per cent of its 16,000 staff with consultations already underway in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

READ MORE 

Update #1066 - 12.36 Outlook looking sunny for B&Q

B&Q owner Kingfisher has bumped up its profit forecast after a surge in demand during lockdown continued into the summer, thanks to good weather.

More time at home during the coronavirus pandemic has meant more DIY projects and an increase in sales of gardening products while the sun shone, as reported by Sky.

Kingfisher, which also owns Screwfix, said sales were up by 21.6 per cent between the end of April and 18th July, including both a surge in online sales and the benefits of reopened stores.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1065 - 12.07 The Works on the lookout for more stores

Bucking the retail trend for moving more business online, discount retailer The Works has appointed property consultants to help it expand its store estate across the UK.

The book, craft and stationery retailer, which has stores in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud, is particularly keen for consultant GCW to help it find stores to launch across the South East, as reported by Retail Gazette.

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Update #1064 - 10.59 Cheltenham Literature Festival goes online

October would normally see thousands flock to Cheltenham to catch a glimpse of the great and good in international literature.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival has been forced to adapt in line with lockdown guidance.

Instead of the usual program, the world's oldest literature festival has announced that it will present  100 live-streamed  events  with  a  socially-distanced  live audience (government guidance permitting) in Cheltenham Town Hall and the Everyman Theatre. And, in  a year when international travel is limited, an innovative series of filmed events with major international names, supported by a global network of festival partners and publishers.

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Update #1063 - 10.53 Record book sales ahead of warning

Audiobooks and non-fiction titles helped UK book sales hit record levels in 2019 - but publishers have warned of the impact on the industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Book sales rose by four per cent to £6.3billion in 2019 - after the first fall for five years in 2018 - as audiobook downloads rose by 39 per cent, according to the latest figures from the Publishers Association.

Non-fiction and reference sales grew to £1billion - up 23.1 per cent from 2015, during which time fiction sales fell by 5.6 per cent to £582million.

Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga said: "These robust figures reflect people's ongoing need and desire for books, but tell a story of pre-COVID success, they do not reflect the significant challenges that publishers have faced during this pandemic."

Revenue has been predicted to fall by up to 75 per cent with bookshops closed for more than two months during the pandemic.

Update #1062 - 10.51 Leisure centre warming up for reopening

GL1 leisure centre in Gloucester will partly reopen from Saturday as lockdown restrictions continue to be lifted.

Gym and group exercise programmed will resume on Saturday with one pool opening on Monday as part of a phased reopening.

Stratford Park Leisure in Stroud will also reopen on Saturday for gym and group fitness booked online with Leisure at Cheltenham following suit on Monday.

Oxstalls Sports Park will also open on Saturday with pay and play tennis sessions.

Tewkesbury Leisure will reopen on Monday, August 3.

Update #1061 - 10.47 Government backs Ford loan agreement

Ford is to receive £500million backing from the Government to help protect workers in the UK as the car maker looks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

A loan facility of £625million from commercial banks will be backed by the £500million guaranteed from UK Export Finance, the Government's export credit agency,

The guarantee, announced by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, will cover 80 per cent of the loan.

It will support the company's exports from its engine and gear systems factories in Dunton and Dagenham together with increasing investment in electrification.

Ford of Britain Graham Hoare said: "This financing will help to maintain Ford as a key UK exporter."

Update #1060 - 08.25 No change in coronavirus figures for Gloucestershire

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

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus related deaths remain at 229 with no increase on the day before.

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 1,847 as of Tuesday afternoon. These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 539 cases

Cheltenham - 428 cases

Stroud - 259 cases

Tewkesbury - 255 cases

Cotswolds - 203 cases

Forest of Dean - 165 cases

Tuesday, July 21

Update #1059 - 17.15 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 110

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 110 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm yesterday (July 20).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 45,422 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total, 295,817 people have tested positive for the virus.

Update #1058 - 15.00 Courier Hermes to hire more than 10,000 additional workers

Delivery firm Hermes has announced that it will create 10,500 further jobs in the UK after a nationwide surge in online shopping during lockdown.

Roles of new workers will include 1,500 full-time jobs across its delivery network and head office, and a further 9,000 freelance couriers (adding to the 15,000 already operating across the country).

CEO of the company, Martijn de Lange said: "The pandemic has expedited the already phenomenal growth of online shopping and we see no sign of this changing.

"As a result, it is important that we have the right infrastructure and people in place to support this. This is good news for the many people who have sadly had their income affected and we are pleased to be able to support the UK economy with so many jobs at this time."

Update #1057 - 14.30 Suitcase brand's future is secure

Luggage brand Antler's future on the UK retail scene is safe, after administrators found a buyer to take over its online operations.

But sadly it is too late for the brand's 18 stores, including the one in Gloucester Quays. Antler went into administration in May, leading to permanent store closures and 164 job cuts, as reported by Retail Gazette.

READ MORE  

Update #1056 - 12.37 Councils prepare to fast-track applications

Councils in Gloucestershire are taking steps to help pubs, cafe and bars ahead of the passing of new planning legislation.

The Business and Planning Bill, which is expected to receive royal assent in the next few days, is designed to allow additional outdoor space for licensed premises.

Cheltenham Borough Council unanimously backed a proposal to allow applications for the temporary licences - which must be determined within seven days - as soon as the bill is signed into law.

And Forest of Dean District Council has agreed to waive fees for applications.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1055 - 11.35 UK making V-shaped recovery insists Bank of England economist

The UK economy is growing by about one per cent a week as it begins a V-shaped recovery, according to the Bank of England's chief economist.

Andy Haldane told the Treasury Select Committee that the country had reduced the fall in output during March and April by around half.

He said: "Roughly half of the roughly 25 per cent fall in activity during March and April has been clawed back over the period since.

"We have seen a bounce back, so far it has been a V. That, of course, doesn't tell us about where we might go next."

SEE MORE 

Update #1054 - 10.59 Workspace provider predicts boost for Gloucester as companies change their property strategies

A Gloucester-based flexible workspace provider is anticipating a boost for the regional economy around its Barnwood site as more companies look for office space away from city centres following the COVID-19 pandemic.

BizSpace said that it had seen a spike in interest at its 105 centres across the UK, which are principally in non-city-centre locations with on-site parking and cycling facilities.

Sites in Gloucestershire include Corinium House at Barnwood Point and Morelands Trading Estate on Bristol Road, Gloucester.

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Update #1053 - 10.36 Renishaw predicts increase in revenue

Renishaw has raised it revenue estimates, despite downgrading its annual statutory pre-tax profit forecast.

The precision engineering company, based near Wotton-under-Edge, said revenue estimates to £510million, having previously placed them between £490million and £505million.

It said restructuring charges were partly behind the fall in expected profits from £31-41million to £4million.

Full story 

Update #1052 - 10.32 UK borrowing reaches new height

Government borrowing between April and June hit a record £127.9billion - more than double the entire previous tax year (£55.4billion).

June's figure of £35.5billion was lower than in May's revised figure of £45.5billion as tax income increased and the cost of furloughs fell, but it was still the third highest monthly total since records began in 1993.

The latest figure from the Office for National Statistics took total government debt to £1.98trillion.

The ONS said debt at the end of June was 99.6 per cent of economic output.

Update #1051 - 08.33 Coronavirus death toll in the UK increases by 11

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 11 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 5pm on Sunday (July 19).

The latest total death toll for the UK now sits at 45,321 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

In total 295,372 people have tested positive for the virus, with 165,545 tests performed in the 24 hours prior to 9am this morning (July 21).

Monday, July 20

Update #1050 - 17.13 Ticket office signals return for railway

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has reopened its online ticket office ahead of reopening on August 15.

The 14-mile line between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway has been shut for 22 weeks through the coronavirus pandemic lockdown - a time when 150,000 visitors would have been expected.

READ MORE 

Update #1049 - 16.55 Government praise for Stroud District Council scheme to tackle flooding

An innovative Stroud District Council natural flood management scheme has been highlighted as an exemplary approach to flooding, in a £5.2billion national Government strategy to tackle flooding.

Stroud's Rural Sustainable Drainage Project (Rural SuDs) was initiated by community groups after areas of Stroud were flooded in 2007 and 2012.

The project is being delivered by Stroud District Council and works with local community groups, landowners and partner organisations to reduce the risk of flooding throughout the 250 square kilometre catchment of the River Frome and its tributaries.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1048 - 16.04 Surge in lockdown Avon ladies

Cosmetics company Avon looks set to be calling at many more homes, with the number of people signing up to become representatives more than doubling in lockdown.

The company, which has five million reps globally, said it had seen a 114 per cent rise in the number of new representatives joining its UK business since the start of lockdown, as reported by the Guardian.

READ MORE 

Update #1047 - 16.01 BPE celebrates success throughout lockdown

Despite a nationwide downturn in business, the Corporate Team at Cheltenham-based BPE Solicitors has continued to be active and busy, supporting and advising clients throughout lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic.

Louise Grzasko

The team has completed a number of deals in the past four months, across all areas of its expertise, including acquisitions, sales and fundraisings.

Louise Grzasko, corporate team leader and partner, advised specialist deep cleaning and decontamination business, REACT Group PLC, on an oversubscribed fundraising of £1.25 million. With support from solicitor, Kathryn King, Louise completed the deal to a tight deadline, enabling REACT Group, which is responding to the increased need for deep cleaning as a result of Covid-19 to continue with its ambitious growth plans.

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Update #1046 - 12.39 Stamp duty cut helps drive property market

The cut in stamp duty has helped to fuel a surge in the housing market.

Figures from property website Rightmove showed a 35 per cent year-on-year rise in the number of sales agreed in England during the five days after Chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement on July 8.

And Rightmove said the average price of a property coming on to the market in Britain reached £320,265 this month - up more than £7,000 on the previous record before lockdown restrictions were introduced in March.

Agreed sales had already risen by 15 per cent in June.

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Update #1045 - 12.37 Ecclesiastical part of pandemic insurance test case

Ecclesiastical is among a group of leading insurers selected for a legal test case which will decide whether many businesses will receive payouts for damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The court case, which started today, will investigate whether losses caused by the crisis are covered by business interruption policies.

Insurers argue that pandemics are not covered by most business policies.

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Update #1044 - 12.34 Group loses legal challenge over incinerator contract

A legal challenge against Gloucestershire County Council's handling of a contract for the £600million waste incinerator at Javelin Park has been dismissed.

And it has been described as "a huge waste of everyone's time and public money."

Environmental group Community R4C brought the challenge over the contract awarded to Urbaser Balfour Beatty to build the facility at Junction 12 of the M5 near Gloucester.

Community R4C said it had been working on a cheaper, greener waste processing plant while the council has always argued it undertook a legal, competitive tender process.

But at the High Court Judge Russen QC ruled against Community R4C, saying the group would not have qualified to bid for the contract in 2016 as it was not an "economic operator".

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Update #1043 - 11.22 Covid-19 mobile testing unit locations this week

An important part of minimising and 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.

The mobile testing unit, previously at Oxstalls Tennis Centre in Gloucester, is now available at other locations across the county.

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Update #1042 - 10.33 M&S announce 950 job cuts

Hundreds of job cuts have been confirmed by Marks & Spencer.

Reductions store management and head office roles will see 950 jobs go as chief executive Steve Rowe accelerates the restructuring it announced in May

A spokesman said the move marks "an important step" in it becoming a "stronger, leaner" business.

M&S employs around 78,000 across the UK with 27,000 furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The retail chain has already indicated it will not pay a dividend to shareholders this year.

Update #1041 - 10.31 Go Outdoors deal paying back one per cent

Unsecured creditors could receive just one per cent of what they are owed after Go Outdoors was bought back in a pre-pack administration by JD Sports.

A statement of proposal by administrators Deloitte said the taxman, branded stock suppliers, customers' returns and gift cards would be paid but landlords are likely to be left out of pocket.

JD Sports initially paid £112million for Go Outdoors in 2016, buying it out of administration in a £56.5million pre-pack deal last month.

Its 67 branches have reopened while negotiations continue with landlords over rent.

Update #1040 - 10.25 UK agrees deals for 90 million vaccine doses

The Government has teamed up with pharmaceutical companies to secure the UK with early access to 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The agreement includes 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed by BioNTech and Pfizer which has reached Phase 2 trial.

And a deal in principle with Valneva includes 60 million doses with an option for 40 million more if it proves safe and effective.

The Government is expected to help finance clinical trials for Valneva with negotiations on funding to expand the company's Scottish factory.

A third deal with AstraZeneca covers one million doses of a treatment containing neutralising antibodies which could be used for people who cannot be vaccinated.

Update #1039 - 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 (July 19) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 45,300 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 27 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 228 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday. No increase on the day before.

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 1,847 as of Sunday afternoon. These cases are split across the following regions:

  • Gloucester - 539 cases
  • Cheltenham - 428 cases
  • Stroud - 258 cases
  • Tewkesbury - 255 cases
  • Cotswolds - 202 cases
  • Forest of Dean - 165 cases

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