Antisocial camping: There has been a surge in the number of people wild camping in the Scottish Highlands, leading to littering and environmental damage. Although wild camping is legal in Scotland, visitors are expected to abide by a code of conduct – and in some areas, there are by-laws to restrict it. In July, 21 people were charged in a single weekend with breaking such laws in the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Officials said they’d lit fires illegally, damaged trees and left “unacceptable” amounts of litter and discarded equipment. In the Cairngorms, the fire brigade put out 50 fires in 48 hours last week. At Aviemore, locals called for a local caravan park to reopen, after scores of tents and motorhomes were pitched on the shores of nearby Loch Morlich. Residents said the campers left behind litter and human waste.
Shock verdict: Three teenagers were found guilty last week of the manslaughter of PC Andrew Harper, but cleared of murder. The 28-year-old was killed last year while investigating the theft of a quad bike in Berkshire. As he tried to arrest the teenagers – Henry Long, 19, and Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, 18 – they sped away in a car. Entangled in a tow rope, he was dragged behind the car, and sustained horrific injuries. The Attorney General has been urged to look into allegations of jury tampering in the trial, at the Old Bailey.
Bullying claims: An external inquiry has been launched into the alleged bullying of musical staff and volunteers at Sheffield Cathedral. News of the investigation emerged days after the cathedral controversially announced that it was disbanding its choir. It said that it wanted to replace the choir (which is mainly drawn from local private schools) with singing groups better able to reflect the city’s “mixed urban community”. In a statement, former choristers said they were “shocked” by the decision, and suggested that the desire to boost inclusivity was a “pretext to obscure the dean and chapter’s mismanagement of music at the cathedral”. Denying this, the dean, the Very Revd Peter Bradley, cited declining attendance at choral evensong as among the other reasons for closing the traditional Anglican choir.
Causeway Coast and Glens
Jobs crisis: More than 50 people are chasing each job vacancy in six districts of Northern Ireland – with the numbers peaking in the Causeway Coast and Glens district, where 5,045 benefits claimants are in pursuit of 49 jobs: a ratio of 103-1. The data, from the Institute for Employment Studies, also highlights challenges faced elsewhere in the UK. The Northeast has nearly 15 claimants for each vacancy, peaking at 40 in South Tyneside, and a similar picture exists in Merseyside and the West Midlands. In Manchester, the restaurant 20 Stories revealed this week that it had had 963 applications for one job, on its reception desk.
Danger signs: A cardboard-packaging factory in West Bromwich was closed last week after 49 of its 117 workers tested positive for Covid-19. According to Lisa McNally, the local Director of Public Health, the managers of CBS Packaging took the measure voluntarily, to help combat infection rates that, in some parts of the borough of Sandwell, are “more than ten times the rate we were seeing a few weeks ago”. Elsewhere, 21 new cases of the virus were confirmed at a caravan park in Craven Arms, Shropshire, and local restrictions were imposed in Luton and Blackburn. In Luton, the infection rate was 19.1 per 100,000 in the week to 23 July, and all residents were this week urged to get tested. In Blackburn, the rate was 73.9 per 100,000.
Going down: A statue which has stood in Cardiff’s City Hall since 1916 was boarded up last week, after councillors voted for its removal. The mayor, Daniel De’Ath, had called for the marble figure of Lt Gen Sir Thomas Picton (1758-1815) – commemorated for his role in the Battle of Waterloo – to be taken out of a gallery of Welsh heroes, citing his brutal treatment of slaves in Trinidad. However, the building is Grade I listed and to remove the statue will require the permission of the Welsh government.
Twister: A powerful tornado tore across Northamptonshire last weekend, causing damage to homes and uprooting plants. In footage taken by residents, the tornado can be seen tearing tiles from rooftops and overturning sheds and trampolines as it moved eastwards after touching down near the village of Weedon Bec on Saturday evening. According to the Met Office, a tornado is a “rapidly rotating column of air that reaches between the base of a storm cloud and the Earth’s surface”; around 30 are reported each year in the UK, though most are small and short-lived. Britain’s strongest ever tornado, in Portsmouth in 1810, was reported to have levelled houses and to have had a top speed of around 230mph. More recently, a 94mph tornado destroyed seaside chalets in the Welsh village of Clarach Bay in 2016.
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