Categories
Technology US

Spotify is paying podcasters tens of thousands of dollars to buoy its own sponsorship tool

John Newman is the type of person companies like Spotify want to get involved in podcasting. He has a niche interest — collecting sports playing cards — and is passionate and knowledgeable about the topic. When he went looking for a way to start his own show, Sports Card Nation, in 2018, Anchor stood out. The podcast creation app, now owned by Spotify, makes it easy to record an episode, and it offers a novel feature for new podcasters: sponsorship opportunities for everyone.

What Newman didn’t expect, however, was that the main advertiser using Anchor’s sponsorship feature would be Anchor itself. Newman says over the course of two and a half years on the platform, he’s had only three sponsors through Anchor: Anchor, Pocket Casts, and a company called The Black Tux. One of those companies, Pocket Casts, didn’t even pay for its sponsorship, a source close to the company confirms — instead, Anchor covered its costs to promote the feature. Newman says both the Pocket Casts and Black Tux sponsorships lasted less than a month and netted him no more than $50 total. Anchor, on the other hand, has paid him around $2,500 to advertise its own service.

“It’s just a blip compared to Anchor,” he says.

Nine podcasters tell The Verge the same story: Anchor’s sponsorship feature seems to be seriously lacking in sponsors, and they’ve received few, if any, opportunities beyond Anchor or Spotify itself. Three people say they’ve earned thousands from Anchor and Spotify alone. Three also say they have now left or are looking to leave Anchor’s platform because they’re not receiving new sponsors.

Anchor’s software is designed to let anyone start a podcast just by recording into their phone. It promised to help podcasters monetize those shows through a feature called Anchor Sponsorships, which launched in November 2018 in the US, just months before Spotify acquired the company for $140 million. The functionality is akin to something like YouTube ads — advertisers are automatically matched with podcasts that fit their target demographic, and the hosts can then do ad reads for the sponsors and make money.

It’s a radical idea, especially for smaller creators. Typically, advertisers only work with shows that reach tens of thousands of listeners. With Anchor’s approach, sponsors can distribute their ad impressions across many shows, rather than focusing on one or two in a specific network. The hosts can always pass on a sponsorship opportunity, too, if they’re not interested.

“We’re determined to level the playing field for podcast monetization by enabling new creators to get paid and new brand dollars to enter the market,” Anchor said when it announced the feature.

But it now seems that the grand vision isn’t panning out, and it may in fact be costing Anchor money to keep running. Sponsorships is becoming more of a marketing avenue for Spotify to entice new creators to join its platform and to keep them there.

Most of the podcasters The Verge spoke with signed up for Anchor’s sponsorships feature last year and received Anchor itself as their first sponsor. They received $15 for every 1,000 people they reached. These podcasters say their Anchor sponsorships ended in the second half of 2020, and they weren’t offered a possible renewal date or a new sponsor to replace it. Three hosts say they only made around $50. Newman said his sponsorship briefly ended around three months ago, but he emailed with the company, and Anchor switched it back on at a different CPM, or cost per 1,000 listeners. It’s unclear why.

Newman says he hasn’t had a sponsor other than Anchor for the past two years, even though his show has grown and now reaches anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 people per episode. He estimates Anchor has paid him around $2,500 over his nearly two and a half years on the platform. He currently still runs his Anchor sponsorship at a $17 CPM, along with other ads he obtained on his own outside of Anchor.

Blake Chastain, a podcaster who creates two shows including one called Exvangelical about “coming to terms with the messed up subculture of evangelicalism,” says both his shows lost their Anchor sponsorships last year. His spirituality podcast reliably reaches 2,000 or more people per episode, he says, while the other is nascent. He says he and five other podcaster friends haven’t been matched with a sponsor in months, since the Anchor sponsorship ended, and they’re now looking to move over to Megaphone, a hosting company recently acquired by Spotify.

Megaphone costs money to use as a hosting provider, but in exchange, it offers an advertiser marketplace, which allows companies to have their ads inserted into shows that fit their target demographic, similarly to Anchor’s offering. Hosts don’t read the ads, however. The main barrier to entry is that Megaphone only offers its services to shows or networks with 20,000-plus listeners per episode, which is why Chastain would have to coordinate with other podcasters.

“I feel like Spotify is well-positioned to offer things to indie podcasters, just as much as they are to develop their own in-house stuff by buying outlets like Gimlet, but it just hasn’t materialized yet,” he says. “So that’s sort of why when you’re smaller, you’re just doing stuff on your own, just sort of keep your options open. That’s why we’re exploring that [move to Megaphone].”

Two other podcasters mentioned receiving sponsorships, in addition to Anchor’s own, including one for a sleep podcast called Deep Sleep Sounds and one for Spotify itself. The podcaster who received the Spotify sponsorship, Dalton Trigg, says he and his co-host made $1,700 from Anchor and $900 from Spotify while on the platform for approximately a year and a half. They’ve since left Anchor and joined the Blue Wire podcast network with their basketball show, Mavs Step Back, and use Simplecast for hosting.

“We made the switch because after nearly two years of having somewhat consistent ad money, we went two to three straight months at the end of last year where we had no sponsors at all,” he texted The Verge. “And the NBA offseason is our busiest time of the year for the pod, so that was frustrating for us — that it just all of a sudden cut off. Anchor support kept preaching patience and saying that they’d keep trying to pair us with new sponsors, but it got to the point where we had to make the move so we could continue to grow.”

The fact that Anchor seems to be bankrolling its own sponsorship feature doesn’t bode well for Spotify, especially considering the critical role Anchor plays in the company’s growth strategy. Anchor offers its software and hosting service for free, which brings new podcasters into the field. It also beefs up Spotify’s own show catalog. The company told The Verge that Anchor launched 1 million new shows in 2020 alone and powers 70 percent of Spotify’s podcast catalog. Spotify has signed Anchor creators to exclusive deals, too, and a spokesperson said last month that 100,000 creators had generated revenue through Anchor’s sponsorships product to date.

Still, the situation all these podcasters depict suggests that while Anchor is attracting creators, it might not be making much money through selling advertisements. In fact, it’s seemingly just spending it. Plus, the success some of these podcasters have had in attracting outside advertisers demonstrates that once they reach a certain audience threshold, they’re sometimes willing to leave Spotify behind.

We reached out to Spotify for information about which other advertisers currently use Sponsorships, as well as how much money the company has spent on these ads, but it declined to comment on the record.

Spotify did put us in touch with the podcast How Long Gone, however, which launched in March 2020 and is distributed through Anchor with most ads coming from Anchor Sponsorships. The hosts, Jason Stewart and Chris Black, say the majority of their ads market Spotify, Anchor, and Anchor-made shows. Spotify and Anchor have paid them “tens of thousands” of dollars in ad revenue in less than a year, they say. (They also host a separate, Spotify-exclusive show that highlights Anchor’s newest feature — the ability to include music in shows — called How Long Gone Radio.)

“It’s kind of like an interesting ecosystem,” Stewart says. “It’s like a garden that waters itself, as long as you have the good ol’ Spotify deep pockets.”

They’ve had three other sponsors over the show’s existence that came from Anchor Sponsorships, including Manscaped, Solaray, and Roman. All three, they say, ran for around a month each.

“It’s good to just be able to have that Spotify and that Anchor as your baseline to where even if you’re making a dollar a day off of it, or whatever, at the beginning, it’s nice to just see that,” says Stewart. “It’s kind of like gambling or something like that. You look into your wallet, and you get to see every day how much more money you’re making, and then it helps you kind of track your growth and your goals, and having Spotify and Anchor there throughout the entire time was an amazing foundation to build on top of.”

Analysts at Citi sent a note to clients last week advising them to sell their Spotify stock, particularly because its podcasting endeavors hadn’t yet resulted in a meaningful uptick in premium subscribers or app downloads. Anchor has, so far, been a creation success story for the company. Even these podcasters, when asked, all say they don’t regret using the app and found it made podcasting approachable. Receiving money from Anchor didn’t hurt, either, and was like a cherry on top.

But did Spotify enter the podcasting space to subsidize creators in making new shows, or to help itself make more money? Anchor’s sponsorship situation seems to be testing that choice.

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Canada

Speed ​​cameras paying more than ever

The pandemic has not put the brakes on delinquent motorists, who were more likely to be caught by photo radars last year, giving the state the most lucrative year since their establishment in 2009.

No less than 391,515 offenses were captured by photographic radars and red light cameras between January 1 and December 31, 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Justice.

The sum of the fines for these contraventions totals $ 56,138,361. Previously, the highest-paying year had been 2019 with $ 51,373,189.

The device that has captured the most heavy-footed motorists is heading south on Highway 15 in Mirabel.

In all, it resulted in the issuance of 45,846 speeding tickets totaling $ 5,876,361 in fines.

This represents almost 9% of all reports submitted last year.

It’s not just in the Montreal area that motorists like to speed.

In Quebec City, the radar located at the corner of Charest Boulevard and Saint-Sacrement Avenue alone made it possible to collect $ 3,697,785 for 33,272 reports served.

Mobile and efficient

While flashes from fixed speed cameras and red light cameras turned on less often in 2020, compared to the previous year, flashes from mobile devices reached a new high in fines and fines.

The radar installed following the tragic pile-up of Autoroute 440 in Laval, which killed four and injured 15 in 2019, is the mobile device that resulted in the most traffic tickets. It allowed the remission of 28,285 tickets and the addition of $ 3,761,108 to the state coffers.

If the sum of the fines for this device is higher than that of Charest Boulevard in Quebec City, despite a smaller number of reports, it is because the greater the difference between the speed of the vehicle and the permitted limit, the more the bill is high.

Speed ​​and COVID-19

Even though the roads seemed less busy because many citizens were telecommuting, these results hardly surprised Nicolas Ryan, spokesperson for CAA-Quebec, who spoke of collateral damage from COVID-19.

“This perception can give drivers a false sense of security. When there are fewer cars and the road seems more open, you can tend to have a heavier foot and allow yourself a few misdemeanors, such as looking at your cell phone, ”says Ryan.

The latter refers to two of their polls conducted in Canada in June and December, in which 60% of their members felt they were more witnesses to reckless driving, especially when it comes to speeding.

Over the past year, the Sûreté du Québec has also relayed several speeding offenses on social networks.

By analyzing the 2020 figures for photographic radars, we can see that the months of April and May, during which Quebec was on hiatus, were the least lucrative.

However, offenses increase significantly from July. The operation was the most successful last December, with more than $ 7 million in fines.

Change in law

According to the Ministère des Transports (MTQ), which manages radars, the hiring of new police officers and lawyers as well as the implementation of new image processing technologies, following changes to the law in 2018, may explain in part of the observed increase.

The increase in findings has been more marked since the summer of 2019 since the majority of the changes have been implemented.

“This partly explains the increase in the number of tickets issued until 2020,” says Mila Roy, spokesperson for the MTQ.

MIRABEL

Highway 15 south north of Chemin de la Côte-Nord

  • Fines: $ 5,876,361
  • Number of findings: 45,846

LAVAL

Highway 440 West near Boulevard Le Corbusier

  • Fines: $ 3,761,108
  • Number of findings: 28 285

QUEBEC

Boulevard Charest at the corner of Avenue Saint-Sacrement

  • Fines: $ 3,697,785
  • Number of findings: 33,272

Results of recent years

YEAR TOTAL
SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS
TOTAL
FINES
2020 391,515 $ 56,138,691
2019 384 677 $ 51,373,189
2018 78,605 $ 12,640,106
2017 10 115 $ 2,093,828
2016 280 838 $ 32,260,445
2015 141,222 $ 14,800,175
2014 163,439 $ 23,180,485

Findings from radar surveys

Source: Quebec Ministry of Justice

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Headlines UK

NHS Test and Trace is paying 2,300 management consultants an AVERAGE of £163,000 EACH

NHS Test and Trace is paying 2,300 management consultants an AVERAGE of £163,000 EACH – more than Boris Johnson’s £150k salary

  • Test and Trace consultants are being paid an average salary of  £163,000 each
  • Government-funded service currently employs 2,300 management consultants
  • The figures reflect number of consultants working at the start of November

Test and Trace consultants working for the NHS are being paid an average salary that surpasses the Prime Minister’s to help run the Government’s coronavirus prevention scheme, it has emerged.

The government-funded service currently employs 2,300 management consultants who are on an average pay of £163,000 – which exceeds Boris Johnson’s salary of around £150,000. 

The figures from the Department of Health and Social Care also show £375 million has been spent so far on private consultancy services.

It comes as Boris Johnson today announced the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of his ambitious lockdown-ending plans.

Test and Trace consultants are being paid an average pay of £163,000 a consultant – which exceeds Boris Johnson’s salary of around £150,000. (Stock image)

Health Minister Helen Whately released the figures, which reflect the number of consultants who were working at the start of November last year, in response to a question from Labour MP Andy Slaughter.

Mr Slaughter later told The Times: ‘These are staggering sums of public money being handed out to consultants with no scrutiny or explanation how they are chosen. 

‘As we enter the worst phase of the pandemic, if mistakes have been made these must be laid bare.’

Ms Whately also explained that consultant were being recruited from 73 different suppliers.

In November, it was revealed that Britain’s creaking Test and Trace system was still not reaching at least four in ten contacts of those testing positive for Covid-19. 

Figures showed that in cases managed either online via email or by telephone by private companies, Serco and Sitel, just 58.9 per cent of close contacts were reached.

Boris Johnson today announced the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of ambitious lockdown-ending plans.

Boris Johnson today announced the NHS will be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of ambitious lockdown-ending plans.

It came after a BBC investigation claimed it could actually be as low as 50 per cent due to IT problems and delays in getting contact details for people to call.

Downing Street defended the ‘colossal’ achievements of Test and Trace but acknowledged improvements could be made.

A No 10 spokesman said at the time: ‘We are testing more people per head of population than any other European country and that will grow thanks to our increased testing capacity.’  

It comes as Boris Johnson today announced he would bring in the Army to bolster the UK’s coronavirus vaccination drive and claimed the NHS would be able to give 200,000 jabs every day by next Friday as part of ambitious lockdown-ending plans.

With the roll-out of vaccines the only light at the end of the tunnel, the Prime Minister reassured the public there would be enough doses available to get all the top priority groups immunised by mid-February.  

He also pledged to offer every care home resident a jab by the end of January and announced a new national online booking system that is hoped will speed up the process.

Mr Johnson’s mammoth jab pledge — which critics fear he won’t be able to deliver because it is over-ambitious — came moments after Britain recorded 1,162 Covid deaths in the second worst day of the pandemic. 

Department of Health data shows only April 21 had a worse death toll than today, when 1,224 victims were declared.

Categories
Technology US

Duracell isn’t secretly paying Microsoft to put AA batteries in Xbox controllers

“Xbox Controllers Still Use AA Batteries Due to ‘A Constant Agreement’ with Duracell,” Stealth Optional’s headline reads. The headline spotlights the outlet’s recent interview with Duracell’s UK marketing manager, Luke Anderson, who told Stealth Optional that there’s “always been this partnership with Duracell and Xbox… It’s a constant agreement that Duracell and Microsoft have in place.”

After this interview was published, several outlets cited the article, theorizing that this could be the reason why Microsoft still uses AA batteries to power some of its wireless gaming controllers.

This isn’t true. “We intentionally offer consumers choice in their battery solutions for our standard Xbox Wireless Controllers,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Eurogamer as a reason why its standard wireless Xbox controllers still use AA batteries instead of building a battery inside the controller.

“This includes the use of AA batteries from any brand, the Xbox Rechargeable Battery, charging solutions from our partners, or a USB-C cable, which can power the controller when plugged in to the console or PC.”

Of course, this is not the first time Microsoft has mentioned its decision to stick with AA batteries for some of its wireless controllers. Speaking with Digital Foundry in April, Xbox partner director of program management, Jason Ronald, explained that a “large chunk of Xbox owners” still preferred to use batteries. Microsoft even told The Verge in 2018 that the standard controllers’ reliance on batteries is because the company likes to offer a choice to its player base.

I don’t mind using AA batteries in these controllers; I can understand the confusion some could have on why Microsoft relies on batteries in its controllers when its competitors have turned to built-in batteries that charge using cables. It’s certainly not the most environmentally friendly option, yet it provides a happy medium for those who still prefer batteries while also having an option for those who prefer using a rechargeable battery pack instead.

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California Headline USA North Carolina

Which states started paying the extra $ 300 a week in unemployment benefits this week? | The State

The $ 300 extra payments will begin the week of December 27.

Photo:
RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP / Getty Images

At least 11 states are starting this week to pay the $ 300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits under the stimulus agreement of $ 900,000 million signed in late 2020. NY, California, Arizona, Tennessee and North Carolina They are the states that until Tuesday have sent the extra unemployment benefit to their citizens.

Michele Evermore, a policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money that “most states will be handing out the extra unemployment benefits in mid-January.”

During this first week at least 11 states will implement the extra payment of $ 300 dollars according to the count made by the site Unemploymentpua.com.

According to a Brookings report, it is estimated that at least 14 million Americans who are unemployed will receive Additional $ 300 per week in Federal Unemployment Compensation for Pandemic (FPUC) for 11 weeks until March 14. Both workers with Unemployment insurance (UI) as well as those who receive the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will receive the extra payment added to your basic weekly unemployment benefits.

NY began to pay the $ 300 extra dollars to unemployment beneficiaries in all programs, while California It has begun to pay benefits to workers with unemployment insurance (UI) but not yet to unemployed workers who receive PUA and PEUC. About 1.3 million Californians they will receive the extra benefit this week, according to a statement from the California Employment Development Department.

Related: Which workers will receive an extra $ 100 on top of the $ 300 unemployment benefit on the second stimulus check.

The extra payments of $ 300 dollars They will not be retroactive and will start from the week of December 27. The weeks following the expiration of the $ 600 extra under the CARES Act and the $ 300 extra under the Assistance for Lost Wages (LWA) are not covered by current legislation. Although the benefits of this program were quickly distributed in 2020 states as Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin it took them more than two months to implement it.

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Categories
Entertainment USA

Sherri Shepherd Shades RHOA’s Kenya Moore & Accuses Her Of Paying ‘Dudes To Be Her Boyfriend’

Sherri Shepherd clapped back at Kenya Moore, after the ‘RHOA’ star sparked a feud for naming Sherri as someone she’d ‘never’ want to guest star on ‘WWHL’ with again.

Sherri Shepherd, 53, threw the shade right back a day after Kenya Moore, 49, dissed her on the Dec. 14 episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. In case you missed it, Kenya was asked which guest she would “never” want to appear with again on Andy Cohen‘s show, and the Bravo star picked Sherri. “That was probably my worst appearance. I thought [Sherri] was trying to take over the show. She was very arrogant…She thought she was still on The View and she didn’t know she had apparently been fired,” Kenya had said, while recalling their time guest starring together on WWHL in 2014.

Sherri didn’t hesitate to clap back at Kenya. “It was so funny because I was trying to remember when I did Watch What Happens Live with Kendra,” Sherri began after Kenya’s recent interview was brought up on the Dec. 15 episode of Dish Nation, which Sherri began co-hosting in August. Sherri then went on to diss Kenya: “I was trying to remember and I wish that Kendra could pay me to care like she paid those dudes to be her boyfriend after Season 10, before she got fired from Real Housewives Of Atlanta.”

There is no proof behind Sherri’s accusation, but Kenya has had to deal with such rumors in the past. NeNe Leakes has previously claimed that Kenya wasn’t legally married to (her now estranged husband) Marc Daly, while one of Kenya’s exes — Walter Jackson — once claimed that Kenya asked him to play her boyfriend, which the Bravo star denied on Twitter in May (see below). Sherri didn’t end her shade there, though, and moved on to address the diss that Kenya had made about Sherri’s exit from The View in 2014.

“Before I left The View, we won our first Emmy Kendra, and the ratings have never been higher since I have left,” Sherri continued. “So there you go Kendra, have a great day. I just have so much to do Kendra, I’m working on Dish Nation, I got my other show, I’m writing a book. It’s just so much in my head Kendra, but I want you to have a really nice day, working, because that’s what we’re both doing.”

Sherri and Kenya’s feud happened right after the Dec. 13 episode of RHOA, in which Kenya revealed her plans to divorce Marc. “I’m going to go ahead and file [for divorce]. But I feel like the best step for me is to file for the custody action, and doing a post-nuptial, and then after that’s all signed off, then filing [for divorce],” Kenya had told her co-star Cynthia Bailey. Kenya and Marc, who share their two-year-old daughter Brooklyn Doris Daly, announced their separation in Sept. 2019. However, on the very same episode of WWHL that Kenya shaded Sherri on, the Bravo star revealed that she has “not filed for divorce” after all, and that Marc is currently “fighting for his marriage.”

Categories
Entertainment Canada

Celine Dion, 2nd highest paying tour in 2020

Even if 2020 has been a nightmarish year for the artisans of the scene, Celine Dion has still found a way to stand out.

• Read also: Celine Dion pays tribute to René’s best friend, Pierre Lacroix, swept away by COVID

According to statistics just published by the specialized website Pollstar, his tour Courage was the second highest paying in the world, in 2020.

With revenue of $ 71.2 million when forced to shutdown on March 8, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, following a concert in Newark, the tour of the Quebec diva was surpassed only by the legendary Elton John, who totaled $ 87.1 million.

When it comes to North American tours, Celine Dion easily tops the Trans-Siberian Orchestra ($ 58.2M) and Post Malone ($ 40.3M).

The survey period of the Pollstar site, it should be noted, goes from November 21, 2019 to November 18, 2020. This is to say that Celine Dion, Elton John and other international stars of the music industry had been able to count a little more three months of revenue before the break.

If the health situation permits, Celine Dion will repeat the action at the La Défense arena in Paris for six dates in March. She is to stay in Europe until the end of July. About twenty dates then await in North America in August and September.

No other concerts are announced for the moment in Montreal and Quebec.

Categories
Technology UK

Man left devastated after paying £640 for PS5 that turned out to be a brick


After months of anticipation, the PlayStation 5 went on sale in the UK last month, with retailers selling out in record time.

Many crafty buyers put their consoles straight onto eBay, with huge asking prices.

Now, a man in Utah has revealed that he was sent a brick instead of a PS5 console that he had paid a whopping $878 (£640) for.

The brick had been placed in a legitimate PS5 box, raising the man’s hopes when it arrived.

However, when he opened the box, he discovered a concrete brick inside, and not the console he had paid almost double the recommend retail price for.

The man reported the incident to the police, who recommended he contact eBay for a refund.

A man in Utah has revealed that he was sent a brick instead of a PS5 console that he had paid a whopping $878 (£640) for

The news comes shortly after eBay issued a warning about scammers trying to sell photos of the PS5, rather than the console itself.

eBay said: “We condemn these opportunistic sellers who are attempting to mislead other users.

“We are in the process of removing all listings for photos of PS5s from our marketplace and will be taking appropriate action against the sellers.

“For any purchase, but especially highly priced or in-demand items, buyers should exercise caution and thoroughly read the listing description.

“Buyers who receive an item which is not as described are entitled to a refund via our eBay Money Back Guarantee, provided they completed the transaction on the eBay platform.”


The man in Utah isn’t the first to have received the wrong item.

Worryingly, several customers who pre-ordered the console from Amazon UK claimed that their PS5s had been stolen, or even replaced with other items.

For example, freelance journalist Bex April May claimed that she was sent an air fryer instead of her PS5.

And another family in Oxfordshire caught footage on their CCTV camera of a courier appearing to handle a large PS5-shaped box at the back of his van, delivering other packages but keeping that one.

For those still scrambling to find any last available stock, here is a full breakdown of what we know so far.

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PlayStation 5 stock availability

  • Amazon – Currently out of stock with no date yet for restock.

  • GAME – Out of stock – no word yet on when restock can be expected.
  • Currys – Expecting more stock before end of the year.
  • Very – more stock expected ‘soon’, shoppers advised to regularly check the website for next drop.
  • John Lewis – no word yet on when the retailer is expecting to restock. The retailer also confirms online that “Unfortunately, PlayStation 5 consoles will not be available for purchase at our John Lewis & Partners shops or from our contact centres”
  • Asda – Expected to restock in December.
  • Tesco – no word yet on when the retailer is expecting to restock.





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Headlines UK Liverpool London

Crossrail is already paying 140 drivers up to £62,000-a-year

Crossrail is already paying 140 drivers up to £62,000-a-year to operate trains despite heavily-delayed line not opening to passengers for 18 months

  • The employees, who are working four days a week, are running tests in London
  • It comes despite ‘intensive trial running’, like line when it is open, not until 2021
  • The news will stoke anger after it was revealed Crossrail given extra £825million

Crossrail is paying 140 drivers up to £62,000-a-year to operate trains despite the heavily-delayed line not opening to passengers for another 18 months.

The employees, who are working four days a week, are running tests on the tunnels through central London and outside the capital.

It comes despite ‘intensive trial running’ – which will be like the line when it is fully open – not starting until next year.

The news will stoke anger after it was revealed this week Crossrail was given an extra £825million to prevent the delayed project from being mothballed.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the loan would help ‘get the project up and running’ following years of delays and spiralling costs.

The railway – which will run as the ‘Elizabeth Line’ from Berkshire to Essex via central London – was originally due to open in December 2018.

The project’s budget was set at £15.9billion in 2007 but has been hit by spiralling overspending since then and is now predicted to cost £18billion.

The employees, who are working four days a week, are running tests on the tunnels through central London

The news will stoke anger after it was revealed this week Crossrail was given an extra £825million to prevent the delayed project from being mothballed

The news will stoke anger after it was revealed this week Crossrail was given an extra £825million to prevent the delayed project from being mothballed

TfL said the train drivers are important for the tests and they were being ramped up as part of safety preparations.

The local government body said training the workers will take two years because it is being done from scratch.

As many as 435 drivers – excluding trainees, supervisors or people shielding from Covid-19 – can be used by Crossrail, new figures show.

But 295 are working on parts of the line currently running between Essex and Berkshire.

It leaves 140 that ‘are available for supporting dynamic testing of the new central operating section’, according to the Times.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a deal with Transport for London (TfL) that would see ministers stump up a £825million loan in order to complete the crucial middle section of the east-west route under the capital

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a deal with Transport for London (TfL) that would see ministers stump up a £825million loan in order to complete the crucial middle section of the east-west route under the capital

This had begun as two trains working simultaneously, but it is understood to have been increased to eight before being further ramped up before ‘trial running’ next year.

Crossrail drivers pay is fixed at £62,533 a year, union Aslef said, starting at £46,900 for the first year and £31,124 for trainees. A two per cent pay rise is set for April.

A TfL spokesman said: ‘All available drivers are driving TfL Rail trains on routes out of Paddington and Liverpool Street that will become part of the Elizabeth line, undertaking vital testing of the central section or training on other sections of the railway.’

An update from Crossrail Ltd at the end of August said the opening of the railway was now not expected until the first half of 2022.

Project leaders recently raised fears the entire scheme could be mothballed following a sharp drop in revenue for Transport for London (TfL) during the pandemic.

The railway - which will run as the Elizabeth Line between Berkshire and Essex via central London - was due to open in December 2018

The railway – which will run as the Elizabeth Line between Berkshire and Essex via central London – was due to open in December 2018

Andy Byford, the London transport commissioner, warned of the ‘Doomsday scenario’ in a letter to the Department for Transport last month.

Mr Shapps said the new loan shows ministers are ‘committed to getting Crossrail delivered’ and described it as a ‘far deal for taxpayers across the UK’.

Crossrail chief executive Mark Wild said: ‘Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages.

‘Good progress continues to be made with completing the remaining infrastructure works so that we begin intensive operational testing, known as trial running, at the earliest opportunity in 2021.

‘Many of the stations are now nearing completion and we will shortly commence an enabling phase for trial running which allows testing in the tunnels to be undertaken with an increased number of trains, further helping to build operational reliability.

‘We are doing everything possible to deliver the Elizabeth line as safely and quickly as we can.’

Categories
Birmingham Headlines UK London Manchester

Stratford-upon-Avon: Why are WE paying the price in Tier Three?


It is a winter of discontent in Shakespeare’s birthplace after Stratford-upon-Avon found itself in Tier Three despite low infection rates.

Pubs and restaurants in the historic market town had been busy putting up Christmas decorations and taking bookings when they got the bad news.

Although the Warwickshire town’s already low rates are falling still further, it has found itself lumped in with the rest of the county. Yet towns in nearby Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, with higher rates, are in Tier Two.

Marcos Torres, co-owner of three restaurants in Stratford, said he was ‘deflated and disappointed’. He and business partner Nigel Lambert were fully booked from next week – when they had expected to reopen. They have spent thousands on deep cleaning, plastic dividers and other Covid measures.

It is a winter of discontent in Shakespeare’s birthplace after Stratford-upon-Avon found itself in Tier Three despite low infection rates. Pubs and restaurants in the historic market town had been busy putting up Christmas decorations and taking bookings when they got the bad news. (Above, the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford) 

Marcos Torres, co-owner of three restaurants in Stratford, said he was 'deflated and disappointed'. He and business partner Nigel Lambert were fully booked from next week – when they had expected to reopen. (Abpve. Mr Torres's pub, the Vintner)

Mr Torres (above) and Mr Lambert have spent thousands on deep cleaning, plastic dividers and other Covid measures

Marcos Torres (right), co-owner of three restaurants in Stratford, said he was ‘deflated and disappointed’. He and business partner Nigel Lambert were fully booked from next week – when they had expected to reopen. They have spent thousands on deep cleaning, plastic dividers and other Covid measures. (Left, Mr Torres’s pub, the Vintner)

‘We were in Tier One before and cases are still very low so it was a huge shock to find out we were in Tier Three,’ he said. ‘It’s nonsensical really. A huge blow, not just for us but for the whole of Stratford-upon-Avon. People are really upset and angry.’

Stratford has an infection rate of 105.3 per 100,000. Among the over-60s the rate is even lower, at 74 per 100,000, while the hospitalisation rate is also low, with fewer than two people a day being admitted.

The town recorded 137 new cases in the week ending November 22 – a drop of 67.

At a more local level, the area of Stratford South East and Tiddington had just four cases – a rate of 48.2 per 100,000. But nearby Redditch in Worcestershire, with a rate of 240 cases per 100,000, is in Tier Two.

Mr Torres, co-owner of Lambs, The Opposition and the Vintner, said all they could do was hope to be put into Tier Two when they are reviewed in two weeks.

The Royal Shakespeare Company had planned to restart performances next month, welcoming audiences back for the first time since March. It had sold all the tickets but has also had to shelve its plans and make the production online-only.

Stratford MP and business minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘I understand the concerns raised by large numbers of constituents about why the restrictions in Stratford-upon-Avon are being affected by factors in areas further away from us than from our immediate neighbours, such as Worcestershire and Oxfordshire, both of whom will be moving into Tier Two next week.’

Nick Rowberry, owner of The Boathouse in Stratford, had organised staff rotas and started printing new menus.

‘Tier Three was really the worst-case scenario,’ he said. ‘We were absolutely gutted. We just stopped work and started contacting all the customers who had booked. It’s a bit of a joke – the infection rate is very low here. We spent a lot of money making sure we were Covid-safe and we had no cases here.

‘What they are basing it on is pretty flawed. A well-run restaurant or a well-run pub is much safer than a supermarket.’

A decision that’s unfit for a Queen

Hever in Kent was in Tier One before the country was plunged into lockdown. But despite having under three cases in the last week, it will re-emerge in Tier Three. Duncan Leslie, chief executive of Hever Castle (above), Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, said the decision was particularly ‘galling’ when infection rates are higher in neighbouring villages in Surrey and Sussex which are in Tier Two

Hever in Kent was in Tier One before the country was plunged into lockdown. But despite having under three cases in the last week, it will re-emerge in Tier Three. Duncan Leslie, chief executive of Hever Castle (above), Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, said the decision was particularly ‘galling’ when infection rates are higher in neighbouring villages in Surrey and Sussex which are in Tier Two

Hever in Kent was in Tier One before the country was plunged into lockdown. But despite having under three cases in the last week, it will re-emerge in Tier Three.

Laura Palmer, of Hever Residents’ Association, said the decision was a blow for a village so small that it has no shops or pavements where residents could catch the virus from each other.

Duncan Leslie, chief executive of Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, said the decision was particularly ‘galling’ when infection rates are higher in neighbouring villages in Surrey and Sussex which are in Tier Two.

Mr Leslie, 51, warned the castle, pictured – a huge tourist attraction which employs many villagers – will make a seven-figure loss this year.

Meanwhile, David Brant, landlord of the King Henry VIII pub, said: ‘All you can do is plan for it to be Tier One or Two, then when it’s Tier Three it’s horrible because you plan for the best case.’

Mr Brant, 40, added that his diary was ‘rammed’ with Christmas bookings that will now have to be cancelled.

Residents of Tiddington (above) who have faithfully complied with two national lockdowns find themselves marooned in Tier Two. This means friends cannot meet indoors, and pubs must stay shut unless they serve meals

Residents of Tiddington (above) who have faithfully complied with two national lockdowns find themselves marooned in Tier Two. This means friends cannot meet indoors, and pubs must stay shut unless they serve meals

Tarka the Otter town dead in the water

Tiddington isn’t just the setting for children’s classic Tarka the Otter. The north Devon market town has also been hailed as the healthiest place in Britain.

A study last year praised its low levels of pollution and good access to NHS services. A lot has changed since then, of course – but Tiddington, pictured, remains in relatively good health.

For most of this year there have been fewer than three cases of coronavirus there each week. That number rose to six in the second week of November, then dropped to five in the third week, for a rate of just 83 infections per 100,000.

Despite these encouraging figures, residents who have faithfully complied with two national lockdowns find themselves marooned in Tier Two. This means friends cannot meet indoors, and pubs must stay shut unless they serve meals.

Waitress Keeley Allin fears for her job at the Market Cafe. ‘We’re not going to be allowed to serve mixed households indoors. A lot of our trade is based on that. We will be open next week but we really have no idea how many customers we’ll get.’ The 24-year-old – who also happens to be the town’s mayor – warned that pubs would suffer the most. ‘Some will remain closed and you do wonder whether they will ever reopen… it’s very sad.’

Brian and Vicky Conrad, who set up their own guitar shop three months ago, fear Tier Two status will put off customers from travelling into the town centre.

‘All this time we’ve earned nothing,’ Mr Conrad said. ‘Big online retailers have scooped everything up and I fear this latest blow will destroy us.’

Mr Conrad, 51, decided to try selling guitars after the pandemic brought his career as an IT consultant to an abrupt end in March. ‘We’ve had a reasonable grant from the Government,’ he said. ‘It has kept us going through what should have been our best trading period. But we are now suffering the fallout because the Government didn’t respond properly in the first place.’

Mrs Conrad, 49, said: ‘It is just so sad. We felt we’d done everything right and were trying to find a new way to make a living. Now we are dead in the water.’

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown

The Bourne absurdity

The market town of Bourne had been living under the relative freedom of Tier One restrictions before the second lockdown.

And its population of around 14,000 saw only 21 new coronavirus cases last week.

But business owners and councillors in the Lincolnshire town were left horrified by the news that they will be moving into Tier Three next month.

The area, pictured above, is known for its natural springs and agriculture. It faces the same measures as the rest of the county which has high case numbers in the north.

However, Bourne locals point out they are just a few miles from Peterborough which has higher infection numbers per 100,000 yet will be in Tier Two when the country escapes lockdown.

Town councillor Brenda Johnson said: ‘Bourne is going to suffer for this, it’s absolutely crazy.’

How close is YOUR area to moving up or down the Covid tiers? Government graph shows how infection rates vary across England as officials say ‘continued improvement’ may mean parts of the North are de-escalated in the New Year

  • Public Health England graph shows sliding scale of infection rates with a clear divide between tiers
  • Warwickshire and Nottingham sinking out of Tier Three towards looser restrictions, the graphic reveals
  • And declining infection rates could mean Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and Lancashire also loosen rules
  • PHE said: ‘Continued improvement may make areas candidates for de-escalation in the New Year’
  • It comes after a row broke out last night about decision to put 99% of England into Tier Two or Three rules 

By Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter for Mailonline 

An official graph laying out coronavirus outbreaks across the country suggests there are parts of the North of England and Midlands that could be ‘de-escalated’ from Tier Two or Tier Three in January if they can continue to squash the disease. 

The chart, published last night by the Department of Health but produced by the secretive Joint Biosecurity Centre which pulls the strings behind local lockdowns, shows that some parts of the country are seeing the fastest falls in infection rate and health bosses are monitoring their ‘continued improvement’.

Although much of the north of the country and the Midlands will end up in the toughest Tier Three rules when England’s national lockdown ends on December 2, many areas may already be on the way to seeing economically-crippling rules loosened.

The graphs will undoubtedly fuel demands for No 10 to urgently re-assess the tiering structure, with Boris Johnson facing war with up to 70 of his own Tory MPs who are angry that their constituencies face rules that are too harsh. Only people in the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be allowed to socialise indoors in December.

It comes as SAGE today revealed the reproduction (R) rate of the virus has dropped again for the third week in a row and is now thought to be below one for the UK as a whole for the first time in three months. Another 16,022 positive coronavirus tests have been reported today by the Department of Health, marking the 12th consecutive day that the daily average has dropped, along with 521 deaths.

Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire are already close to dropping into Tier Two thanks to falling infection rates, the graphic suggests, with them appearing closer to the yellow Tier Two group than they do to Tier Three in red. Stratford upon Avon was one place that caused uproar when it was revealed to be in the toughest curbs because the infection rate there is only around half of the national average.

And the graphic shows rapid declines in cases in South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire could stand them in good stead in the coming weeks.

PHE’s report said: ‘This chart shows some decreases in weekly case rates in the north of England, and other areas where case rates are high but declining. Continued improvement over the coming period may make these areas candidates for de-escalation in the New Year.’

Meanwhile, Suffolk is one of the least affected areas in Tier Two and it could even be on course to enter the coveted Tier One, currently afforded only to Cornwall and the Isle of Wight.

A row broke out last night over the Government’s tiering decisions as MPs and members of the public in many Tier Three areas were outraged at having to face the harshest rules despite relatively low or improving infection rates.

The entire of Kent, for example, is being thrust into Tier Three despite high infection rates only in a handful of areas, while Stratford upon Avon is dragged into the toughest rules along with the rest of Warwickshire, even though coronavirus cases there are lower than average.

The Department of Health today announced the new lockdown tiers that England will be divided into when the national lockdown ends on December 2

The Department of Health today announced the new lockdown tiers that England will be divided into when the national lockdown ends on December 2

The graph, drawn up by the Joint Biosecurity Centre, works by comparing infection rates in the week that ended November 19 to those in the week to November 12.

Areas further to the right had higher infection rates in the most recent week, while those closer to the top had higher case rates the week before.

A larger circle dictates a higher rate of coronavirus cases among people who are 60 or older, which is one of the most important elements of judging an area’s outbreak. 

All the places with blobs above the diagonal dotted line saw their infection rates fall in the week between November 12 and 19. Those below the dotted line had an increase in infections – only Kent had a severe increase.  

HOW HAS THE R RATE CHANGED IN THE UK?

AREA

ENGLAND  

UK

EAST 

LONDON

MIDLANDS

NORTH EAST 

NORTH WEST

SOUTH EAST

SOUTH WEST 

THIS WEEK

0.9 – 1.0

0.9 – 1.0

— 

0.9 – 1.1

1.0 – 1.1

0.9 – 1.1

0.8 – 1.0

0.7 – 0.9

1.0 – 1.2

0.9 – 1.1

LAST WEEK 

 1.0 – 1.1

1.0 – 1.1

 

1.0 – 1.3

1.0 – 1.2

1.0 – 1.2

1.0 – 1.1

0.8 – 1.0

1.1 – 1.3

1.0 – 1.3

 

There are clear divides between the colours of different levels of restrictions on the graph, with noticeable gaps between each tier. 

Some outliers look as though they could already be in a tier too harsh, with Suffolk in yellow despite being grouped with the green, and Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire in red despite grouping together with yellow areas. 

And while some areas look as though they could be poised to drop through the ranks after lockdown lifts in the coming weeks, Cheshire, North Yorkshire and Shropshire currently sit at the top of the Tier Two section, meaning they could face tougher measures if their outbreaks grow any more.

However hard-hit Northern areas like the Humber, West Yorkshire, Tees Valley and Staffordshire, as well as Birmingham and Sandwell in the Midlands, do not look like they will be able to escape Tier Three measures any time soon.

Their infection rates remain high and the large circles on the graph indicate a lot of cases among elderly people, which will inevitably translate to more pressure on hospitals at the beginning of December. 

The Government’s local tier rules will come into force next Wednesday, December 2.

Lockdown rules generally last for a minimum of four weeks before being reviewed by ministers, but they could be reviewed as soon as December 16  and are expected to be interrupted by a period of relaxation over Christmas. 

Tougher measures may then be needed afterwards to stop people infected at Christmas from spreading it further. 

SAGE has warned the Government that coronavirus cases ‘could easily double’ over the Christmas period if people are allowed to do away with social distancing rules for a brief period.

Downing Street is expected to stick by its plans to release lockdown rules at Christmas, however, allowing people to form multiple-household bubbles, and also by the plans for the local tiers.

In other coronavirus news:

  • Britain’s R rate is now an estimated 0.9 to 1.0, which is the lowest estimate since the summer and means the country’s coronavirus outbreak is likely shrinking;
  • SAGE has warned that a short break in social distancing rules over Christmas could lead to a doubling of Covid cases afterwards;
  • Pub rules will be so strict in Tier Two areas that customers – who will only be allowed in if they are buying a ‘substantial meal’ – must leave as soon as they have finished their food and they won’t be permitted to keep drinking;
  • Chinese scientists are claiming the coronavirus originally came from India in summer 2019 and spread to humans because they drank from the same water as animals during a heatwave;
  • A top Government scientist said the MHRA has ‘enough’ data about how well Oxford’s vaccine works in order to be able to approve it for public use;
  • Downing Street reportedly asked for AstraZeneca to package its coronavirus vaccine doses with the Union Jack printed on them, but the PM’s office as since denied the claim;
  • All but three areas of England saw coronavirus infection rates decline in the week that ended November 22, Public Health England data show. 

The UK's coronavirus reproduction rate may have fallen below the crucial number of one. SAGE believes every region in England has an R below one except London and the South East, where it is hovering around the crucial number

A growing number of Tory MPs have been openly critical of the government's local lockdown tiers - although some have indicated they plan to abstain in a crunch vote next week rather than oppose the plan outright.

The UK’s coronavirus reproduction rate may have fallen below the crucial number of one (shown left), with SAGE estimating every region in England has an R below one except London and the South East, where it is hovering around the crucial number. A growing number of Tory MPs (listed right) have been openly critical of the government’s local lockdown tiers – although some have indicated they plan to abstain in a crunch vote next week rather than oppose the plan outright

In a round of interviews this morning, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick tried to cool tensions by stressing that there will be a review of the tier allocations on December 16, and they will then be looked at again every week.

‘It is possible. There will be a review point in 14 days’ time, around December 16. At that point we – advised by the experts – will look at each local authority area and see whether there is potential to move down the tiers,’ he told Sky News.

SAGE’S CHRISTMAS WARNING: CASES ‘COULD DOUBLE’ OVER BRIEF FESTIVE PERIOD

SAGE advisers have predicted Covid-19 cases could ‘easily double’ during the five-day Christmas pause in restrictions.

The SPI-M-O group – which advises the top scientists – warned last week that any gap in measures would lead to a jump in infections as people ‘go back to their “routine” networks’ after mixing with family over the festive period.

Britons from up to three different households will be allowed to mix indoors and stay overnight with each other between December 23 and 27.

But many scientists have warned this is likely to lead to an uptick in infections as close contact with those who are asymptomatic or in the early stages of infection leads to its spread.

They have pointed to the flu bump – which normally happens every year after people mix over the Christmas break.

The notes on the Christmas relaxation in measures were published today by the Department of Health, but are dated November 18.

They read: ‘Substantial mixing of people over a short period of time, especially those who do not make contact regularly during a month, represents a significant risk for wide-spread transmission.

‘Other respiratory infections suggest that exposure of elder family members to respiratory disease is increased during a normal festive period.

‘The prevalence could easily double during a few days of festive season, with further increases as new infections go back to their “routine” networks.’

The Government is considering imposing a 25-day lockdown after Christmas, giving five days of restrictions for every one day of relaxation to head off any further rise.

However, MPs have told MailOnline that health minister Helen Whately said on a conference call yesterday that there was little chance of any changes to the allocations before January. And government sources told The Times that it would need to wait until the impact of the ‘Christmas Bubble’ relaxation had become clear.

SAGE experts also cast doubt on the idea of shifts in two weeks, warning that would not be long enough to judge what impact the measures were having.

Mr Jenrick said the places that could be moved down were those that had been ‘finely balanced’ when decisions were made this week.

‘There were a number of places which were quite finely balanced judgments where they were on the cusp of different tiers. Those are the places that are more likely to be in that position,’ he said.

‘We have also got to bear in mind that there will be an opening over the Christmas period which is likely to drive some higher rate of infection if some people choose to go and meet family and friends on Christmas Day and the days surrounding it.

‘Our overall approach is trying to insure the tiers hold the line and that places are in a process of de-escalation. What we don’t want to do is ease up too quickly and then find that in January we are having to put tiers back in place again.

‘But there is every reason to believe that places could see a change at December 16-17 time.’

Areas of England that data suggested might face unfairly tough – or lax – rules under the new local system included parts of Greater Manchester and London, Kent, Stratford upon Avon and Derbyshire.  

Greater Manchester has been lumped into Tier Three despite many parts of the region having lower infection rates than London boroughs. Eight parts of Manchester have infection rates above the England average (204 positive tests per 100,000 people), compared to seven parts of the capital.

Trafford, for example, had a coronavirus infection rate of 164 cases for every 100,000 people in the week ending November 22. This had fallen by 47 per cent from a week earlier, marking the fourth fastest decline in the country.

Likewise, nearby Stockport saw its infection rate drop by 38 per cent from 319 per 100,000 to 198.

The two will be put into the Tier Three lockdown, despite having significantly lower infection rates than many parts of London, including Havering, where there were 319 cases per 100,000 in the most recent week.

Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Enfield all also had higher infection rates.

The Department of Health said in a document to justify its rules: ‘While there has been continued improvement in Greater Manchester, weekly case rates remain very high, especially amongst those aged over 60, at around 260 per 100,000 people. 

‘The pressure on the local NHS is decreasing in some areas but remains a concern; Manchester University hospital and Pennine Acute Trust remain under significant pressure.’

And on London it added: ‘Taken as a whole, the situation in London has stabilised at a similar case rate and positivity to other parts of the country in Tier 2.’ 

But NHS data also shows that hospitals appear to be busier in London than they are in Manchester.

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22.

In comparison, some of London’s major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King’s College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week.

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22. In comparison, some of London's major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King's College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22. In comparison, some of London’s major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King’s College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week

Above is the county of Kent alongside its varying infection rates. The highest levels are in Thanet, Swale and the separate county of Medway

Above is the county of Kent alongside its varying infection rates. The highest levels are in Thanet, Swale and the separate county of Medway

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195). Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they're over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195). Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they’re over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire

The Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours. Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling. In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively

The Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours. Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling. In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively

In Kent, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells were told they would be forced into a Tier Three lockdown despite low and falling rates of positive tests.

While they both recorded 120 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to November 21, they were included in a Kent-wide Tier Three lockdown driven by soaring case rates in nearby Swale, Medway and Thanet, where rates have surged to as high as 646 positive cases per 100,000 during lockdown.

The county’s MP, Damian Green, said in a tweet: ‘I’m hugely disappointed that the whole of Kent has been put into Tier 3. Before lockdown we were in Tier 1 so what has lockdown achieved?’

Meanwhile the Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours.

Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling.

In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively.

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195).

Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they’re over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

The Department of Health said pressure on hospitals in Warwickshire ‘remains high’. 

But South Warwickshire NHS Trust recorded an average of 81 per cent of its beds full in the most recent fortnight, putting it in the 20 least busy in the country. 



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