Evening Update Thursday 12 December

Traffic was severely disrupted by demonstrations in the area of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice and Nice Cote d’Azur airport this morning. The Promenade was blocked in both directions for almost two hours. The road was re-opened to traffic just after 12.00. According to the prefecture, about 600 people were involved. Unions put the number at between 2,000 and 3,000. Nationally, unions have vowed to continue the nationwide strike as they dismissed the prime minister’s proposals on changing the pensions system. Unions have announced a day of national strike action on Tuesday 17th December following French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s speech and press conference yesterday in which he outlined proposed pension reforms. Those opposing the reforms accuse President Emmanuel Macron of trying to roll back France's costly but highly cherished welfare state. Services are still disrupted today in the region as the indefinite strike continues in the transport sector.

The recent ban on tap water has been extended. Following a press release published by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) as a precautionary measure the authorities have extended the ban in several communes including Valbonne, Sophia Antipolis, Grasse and the surrounding area. Members of the public had been warned not to consume tap water following the recent floods and the possible presence of a parasite. While tests are being continued authorities have strongly advised that members of the public consume bottled water or boil the tap water before use.

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for an attack on three soldiers in Nice in 2015. Moussa Coulibaly had drawn a knife and attacked the soldiers who were patrolling outside a Jewish community centre. At the time, France was on a state of high alert following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, which had occurred less than a month before, and 10,000 soldiers had been deployed across France to protect sensitive sites.

The Monegasque government has announced plans to invest 11.5 million euros to boost the train service to and from the Principality. The plan aims to improve the current TER service and encourage people to travel by train.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has announced the installation of fifteen emergency call stations in the city. The safety devices installed in the city centre allow members of the public to alert police in the case of an emergency.

Two mobile phone masts in Vidauban have been damaged by fire leading to the loss of signals on some networks in the area.  The towers are owned by SFR but are also used by Bouygues Telecom. The fires are thought to have been set deliberately last night and police enquiries are continuing.

Firefighters performed a controlled burn of undergrowth near Tourettes sur Loup earlier today. The plume of smoke was visible from Nice and the nearby coast and gave rise to speculation of a forest fire, but in fact the controlled fire was part of a training exercise by the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service.

The International University of Monaco has officially inaugurated its new premises in the Stella building.  His Serene Highness Prince Albert II was present at the ceremony along with many local officials. The University occupies some 2000 m² of floor space in the building in the Condamine district and has been resident in the new premises since last August. 650 students are currently enrolled on programmes at the University, with the aim of increasing that number to 800 within the next few years.

 

BUSINESS

The European Central Bank has kept its policy rates unchanged at the first monetary policymaking meeting under its new president Christine Lagarde. The ECB has been trying to stimulate the eurozone economy by keeping interest rates at record lows and by restarting quantitative easing. Ms Lagarde said that “in the light of the subdued inflation outlook, the Governing Council reiterated the need for monetary policy to remain highly accommodative for a prolonged period of time."

Turkey’s central bank has today cut its benchmark interest rate more than expected. This morning its monetary policy committee announced a reduction of 2 per cent, bringing the one-week repo rate down to 12 per cent. The bank had already cut rates by 10 per cent since July.

In the UK, Ocado Retail, the joint venture between Ocado Group and Marks and Spencer, has reported rising revenues after what it called a "strong quarter". Retail revenues rose 10.8% in the 13 weeks to 1 December, with average orders per week up 10.4%. M&S products will replace those of Waitrose on the Ocado website next year.

Construction company Balfour Beatty has said its order book at the end of the year is expected to be more than £14bn compared to £12.6bn last year. The new figure doesn’t include HS2 contracts "which will only be included when the full project is given notice to proceed". The firm expects full-year revenue to be 5% higher than last year.

 

SPORT

Cricket... It’s been day 1 of the first Test between Australia and New Zealand in Perth. Australia won the toss and decided to bat. The hosts posted 248-4 with New Zealand yet to bat.  And it's been day 2 of the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi. Play was delayed by rain with Sri Lanka on 222-5 in the first innings.

Football… Liverpool are planning to make a move for Red Bull Salzburg winger Takumi Minamino in January, according to UK media reports. The Japan international has scored nine goals in 22 appearances for Salzburg this season and provided 11 assists. Red Bull Salzburg have confirmed that talks between the two clubs are taking place.

Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters has been given the job on a permanent basis. He’s been in temporary charge since the departure of Richard Scudamore in November 2018.

Olympics…. Paris 2024 Olympic organisers have said the surfing competition will take place in Tahiti. The Pacific island is about 9,000 miles from France but was chosen in preference to beaches in south-west France and in Brittany.  The move is subject to validation from the International Olympic Committee. Surfing makes its debut as an Olympic sport at the Tokyo games next year.

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