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Riviera and French News Tuesday 17th January 2017

UPDATE 18:00

Cold - Last night was the coldest night in Nice in four years, with temperatures plummeting to -1 degree. Inland, temperatures were even lower at -6 degrees. The coldest night ever recorded in Nice was -7.2d back in 1985. To prevent power cuts during the cold spell, the Electricity Board is asking people to heat rooms to 19d, close blinds and shutters to keep the heat in, and if possible let the washing machine run overnight. Authorities also remind you to check on any elderly neighbours to make sure they are OK. Meanwhile, Corsica has been placed on an Orange Weather Alert, with schools closed due to heavy snowfall and heavy goods vehicles banned from the roads.

Monaco - After four years of negotiations, the town of Eze is set to agree to the sale of a parcel of land to the Principality of Monaco. Under a signed lease agreement, Monaco will become the owner of land at Brasca, located between the exit of the A8 motorway and the A500. The Mayor of Eze describes the sale as a boon for town, where the funds will be spent on several public facilities, including a new hall, a new school and underground parking.

Brexit - People drawing UK pensions on the Riviera have expressed concerns over Theresa Mays announcement that Britain will go for a full split from the European Union. Already, since the Brexit vote, the value of sterling has tumbled, cutting the value of pensions by as much as 30%. Ms Mays speech was also criticised by ex-pats for not guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, which would ensure the status of British citizens living here.

BUSINESS

Rising air fares and food prices have helped push inflation in the UK to its highest rate since July 2014. In December, the Consumer Price Index rose to 1.6%, up from 1.2% in November. Separate producer price inflation figures, show the price of goods bought from factories rose 2.7% in December, compared with a year ago, as manufacturers started to pass on higher input costs following the fall in the pound.

British American Tobacco has agreed a 49.4 billion dollar deal, to buy the outstanding 58% of shares it does not already own, in US rival Reynolds. The merger will create the world's largest listed tobacco firm, including well-known brands Lucky Strike, Rothmans, Dunhill and Camel. BAT estimates that it can make $400m worth of cost-savings through the merger.

One of Donald Trump's closest advisers has said that if China chooses to retaliate, when the Trump administration imposes tariffs on imports, it will cost them way more than it would cost the US, and that the US would win any trade war China wishes to raise. The comments came just after China's President warned that no-one would win in a trade war.

SPORT

Tennis - At Melbourne, defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the second round of the Australian Open by beating Spain's Fernando Ver-dasco in straight sets. World number nine Rafael Nadal is also though with a commanding display against Germany's Florian Mayer beating him 6-3 6-4 6-4. Britian’s Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund have all won their matches and join Andy Murray and Dan Evansmake as the five British players in the Australian Open. It’s the first time Britain has had five players in the second round since 1987.

Rugby - It’s been confirmed Alun Wyn Jones is to take over from Sam Warburton as Wales captain for the Six Nations. Warburton's six-year run as captain ended as coach Rob Howley named seven uncapped players in his 36-man squad, including Leicester fly-half Owen Williams, Wasps flanker Thomas Young and Newport Gwent Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt.

Golf - Rory McIlroy has pulled out of the Abu Dhabi Championship because of a rib injury. The Irishman had tests on Monday after complaining about back pain during the South Africa Open, which he narrowly lost after a play-off. His next scheduled tournament is the Dubai Desert Classic in the first week of February.

UPDATE 07:00

Weather Alert - Corsica has been placed on an orange weather alert. Schools remain closed today due to heavy snowfall and icy weather conditions and heavy goods vehicles have been banned from circulating on the roads.

Cold Spell - With the current cold spell expected to reach its peak today in the region the French electricity board has asked for customers to limit their energy consumption. Failure to do so could mean running the risk of power cuts. The public is reminded to completely shut down electronic devices when not in use, lower the temperature of your radiators by one or two degrees before leaving home and to close all blinds and shutters to keep the heat in. 

Survey - According to a recent survey carried out by Movehub Toulon has ranked 11th out of 34 French cities where active young people would like to settle down in 2017. Toulon ranked behind Bordeaux, Aix en Provence, Lyon and Marseille Nice came 5th.

National

Election Polls - Former economy minister Emmanuel Macron is gaining  momentum on a strong pro-EU platform. According to a poll Macron is steadily gaining ground on Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen. The recent survey shows he would comfortably beat Le Pen in a second round, in which he is only slightly ahead of Fillon.

Speed Camera’s - France’s Interior Minister has revealed a new design for road signs warning of potential speed cameras. The most useful aspect of the new signs is the inclusion of a reminder of the legal speed limit on that stretch of road, which for foreign drivers is often hard to remember.

Business

The British Prime Minister Theresa May is to make a major speech on Brexit today during which she’s expected to say that the UK will not retain “partial membership” to the EU once it leaves. Mrs May is expected to spell out to other European countries that the UK wishes to trade with them as freely as possible but will not be “half-in and half-out”. The speech is expected to hint that the UK is planning to leave the single market and customs union. The government has said that intends to trigger Article 50 to start formal negotiations to leave the EU by the end of March. EU leaders have said that the UK can’t “cherry pick” access to the single market while restricting the free movement of people.Mrs May has suggested that curbing immigration is her major priority.

Rolls-Royce has agreed to pay 671 million pounds to settle bribery and corruption cases with UK and US authorities. The aerospace giant will pay 497 million pounds plus costs to the UK Serious Fraud Office  and 170 million dollars to the US Department of Justice. The SFO started investigating claims of wrongdoing overseas by Rolls-Royce in 2012.Some of the allegations dated back more than 10 years. Some of the allegations involved the firm’s “intermediaries”-local companies that handle sales,distribution,repair and maintenance in countries where Rolls-Royce doesn’t have enough staff on the ground.

And-Oil prices have been mixed so far today after Saudi Arabia said that it would strictly adhere to a commitment to cut output. US West Texas Intermediate was up slightly earlier today at 52 dollars 45 while Brent Crude was down 14 cents at 55 dollars 72. Analysts say that markets are broadly positive about Saudi Arabia’s position but there remains scepticism that oversupply will be curbed.

Sport

Tennis-It’s day 2 of the Australian Open in Melbourne and so far today there have been first round wins for the 3rd seed Milos Raionic,the 25th seed Gilles Simon and the 32nd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber. In the women’s event the second seed Serena Williams is through to round two as are the British 9th seed Johanna Konta and the 9th seed Dominka Cibulkova. Heather Watson of Great Britain took the first set against Sam Stosur and in the men’s event Kyle Edmund took the first two sets against Santiago Giraldo.

Formula 1-Mercedes have confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will replace Nico Rosberg and drive alongside Lewis Hamilton next season. The 27 year old Finn leaves Williams and has signed a one year deal with Mercedes with the option for more. Felipe Massa has cancelled his retirement to step back into Williams as replacement for Bottas while the young German driver Pascal Wehrlein,who was passed over by Mercedes in favour of Bottas will join Sauber. Nico Rosberg is taking an ambassadorial role with Mercedes.

Football-The former Manchester United and Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal says that he’s retiring from coaching after a 26 year career. Van Gaal has been out of work since being sacked by United after winning the FA Cup last season.He says he’s decided it’s the right time to stop.

Rugby Union-The England head coach Eddie Jones says that he thinks Dylan Hartley will be fit to captain the side despite serving a 6 week ban for striking an opponent. Hartley hasn’t played since the 9th of December but will be available for selection for the first 6 Nations game against France at Twickenham on the 4th of February. Jones says that  Hartley has been “training the house down” and he expects him to be “ready to go”.

Racing-The jockey Brian Fletcher has died at the age of 69. Fletcher won the Grand National 3 times including twice on the legendary Red Rum.He also won the Scottish National in 1974 and finished as runner up to champion jockey Josh Gifford.

Weather

Clear skies with light to moderate variable winds.

Top temperature 9 degrees Celsius.

Overnight lows of 3 degrees on the coast and -3 degrees inland with a widespread frost.

Wednesday and Thursday-Clear skies with a high of 11 degrees tomorrow,warming up a little on Thursday with a high of 13-14 degrees.

Finally

Coastguards sent to investigate reports of cries for help discovered the cause was two loved up - owls .

A well-meaning member of the public contacted the emergency services fearing a couple were in distress.

But after a thorough search of the area, all the team could find were two 'amorous' owls who were busy twit-twooing.

The rescue team  in Devon took it all in good spirits saying, "Cue all the owl puns ...frankly we couldn't give two hoots."