Evening Update Friday 27th January 2023

Just days after a family in Vence were taken to hospital suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, another similar incident has happened in the same town. This time two adults and five children were taken care of by paramedics on Thursday night. The family were taken to Pasteur hospital in Nice where they were placed in a hyperbaric chamber to re-oxygenate them.

The city of Nice has become embroiled in a corruption investigation by French judicial police, in connection with a vast real-estate project near Nice railway station. Police specialising in the fight against organised crime, and a magistrate from Paris, carried out searches on several offices in the city hall yesterday morning. They're investigating claims of corruption, abuse of power and forgery. A judicial investigation was opened last November into the awarding of a tender to build what's called Iconic - a 19,000-square-metre real-estate project in the city centre, including a hotel, offices and shops. Among the offices searched yesterday were those of three senior Nice officials who were members of the jury that awarded the public tender to build the Iconic complex. Investigators also raided the homes of four people in Paris, the Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, and the Riviera premises of a Parisian company connected to the project.

Three companies on the Côte d'Azur illegally offering the chance to swim with dolphins have been hit with fines totalling €26,000. The firms, which operated out of Mandelieu and Antibes, charged up to €300 per person to come up close to the sea mammals. They were found guilty of disturbing a protected animal species, and deceptive commercial practices. Since 2021, a French law bans deliberately coming with 100 metres of dolphins. The three companies in question had their boats seized by police last summer. Prosecutors were seeking a tougher sentence - a three-month suspended jail term for the firms' directors and the permanent confiscation of the company's boats. The companies affected by yesterday's ruling will still be able to use their boats, just for other leisure purposes. Their defence lawyer had argued in court that it's not the boats that come to the dolphins, but the dolphins that come to the boats. An environmental association, which lodged the legal complaint, received €4,500 in damages. 

Two accidents within a few minutes of each other caused traffic jams of up to 10 kilometres on the A8 motorway in Nice during this morning's rush hour. Two lorries collided near the Saint-Isidore tolls, with firefighters having to cut one of the drivers free from his cabin, while Italy-bound traffic was reduced to a single lane. Nearby, a 33-year-old motorcyclist collided with a car and had to be taken to Pasteur hospital in Nice, conscious but seriously injured.

A Toulon resident says she's lost everything after a fire destroyed her apartment in the city centre. Firefighters spent two hours putting out the fire in a fifth-floor apartment at a tower block on Rue Lazare Carnot. What caused the fire is still not clear. The apartment's resident, a woman in her 50s, wasn't there at the time. Toulon city hall says it will help her find alternative accommodation. Everyone in the building at the time was safely evacuated and no one was injured.

A plan to build a cable car over the Var river, linking Saint-Laurent-du-Var with the Centre Administratif in Nice, has been postponed until at least 2028. Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said extending the city's tram network had to take priority. Last week, he said several improvement projects would have to be delayed due to budgetary concerns. Cultural wellbeing, such as renovating museums and other venues, was the first area to be cut. Some opposition councillors in Saint-Laurent-du-Var - on both sides of the political spectrum - describe the cable car as an unnecessary project that shouldn't be going ahead in the first place.

France's national lottery operator has branched out into a new role - collecting people's rent payments. Starting this week, tenants in social housing run by Côte d'Azur Habitat can pay their monthly rent in instalments, when it suits them, by going to their local tabac. The Riviera is one of four regions in France experimenting with the new means of payment. Tenants download an app on their phone, which generates a QR code when their next rent is due. The code can be scanned at any Française des Jeux lottery terminal - and rent payments made by cash or card. The system was set up because many tenants on low incomes want full control over their budget and prefer not to have their rent deducted from their account by direct debit.

Last week's protests against French pension reforms were focused on four Riviera towns: Nice, Cannes, Toulon and Draguignan. Now a fifth town is planning to get involved on the next day of strike action, next Tuesday (31 January) - that’s Brignoles, in the Var. The local branch of the CGT trade union says many workers simply can't justify taking a whole day off work to travel to a far-away demonstration. It says smaller local protests are just as important.

Among the recent reports of overstretched hospitals and long waits, here's a positive outcome. Antibes hospital has just won a special award for its high quality of care. The hospital received a 97% satisfaction score in a recent poll of patients. It follows a visit by France's health authority last September. It spent four days monitoring how patients were treated, from A&E and maternity to routine medical visits.

BUSINESS

The head of the UK's biggest business group has said most bosses "secretly" want all of their staff to return to working in offices. Tony Danker, director-general of the CBI, said the "whole world of work" had "gone crazy" since the pandemic. Many companies have changed policies on remote working since Covid restrictions eased, with staff offered the chance to work from home and offices. Mr Danker said working patterns would be talked about "for a few years".

Illegal electric blankets are being sold online which could cause electric shocks, a British consumer group has warned. Which? found some of the products being sold are made "so poorly" they could pose "a serious risk". Meanwhile the charity Electrical Safety First says it found "highly dangerous" electrical products for sale by third party sellers online. It wants new regulations to bolster consumer protection. The cost of living crisis has seen a huge rise in the popularity of electric blankets as people try to minimise use of their central heating. Nine out of the 11 electric blankets, throws and shawls Which? bought from third-party sellers on AliExpress, Amazon, eBay and Wish should not be sold legally. The consumer champion group identified problems with how the products are made, the packaging, markings and instructions.

SPORT

Football - Sean Dyche is expected to be named as Everton's new manager, succeeding the sacked Frank Lampard. Dyche and former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa were the two main contenders after holding talks with Everton's hierarchy. Bielsa was initially understood to be the favoured choice of owner Farhad Moshiri but the former Burnley boss is now in pole position. The Toffees want their new manager in place before the weekend. Bielsa, 67, expressed reservations about taking over in mid-season and whether the squad would fit his high-intensity and physically demanding style. There were also doubts over the expensive package his appointment would require.

Meanwhile, in the fourth round of the FA Cup this evening Manchester City play Arsenal. Kick off is at 9pm French time. In Ligue 1 this weekend, AS Monaco are away at Marseille on Saturday and OGC Nice host Lille on Sunday.

Tennis - Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas has another chance to land his first Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov in the Melbourne last four. Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Khachanov, who was going for a maiden major final. Tsitsipas, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, eventually booked his place after recovering from Khachanov saving two match points in the third-set tie-break.

Meanwhile, nine-time champion Novak Djokovic steamrolled another opponent as he beat Tommy Paul to set up an Australian Open final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Serbia's Djokovic, 35, overcame a wobble in the opening set, re-establishing his authority to earn a 7-5 6-1 6-2 victory over the American.

And in local sport, Monaco's Hugo Nys has made it to the men's doubles final at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The Monegasque will play his first-ever Grand Slam doubles final on Saturday, partnered with Poland's Jan Zielinski. They're due on court at about 11am our time, against Australian wild cards Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler.

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