Evening Update Friday 9th December 2022

Crime in the Alpes-Maritimes is in sharp decline. That's according to the latest official figures presented by interior minister Gérald Darmanin on a visit to Nice and Cannes earlier this morning. According to the stats, over the past three months, incidents of theft and violence are down by 10% and violence on public transport is down by 40%. That's in sharp contrast to the national figures, which show a 16% increase in violence. Darmanin confirmed that two new gendarmerie brigades would be set up on the Alpes-Maritimes. Exactly where remains to be determined - and the decision will be based on where they're most needed. There will also be a reinforced presence of gendarmes on the Riviera next summer, with dozens of new recruits currently undergoing training.

A man has been remanded in custody after a homeless man was found dead in an underground car park in Toulon. A murder investigation has been opened. The man's lifeless body was found in the Lafayette car park in central Toulon in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, a 50-year-old man has been detained in connection with a savage attack in Nice that killed a 36-year-old father of two. The attack happened on Rue Antoine Véran at about 3pm on Monday. The victim was struck in the face with a petanque ball and stabbed in the stomach. He died in hospital later that day. An investigating judge has been assigned to the case. The suspect has been charged with murder.

Police are appealing for a couple to come forward, who provided assistance to a motorcyclist involved in a fatal accident in Hyères. A 21-year-old biker died in the accident on the Route de Nice on Tuesday evening. The driver of a white car, which is believed to have been involved, is still being sought by police. Investigators would like to speak to two people who stopped to help the victim and contacted the emergency services.

The Monegasque government has urged public transport users in the principality to wear a mask again. Masks are strongly recommended on Monaco's bus network and on trains. The government said the recommendation was not just to protect each other against coronavirus, but also flu and brionchiolitis, all of which are spreading rapidly at the moment.

Newly published accounts show 2021 was a painful one for the casinos in Cannes. Casinos around France were closed until mid-May last year, and afterwards required visitors to show their health pass to gain entry. Gross revenue from gambling fell by almost 30%. Attendance figures were down by almost half.

Polygone Riviera shopping centre is doing its bit to save energy during the current crisis. Store management, individual shopkeepers and the mayor of Cagnes-sur-Mer have signed a charter committing to take a range of small steps which, when added together, should significantly reduce energy consumption. They include a 40% reduction in car park lighting, no hot water in the toilets, and the switching off of all store lights outside opening hours. It's a big task for a shopping complex that sprawls 70,000m² and has 150 different stores.

The Route de Casterino in the Roya valley has finally reopened. The road connecting the hamlet of Casterino with Tende had been cut off two years ago by Storm Alex. The repair works cost €25 million. The mayor of Tende hopes the return to normal will give a boost to local tourism this winter and next summer.

A seven-year-old girl from Burundi who received life-saving heart surgery in Monaco is now well enough to return home to her family. Beniella, who suffers from a rare heart condition, received treatment at the Cardio-Thoracic Centre in the principality this spring - and is now coming to the end of six months of convalescence with a foster family in Antibes. She had first flown to the Riviera in 2020, with support from the Rencontres Africaines charity, but her surgery had to be postponed due to Covid. Beniella will be reunited with her family in Burundi next Monday. Her ambition when she grows up is to be a doctor.

BUSINESS

The British government has announced what it describes as one of the biggest overhauls of financial regulation for more than three decades. It says the package of more than 30 reforms will "cut red tape" and "turbocharge growth". Rules that forced banks to legally separate retail banking from riskier investment operations will be reviewed. Those were introduced after the 2008 financial crisis when some banks faced collapse. The package of changes is being presented as an example of post-Brexit freedom to tailor regulation specifically to the needs and strengths of the UK economy. However, critics say it risks forgetting the lessons of the financial crisis. Between 2007 and 2009 the then Labour government spent £137bn of public money to bail out banks.

The British branch of Santander has been fined £107.8m over "serious and persistent gaps" in its anti-money laundering controls which opened the door to "financial crime". The financial watchdog said the bank "failed to properly oversee and manage" systems aimed at verifying information provided by business customers. Santander also failed to properly monitor the money customers had going through their accounts. The bank said it was "very sorry" for the failings and had taken action.

SPORT

The US and Russia have exchanged jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, held in an American prison for 12 years. President Joe Biden said Griner was safe and on a plane home from the United Arab Emirates. Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing cannabis oil and last month she was sent to a penal colony.

Cricket - Pakistan leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed took a sensational seven wickets on debut to bowl England out for 281 on the first day of the second Test in Multan. The hosts closed the first day on 107-2, 174 behind. England, 1-0 up in the three-match series, are chasing a first Test series win over Pakistan outside of the UK for 22 years.

WORLD CUP

It's “Fabulous Friday” at the World Cup with the kick off of the quarter final stage. After Croatia-Brazil, it's the turn of the Netherlands to play Argentina this evening with an 8pm kick off. Meanwhile, Brazil’s coach has said that he will not apologise to those who "do not know Brazilian history and culture" after criticism of his players for dancing after scoring goals at the World Cup. Tomorrow will of course see the other quarter final matches with Morocco playing Portugal at 4pm. The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) has denied that Cristiano Ronaldo threatened to leave the World Cup. Portuguese publication Record claims the forward, 37, made the threat after being told he would not start their last-16 game against Switzerland. In the previous game against South Korea, the Portugal captain reacted angrily when he was substituted.

Also tomorrow in the World Cup Quarter final action, England play France with an 8pm kick off.

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