Evening Update Friday 9th February 2024

Authorities in Nice have opened an emergency response centre to keep a close eye on the bad weather that's affecting the Riviera today and tomorrow. The crisis centre began its work this afternoon. Based within Nice city hall, the aim is to coordinate all the relevant services - from the fire brigade to CCTV operators - and ensure a rapid response where needed. The official advice during this so-called Mediterranean episode is to limit your travelling, avoid underground car parks and cellars, tie down any loose outdoor furniture, stay away from coastal paths and listen out for advice on official social media channels, TV and radio.

In other local news, nine people have been arrested in a series of drugs raids by police in the Var. Officers seized 54 kilos of cannabis resin, cash and firearms including assault rifles, sub-machine guns and ammunition from several properties. The raids followed a lengthy investigation by the narcotics brigade within the Toulon judicial police force. The nine people were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and criminal conspiracy. They were taken into police custody and were due to be questioned by an investigating magistrate in court today.

The re-trial of a driver accused of killing a 16-year-old boy in Antibes while under the influence of drugs has been postponed until September. Noé died when he was run down in June 2022 by a 43-year-old driver who was speeding, drunk and under the influence of cocaine and ecstasy. The driver was initially jailed for involuntary manslaughter with aggravating circumstances, but walked free from prison after serving just a two-month sentence and paying €5,000 in bail. The lenient sentence led to a campaign, led by Noé's parents, to have the new crime of "road homicide" introduced into French law, with tougher sanctions for drivers who kill while under the influence. That was approved by France's National Assembly last month - and the re-trial in Grasse will be an interesting test case into how the new law is interpreted. The driver had been due to appear in court again next week, but the trial has now been delayed until the autumn for procedural reasons.

And a new project bringing together the mayors of French and Italian border towns on the Riviera has taken a step forward. Fifteen mayors from most of the Alpes-Maritimes border towns, including Menton and Tende, met their Italian counterparts in Imperia yesterday to begin work on setting up what's called a European territorial cooperation group. Called the Southern Alps Cross-Border Alliance, the group should be fully in place by the end of the year. The strengthened cooperation between French and Italian mayors will cover several dozen municipalities on either side of the Franco-Italian border, representing a total population of 100,000. Among the topics on the agenda include cross-border transport, the environment and water quality, access to healthcare and better promotion of bilingualism.

BUSINESS

Global cocoa prices have hit a new record high as dry weather hurts crops in West Africa. Cocoa prices on the New York commodities market reached a new all-time high of $5,874 a ton on Thursday. The cost of the key ingredient for making chocolate has now roughly doubled since the start of last year. Soaring cocoa prices are already filtering through to consumers and squeezing major chocolate makers.

UK supermarket giant Tesco has announced the sale of most of its banking arm to Barclays in a deal worth up to £1bn. The UK's largest retailer, which had been in discussions with other major lenders including HSBC and Lloyds over a deal, said all 2,800 staff at Tesco Bank would transfer to Barclays under the agreement over time. The sale only includes its banking operations in credit cards, loans and savings. Tesco Bank's wider financial services interests, including insurance, gift cards and cash machines, will remain with the supermarket.

SPORT

Athletics - Three-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce says she "owes" it to her family to retire after the 2024 Games. The 37-year-old, regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time, won the 100m title in 2008 and 2012. Jamaican Fraser-Pryce also won Tokyo 2020 Olympic relay gold, plus three of her 10 world titles, in a comeback after giving birth to her son in 2017.

Boxing - American Teofimo Lopez defended his WBO world light-welterweight title with a controversial unanimous points win over compatriot Jamaine Ortiz in Las Vegas. Lopez, 26, was seemingly outboxed over 12 rounds as two judges scored it 115-113 with one highly contentious scorecard of 117-111.

In the Premier League tomorrow Manchester City are at home to Everton in the lunchtime match. Fulham play Bournemouth, Liverpool are at home to Burnley, Luton face Sheffield United, Tottenham play Brighton, Wolves are at home to Brentford and Nottingham Forest play Newcastle.

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