Evening Update Thursday 14th December 2023

Private hire car drivers have been protesting in Nice today, bringing major traffic delays to the city centre. Mini-cab and Uber drivers took part in a go-slow protest along the Promenade des Anglais this morning and blocked access to Nice airport. They're calling for a major reform of taxi and private hire car regulation on the Côte d'Azur. The demonstration comes just days after taxi drivers also staged protests in Nice and several other French cities.

A man's been arrested for strolling around the centre of La Seyne, in the Var, threatening passers-by with a butcher's knife. The man in his 50s was visibly drunk and made racist remarks to several people in the street on Tuesday evening. Three people alerted local police who quickly intervened. No one was injured.

Meanwhile, a man has been arrested outside a secondary school in Toulon for walking around with a fake weapon. Passers-by alerted the police to his suspicious behaviour on Wednesday. The individual was taken into custody.

A town councillor in La Seyne sur Mer who was violently assaulted at a demonstration in June is planning to appeal after his attackers were handed a simple fine instead of being jailed. Hakim Bouaksa was signed off work for a month with injuries to his face, neck and a broken arm while taking part in an unauthorised demonstration against the far right. Two men in their 20s were handed a suspended fine of €5,000 and two others were acquitted. Prosecutors had asked for an up to 18-month suspended jail sentence.

A nurse in Nice has appeared in court accused of defrauding the French health insurance system to the tune of €300,000. Prosecutors believe the 31-year-old wrongly billed for home visits during the Covid pandemic that were never carried out, or billed multiple times for the same visit using the names of different nurses. At a court hearing this week, her trial was postponed until January. She remains in pre-trial detention.

Nice city hall says it's considering the feasibility of applying rental controls to properties in the city, similar to measures already in place in Paris, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Montpellier. It comes after a campaign group submitted a petition urging Nice to take action to cap soaring rents. Recent figures show rents in Nice have grown by 6% in the past year - the biggest increase in any major French city - with an average monthly rent of €19 per square metre. Nice city council says a taskforce will be set up to look into the issue. The local estate agents' federation, Fnaim 06, fears rental controls would dissuade some property owners from renting out their homes, thereby leading to reduced supply.

Nice's shared bicycle network, Vélo Bleu, will disappear early next year, to be replaced by two private operators. The new providers will be Lime and Pony, both of which operate bike and scooter sharing schemes in a number of European cities. The Vélo Bleus will be taken out of service on 1st February to make way for the new bikes, which will be what's called "free-floating" - that means they won't have fixed docking stations. The bikes will be available in Nice, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Other towns including Carros and Vence will join the scheme shortly after.

Nice university hospital is offering a free lung cancer screening for anyone in the area aged over 50. Nice CHU has become a leader in France in research and treatment of respiratory diseases. Every year, more than 50,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in France. Pasteur 2 hospital in Nice is one of only a handful of places in France offering lung cancer screening without charge. The appointment lasts about an hour and a half and includes a detailed health questionnaire, breath test and chest scan.

The town of Hyères, in the Var, is installing a network of CCTV cameras to try to put a stop to a surge in illegal dumping of waste. The council has six full-time staff whose job is to tackle cases of flytipping and attempt to trace and prosecute those responsible. Three cameras have already been purchased and will be strategically placed at popular dumping grounds. The mobile cameras have motion detectors and can automatically send a short clip of any suspicious activity to the municipal officers. Fines can range from €100 to €400 depending on the amount of rubbish that's dumped.

And British Airways has announced it's returning to Nice airport for the first time since the Covid pandemic. BA's subsidiary, CityFlyer, will operate a regular route from Nice to London Stansted from May next year. It'll fly twice a week, taking off from Nice at 11.20 on Saturday morning and 8.35 on Sunday morning.

BUSINESS

The UK's payments watchdog has proposed a cap on fees that credit card firms such as Mastercard and Visa charge retailers for payments between the EU and the UK. The Payment Systems Regulator says the fees, which can get passed on to consumers, cost UK firms an extra £150m to £200m last year. It said Mastercard and Visa had raised fees to an "unduly high level" since Brexit. However, the firms disputed this, with Visa saying a cap was "not justified". The European Union has a cap on so-called "cross-border interchange fees", but this no longer applies to the UK.

The former boss of BP will forfeit more than £32m in actual and potential pay for misleading its board about workplace relationships, the company has announced. It comes after Bernard Looney stepped down as the oil giant's chief executive in September following allegations he failed to fully disclose details of romances with colleagues. The figure is believed to be the largest amount ever forfeited by a former chief executive in the UK.

SPORT

Football - Paris St-Germain scraped through to the Champions League knockout phase after securing a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund. PSG's spot was secured by Milan fighting back to win 2-1 at Newcastle. Dortmund finished top of Group F with 11 points, while PSG join them in the pot for Monday's draw after ending up with eight points.

Cricket - Australia all-rounder Cameron Green has revealed that he has chronic kidney disease. The 24-year-old was diagnosed with the condition at birth, with doctors telling his parents there was a chance he may not live beyond the age of 12. Green has since gone on to play in all three formats for Australia and was in the squad for their recent World Cup win. Green said his kidney function is currently at about 60%, which puts him at stage two with stage five being the most severe.

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