Evening Update Tuesday 12th March 2024

A man has been jailed for five years for a car crash in a Monaco tunnel which killed a scooter rider last January. The victim, 54-year-old Hervé Algarra, worked as a valet at the Monte-Carlo Bay hotel and was returning home when he was struck at high speed by a drunk-driver behind the wheel of a 4x4 near the port of Monaco. He died at the scene. The car's driver was a Ukrainian man who had fled the country's war and had settled in Eze. He was heading into the principality to celebrate Orthodox Christmas with relatives. He was found guilty of aggravated manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, refusing to take a breathalyser test and driving without insurance. As well as the jail sentence, the court in Monaco ordered him to pay a €2,000 fine and he was banned from driving for five years. His defence lawyer considers the sentence to be too harsh and is considering an appeal. Hervé Algarra was the first of six people killed in road accidents in Monaco last year. The number of prosecutions for drink-driving in the principality has risen from 100 in 2022 to 130 last year.

Nice city hall has asked bike-sharing firm Pony to take immediate action to fix a defect which led to all 800 of its bikes being withdrawn from use as a precautionary measure. Pony had only launched in Nice a few weeks ago, after winning the contract, alongside Lime, to provide rental bikes in place of the city's former Vélo Bleu service. It emerged yesterday that Pony was suspending its service until further notice while it investigates a possible manufacturing fault with the batteries in its electric bikes. But the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, is angry that Pony has also withdrawn 200 manual push-bikes, which in theory are not affected by the safety recall. He warned that the city council could cancel its contract with Pony if it did not do everything possible to resolve the problem quickly and to put the manual bikes back into service. Until then, Pony's rival, Lime, which launched at the same time, is the only bike-sharing provider in the Nice region. It has 1,000 bikes available in 12 municipalities including Cagnes-sur-Mer, Vence and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Meanwhile, a countdown clock has been installed next to the I Love Nice sign, overlooking the Baie des Anges, as the city prepares to host the last stage of this summer's Tour de France. The finish line is on the Promenade des Anglais this year, instead of the traditional Champs-Elysées sprint finish, because of the Olympics. The timer is counting down the 130 days to go until the final stage of the race, a 34 km time trial from Monaco to Nice.

The chefs at half-a-dozen restaurants in the Alpes-Maritimes, the Var and Monaco have received a nod for the first time in this year's Paca edition of the prestigious Gault et Millau guide to fine dining. Chef Virginie Basselot at the Chantecler restaurant at the Negresco in Nice picks up a Gault et Millau gold award to add to her Michelin star. Justin Schmitt, at Château Eza in Eze village won a young talent award. There were also special mentions for pastry chef Marius Dufay at the Mirazur restaurant in Menton and chef Dominique Lory at the Grill in Monaco's Hôtel de Paris. In the Var, Gault et Millau praised the work of Sébastien Sanjou at the Relais des Moines in Les Arcs sur Argens, and Nicolas Rebrond at L'Ardoise d'Audrey et Nico in Saint-Maximin.
 
Saint-Tropez has become the latest seaside town in the Var to be awarded the 'Ports Propres' certificate for the cleanliness of its port. The certificate recognises ports around France that promote sustainable pleasure boat use, reducing waste and preserving biodiversity. Saint-Tropez is the fourth port in the Var to win the award, after Cavalaire, Sainte-Maxime and Cogolin. The awarded ports have a strict set of environmental standards that must be respected, and they are checked during routine audits.

And an organisation in Nice is putting on a series of concerts where tickets can be bought not with money - but with food. AnimaNice will give tickets to the performances to anyone who turns up with four non-perishable items to donate to local food banks. Tomorrow's concert, by a local jazz ensemble, is at 8.30pm at the Espace Grappelli in Cimiez. Other events, including activities for children, are being organised between now and 5th April at 16 AnimaNice centres dotted around the city. Last year the initiative collected 1.5 tonnes of food - and this year the organisation has doubled its target, with the hope of providing up to 8,000 meals to those in need.

BUSINESS

The social media network Reddit has revealed that it is seeking a valuation of about $6.5bn (£5bn) at its imminent flotation on the New York Stock Exchange. The company said in a corporate filing that it planned to raise up to $748m by selling 22m shares valued at between $31 and $34 each in the largest initial public offering of a social media network in four years. The news aggregation, content and discussion platform had confidentially filed for an IPO in 2021, but delayed its move because of economic conditions and a poor performance by technology stocks.

Chinese technology giant Xiaomi says it will start deliveries of its first electric vehicle this month - its first ever foray into the competitive automotive industry. The car's price is expected to be announced on 28 March. China's fifth-largest smartphone maker says it has 59 stores in 29 cities around the country to take orders. It comes as a price war intensifies between firms like BYD and Tesla in China, the world's biggest car market. The smartphone giant has said it will invest $10bn in its vehicles business over the next 10 years.

Unemployment has gone up in the UK, with the jobless rate unexpectedly rising, while pay growth has slowed, reflecting wider weakness in the economy. The unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked up to 3.9% in the three months to January from 3.8%, according to the Office for National Statistics. City economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged. The number of people claiming jobless benefits increased by 16,800 in February.

And for the first time in 32 years, the cost of vinyl records is being included in the calculations officials use to work out the rate at which prices are rising. A basket of goods is used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to calculate the rate of inflation and each year the list of more than 700 items is refreshed to reflect changing buying habits and ensure the figure is accurate. This year, vinyl, gluten-free bread, air fryers and edible sunflower seeds are among the 16 additions, while hand hygiene gel, rotisserie-cooked chicken, and bakeware are among the 15 items removed, as the impact of the pandemic recedes. Vinyl records have not been included in the measure since 1992, as CDs took their place.

SPORT

Formula One - Lewis Hamilton’s first Formula One world championship is the subject of legal action after Felipe Massa filed a lawsuit against Formula One, its ­governing body, the FIA, and the sport’s former supremo Bernie Ecclestone in London’s high court. Massa believes he is the rightful winner of the 2008 title he lost to Hamilton by a point. He says Renault staged a win for Fernando Alonso at the Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash. Ferrari’s Massa, leading at the time of Piquet’s smash, finished 13th, before losing the championship at the final round in Brazil. Lawyers acting on Massa’s behalf want the FIA to acknowledge it “breached its regulations by failing to promptly investigate” Piquet’s crash.

Football - The Premier League has failed to secure agreement for a new financial settlement for English football amid a continued stalemate between its clubs. A planned vote at a shareholder meeting on Monday afternoon was scrapped after it became clear it would not win support from the required majority of 14 clubs. The meeting is likely to have been the last opportunity to agree the proposed £836m deal before the government introduces legislation to establish a new football regulator. A separate resolution on elements of the Premier League's future financial system was overwhelmingly backed, with 19 clubs voting in favour. Under the new system, the Premier League's profitability and sustainability rules are set to be replaced as early as this summer by a new system of financial regulation. The Premier League has been looking at a model enabling clubs to spend up to 85% of their revenue on squad costs, with a sliding scale of penalties in place where clubs exceed that ratio. The new rules will not affect ongoing cases regarding Everton, Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, who will all continue to be judged on existing financial models.

Finally, in the Champions League this evening Arsenal are at home to FC Porto and Barcelona play Napoli.
 

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