Evening Update Wednesday 13th December 2023

France's elite national police unit, Raid, carried out a series of early-morning raids on properties in the Las Planas district of Nice this morning. Several suspects were reportedly arrested in connection with recent violence in the neighbourhood, believed to be linked to drug gangs. The Nice public prosecutor has not given any further information yet.

A 12-year-old boy has been suspended from school in Cagnes-sur-Mer after bringing a fake weapon to class. The boy brought out the handgun, which looked like a real BB gun, during a lesson at Jules-Verne secondary school last Friday. It's reported that he brought the weapon to school to show off, without the intention of threatening anyone. The school principal was immediately alerted and the school's head of security was called out to the scene. The pupil will be summoned before the school's disciplinary council. The Grasse public prosecutor said it was aware of the incident but no charges had been filed at this stage.

Police have shut down an illegal cigarette factory in Toulon and arrested two men in their 20s. They seized more than 200 kilos of tobacco, several dozen packs of counterfeit cigarettes and €10,000 in cash. The two suspects were referred to the Toulon public prosecutor's office and released pending trial.

OGC Nice football supporters have been banned from travelling to their next away game against Le Havre this weekend. A decree signed by interior minister Gerald Damarnin prohibits anyone identifying as a Nice supporter from the city in Normandy from midnight on Saturday, for 24 hours. Kick-off is at 5pm. The decision comes after a Nantes football supporter died in an altercation during OGC Nice's last away game a fortnight ago.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has issued a correction after he wrongly claimed on social media that 5,000 migrants in the Alpes-Maritimes could have been evicted if France's draft immigration bill hadn't failed to pass parliament. Estrosi said he had mixed up the national and local figures - and the actual number of potential expulsions in the department was actually 50. The immigration bill was defeated in parliament earlier this week.

Meanwhile, an association in Nice that provides support to the people of Gaza has filed a complaint against Nice mayor Christian Estrosi after he claimed that the media had broadcast fake images of the suffering there. During an appearance on a France 3 television show on Sunday, Estrosi said the media had shown images of a mother crying with a dead baby that he said was a plastic doll. He was repeating a claim made by an Israeli news outlet, which has since deleted its article after it was proved wrong by the fact-checking teams at several global news organisations including France 24. The Nice to Gaza association said Estrosi's comments about the Gaza conflict were "unacceptable" and "dehumanising".

The mayors of 15 towns near the Franco-Italian border have adopted a motion pledging to keep up pressure for the railway line from Nice to Cunéo in Italy to be fully reopened. The section from Breil-sur-Roya to Tende has not run since Storm Alex in 2020, as major repair works are needed on the Col de Tende railway tunnel. The mayors say the line provides a vital link between the coast and Italy, with onward connections towards parts of northern Europe, and its survival is essential to ensure the communities it serves remain prosperous. They are also calling on the SNCF to increase the frequency of trains between Breil-sur-Roya and Nice. The 15 towns themselves have committed almost three quarters of a million euros to contribute towards modernisation works on the line from next autumn. The total cost of the project is €78 million.

Meanwhile, travelling on public transport around Cannes will become more expensive from January. A single ticket on the Palm Bus network will go up from €1.60 to €1.70 and a 10-journey pass goes up from €13 to €13.80. There'll also be a slight increase in annual season tickets. The operator said the price rise was necessary because of the rising cost of fuel and the need to invest in new, greener vehicles. It also reminded passengers that fares were frozen between 2018 and January of this year.

And the route for next spring's Paris-Nice cycle race has been unveiled at a ceremony in Versailles this week. It'll take place from 3rd to 10th March, with the three final stages in the Alpes-Maritimes. Cyclists will arrive in La Colle sur Loup on 8th March, before riding to Auron on the 9th, with the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice on the 10th. The race is being described by some as a rehearsal for next summer's Tour de France, which will also be finishing in Nice instead of the Champs Elysées in Paris, because of the Olympics.

BUSINESS

The UK economy shrank by more than expected in October, as higher interest rates squeezed consumers and bad weather swept the country. The economy fell 0.3% during the month, after growth of 0.2% in September. Household spending has been dented by rate rises as the Bank of England tries to tackle inflation. It is due to make its next rate decision on Thursday. Meanwhile, retail and tourism were hit by severe weather in October as storms lashed the UK. Most economists had predicted that the economy would shrink by just 0.1%, but the services, manufacturing and construction sectors all contracted. The UK economy has been stagnating and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to speed up growth. But no significant pick-up is expected until January 2025, by which time the next general election must be held.

And the World Bank has said that the economy of Gaza has ground to an almost total standstill as a result of the war between Israel and Hamas that has left about 85% of workers without jobs. In an assessment of the economic impact of the two-month-long conflict, the Washington-based development organisation said Gaza was operating at only 16% of its productive capacity and was in “deep recession”. The Bank announced that to help ease Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, it was providing $20m in new financial help, split evenly between food and medical supplies, which would be delivered via UN agencies.

SPORT

Cricket - England let a dominant position slip as they fell to a four-wicket defeat by the West Indies in the opening game of the T20 series in Bridgetown. Captain Jos Buttler and Phil Salt took the tourists to 77 without loss before England collapsed in the second half of the innings to be bowled out for 171. The West Indies also made a flying start to their innings and ended on 172-6, winning by four wickets. The teams now head to Grenada for the second T20 on Thursday, with the West Indies 1-0 up in the five-match series.

Tennis - Nick Kyrgios said he is "tired" and does not want to play tennis any more as he continues to recover from injury. The 28-year-old Australian missed all four majors in 2023 because of wrist, knee and foot injuries. On Saturday, Kyrgios said he will not take part in the Australian Open in January because of injury concerns. Kyrgios enjoyed the best year of his career in 2022, reaching his first Grand Slam singles final at Wimbledon and a career-high of 11 in the world rankings. But, he withdrew from the Australian Open in January with a knee injury before undergoing surgery for the issue. He then missed the French Open because of a foot injury and Wimbledon with a wrist ligament problem, which also forced him out of the US Open.

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