Evening Update Wednesday 13th March 2024

Police officers and municipal workers have carried out a major clean-up operation in the Les Moulins housing estate in Nice. The operation yesterday had two goals: to clean the streets of one of the city's most deprived neighbourhoods, while also keeping up the fight against drug trafficking. Police hope that by removing ugly abandoned waste, residents in Les Moulins will feel more comfortable and proud of their neighbourhood. Abandoned items such as furniture are also often used by drug traffickers as projectiles to target police. While the municipal street cleaners got to work clearing tonnes of waste, police used the opportunity to carry out identity checks on people loitering.

The funeral has been held for a 44-year-old woman in Cagnes-sur-Mer who died at her home in what prosecutors are treating as a suspected case of femicide. Her partner, with whom she lived, was arrested and immediately placed in pre-trial detention on 26 February. Known to friends and locals by her nickname Gigi, the victim worked as a caregiver at Saint-Jean clinic in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The Grasse prosecutor's office is investigating the circumstances of her death. According to the Nous Tous collective, 31 women have died since the beginning of the year at the hands of a violent spouse or ex-partner.

Meanwhile, a man is in police custody in Fréjus after firefighters discovered his wife's dead body in Saint-Raphaël in the early hours of yesterday morning. The Belgian couple, in their 60s, were renting a holiday home on the Riviera. Initial reports suggest the husband called emergency services. The woman's body showed signs of bruising and traces of blood were found in the bedroom. Forensics experts were sent to the scene and the Draguignan public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation.

A teenage boy has been airlifted to hospital after suffering serious injuries while skiing at Isola 2000 yesterday lunchtime. The 15-year-old was taken to Pasteur 2 hospital in Nice with multiple injuries to his arms and shoulders.

Residents in Coaraze, in the Paillon valley, have been warned it could take months before the main road to access the village can be used again. A landslide cut off the RD15 on Tuesday morning, with two homes evacuated because of the imminent danger of further rockfall. Locals can now only reach the village by taking a detour via Lucéram, which adds more than an hour to their journey time. Several local school pupils now find themselves living on one side of the blocked road, with their school on the other side. The mayor of Coaraze says work to secure the rockface could take anywhere between three and six months. Locals have set up a Facebook page to offer help to each other, such as carpooling, shopping and fetching medicine.

The Marseille public prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into alleged corruption relating to several major reconstruction projects following Storm Alex. Three construction firms in the Vésubie valley are suspected of invoicing public authorities for work that had not been carried out, or had been done poorly. The bosses of three firms were taken into police custody yesterday for questioning. They won €19 million in emergency public contracts to rebuild parts of the local road network that had been damaged by the devastating storm in 2020. The Nice metropolitan region spotted anomalies during an internal audit of its accounts at the end of 2022. It's estimated that almost half of the total budget, some €8 million, may have gone to waste. The Nice metropolitan authorities have registered as a civil claimant in the case.

Nice city council has voted to freeze several local taxes this year. Approving its budget for the coming year this week, the council confirmed that there would be no rise in the taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation property taxes for individuals, or on the property tax for businesses.

And a dozen major hotels on the Côte d'Azur have organised a recruitment day with a difference, to try to fill vacancies for seasonal workers this summer. Instead of asking for a CV and covering letter, today's event at the Novotel in Nice saw candidates put in real-life scenarios and scored based on how well they performed. Examples included changing the sheets in a hotel bedroom, or welcoming a family with a small child at the reception desk. Hotels and restaurants need thousands of extra staff for this year's peak season, which is expected to be exceptionally busy thanks to events ranging from the Cannes film festival and Monaco grand prix to the final of the Tour de France and six Olympic football matches.

BUSINESS

Google has confirmed it is restricting the types of election-related questions users can ask its Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot Gemini. In a blog post, it said the policy had been rolled out in India, which will hold elections starting in April. It comes as the firm aims to avoid more controversy over AI technology. A spokesperson for Google said the latest move was part of plans announced last year around its approach to elections. Elections are due to be held in countries around the world this year including the US, UK and South Africa.

The UK economy grew by 0.2% in January, lifted by the services and construction sectors while industrial output fell. This compares with a decline of 0.1% in December, according to the Office for National Statistics, and was in line with expectations. The UK entered a shallow recession when GDP fell in the third and fourth quarters of 2023, but the latest figures will bring some relief to Rishi Sunak’s government.

UK ministers will publish legislation to quash the convictions of hundreds of post office operators who were prosecuted during the Horizon scandal, marking a significant victory for victims after decades of campaigning. The legislation will automatically overturn convictions of theft, fraud and false accounting that were handed down in connection with Post Office business. It will cover prosecutions brought by the Post Office and the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales between 1996 and 2018. The government will also extend compensation to those who were never convicted or took part in legal action against the Post Office.

SPORT

Tennis - World number one Iga Swiatek eased through to the quarter-finals at Indian Wells with a straight sets win over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva. Poland's Swiatek needed one hour and 12 minutes to seal a 6-1 6-2 win. The 22-year-old will next play former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-2. For Wozniacki, who came out of retirement last year, it will be a first WTA 1,000 quarter-final since 2019. Wozniacki retired in January 2020 but returned last August after giving birth to her two children.

Formula One - Oliver Bearman wants to fulfil a "childhood dream" by earning a Formula 1 seat next year after making his debut at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The 18-year-old became the youngest Briton to start a grand prix when he was called up by Ferrari to replace Carlos Sainz, who had appendicitis. Bearman finished ahead of seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. He has been a member of the Ferrari driver academy since 2021

Football - Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal have broken the world record for most consecutive wins by a top-flight team. Yesterday's 2-0 win over Al-Ittihad in the Asian Champions League was the 28th victory in a row for Al-Hilal, Saudi Arabia's most decorated team. It surpasses the 27 straight wins by Welsh side The New Saints in 2016.

Tonight in local football, OGC Nice head to Paris Saint Germain for the quarter final of the Coupe de France. Kick off is at 9.10.

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