Evening Update Wednesday 21st February 2024

Authorities in Marseille have fined the owners of a crude oil tanker €100,000 for repeated breaches of environmental laws. The Kriti King, operated by a Greek shipping company, was immobilised by the Marseille prosecutor's office in the port of Fos-sur-Mer last Thursday. The tanker was found to be using a type of smoke filter on its chimney which causes water pollution and is banned in all French ports and within three nautical miles of the shore. The 279-metre tanker was allowed to set sail again earlier this week after paying the fine. According to the local branch of the France Nature Environnement association, the ship is a repeat offender. The organisation plans to file legal action.

A rugby referee has filed a complaint after being attacked by a player in the middle of a match this weekend. The 19-year-old ref was knocked out after he gave a red card during Sunday's Regional league 2 amateur match in Toulon between Le Las and Le Beausset. He regained consciousness a few minutes later, called off the match and was taken to Pasteur 2 hospital in Nice with concussion. He's filed a complaint for assault and injury to a match official with the Southern Rugby League. League officials say violence at amateur rugby fixtures is all too common. Referees and linesmen are often subject to violent threats and remarks.

Debt mediation experts in the Alpes-Maritimes say they've seen a drop in the number of people coming to them with financial worries in the past year. The 5% decline goes against the national trend, where debt management cases have risen by 8%. Last year, almost 2,000 people in the Alpes-Maritimes sought help with problem debts, for a total of €83 million. In about half of cases, a debt management plan was negotiated with creditors to allow the money to be paid off in easier instalments. About a quarter of the people seeking help filed for bankruptcy. However, the debt advice service says the number of requests for help has started to gradually rise again - as many of the financial support mechanisms put in place since the coronavirus pandemic are phased out and living costs continue to rise.

A woman has been arrested in Toulon after a spate of thefts from passengers on the city's public transport. Several reports of pickpocketing on buses have been recorded by police in recent weeks. A suspect, in her 40s, was arrested by police last week when she was reportedly caught in the act by a plain-clothes police officer with her hand in an elderly passenger's handbag. Five victims have come forward so far, but police believe there could be many more, dating back to December last year. The woman has been placed in pre-trial detention and is due to appear in Toulon criminal court next month.

Villeneuve-Loubet has launched a campaign to remind dog-owners about the basic rules they need to follow in public. Municipal police issued verbal warnings to several people walking dogs this weekend - and they warn that more fines will follow. Dogs in Villeneuve-Loubet must be kept on a lead on the beach and in local parks - and dog-owners must carry bags with them at all times to pick up mess. Earlier this month, a child was injured after being bitten by a dog that wasn't on a lead in the Vaugrenier Park.

Local councillors in Beausoleil have voted in favour of opening up a new 52-capacity creche in the municipality. The 500-square-metre facility will be located on the Moyenne Corniche and aims to respond to growing demand for childcare among residents, many of whom work in Monaco. The creche will be shared with La Turbie, which has signed an agreement to use seven of the 52 spaces.

Cagnes-sur-Mer has agreed to buy two letters written by the artist Auguste Renoir, which document his time staying on the Riviera. One letter, dating from 1912, gives insight into Renoir's daily life in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The other, from 1900, is a written confirmation from Renoir in which he agrees to rent a home in Magagnosc, near Grasse. Cagnes municipal council voted in favour of buying the two letters, for a total value of almost €3,000.

BUSINESS

The UK has posted its largest budget surplus for a January in at least 30 years, giving a final healthcheck on the public finances ahead of next month’s budget. There was a surplus of £16.7bn last month, new data from the Office for National Statistics shows – which is the largest surplus since monthly records began in 1993, and twice as large a surplus as a year ago. January is typically a good month for the public finances, as it includes the deadline for self-assessment taxpayers to pay what they owe. City economists had expected an even larger surplus, though, of £18.7bn.

BT are selling their telecommunications Tower in the centre of London to MCR Hotels, for £275m. MCR Hotels plan to turn BT Tower into a hotel, which means it will remain as a London landmark for the future, the telecoms group says.

SPORT

Cricket - There is "every chance" England captain Ben Stokes will bowl in the fourth Test against India in Ranchi, according to vice-captain Ollie Pope. Stokes has not bowled competitively since the second Ashes Test in July and had knee surgery in November. The 32-year-old bowled in the nets on Wednesday as England, who are 2-1 down, prepare for Friday's fourth Test. Stokes has been hampered by a left knee issue for some time and despite efforts to get fully fit for the Ashes, he did not bowl in the last three Tests, or in the 50-over World Cup in the autumn.

Formula One - Red Bull team principal Christian Horner attended pre-season testing in Bahrain today, though his future at the team remains in doubt as a result of an internal investigation being conducted into allegations he engaged in inappropriate and controlling behaviour towards a female colleague. Formula 1 said earlier this week it hoped the matter would be "clarified at the earliest opportunity after a fair and thorough process". When the allegations - which Horner denies - emerged two weeks ago, Red Bull issued a statement saying it was taking the matter "extremely seriously". Horner, who has been team boss since 2005, was interviewed by a lawyer for several hours on 9 February.

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