Evening Update Wednesday 27th March 2024

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has asked for national police reinforcements to help bring the Les Moulins housing estate under control. There was more violence in Les Moulins yesterday afternoon, when a mass fight broke out involving about 40 hooded young people. An 18-year-old was injured and taken to Pasteur 2 hospital under police escort. Another four people were injured in clashes with police yesterday evening. CRS riot police from Marseille have been drafted in to patrol the neighbourhood in recent days. Christian Estrosi had a phone call with France's interior minister yesterday. He says more police reinforcements have been promised. According to the Alpes-Maritimes préfecture, more than 400 targeted police operations have been carried out in Les Moulins in the past year, leading to the arrests of more than 900 people and the seizure of 30 kilos of drugs and more than €140,000 in cash.

There have been reinforced police patrols outside schools in the Alpes-Maritimes this morning, after yesterday's coordinated campaign of hoax bomb alerts. The Alpes-Maritimes préfecture ordered the increased police presence on a case-by-case basis, with the directors of each school having the final say on whether it is needed.

It's taken nearly two months but authorities in Nice think they've finally tracked down the source of an unpleasant smell that's been plaguing residents in the north and east of the city. Since early February, there have been regular and numerous reports of a foul odour in the air, described by some as similar to rotten eggs or burnt tyres. Some people have reported nausea, headaches, breathing problems and irritation to the eyes and throat. The Nice metropolitan authorities believe the Côte d'Azur Asphalt Company in La Trinité is to blame. It's responsible for making the tarmac that is used to resurface the city's streets. The city council has written to the préfecture, asking it to intervene and ensure the firm complies with environmental regulations. The asphalt company has been given 10 days to respond to a request for information on what it's doing to bring the smell under control.

New figures from the Var departmental council show traffic in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez is progressively getting worse. Six permanent traffic counting stations measure the daily number of vehicles on some of the area's busiest roads - and all but one of them recorded an increase last year compared with 2022. The RD25 heading into Sainte-Maxime had 28,000 vehicles a day - that's an increase of 1,000 on the previous year. The RD559 to the east of Sainte-Maxime also saw about 1,000 more vehicles per day, at 15,600. The communes that make up the Gulf of Saint-Tropez are due to draw up a mobility plan to improve traffic in the area before this summer.

Antibes town council has granted revised planning permission for a major renovation of La Pinède beach. Works on improving the seafront had been suspended in January after a legal challenge over the environmental impact of the works.

And building work is under way in Antibes to create what will be one of the largest Lidl supermarkets in France. The former Conforama store on the Chemin Saint-Claude has been demolished and work on clearing the rubble is due to be completed by May. In its place will be a vast discount supermarket of almost 2,000 square metres. The German retailer bought the site in 2020 but the project was delayed after a legal challenge by rival Casino. The construction project is expected to take two years with an opening planned for summer 2026. It'll be the second biggest Lidl in France after Nanterre, just outside Paris.

BUSINESS

Fears have been raised of significant disruption to global supply chains after a container ship crashed into a bridge in the US city of Baltimore. The ship, named the Dali, hit a support column of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning, causing it to collapse. The bridge spanned the entrance to the Port of Baltimore, the busiest port in the US for car exports and the ninth-busiest overall. Officials have said that maritime traffic through the port - which last year amounted to more than 47 million tonnes of foreign cargo - will be suspended "until further notice".

And three of the UK's biggest budget fashion brands have said they will change the way they present the environmental impact of their clothes, following action by the competition regulator. ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda have signed pledges to use only "accurate and clear" claims, the Competition and Markets Authority said. The CMA is urging all fashion brands to review what they say on sustainability.

China’s president Xi Jinping has met a group of US chief executives in Beijing amid efforts to mend ties frayed by geopolitical and trade tensions between the two countries. The business bosses include private equity firm Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman and the semiconductor company Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon. China is keen to show it welcomes foreign businesses, restore confidence in the economy amid a shaky recovery and keep relations with the US stable.

SPORT

Tennis - Victoria Azarenka kept her hopes of a fourth Miami Open title alive as she reached the semi-finals with a hard-earned victory over Yulia Putintseva. Meanwhile, in the men’s draw Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz both marched into the quarter-finals.

Football - Wales' dreams of reaching a third successive Euros came crashing down last night following a penalty shoot-out loss against Poland.
Elsewhere, Jude Bellingham struck late to earn England a draw in a friendly against Belgium and Northern Ireland sealed a 1-0 win against Scotland.

Chelsea are looking to complete the job against Ajax in the second leg of their women's Champions League quarter-final tie - Emma Hayes' side lead 3-0 on aggregate as they return to home soil tonight, with a 9pm kick-off French time.

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