French and Riviera News Tuesday 12th September 2023

Former drugs police chief in Cannes found guilry of theft and forgery - A former head of the drugs police brigade in Cannes has been jailed for three years for stealing cash seized from criminals during drug raids. The court in Grasse sentenced him for theft and forgery. He'd been working for the drugs squad in Cannes since 2015. Prosecutors said he siphoned off an estimated €24,000 in cash and forged paperwork to cover his tracks. He'll serve his three-year sentence under house arrest with an electronic tag. The 42-year-old must also repay the missing cash to the French state, and pay an extra €5,000 in damages. He was permanently banned from all public office and banned from carrying a firearm for five years.

Nice-Morocco charity given more space to help earthquake victims - The Alpes-Maritimes department has donated vacant premises to the Maison du Maroc to help the charity coordinate its efforts to help the victims of last Friday's earthquake. The association has been receiving large amounts of donated items from the public - and its current base is too small to deal with the surge in solidarity. The departmental council has offered a 300-square-metre space on Boulevard de la Madeleine in Nice to sort through all the donations.

30kph speed limit outside Marseille schools - Marseille has announced it's introducing a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit around all of the city's schools. It comes after a four-year-old girl was left in a serious condition in hospital after being hit by a motorist while leaving her school on Friday. Benoit Payan, the mayor of Marseille, says the new speed limit will come into effect immediately. He also wants more CCTV around schools to make it easier to prosecute road offenders.

Wolf attacks on rise - An Alpes-Maritimes senator is calling for more to be done to control France's wolf population. France's national wolf plan for the coming five years is being finalised and will be presented next Monday.Its aim is to develop new ways of managing the species and better protecting livestock, such as sheep. It's estimated that the number of wolves in France has almost doubled in the past five years - from 600 to more than 1,100. Reported cases of livestock being killed by wolves in the Alpes-Maritimes are up 20% in a year. Local senator Dominique Estrosi Sassone wants breeders to be given the right to defend themselves by shooting wolves that attack.

3,000 more hotel rooms in Nice - The City of Nice says it's on track to make an extra 3,000 hotel rooms available to tourists by 2025. Several building projects are already under way - and two-thirds of the extra rooms will be high-end, four or five-star accommodation. Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said the new hotels would create an additional 2,000 jobs. Five-star hotel Le Victoria is due to open next year. Another five-star hotel, The Convent, is nearing completion and a new four-star Hilton is due to open in the Iconic building near Nice railway station. At least another three hotels have also been granted planning permission.

ISM's new building nearly ready - Work has nearly finished on a brand-new campus for the International School of Monaco. The 8,000-square-metre facility at Larvotto is a few weeks from completion - but students won't move until next September. The campus is a third bigger than ISM's current site. His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene will inaugurate the new building at a gala evening next February.

Turn off your car engine - A Nice municipal councillor has begun a campaign to get tough on drivers who leave their engines running while parked. Idling is prohibited by law and carries a €135 fine - but it's rarely enforced. Hélène Granouillac, an Ecolo councillor, is organising an awareness campaign, focusing on outside schools and shops.

Big queues for Lignes d'Azur renewals - Long queues have formed outside Lignes d'Azur ticket offices in Nice as hundreds of public transport users attempt to renew their annual season tickets at the start of the new school year. Queues of up to an hour have been a regular occurrence at the office on Boulevard Dubouchage in the city centre. Since 1st July, paper tickets are a thing of the past on the Lignes d'Azur network. A reusable plastic card is needed.

Grape-pickers argue over music - A grape-picker at a vineyard in the Var has been arrested after reportedly stabbing a fellow worker in the stomach - in an apparent argument over the choice of music they should listen to. The stand-off between the two pickers occurred at a wine estate in La Cadière on Friday evening. As the argument over music choice became heated, it's claimed the suspect pulled out a knife, stabbed the victim and fled the scene. He was arrested at Saint-Cyr railway station the following day. Prosecutors say he was not legally allowed to be working in France.

Baby turtles hatch in Porquerolles - And 27 baby turtles have hatched this weekend on the island of Porquerolles in the Var. Their nest has been closely monitored and protected by wildlife preservation volunteers, during 56 days of incubation. One by one the eggs began to open on Saturday night and the baby turtles made their way into the sea. More are expected to follow in the coming days - the nest had more than 120 eggs in total.

BUSINESS

German car giant BMW has announced plans to invest hundreds of millions of pounds to prepare its Mini factory near Oxford to build a new generation of electric cars. Production of two new electric Mini models is due to begin at the plant in Cowley in 2026. The move is expected to safeguard the future of the facility, as well as that of another factory in Swindon. More than 4,000 people currently work across the two sites.

Fears have intensified over thousands of high street job losses at Wilko, the stricken value retailer, after a rescue deal involving the owner of HMV collapsed. It's reported that Doug Putman has ended talks with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) over a slimmed-down deal to acquire about 100 Wilko sites. A retail executive close to the situation said he expected that PwC would now seek to strike an agreement with the owner of Poundland to offload about 100 stores. However, as with a separate deal that saw 51 Wilko sites sold to B&M European Value Retail, it was unclear whether the staff who work at those stores would form part of the transaction.

SPORT

Football - The German FA has said it hopes to announce Hansi Flick's full-time replacement "as soon as possible". Julian Nagelsmann, who replaced Hansi Flick as Bayern boss at the end of 2020-21, could be a leading contender to succeed him as Germany head coach. The highly rated 38-year-old has been out of work since Bayern sacked him in March. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has also been mentioned in the German media, while caretaker Rudi Voller could also be in contention.

England play Scotland in a football friendly tonight - the 150th Anniversary Heritage Match. Kick off is at 8.45pm French time. The England squad will wear a unique pre-match top ahead of the match at Hampden Park. The Scottish Football Association is hosting the fixture to celebrate their significant anniversary by replaying the world’s oldest international fixture. Ahead of the occasion, the Three Lions will nod to their own heritage by donning a jersey bearing the original crest from the first Scotland v England meeting in 1872.

Golf - Rory McIlroy has lamented some "bad swings" which proved costly in denying the Northern Irishman a potential second Irish Open win of his career. The world number two was well in contention to repeat his 2016 success at the K Club but found the water four times on the final day. McIlroy ended on nine under par, five behind winner Vincent Norrman.

Cricket - Kane Williamson has been included in New Zealand's squad for the Cricket World Cup in India after winning the race to prove his fitness. The 33-year-old has not played since rupturing a ligament in his right knee in March. Williamson's inclusion means there is no place for Finn Allen. New Zealand open their campaign against defending champions England on 5 October.

WEATHER

Sunny spells across the Riviera today, some light cloud here and there and temperatures reaching 28 degrees celsius on the Alpes-Maritimes coast, 30 on the Var coast and up to 31 further inland with light variable winds. Staying warm overnight, temperatures not going below 21 on the coast and 19 inland. The outlook for Wednesday: sunshine and light cloud, 28 degrees celsius.

BEACH WEATHER

This afternoon on the beach in Nice, there'll be sunny spells, 26 degrees celsius and light winds. The sea temperature is 25 degrees and the UV index is 7. In Saint-Tropez, there'll also be sunny spells, 30 degrees celsius with a gentle breeze. The water temperature is also 25 degrees and the UV index is 7.

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