Morning Headlines: Top Stories Including Royal Mail, Paul Flowers And Personal Debt

Royal Mail sale valuation 'debacle'

The Government has been urged to withhold any more payments to banks which advised it on its controversial privatisation of the Royal Mail amid continuing complaints that the taxpayer has lost hundreds of millions of pounds over the sell off.

The sale will come under the spotlight again today when MPs question bankers who provided valuations of the company before the flotation.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said any further payments should be withheld on the basis that banks undervalued the company.

Post office staff to stage strike

Staff in hundreds of Crown post offices will stage a fresh strike today after talks failed to resolve a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and branch closures.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its members will walk out for half a day from 2.30pm - the 13th round of industrial action since Easter.

The union said the dispute affects up to 4,000 staff in 372 Crown offices - the larger branches usually sited on high streets.

Police search home of ex Co-op boss

Police have searched the home of former Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers.

West Yorkshire Police is investigating Mr Flowers, a Methodist minister who led the bank for three years, after he was filmed allegedly buying and using illegal drugs including crystal meth, crack cocaine and ketamine.

A spokesman for the force said: "Officers executed a search warrant at an address in Hollingwood Lane, Great Horton, (Bradford) yesterday as part of an investigation into alleged drugs offences arising from a national Sunday newspaper story."

Woman bishops measures proposed

The Church of England's national assembly is expected to back new proposals which could see women bishops given final approval by next year.

Members of the General Synod meeting in London are to be asked to give first approval to legislation introducing women bishops with a "declaration" by the Church of England bishops setting out guidance for those parishes which reject female ministry.

The new set of proposals would include an ombudsman, or independent reviewer, to rule on disputes over arrangements for traditionalists who will not accept the authority of a woman.

Four in running for City of Culture

The location of the UK's next City of Culture will be announced this morning with Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay all in the running.

The winner can expect an economic boost from the accolade which is handed out every four years.

The current holder - Londonderry - has reported a 30% increase in hotel occupancy and has hosted events including the Radio 1 Big Weekend, The Turner Prize and the all-Ireland Fleadh which saw 400,000 people descend on the city over a week.

G4S chief faces grilling by MPs

The group chief executive of G4S faces a grilling by MPs today after the Government rejected a £24 million offer to settle an overcharging scandal.

Ashley Almanza said the offer, which was rejected by the Government as officials vowed to "pursue all possible avenues" to recoup more taxpayers' cash, was "an important step in setting this matter straight" and restoring trust.

He will be questioned with other Government contractors including Serco when they appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee. The under-fire private contractor publicly admitted "unacceptable" failures in the way it charged for tagging offenders - which included bills for keeping tabs on people after they died. It said an independent review had found no evidence of dishonesty or criminal conduct.

Debt-hit families 'can't pay bills'

Rising personal debt has become a "significant problem" for people in Britain, with millions of families struggling to pay their rent or mortgage, a report has warned.

Some 3.9 million British families do not have enough savings to cover their rent or mortgage for more than a month, while thousands of people are being made homeless every year because they are unable to meet their payments, according to a study by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

More than 26,000 UK households were accepted by councils as homeless in the last five years because of rent and mortgage arrears, including more than 5,000 last year, the think-tank said.

Planning reforms 'favour builders'

Government proposals to streamline the planning system will "bulldoze" local choice in favour of developers who want to build homes on the cheap, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee urged ministers to reconsider plans to ditch the Code for Sustainable Homes, which they said has driven up home-building standards and helped to create a thriving sustainable building industry.

The committee also warned that the changes currently being consulted on by the Department for Communities and Local Government risk becoming a "lawyers' charter", forcing local authorities to waste money defending themselves against legal challenges while curtailing local choice and delaying the construction of new homes.

Learn from Fukushima, N-chiefs told

Britain's nuclear managers "should be prepared for the worst" and learn lessons from the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima plant, according to the executive which runs the stricken site.

Naomi Hirose, president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) told the Guardian: "What happened at Fukushima was, yes, a warning to the world. The resulting lesson was clear: Try to examine all the possibilities, no matter how small they are, and don't think any single counter-measure is foolproof. Think about all different kinds of small counter-measures, not just one big solution. There's not one single answer.

"We made a lot of excuses to ourselves ... Looking back, seals on the doors, one little thing, could have saved everything."

Parents 'were fitter and faster'

Most children today cannot run as far or as fast as their parents did, according to research.

The decline, which may indicate worse health in adulthood, was discovered following an international study of running fitness in children over the last 50 years.

It found that children's cardiovascular fitness had dropped markedly worldwide since about 1975.

Popular in the Community