BUSINESS: Firms can bid for a share of a £150 million fund aimed at boosting the skills of workers, the Government said today. A second round of funding from the Employer Ownership Pilot was launched, with earlier projects including increasing female apprentices and extending skills training to local suppliers.
TAX BANDS: The Government has “no plans” to introduce new council tax bands on the most expensive properties, Downing Street has insisted. The comment came after Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed that talks were under way within Government on measures to increase taxes on wealth by targeting properties.
PUBS: More than 200 pubs have been converted to supermarket convenience stores over the past two years, “ripping the hearts” out of small communities, a new report has revealed. The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) urged the Government to change planning laws which it said was allowing major supermarket chains and developers an “easy route” to demolishing or changing the use of pubs.
EASYJET: Profits at low-cost airline easyJet climbed to a record £317 million as higher sales offset a further £182 million surge in fuel costs. The group achieved the 28% rise in profits for the year to September 30 after it carried 58 million passengers - an improvement of 7% on a year earlier - and benefited from continuing cost-cutting efforts.
G8: David Cameron has confirmed that next year’s G8 summit of world leaders will be held in Co Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.
HEALTH: More than 1,300 life-saving defibrillators may not work when needed because of a battery fault, the health regulator said today. Some of the machines, which are used when someone goes into cardiac arrest, may have a fault which can cause depleted batteries, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.
THATCHER: Ed Miliband has compared his bid to become the next prime minister with Margaret Thatcher’s time as leader of the opposition. The Labour leader praised Mrs - now Baroness - Thatcher’s “conviction” politics and suggested she had tackled similar challenges in the 1970s as he faced now.
BIG BROTHER: Reality show Big Brother breached broadcasting guidelines when viewers saw a housemate launch into a tirade of “explicit descriptions of sexual violence” about another contestant, according to Ofcom. The communications watchdog said it had 2,085 complaints about the reality show this year.
AC/DC: Rock giants AC/DC have become one of the last major bands to agree a deal to have their back catalogue released digitally. The band - famed for tracks such as Back In Black - were among a number of acts who had held back on allowing their music to be sold as downloads through sites such as the iTunes Store.
POLITICS: Former cabinet secretary Lord O’Donnell warned today that the civil service was “massively undervalued”. The peer, until last year the head of the civil service, also suggested David Cameron had been wrong to accuse bureaucrats in the public sector of hindering enterprising businesses.
EDUCATION: Welsh councils could lose responsibility for running schools as a wide-ranging review is launched. More to follow shortly.
AFGHANISTAN: France has ended its combat operations in Afghanistan, fulfilling promises to end its role on a faster track than other Nato allies.
AVIVA: Insurance giant Aviva ended its six month search for a new chief executive today by recruiting the former boss of Asian insurer AIA. Mark Wilson, who will take up the post on January 1, admitted there was “substantial work to do” at the company, which is currently in the process of scaling back its operations and becoming less bureaucratic.
CHILDREN: Children under five will shun sophisticated toys in favour of traditional party games, according to a survey of parents. Musical statues, pass the parcel and pin the tale on the donkey have been highly rated by the children of 1,500 parents surveyed for children’s communications charity I Can.
ALL QUIET: The emergency services are reporting that it is all quiet. The helicopter crew at RAF Valley have been out on a training exercise.
SIGNING OUT: Hywel Trewyn will be keeping you up to date.
SEARCH CONTINUES: North Wales Police investigating the murder of Mold vet Catherine Gowing continue to search despite human remains in Sealand and the banks of the River Dee being identified as Catherine’s. So far, police have spent 6,250 hours searching.
PHOTOS 'PULLED': Photos showing a day in the life of the Duke of Cambridge’s work as a helicopter search and rescue pilot on RAF Valley, Anglesey were hastily removed from his website today amid fears they breached security.
WOMEN BISHOPS: Draft legislation introducing the first women bishops in the Church of England has failed to receive final approval from the Church of England General Synod.
007: Film-maker Sam Mendes could return for a further Bond movie following the box-office success of his 007 debut Skyfall.
The Oscar-winning director is said to have been working on a plot for a follow-up, according to the regular screenwriters of the series.
CHURCH IN TURMOIL: The Church of England was plunged into turmoil tonight after legislation introducing the first women bishops failed to clear its final hurdle at the General Synod.
The draft measure was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy of the General Synod but failed to gain the necessary two thirds majority among the lay members of the General Synod.Edit:
WREXHAM IN FRONT: Wrexham are leading 2-1 at Braintree Town in tonight's Blue Square Bet Premier clash.
Danny Wright put the Dragons ahead on nine minutes before Brett Ormerod scored six minutes later with Kaine Sheppard pulling one back for Braintree. Wrexham will go joint top of the table if they win.
WREXHAM SCORE: Nick Rushton has scored the third for Wrexham to make it 1-3 away at Braintree.
LORD McALPINE: Lord McAlpine is donating compensation he receives from defamatory posts on Twitter to BBC Children in Need.
The Tory peer has asked those who linked him to child abuse allegations at Bryn Estyn in Wrexham on the social networking site to apologise formally and pay a “sensible and modest amount”.
A statement from Lord McAlpine’s lawyers this evening said: “The fixed donation amount is yet to be assessed. However, this will be to Lord McAlpine’s charity of choice, BBC Children In Need, and will be in addition to an administration fee."
WREXHAM UPDATE: It's now 1-4 to Wrexham away to Braintree. Danny Wright has just scored his second of the evening.
GOALS GALORE: The Dragons' Adrian Cieslewicz has just made it 1-5 to Wrexham away to Braintree.
FINAL SCORE: Braintree 1, Wrexham 5.
ALL QUIET: Just done last round of calls and it's all quiet. I'm signing off now. Alex Hickey will be here from 6.30am tomorrow morning. Nos da.
SIGNING IN: Morning all. Quiet night and morning from the emergency services. No reported incidents so far.
HEALTH: A DECISION on proposed hospital closures in a bid to save £65m has been delayed.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) had been due to discuss the plans on December 17 but will now look at them in January.
HEALTH: Llyr Gruffydd, North Wales Plaid Cymru AM, said the decision by to delay "is, I believe, a direct result at the tidal wave of opposition to these plans".
RELIGION: In a world where people go hungry, live in damp houses or have no homes compassion is not enough, the Archbishop of Wales will say today. Dr Barry Morgan will say we have to deal with the causes of problems if we want a society which is just and fair.
The Archbishop will be speaking at a service of thanksgiving for church groups which work in communities and promote social responsibility. They include supported housing groups, food banks, community development projects and prison chaplaincy.
ROADS: Visibility reduced on A55 Flintshire because of heavy rain and surface water on between J34, A494 (Ewloe) and J38, A483 (Posthouse roundabout). Approach with care. Also affecting A494 between Ewloe and Shotwick.
WEATHER: Rain with the odd heavier burst in the east. This should clear fairly quickly, with brighter conditions spreading from the west. A few showers likely towards western coasts, but a good deal of dry weather for most. Maximum temperature 11 °C.
CRIME: Thousands of children each year are being sexually exploited by gangs and groups in England, according to an interim report.
Figures published midway through a two-year inquiry, which was ordered by the Government, found 2,409 children and young people were confirmed victims between August 2010 and October 2011.
Of the 1,514 abusers that were identified, almost a third were Asian men, while the majority were white.
EDUCATION: Local councils in Wales could lose responsibility for running schools, the education minister has revealed.
Leighton Andrews has tried to get Wales’s 22 local education authorities (LEAs) to work together more often, but said he is unhappy with the pace of co-operation between them.
MIDDLE EAST: Cardiff and Wales striker Robert Earnshaw has spoken of the dramatic moment he was forced to flee a training session because of an attack on Tel Aviv.
The 31-year-old Wales international is on loan at Maccabi Tel Aviv and found himself caught up in the violence which has flared up in the region over recent days.
INDIA: India executed the lone surviving gunman from the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai today, after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his plea for mercy.
ROADS: Visibility still a problem on A55 Flintshire because of rain, surface water on between J34, A494 (Ewloe) and J38, A483 (Posthouse roundabout). Also affecting A494 between Ewloe and Shotwick. No other reported incidents on the roads so far.
ROADS: Heavy traffic on the A494 Flintshire (Aston Hill) eastbound in Queensferry.Spray still an issue on A55 Flintshire in both directions.
ROADS: Slow traffic eastbound on the Brittania Bridge.