TEMPLATE – News Desk
The death of PC Andrew Harper has prompted a wave of support for police, with people across the UK turning up at their local stations with gifts.PC Harper, 28, was killed last Thursday while responding to reports of a burglary in Sulhamstead, Berkshire.Since his death, colleagues and officers from other forces said they have been touched by gifts and acts of kindness from the public.A fundraiser launched by PC Harper has also been flooded with donations.’Means so much to us all’A young boy called Ethan kicked off the trend when he visited officers in Bicester, Oxfordshire, armed with cakes.They said the loss of a colleague had affected them, and Ethan’s gesture had been “much appreciated”.The youngster drew praise from Twitter users, with some saying they had been moved to tears when they read about his gesture.Flowers were left beside a flagpole at Chichester Police Station with the Sussex force calling the gesture a “very touching tribute”.Police covering a protest in Cambridgeshire were given a box of doughnuts to thank them “for our work following the tragic death of PC Harper”.A woman planted two rose bushes outside Sutton Coldfield Police Station in memory of PC Harper.Birmingham East commander Ken Bell said the “kind gesture” was much appreciated.Flowers and a tribute to PC Harper were also left with officers at Bishop Auckland Police Station in County Durham.”We would like to extend our gratitude to this kind person for such a heart-warming gesture,” a spokesman said.Officers in Exeter have been given chocolates and a card which reads: “The tragic loss of PC Harper highlights the risks you all take to protect our community.”PC Harper’s force, Thames Valley Police, thanked those who took part in a minute’s silence at Reading’s Championship match against Cardiff City on Saturday.A mystery artist has also chalked a tribute to PC Harper on the floor outside the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading.PC Harper was killed just four weeks after getting married, and his new wife Lissie said he was “the kindest, loveliest most selfless person you will ever meet”.He was planning to take part in the Rat Race Dirty Weekend in March next year, a 20-mile run across 200 obstacles in aid of Children with Cancer UK.His fundraising page has reached more than 5,000% of its original target of £500, with more than £26,000 donated.In his My Story section, PC Harper admitted he had “never been much of a runner” but he was taking on the challenge to “try and help save the lives of children with cancer and keep families together”.”Even if only one child benefits then it will be well and truly worth it,” he wrote.A spokeswoman for the charity said the “incredibly kind support” in PC Harper’s memory was “deeply touching and will help save young lives”.John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said PC Harper’s death was “truly devastating” with all officers feeling the pain.He said: “It is heart-warming to see the public laying flowers and tributes as well as reading comments posted on social media all across the country. “Policing is tough and dangerous, so it is reassuring to know the public is there at our time of need.”Jed Foster, 20, who has been charged with PC Harper’s murder, appeared at Reading Crown Court earlier.
Scrapping the high-speed rail link HS2 would be a “disaster” and prevent a transformation of the road and rail network, a strategy group has said.The government is to examine the costs and benefits of the project and make a decision on its future later this year. Although a review will “rightly scrutinise” the scheme, Midlands Connect said HS2 must not be dropped or the scope of the scheme changed.But farmer Robert Lockhart who has lost land to HS2 said it was a “whitewash”.Phase 1 of HS2 between London and Birmingham is due to open at the end of 2026, with a second phase to Leeds and Manchester scheduled for completion by 2032-33.The government approved the scheme in January 2012, but last month the project chairman reportedly warned its cost could rise by £30bn and said it cannot be delivered within its £56bn budget.Midlands Connect, which works with local authorities and enterprise partnerships on the region’s transport strategies, said the “massive benefits of HS2 to the Midlands” were already being felt. Its director Maria Machancoses said: “We must not lose sight of the fact that HS2 will transform our transport network for the next century.”She said scrapping the project would “be a disaster for the Midlands and the whole country”.But Mr Lockhart, who has lost about 35 of his 280 acre farm on the Staffordshire/Warwickshire border to the project said he felt the scheme would not go ahead in full.”There are so many people and companies involved that no-one knows what they’re doing and they’re chucking money at it and I’ve noticed such a waste of resources and time,” he said.”They’ve probably realised they’ve spent too much money and take it to Crewe and postpone the rest. They’ve made so many promises over it and now the government is so fragile. “I don’t begrudge it happening if they paid me correctly, I’ve had to haggle and battle over everything.”The rail network is due to arrive in Crewe by 2027 and the station will become a hub when the line later extends to Manchester.Earlier this month, it was revealed a £137m extension to the West Midlands Metro passing underneath Curzon Street Station – a yet-to-be-built hub for the proposed route – had been delayed by HS2.Curzon Street is due to open with seven high-speed platforms in 2026.AnalysisBy Phil Mackie, BBC News CorrespondentWork is already under way at Curzon Street in Birmingham to prepare the ground for where the new HS2 terminal will be built. Besides the facade of the old Victorian station and the sound of diggers there isn’t much to see. However if you look back towards the city it becomes clear what HS2 means to Britain’s second city.The skyline is filled with new office buildings and hotels which in turn are surrounded by more than a dozen giant cranes which are building the next developments.Many of those businesses which have already relocated to Birmingham, or are planning to do so, have made the decision based on the promise of faster connections to London and beyond. If the project were scrapped or downgraded it’s feared that the city’s great revival will falter or stop. However if you live along the route and have seen little or no benefit from the new high speed rail line – only pain and disruption then today’s announcement may be more welcome.The government’s review will be chaired by Douglas Oakervee, a civil engineer and former chair of HS2 Ltd. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who will be part of the panel, said he was behind the review and was confident the scheme would go ahead.”This review means we have to make the business case for HS2 again and win the argument, which I am more than confident of doing,” he said.”HS2 is mission critical for the West Midlands as it will free up the capacity we so desperately need on our existing railways, drive huge economic growth, and is already creating jobs and building new homes in the region.”
The government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 – with a “go or no-go” decision to be made by the end of the year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.The review will consider whether and how the project to connect London, the Midlands and northern England should proceed, looking at costs and benefits.Mr Shapps refused to rule out scrapping it entirely.He said it was “responsible” to see whether HS2 was “going to stack up”. Phase 1 of the development between London and Birmingham is due to open at the end of 2026, with the second phase to Leeds and Manchester scheduled for completion by 2032-33.It is designed to carry trains capable of travelling at 250mph. HS2 rail project cost ‘could rise by £30bn’
Is the HS2 rail project in trouble?
When asked about the billions already spent on the project, Mr Shapps said: “Just because you’ve spent a lot of money on something does not mean you should plough more and more money into it.” He said ministers were asking the reviewers “just give us the facts.” “Go and find out all the information that’s out there… genuinely what it would cost to complete this project, and then we’ll be in a much better position to make that decision – go or no-go by the end of the year.”The review will be chaired by Douglas Oakervee, a civil engineer who served as chairman of the Crossrail project between 2005 and 2009. Lord Berkeley, another civil engineer who worked on the construction of the Channel Tunnel, will act as his deputy.A final report will be sent to the government in the autumn. Rising costDuring the Conservative Party leadership campaign Boris Johnson said he would not scrap plans for the new rail link, but did express “anxieties about the business case”.Previous governments have argued the new route would boost the economy, but concerns have been raised over the cost and route.In July, the current chairman of the project reportedly warned that the total cost could rise by £30bn – up from the current budget of £56bn.Labour peer Lord Adonis, a former transport secretary who worked as an infrastructure adviser to Theresa May, said the review was “as stupid as you can get” and would “screw Birmingham and the North”.He tweeted that it would become “a massive bun fight, while the transport department runs for cover and HS2 Ltd is paralysed by indecision”. The review will look into:cost estimates so far
opportunities for efficiency savings
the environmental impact, focusing specifically on net zero carbon commitment
whether the economic and business case made for HS2 is accurate
the added costs of cancelling the project or changing its scope, such as combining phases 1 and 2a (Birmingham to Crewe), reducing the speed or building only phase 1
What does HS2 mean for passengers?
“I’m like Tina Turner meets Lizzo meets Kat Slater,” says Vinegar Strokes.The drag queen is one of the 10 contestants taking part in the very first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, which will be shown on BBC Three.The original, US version of the show featured contestants competing for a $100,000 prize – the 12th series was announced this week.RuPaul said: “Each of the UK queens is so unique, so courageous and so special.”I can’t wait for the UK – and the world – to fall in love with them the same way I did.”The series starts later this year, hosted by RuPaul.Drag queen Cheryl Hole will be judged by her namesake – Cheryl Cole – who’s been announced as one of the celebrity guest judges. Alan Carr, Graham Norton, Jade Thirlwell from Little Mix, Michaela Coel and Andrew Garfield are among the other famous names already announced to be taking part. The US series has been a huge success since its debut a decade ago.Meet The QueensBaga Chipz, 29, London”My style is more cabaret, old school, sequin frocks, Shirley Bassey, Danny La Rue, Lily Savage kind of drag.”Blu Hydrangea, 23, Belfast”It’s hard sometimes. You’re performing to an empty bar with seven people and it’s very quiet.”But I’ve built a big social media profile, and I now have a platform that allows me to talk about what it’s like to be gay and a queen in Belfast.”Divina De Campo, 35, West YorkshireDivina says her drag is “old school glamour”. “As a kid I was dressing up in dresses all the time, but the first time I went out, I went out as Christina Aguilera from the Moulin Rouge video.”Crystal, 34, LondonOriginally from Canada, Crystal has been living in the UK for 10 years. “I do aerial circus, I can crack a whip, put cigarettes out on my tongue – it’s a freak show.”Sum Ting Wong, 30, Birmingham”I am a Chinese male who’s overweight and losing his hair.”When I started doing drag five years ago, I wanted a name that was cheeky but also reflected my British Vietnamese heritage.”Cheryl Hole, 25, EssexCheryl performs as Cheryl Cole in Girls Aloud tribute drag group, Gals Aloud. “I think my degree in dance will give me an edge because there are several challenges that are thrown at you where you have to use your body.”Gothy Kendoll, 21, LeicesterGothy describes her drag as “dark, contemporary, striking and unique”.”I first did drag on New Year’s Eve 2016 and it was a mess. I was in a leotard with no wig on but I was living my life, having the best night ever.”Vinegar Strokes, 35, LondonVinegar already has some Drag Race experience, having performed in London’s West End with judge Michelle Visage and former champion Bianca Del Rio. “Drag is the new black,” she says.Scaredy Kat, 20, WiltshireScaredy is the youngest drag queen to ever appear on Drag Race and is fairly new to the whole scene. “I really haven’t done it that long. It was probably about a year ago. I was with my girlfriend trying to have a laugh. It was quite embarrassing but it went quite well for a first try.”The Vivienne, 27, LiverpoolThe Vivienne is a comedy queen who says she’ll do impressions “for the right price”.”Comedy is definitely my trump card. My favourite trick in drag is my vocal impersonations so I do everyone from Kim Woodburn and Cilla Black to Donald Trump,”Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.