Scotland sets ‘shocking and unusual’ weather record

Temperatures across the country fail to rise above 20C by this stage of May for first time in nearly 40 years.

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Scotland has set a “shocking and unusual” weather record for this time of year.

Nowhere in the country has seen temperatures above 20C so far in 2021 – the first time it has failed to do so by this stage of May for nearly 40 years.

The last year in which Scotland had not enjoyed that kind of warmth by May 21 was 1983, STV meteorologist Sean Batty said.

But he’s expecting temperatures to soon rise and break through the 20C barrier before we get into June.

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Sean said: “It’s shocking and unusual, but it looks like nowhere in Scotland has managed to breach the 20-degree barrier yet this year.

“In most years, somewhere in Scotland would have managed to get over 20C by now, but here we are just four weeks away from the summer solstice and we’re still patiently waiting.

“But it’s been great to see, in typical Scottish style, people enjoying the beach, getting the paddling pool out and putting some burgers on the BBQ when it’s been just 12C.

“In most years we would get over 20C somewhere by the end of April and start of May, and in recent years there’s been a tendency for this to occur a little earlier.

“In stark contrast to this year, we were over 20 degrees by the end of March in 2012 – the earliest for this to happen in the last 50 years.

“This year is not quite the latest, that’s 1983 when we had to wait until June 1, but now that we’ve passed May 21 it means this year is the longest we’ve had to wait for proper heat since 1983. 

“If it’s any consolation, the summer of 2012 was pretty average for temperatures, whereas 1983 ranked as one of our warmest – take from that what you will. We live in hope.

“Now let’s end this on a high – quite literally. We have high pressure moving towards us later next week and I expect temperatures to rise and finally break our under-20C streak.

“I think it should happen before June, but if it doesn’t, I’ll need to start trawling back through the records and look beyond 50 years.”

‘Danger to life’ red weather warning issued for Storm Arwen

Major disruption as first named storm of winter set to sweep across Scotland.

BEAR NE Trunk Roads via BEAR NE Trunk Roads
Storm Arwen has been named and is forecast to bring a period of very strong winds and cold weather to the UK from Friday into Saturday.

Storm Arwen poses a danger to life, the Met Office has warned as it upgraded its weather warning to red.

Strong winds could cause flying debris, damage buildings, blow off roofs and bring down power lines in the east of Scotland, forecasters said.

Roads, bridges and railway lines will be closed, and delays are expected to bus, train, ferry services and flights.

The red warning for the first named storm this winter is in place along the eastern coastline from 3pm on Friday until 2am on Saturday.

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Power cuts could affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage, the Met Office warned. There is a particular threat to sea front homes and businesses with large waves and debris being thrown on to coastal roads.

Storm Arwen is set to sweep across Scotland on Friday afternoon, with a yellow weather warning issued across the rest of the country, where power cuts, road closures and damage to trees and structures are all possible.

Much of the Highlands has been warned to expect snow and high winds, with a chance that some could be stranded if caught up in blizzards.

The Met Office said it is possible that some communities might become cut off in the latter half of the day, with every school in Orkney closing for the day at 1pm.

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BEAR Scotland, which looks after the trunk roads in the north-west, north-east and south-east of Scotland, said it was primed to tackle whatever weather conditions Storm Arwen brings.

Restrictions may be required on bridges such as Skye Bridge, Kessock Bridge, Dornoch Bridge, Cromarty Bridge, Friarton Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge.

Eddie Ross, BEAR Scotland’s operating company representative for the north-west, said: “We are fully prepped and are closely monitoring conditions and will act quickly when required.

“We remind members of the public to check before travelling. Traffic Scotland is a great source of the latest journey information and advice. Drivers of high sided and wind-susceptible vehicles such as caravans and trailers should take particular care and check for restrictions.”

The warnings in full:

  • A red weather warning for wind is in place along Scotland’s eastern coast from 3pm on Friday until 2am on Saturday
  • A yellow weather warning for wind is in place across most of the country from 9am on Friday until 6pm on Saturday
  • An amber warning for Storm Arwen is in place across the east coast from 3pm on Friday until 9am on Saturday
  • A yellow warning for snow is in place across much of the Highlands from 2pm on Friday until midnight

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “The first storm of the winter period, Storm Arwen, is set to impact Scotland tomorrow and Saturday.

“The whole country is going to see blustery conditions, but the Met Office is telling us that eastern parts of Scotland in particular are going to see some difficult weather.”

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Police are asking motorists to plan their journeys and to make sure they are well-prepared.

Superintendent Simon Bradshaw, from the roads policing unit, said: “We are asking motorists to be prepared for the potential for widespread strong winds and the risk of snow following the amber and yellow weather warnings from the Met Office.

“You should allow extra time for your journey, ensure your vehicle is sufficiently fuelled and drive to the road conditions. Consider taking some warm clothes, food and water within your vehicle, in case of delays and ensure your mobile phone is fully charged.

“I would urge motorists to check the Met Office and Traffic Scotland websites and social media before setting out on their journey, particularly in those areas most affected by the predicted adverse weather.”


Family, friends and fans attend funeral for Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld

Funeral service was being shown to supporters on a big screen outside Celtic Park.

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Bertie Auld: Funeral taking place in Glasgow.

Family, friends, fans and former teammates of Celtic legend Bertie Auld have gathered to bid farewell to the Lisbon Lion as his funeral takes place.

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Bertie Auld: Tributes left at Celtic Park ahead of funeral

The European Cup winner, who also won five league titles, three Scottish Cups and four League Cups during during two spells at the Parkhead club, died earlier this month aged 83.

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Current Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou arrives at St Mary’s for Auld’s funeral on Friday.

His funeral cortege is due to pass Celtic Park at around 1.30pm on Friday, following a service at St Mary’s Chapel, which is being shown on a big screen outside the stadium.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Neil Lennon arrives at the funeral of former Celtic player Bertie Auld.

Auld’s fellow Lisbon Lion, Jim Craig, was to read at the service, which was being attended by former Celtic players including Tom Boyd, Stephen McManus, Andy Walker, Davie Hay and John Clark.

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Current Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou arrived at the Chapel with first team coach John Kennedy and former manager Neil Lennon was also there to show his respects.

Respect was also coming from the blue-side of Glasgow through Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson.

Auld was part of the Celtic team which lifted the European Cup after beating Inter Milan in Lisbon in 1967 and also played in the 1970 final when Jock Stein’s men lost to Feyenoord in extra-time.

No other Scottish team has reached the final of Europe’s top competition since.

‘He defined the notion of a diehard’

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Obituary by STV special correspondent Bernard Ponsonby

If Billy McNeill is the never to be forgotten icon of Lisbon 1967, Jimmy Johnstone the irrepressible entertainer, Bobby Murdoch the beating heart of this country’s greatest ever club side, then Bertie Auld is the enduring spirit.

As everyone who walks Kerrydale Street or has attended a supporter’s function or drank in a Celtic pub will know, there was no greater ambassador for remembering the magic of that night or of honouring the memory of his departed brothers than Bertie Auld.

It was Auld who led the singing of the Celtic song as the players emerged from the tunnel in the Estadio Nacional, no doubt to the bemusement of the sculpted, tanned athletes of Inter Milan. 

Although his own legendary status was assured as a result of the events of May 25, 1967, to the day he died he redefined the notion of a diehard. Wherever there was a Celtic party, the wee man was never far away.

Read the full obituary here.

What do we know about the new Covid variant and should we be worried?

The B.1.1.529 variant has first been found in cases in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.

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Currently, there are no cases in the UK, health secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.

Six countries have been added to the Scotland’s red list after UK scientists said they are worried about a new variant of coronavirus.

The B.1.1.529 variant has first been found in cases in Botswana, South Africa and Hong Kong.

People who have recently visited South Africa – where the bulk of the variants have been found so far – and returned to the UK are being contacted for testing to see if they contracted it overseas.

But how is this new variant different from previous versions and how dangerous is it?

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When did it first appear?

UK scientists first became aware of the new strain on November 23 after samples were uploaded on to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana. A total of 59 samples have been uploaded on to the website so far.

Three samples are from Hong Kong, three are from Botswana and the rest are from South Africa.

Outlining the situation in South Africa, one senior scientist said: “If we look at the results they had up to a week ago, less than 1% of people were testing positive in lots of areas. That’s increased very dramatically in some parts to 6% in the last few days, and so that makes me concerned quite rapidly on people that may be arriving [in the UK] now.”

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Are there any cases in the UK?

Currently, there are no cases in the UK, health secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.

He added: “The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it.

“Now to be clear, we have not detected any of this new variant in the UK at this point in time.

“But we’ve always been clear that we will take action to protect the progress that we have made.

“Our scientists are deeply concerned about this variant. I’m concerned, of course, that’s one of the reasons we have taken this action today.”

– Have any of these countries been put on the red list?

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Yes. Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe will be suspended from midday on Friday and all six countries will be added to the red list.

What does this mean for travellers?

The UK and Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive said on Thursday that UK and Irish residents who arrived in England between midday Friday and 4am Sunday, and who have been in the six countries within the last 10 days, must quarantine at home for 10 days and take NHS PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8, even if they already have a lateral flow test booked.

Passengers – including UK and Irish residents – arriving from 4am Sunday will be required to book and pay for a government-approved hotel and quarantine for 10 days. They must also take tests on day 2 and day 8.

Direct flights from the six nations to the UK are being temporarily banned until 4am on Sunday, once the quarantine hotels have been set up.

From midday on Friday, November 26, non-UK and Irish who have visited the nations in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England.

How is it different from the other variants?

Despite only being tracked for the past three days, the virus has been identified as having 30 different mutations already. By comparison, that is twice as many as the Delta variant, which has been the most prominent variant in the UK over the past few months.

The mutations contain features seen in all of the other variants but also traits that have not been seen before.

Will the vaccines protect people against it?

It’s too early to say. The mutations could potentially make the variant more transmissible and evade the protection given by prior infection or vaccination.

Has it been classed as a “variant of concern”?

Not yet by UK scientists as they do not have enough evidence on its levels of transmissibility, however, some have said they are concerned.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Cambridge, has said: “B.1.1.529 has signatures of cumulative mutation indicating that it emerged in a chronic infection.

“B.1.1.529 does certainly look of significant concern based on mutations present. Many have been shown to impact binding by neutralising antibodies, and some are known to increase the ability of virus to enter cells or to make them fuse together to allow cell-cell spread.”

Professor Neil Ferguson, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “The B.1.1.529 variant has an unprecedented number of mutations in the spike protein gene, the protein which is the target of most vaccines.

“There is therefore a concern that this variant may have a greater potential to escape prior immunity than previous variants.

“However, we do not yet have reliable estimates of the extent to which B.1.1.529 might be either more transmissible or more resistant to vaccines, so it is too early to be able to provide an evidence-based assessment of the risk it poses.”

It is known as a “variant under monitoring”, meaning scientists believe it may pose a future risk, but its impact is unclear.

How worried should we be about this variant?

Scientists in the UK are eager to acquire live virus cultures so it can be examined, but this takes time. It can take seven to 10 days at least to grow enough virus that can be shared with other scientists so they can study how it mutates and changes.

Officials will now also have to wait for data to come from South Africa. The earliest they are expecting evidence to come through is two to three weeks, but it could be as long as four to six weeks.


Urgent appeal over rise in pregnant women admitted to intensive care

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will run specially-organised Covid-19 vaccine clinics this weekend.

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Pregnant: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will run specially-organised Covid-19 vaccine clinics this weekend.

A health board has issued an urgent appeal following a rise in pregnant women ending up in intensive care with Covid-19.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) will run specially-organised clinics this weekend to allow those who have yet to receive two doses of a coronavirus vaccine to get jabbed.

Bosses at NHSGGC said over recent months they have seen an increase in the number of pregnant women admitted to intensive care, the “vast majority of whom were unvaccinated”.

Chief midwife Evelyn Frame said: “The stark reality is being unvaccinated while pregnant puts both you and your baby at increased risk.

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“Some women who have become seriously unwell have had to have their baby delivered early, which is far from ideal.

“Being pregnant puts a women at increased risk of Covid-19 complications. But this risk can be dramatically reduced by receiving both doses of the vaccine.”

Special clinics

  • Saturday: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (maternity), 9am-4pm.
  • Sunday: Princess Royal Maternity Hospital (day care), 9am-4pm
  • Sunday: Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley (antenatal), 9am-4pm.

Ms Frame added: “All pregnant woman are invited to attend a drop-in clinic on these days to receive either their first or second dose.

“Women can attend any clinic which suits them – even if it’s not the hospital they are booked into.

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“There’s also no pressure. Even if they just want to come along and speak to one of the vaccinators, we will be delighted to see them.

“They will be able to get the updated information regarding the Covid-19 vaccine in pregnancy and chat through any concerns they may have.”

Those who attend will also be able to receive a flu vaccine.

Justice secretary accused of misleading MSPs over unsolved homicides

A freedom of information request by the Scottish Tories showed 181 homicides in the past eight years were unresolved.

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Justice secretary: A freedom of information request showed 181 homicides in the past eight years were unresolved.

Justice secretary Keith Brown has been accused of misleading Holyrood over the number of unsolved homicides in Scotland.

On November 10, Brown told MSPs “every one” of the killings in Scotland had been solved.

It is not clear from his statement to what timeframe the justice secretary was referring, but a freedom of information request by the Scottish Tories shows 181 unsolved homicides since 2013-14.

Homicides in Scotland include murders and culpable homicides, as well as driving offences involving a death, and corporate homicide.

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Between that time and November 15, there was no year where all homicides were solved, according to the information released by Police Scotland.

So far this year, according to the figures, 32 homicides are yet to be resolved while 45 which occurred the year before have not been solved.

In answer to a question from Tory MSP Craig Hoy on November 10, the justice secretary said: “We have 40% more police officers per person than there are in England and Wales; we have given the police a pay rise that the police in England and Wales have not received; and we have the lowest recorded crime in living memory and the lowest recorded number of homicides — every one of which was solved.

“That is anything but soft justice.”

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Scottish Tory community safety spokesman Russell Findlay called on Brown to apologise for the mistake.

“For the SNP minister in charge of our justice system to falsely state that all these homicides have been solved is not just staggeringly wrong and irresponsible, it disrespects victims and their families,” he said.

“His words will cause understandable hurt and anguish to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and who have not had justice.”

Findlay added: “Perhaps the SNP deputy leader is too busy obsessing about breaking up the UK instead of focusing on his day job, or maybe he just parroted duff information fed to him by advisers, but he must now do the right thing and say sorry.

“Whether this is an embarrassing gaffe or a shoddy attempt to dupe the public, I am sure that he will want to set the record straight.

“Every single day, crime victims across Scotland suffer the indignity and indifference of an SNP soft-touch justice system that panders to criminals.”

Kevin Bridges announces six Hydro dates in new tour

The Scottish comedian sold out the Glasgow venue for a record 19 nights in 2018.

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Bridges: Returning to Hydro with new tour.

Kevin Bridges will perform six shows at the Glasgow Hydro – four years after his record-breaking run at the venue.

The Overdue Catch-Up will be the Scottish comedian’s first live gigs since 2018, when he sold out the Hydro for a record 19 nights.

He will perform on September 9, 16, 17, 23, 24 and 25 next year, followed by a show at Aberdeen’s P&J Arena on October 1, with tickets on sale from December 3.

Kicking off in Liverpool in July 2022, his tour will run for five months and take in cities across the UK and Ireland, including Manchester, Dublin, Belfast and Cardiff, before finishing up in London in December.

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Bridges wrote on Twitter: “Tour announcement folks! Heading back out there in 2022 and 2023.”

‘We’re closing on Black Friday and giving staff the day off’

Many independent retailers are boycotting the annual discounted-shopping bonanza.

Maggie Blyth via Contributed
Maggie Bluth is giving her staff a 'well-earned' day off.

While many retailers are cocking their ears to the sound of ringing cash tills, an increasing number of shops are boycotting the so-called Black Friday bonanza.

Many of them – such as the Maggie Blyth clothing boutique in Inverness – are even closing their doors and giving staff the day off.

Black Friday, which started in the US as a key day for Christmas shopping following Thanksgiving, is often a pivotal time for major online retailers such as Amazon.

But for under-pressure independent shops still trying to recover from pandemic-enforced lockdowns, offering customers huge discounts is too much of a threat to profit margins.

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Maggie Blyth told STV News: “Every year, the pressure mounts to do a big sale and offer more discounts, but as a small independent shop coming out of a pandemic, we decided to take a stand.

“So, instead of a massive sale, which would have cost us our profit, we’ve decided to close the shop and give staff a well-earned day off.

“Black Friday is originally an American celebration and one made to support bigger businesses and brands which can afford to offer massive reductions and discounts.

“Small independent businesses do not have the profit margin to do the same and when we try to compete with big brands, we lose profit.”

STV News
Maggie Blyth will be closed on Black Friday, with staff given the day off.
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Ms Blyth said the boutique’s website would still be taking orders as her staff enjoyed a lie-in, and hers won’t be the only independent retailer turning it’s back on Black Friday.

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) said its latest survey of members showed that around 85% would be boycotting the event, which runs over the weekend.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of Bira, said: “The main reasons for them not wanting to take part in this is because they don’t agree with this idea – there are higher prices, and there is also insufficient volume to make large discounting work.

“They also need to preserve their margins. This, coupled with many of our independents experiencing supply chain issues, this has proved to be a real challenge.”


Social Bite launches festival of kindness to spread festive cheer

The charity aims to provide 300,000 gifts, meals and essential items to people experiencing homelessness this Christmas.

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Edinburgh: Social Bite's festival of kindness has kicked off.

A charity has launched a festival of kindness to spread festive cheer in five UK cities.

Social Bite aims to provide 300,000 gifts, meals and essential items to people experiencing homelessness this Christmas in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Christmas trees nearly 30ft-tall, with donation points, have been installed in these cities, to emphasise that “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”.

The homelessness charity is asking people to buy one extra gift, drop it under the tree and contribute to a movement of kindness.

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The festival of kindness locations include: St Andrew Square, Edinburgh; Vinicombe Street, Glasgow; outside M&S at the Bon Accord centre, Aberdeen; City Square, Dundee; and Charing Cross Station, London.

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Dundee: The event will take place across five UK cities.

Social Bite co-founder and executive director Josh Littlejohn said: “This Christmas, many of us will be able to reunite with family and friends to celebrate after so many restrictions.

“But for homeless people and families, the pandemic has made their situation particularly desperate.

“Thousands of people all over the UK will spend Christmas on the streets – cold, hungry and lonely, without a family to go to.

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“Thousands of children will find themselves in temporary emergency accommodation or without food on the table over the festive period.

“That’s why we are building on the success of last year’s campaign to expand our reach even further, going from two to five locations and taking festival of kindness to London for the very first time.

“Our festival of kindness campaign aims to spread some festive cheer. In a world, where you can be anything, we’re urging people to be kind and buy or donate a little extra to help those who need it most – even the smallest of gifts will make a huge difference.”

PA Ready via Social Bite
Glasgow: Donations can also be made online.

Monetary donations can also be made online via the Social Bite website which will then go towards the provision of food, gifts and essential items.

Donations will also help fund accommodation and support for those sleeping rough in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and London.

More on:

Extinction Rebellion blockade Amazon fulfilment centre on Black Friday

The climate campaigners are preventing HGVs from accessing the Dunfermline site - the largest in the UK.

Maciej Walczuk via XR Scotland

Climate activists have blockaded the UK’s largest Amazon distribution centre, in Dunfermline, Fife, on Black Friday.

The Extinction Rebellion Scotland campaigners are preventing HGVs from accessing and exiting the facility near the M90.

Meg Peyton Jones, a spokesperson taking part in the action, told STV News: “Today, there’s a big international workers strike across Amazon centres all over the world.

“We’re doing this in solidarity with them, to show our support for it. The working conditions at Amazon are pretty appalling

Maciej Walczuk via XR Scotland
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“They work very long hours, for low pay and they are treated like robots.”

Black Friday, which started in the US as a key day for Christmas shopping following Thanksgiving, is often a pivotal time for major online retailers such as Amazon.

Many independent retailers are boycotting the annual discounted-shopping bonanza.

The blockade is part of an international action by Extinction Rebellion targeting 15 Amazon fulfilment centers in the UK, USA, Germany, and Netherlands.

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The activists have been at the Dunfermline site since around 4am on Friday. They told STV News they want to highlight how Amazon is linked with climate issues.

“Exploitation of workers and the planet is why we’re in the climate crisis in the first place, sacrificing everything on the altar of profit,” Mrs Peyton Jones said.

“We’re not going to solve it without justice for workers.”

Police are in attendance with a number of vehicles and officers at the scene.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report of a protest taking place on Amazon Way, Dunfermline, on Friday, November 26.

“Officers are currently in attendance and engaging with the protestors.”

Amazon said it was working to minimise any potential disruption to customers and was cooperating with police to ensure the safety of employees and protesters.

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A spokesperson said: “At Amazon, we take our responsibilities very seriously. That includes our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement – providing excellent pay and benefits in a safe and modern work environment, and supporting the tens of thousands of British small businesses who sell on our store.

“We know there is always more to do, and we’ll continue to invent and invest on behalf of our employees, customers, small businesses and communities in the UK. We’re proud to have invested £32bn in the UK since 2010, creating 10,000 new permanent jobs across the country this year alone, and generating a total UK tax contribution of £1.55bn in 2020.”


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