Bursting the Bubble Week 3

Taxes featured prominently in the news this week


  • Terry Laybourne’s ‘Bistro 21’, at Aykley Heads, has been unexpectedly closed before sale. Nick Shottel, director of the celebrated restaurant’s parent company, 21 Hospitality Group, explained that falling staff numbers were “putting pressure on the remaining team and threatening to impact the quality of service”. Customers with bookings are to be offered alternative sittings at the group’s Newcastle restaurants.
  • Friends have paid tribute to a pair who died in a car crash near Meadowfield last Friday. Michael Sanderson, 24, and Shaun Maguire, 26, died when their Renault Clio hit a stone wall off the B6300. Shaun’s parents Barry and Pam Maguire described him as “a loving son who loved life and lived it to the full”, while Billy Sanderson added that his son Michael “had a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody.” Durham police believe no other vehicles were involved but are appealing for witnesses.
  • A 19-year-old girl from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, has been named Alternative Model of the Year 2015. Zoe Waters, a philosophy student at Newcastle University, prevailed over hundreds of other competitors to clinch the prize. Speaking to The Chronicle, Waters said she hoped others would draw from her example of non-conformity, advising them to “be yourself”.
  • Campaigners are mounting a legal challenge against the proposed closure of the Durham Light Infantry Museum at Aykley Heads, Durham City. The ‘savethedli’ campaign intends to engage a team of solicitors and independent auditors to resist the move, which former policeman John Stephenson, founder of Facebook group ‘savethedli’, described as an “absolutely disgusting” insult to soldiers.
  • The Durham Miners’ Hall has celebrated its centenary since opening on the 23rd October 1915. The Grade-II listed building in Redhills, Durham City, marked the event with talks, guided tours, and musical performances, while the Durham Miners’ Association unveiled plans to apply for additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  • Durham’s first micropub is to open after obtaining a licence. The Station House, on North Road, will serve real ale and cider from November. Durham County Council has granted the licence despite concerns about noise disturbance and drunken behaviour raised by local residents.
  • The Palatinate produced a damning report on what they called the “toxic” culture at the Durham Union Society. They were critical of the high proportion of men who are set to take part in debate or to address the union, and the repeated invitations given to former UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.

Patrick Lillie


  • Dr Shao Jiang, a participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, was arrested after he stepped out onto the road as part of a demonstration against Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mansion House. He was forcibly removed by police officers in a manner that Amnesty International has since criticised as being “very heavy-handed”, and was also given a restraining order preventing him from going within a mile of Chequers and Heathrow, or within 100 metres of Xi Jinping.
  • The House of Lords voted to delay cuts to tax credits, in a significant break from historical precedent. The upper house does not traditionally block financial legislation.
  • An amendment against the tax on women’s sanitary products was defeated in the House of Commons by 305 votes to 287. The 5% rate of VAT currently charged is the lowest allowed under EU law, but had the amendment passed the Government would have been required to negotiate with the EU to remove the tax. Nevertheless, Treasury minister David Gauke promised to “raise the issue with the European Commission”.
  • David Cameron spoke out against those who want to “emulate Norway” in leaving the EU, noting that the country “actually pays as much per head to the EU as we do”. UKIP MP Douglas Carswell argued that this was because “the political elite in Oslo” had negotiated “a prelude to membership”, and that “we can get a much better deal than Norway has”.
  • A British man who was imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for the illegal possession of alcohol is soon to be released, according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.


  • Doctors have managed to reverse a complete spinal paralysis for the first time. An Anglo-Polish team used regenerative cells to treat fireman Darek Fidyka in Wroclaw, Poland.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that they now have sufficient evidence to advise that processed meat causes cancer. Foods such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs, from this point onwards, are to be seen as definitely carcinogenic, although nowhere near as harmful as smoking. Red meat was branded “probably carcinogenic to humans”, but the WHO do not have enough evidence to recommend safe amounts of processed or non-processed meat to eat.
  • The Chinese government has ended the country’s one-child policy; all citizens will now be allowed to have up to two children.
  • A joint US-Kurdish raid in an ISIS held town in Iraq has freed about 70 prisoners. Intelligence suggested that the men, thought to include around 20 members of the Iraqi security forces, were set to be executed. One US soldier died of injuries sustained during the operation in the town of Hawija near Kirkuk, becoming the first American soldier to be killed in action in the conflict.
  • Meanwhile in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, a moderate rebel group, rejected an offer of military support from Russia, saying that Moscow is not to be trusted. In related news Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed that Turkey shelled Kurdish forces in Tal Abyad on Sunday.

William Waters

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