BOXING DAY SALES: Thousands of UK shoppers queue up from midnight

Newcastle – VIJAY SHAH via ED RILEY and Mail Online/Daily Mail

Today sees the launch of special Boxing Day sales promotions on high streets and shopping centres across the United Kingdom, with thousands of keen bargain hunters said to be queuing up outside shops from midnight in some places, reports the newspaper Daily Mail.

Ahead of an expected bumper day of GBP 4.75 billion flowing through the tills of Britain’s retailers, reports came in from Newcastle and Birmingham of massive queues in the dead of night, when most people would be sleeping off their Christmas roast dinners. In the northern city of Newcastle, shoppers were seen sitting on the pavement, huddled in blankets and decked in warm clothing.

In Newcastle, around 2,500 shoppers formed a queue at the Silverlink Retail Park, eagerly awaiting the opening of the Next superstore, which sells clothes, at 6 A.M. Next issued 1,300 tickets per shopper, as many as the store could legally contain, yet a 1,000 more will still waiting outside in the bitter north English cold. The store is reducing some of its lines by a hefty fifty per cent especially for the 26th of December.


One shopper told the Mail: “We ordered pizza at 3am to warm ourselves up.

‘Some people might think it’s extreme to wait for five hours for a shop to open, but we don’t want all the best deals to be gone by the time we get inside.

‘I am sure it will be worth it!’

Large early morning queues were also reported in Manchester’s Trafford centre. Across the country, many shoppers took their queue positions from as early as 12 or 1 AM, it was reported. Queues stretched around the block, with hundreds of participants.

Out of the projected £4.75 billion spend today, 3.71 billion is expected to come from purchases at physical stores, with the remaining £1.04 billion coming from online sales, according to research published by the Centre for Retail Research in tandem with Vouchercodes, a UK shopping discount website. Research from credit card company Barclaycard supported the Centre’s own findings, stating that that four in ten UK adults plan to shop in the sales over the Boxing Day period, anticipating an average spend of £188 each. Boxing Day is the most popular day to shop during the Christmas sales period, according to Barclaycard, with three in ten Britons planning to hit the sales on December 26 specifically.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Boxing Day was the biggest spending day ever last year, and will be bigger again this year.

‘Spending of £3.7billion in stores and a billion online will be so high because shops and customers keep saying that almost all shoppers will focus on day one of the sales, to get the best deals.

‘Research also shows many shoppers will spend all their money in one go, unlike a few years ago when people would go to the sales several times over a week or two.

‘Now it’s a Black Friday-style rush on the first day.”

The operations director for major shopping centre owner intu, Gordon McKinnon, added: “The Boxing Day bonanza will see many shoppers brave early morning winter weather to have first pick of the bargains.”

Konrad Kelling, managing director of customer solutions at Barclaycard, said: “Whilst most plan to spend Boxing Day with friends and family, Brits also don’t want to miss out on the best deals to be had.

‘Surprisingly, men plan to spend more than women in the sales this year – whether that be staying up late to buy that must-have item or even browsing online during the family festivities.”

Kelling also acknowledged that not all shoppers were prepared to go to the extreme length of waiting in the hours of the early morning in freezing conditions, adding: “Boxing Day remains the most popular day to shop for bargains over the Christmas period. However, this year the majority of consumers plan to shop online from the comfort and convenience of their own home rather than braving the winter weather and crowds on the high street.”

The British high street industry has suffered numerous setbacks over the past year, with significant store closures and collapses of some famous high street names, as more people opt to shop online. Though the record-breaking Boxing Day sales of 2018 could temporarily halt this decline, many store managers and CEOs are still feeling uneasy about the future of the big chain store in the face of online competitors.


Sherrie Bachell/Facebook.

“The biggest Boxing Day sales ever! Thousands of bargain hunters queue from MIDNIGHT at shopping centres across Britain as they try to beat the rush ahead of £4.75BILLION festive spending spree” – Ed Riley, Mail Online News/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (26 December 2018)


“London December 24 2016 (17) Sale Starts Boxing Day” – DAVID HOLT, Flickr (24 December 2016)


EHI LIVE 2017: Two days left until leading healthcare event

Birmingham – VIJAY SHAH

People in the world of healthcare technology are eagerly awaiting the arrival of ehi LIVE 2017 in just two day’s time, as the UK’s leading get-together for experts and users of digital healthcare gets ready at Hall 1 of the NEC Arena in Birmingham on the 31st October and 1st November 2017.


ehi LIVE, an event which aims to bridge the gap between medical technology, clinicians and their patients, is a yearly occurrence and is organised by international exhibitions agency Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions. ehi LIVE will look at key developments in the digital healthcare field, such as hospital record keeping, cybersecurity, healthcare innovations and new methods of bringing technology into patient-doctor interactions. The event also plays host to a special ‘Knowledge Hub’ which features experts in the fields of digital health and cyber security, offering their thoughts on the latest developments and concepts such as the cloud, wearables, informatics, ‘big data’ and social media, and how these can benefit patients, doctors, nurses and healthcare providers such as the NHS.

ehi LIVE will host nine individual conferences within the event, alongside an exhibition with a lineup of 150 companies and providers in healthcare. An expected total of more than 4,000 attendees are expected to visit the event over the two days. There will also be a late night drinks bash and an awards ceremony.

Key speakers taking the stand at ehi LIVE 2017 include Will Smart, the chief information officer of NHS England; Claire Murdoch, the National Mental Health Director, also from the English NHS, alongside their colleague Dr. Robert Varnam, head of general practice development. Also speaking will be Prof. Daniel Ray (data director and informatics professor at NHS Digital in Leeds) and Paul Park, a CCIO at Oxfordshire CCG. Exhibitors include Elsevier, Fujifilm, Hospedia, HP, IBM Watson Health and LG Electronics, among many others in household names and new entrants in the digital healthcare field.

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article is employed by Informa.


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DUDLEY CAR ACCIDENT: Person killed in collision with car

Dudley/Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Ace Breaking News/BBC

A man has been killed after being struck by a car in the northern English town of Dudley, near Birmingham, the BBC’s Birmingham and Black Country news team has reported today.

The pedestrian, who has not been formally identified as of current reports, was found lying injured in the road at the junction of Marriot Road and Cradley Road in the town’s Netherton district. Nearby passers-by attempted to administer first aid to the victim. Local ambulance personnel arrived at the scene, but the paramedic team were unable to save the man’s life, according to a statement by the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

The victim was reported to had suffered ‘multiple injuries’. He was pronounced dead at about 23:45 GMT yesterday, according to an ambulance spokesperson quoted by the BBC.

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#AceBreakingNews, Twitter, Twitter Inc.
“Man dies after being hit by a car in Dudley” – BBC News – England – Regions – Birmingham and Black Country/BBC (7 November 2015)
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EHI LIVE 2015: Data Standards and Governance Conference

As part of the its conference series being held at the NEC arena in Birmingham this November, e-health events organisation EHI is showcasing a special meeting on the subjects of data standards and governance in the British National Health Service, the company reported recently.

The Data Standards and Governance Conference, which is being scheduled for the 3rd November 2015 at Birmingham’s NEC Hall 1, will examine the issues of developing guidelines and standards for information exchange within the NHS and other health providers. The NHS holds millions of patient records, research information, study results and other significant quantities of medical data on different websites, databases and cloud services, and there are both legal and corporate protocols to be adhered to in ensuring the safety and integrity of that data.

As the NHS aims to become more environmentally friendly and carbon neutral, there is an increasing trend towards making the health service’s data more paperless. Alongside that, there is a greater emphasis on interoperability between the 15 NHS trusts, 3 foundation trusts, 16 social enterprises and over 8,000 GP practices that compose the NHS, according to figures from the NHS Confederation. The conference aims to address these issues in order for healthcare providers to adopt clear  and governance initiatives to enable the safe, efficient exchange of patient data.

The conference will help attendees explore the challenges in developing standards for information exchange in the NHS as well as a look at the steps being taken to build patient trust for a patient centric health service. This is even more essential as the NHS experiences wave after wave of government cutbacks and internal reorganisation.

(c) US FDA/Wikimedia Commons

Likely conference topics will include the building of trust, patient and staff confidence through the system of information governance; creation of a patient-friendly data strategy, and the utilisation of open-source software in data governance to help reduce computing costs.

The event, which will last from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm on the first day of the EHI 2015 stream of conferences, will begin with a case study on the future of electronic patient information. This will be followed by topics on the ‘Code for Health’, working with pathfinder CCGs and the economics of open-source programs, along with a special presentation by key NHS ICT supplier Microsoft.

Guest expert speakers will include Malcolm Senior (director of informatics, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust), Shane Tickell (chief executive officer, IMS Maxims in Milton Keynes), Peter Coates (open source program head, NHS England) and Eve Roodhouse (programme director for, HSCIC) among others.

The Data Standards and Governance conference is one of several specialised events to be taking place at EHI 2015. Other planned events include the CCIO Annual Conference, the Health CIO Annual Conference and the HANDI Health Apps Conference, along with many other events focussing on diverse NHS technology discussions around 3D printing, big data and genomic medicine, health and social care, imaging informatics, NHS social media, cloud software and digital primary care services.

DISCLAIMER: The writer is an employee of Informa plc. which is the holding company of EHI Health, the organisers of the EHI 2015 conferences.
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COPS AND WHEELS: British police forces eye up 207mph supercar

Criminals will soon be going to find it a lot harder to outrun the police in the United Kingdom as forces will be gearing up to receive the latest weapon in their crime-fighting arsenal – a police car that can reach speeds of 207 miles per hour. Police forces across the country have registered their interest in the McLaren Spider 12C, a high-powered sports car that can reach 60 miles per hour in zero to sixty seconds. Each one costs £240,000 and comes complete with the official police livery of blue and green checks.

The Vauxhall Astra is popular with various Bri...
A Bedfordshire Police Vauxhall Astra patrol car (photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Vauxhall Astra – widely used by urban police forces, this highly durable all-purpose vehicle is usually a more sober option in police motoring choices.

The two-seaters have been unveiled this weekend at a specialist car show in Birmingham . Many police commissioners and officers hope that not only will the car keep Britain’s streets crime-free but also be an instrument in breaking down barriers between police forces and the public, especially young people. The police and many youth have had a difficult relationship – based on mutual distrust and allegations of discrimination – and the car is intended to give some cool factor to the ‘boys in blue’, according to the Metro newspaper.

Police Constable Angus Nairn, who appears on the popular TV show Motorway Cops, posed next to an advanced McLaren Spider on the side of a motorway in a special picture produced for Metro by the Anglia Press Agency. On the new wheels, PC Nairn said “Everyone who sees the McLaren wants to come and talk about it.

‘The car breaks the ice and gives us the opportunity to get across the safety message – especially about the dangers of excess speed.”

The McLaren Spider 12C comes with a 3.8 litre turbo engine with 600 brake horsepower, specifications that are normally associated with steeds owned by boy racers. The car has a contemporary streamlined shape to minimise air resistance and its size makes it easier to cut through traffic in pursuit of those who break the law. As many criminals use fast sportscars to make their getaways, and such cars are increasingly highly prized by thieves, the new police car will enable police officers to quickly apprehend wrongdoers and recover stolen sports cars faster. High-speed pursuits are becoming more and more common on the UK’s motorways, many ending in crashes that are often fatal.

McLaren 12c Spider
McLaren 12c Spider (Photo credit: Nick J Webb)

A non-police version of McLaren’s Spider 12C in its natural setting.

However despite the car possibly being the fastest vehicle in police car parks, the Spider does have some drawbacks. According to PC Nairn, it has limited boot space and comes with ‘gull-wing’ doors that open upwards and outwards, meaning the car will need plenty of space when parking. It is therefore unlikely to be used as a patrol car for everyday policing work but will most likely be a fast response vehicle for traffic divisions.

British police forces currently have a wide choice of speedy motors to choose from. One, the Subaru Impreza, widely used in Gran Turismo style car races, is well received among the police due to its sheer speed on the road and its sturdiness. Recently the Midlands police force took charge of a 168 mph Lotus Evora on a temporary two-week loan. That vehicle was billed as the fastest squad car in Britain and was also the first elite sports car to be used by a UK police force.

Despite cops being receptive to using these special cars, ordinary civilians have criticised the move as a waste of taxpayers’ money, at a time when forces are shedding jobs and making cutbacks in policing budgets. Commenters on the original Metro article were scathing in their criticism. Leigh of Nottingham wrote “What a waste of money! When the criminals they are chasing have nothing to loose (sic) ! It doesn’t matter how fast the car is !”, while Michael also condemned the spend on sport cars, saying that the McLaren Spider was a  “complete waste of tax of payers money, 1 fast car or the annual salary of 9 police officers on the beat, that must of been a hard choice for them to make”. Others derided the cars as being unsafe in pursuits and dangerous if the police officer loses control of the wheel, and that the media hype around the new police vehicles was a sign that the police were engaging in a ‘publicity stunt’ which would make little difference to combatting crime.

The UK police’s spend and interest in fast and flighty super cars is small fry compared to the huge selection available to the Dubai police in the United Arab Emirates. A Dubai copper on patrol can choose from a dizzying array of finely-tuned models including a $450,000 Lamborghini Aventador, as well as garages full of Bentleys and Ferraris. They even hunt down criminals in the oil-rich state using the Dubai force’s most expensive purchase yet, a $1.4 million Aston Martin. All cars are kitted out with the local police livery of white with a large dark green racing stripe running round the vehicle’s body.

“Nowhere to run: Police unveil new plan to stop crime… a £240k supercar that can do 0-60mph in three seconds” – Evan Bartlett, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (11 January 2014) LINK
“Flying squad is here: Midlands force’s latest patrol car is a 168mph Lotus” – Charlotte Gill, Mail Online/Associated Newspapers Ltd. (15 January 2011) LINK
“Dubai’s multi-million dollar fleet of police cars includes Aston Martins, Bentleys, Ferraris and Lamborghinis” – Nick Kurczewski, New York Daily News – Driver’s Dashboard/ (30 May 2013) LINK
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LOST IN THE POST?: Birmingham’s 23-year letter delay

Royal Mail workers sorting mail (c) Roy Mayall / Going Postal

While Royal Mail, the United Kingdom’s largest postal service, has a popularly notorious reputation for losing and delivering letters to wrong addresses, they are also sometimes credited as being very efficient and hard-working. But even big companies can make big mistakes…

Waiting for a letter to arrive and finding out it has been delayed or lost in the post is a frustrating experience for thousands of residents in the U.K. every year. Spare a thought, however, for the recipients of a batch of letters posted in the Midlands that went missing for over two decades.

The mail was put into a postbox at Birmingham’s New Street train station as the Eighties drew to a close. Unfortunately it was never collected, as in 1989, the postbox containing them was withdrawn from service and sealed by postal officials. According to local Royal Mail representatives, this was due to complaints from customers who were getting their fingers trapped in the postbox’s narrow hinged slot, as well as a need for increased security at New Street, which served 24 million passengers in 2010/11.

After being decommissioned, the New Street postbox was boarded up with an ‘out-of-action’ sign, only to be targetted by vandals who removed the boarding. As a result customers continued to post their letters through the box, despite it being no longer emptied by postal workers on their rounds.

The box was quickly forgotten about. Located inside the station’s main hall near a branch of stationers WH Smiths, it was barely noticed by most commuters and shop workers alike, apart from the unlucky letter senders who had to wait 23 years for a reply.

An assistant at the New Street train station, Nikee Clynes, with some of the forgotten mail (c) Birmingham Mail

Years of being left in a dark humid space has exposed them to some wear and tear. Much of the forgotten mail was found dog-eared and filthy with dust. Workers sifting through the correspondence discovered several postcards from holidaymakers and a cheque made out to a charity.

Recent renovation work by National Rail at the New Street station – located in Birmingham’s city centre – uncovered the lost letterbox and its secret cache of envelopes, which are now awaiting delivery to their original recipients by a noticeably embarrassed Royal Mail. One spokesperson told the Birmingham Mail newspaper that “We would not seal the box with letters still in it…We believe customers continued to post letters, oblivious to the fact it was not being emptied.

Network Rail, which manages the rail station, did not take any responsibility alongside Royal Mail, stating that they were not in the mail delivery business. The more than 110,000 postboxes located in Britain are usually visited 2 to 3 times daily by postmen/women who can only access the mail inside with specially-provided key sets.



Metro newspaper (28/9/12)

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“Found at last – Letters that lay in Birmingham postbox for 23 YEARS” – Birmingham Mail / Trinity Mirror Midlands Limited LINK

“Birmingham New Street railway station” – Wikipedia LINK

“Locate or find your nearest postboxes” – Matthew Somerville, LINK


“Found at last – Letters that lay in Birmingham postbox for 23 YEARS” – Birmingham Mail / Trinity Mirror Midlands Limited LINK

“The mood in the Royal Mail sorting office” – Roy Mayall, Going Postal LINK