INDEPENDENT 2024-04-15 16:07:31

‘Tornado’ hits town in UK as Met Office issues severe wind warning

A potential tornado battered a UK town and flipped a caravan on its side as the Met Office warned of severe wind across much of the country.

The wind damaged fences and left debris scattered across streets in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, just before 7.45am on Monday.

Resident Steven Hemming said his father’s caravan was “completely tipped over” and the strong winds had destroyed neighbour’s windows.

“It’s destroyed a lot of cars, as in write-offs, and people’s living room windows have gone through. The caravan just completely tipped over with the intense burst – it was instantaneous,” he told the BBC.

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A second potential tornado swept through the West Bridgford area of Nottingham at about 7.30am, leaving roads strewn with tiles after garages and outbuildings were damaged.

The Met Office said it was not possible to verify if the strong wind in Staffordshire was a tornado, adding that the winds forecast this morning “had some potential” to create them.

Stephen Dixon, Met Office spokesperson, said: “Tornadoes do happen in the UK and they’re generally short-lived in nature, but around 30 a year are reported on average.”

“Today there have been some reports of some particularly impactful winds. The fronts that were moving southwards this morning had some potential for some short-lived tornadoes within them, but we would need to assess the impact.”

The Met Office website defines a tornado as a “rapidly rotating column of air that reaches the base of a storm cloud and the Earth’s surface”.

The forecaster has warned that windy conditions are likely to cause delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport as well as a possible short-term loss of power.

It also advised those looking to travel on Monday to check road conditions if driving or public transport timetables and amending plans if necessary. Those on the coast should be aware of large waves and take care if walking near cliffs, the forecaster said.

Bridges, parks and National Trust sites across the UK were forced to close due to the windy conditions. The M48 Severn Bridge was closed in the early hours of Monday morning in both directions as a result of the high winds, with road users advised to use the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge as an alternative route.

In Yorkshire, the Humber Bridge was forced to close to wind-vulnerable vehicles including motorhomes, cars with roof boxes, motorcycles and high-sided heavy goods vehicles.

Parks were shut across London including sections of Hampstead Heath, West Ham park and playgrounds in Regents Park, Greenwich Park and Hyde Park.

Kew Gardens, also in London, announced on social media that it would not be opening on Monday due to “adverse weather conditions”.

Tourist attractions including parts of Dover Castle and Ainsdale Beach in Southport were also forced to close.

The Met Office issued a yellow warning for wind at 6.25am on Monday which covers the whole of Northern Ireland, Wales and England as far north as Cumbria until 10pm the same day.

Gusts of up to 45mph are expected inland and exposed coastal areas could see winds of up to 55mph with heavy rain showers.

Hannah Waddingham confronts photographer at Olivier Awards: ‘Don’t say that’

Hannah Waddingham dressed down a photographer at the Olivier Awards who asked her to “show me leg”.

The Ted Lasso star, who recently opened up about a harrowing experience on the set of Game of Thrones, hosted the London ceremony, which took place on Sunday (14 April) and saw Sunset Boulevard take home seven trophies.

Before the event began, Waddingham posed for photographs outside the Royal Albert Hall, but was left visibly frustrated by a comment made by a member of the press, whom she proceeded to call out.

After a photographer appeared to shout “show me leg” in her direction, Waddingham could be heard replying, in footage captured by a bystander and shared on X/Twitter: “Oh my God, you’d never say that to a man.

“Don’t be a d***, otherwise I’ll move off. Don’t say ‘show me leg.’ No.”

Waddingham was cheered and applauded as she walked away, shaking her head disapprovingly.

The 2024 event, celebrating the best in theatre, marked the second time Waddingham has hosted.

Nicole Scherzinger’s Sunset Boulevard swept the Olivier Awards with seven wins. The former Pussycat Dolls singer taking home the trophy for Best Actress in a Musical, with her co-star Tom Francis, winning Best Actor

Sarah Snook, the Australian star of Succession, beat out fierce competition from Sarah Jessica Parker, Sheridan Smith, and Sophie Okonedo to win Best Actress for her role in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Waddingham recently said she had “no time” for criticism of her Mission: Impossible co-star Tom Cruise.

The actor filmed scenes alongside the controversial Hollywood star for the concluding instalment of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, which is set to be released in 2025,

After recalling how she spent “five intense days” with Cruise on the USS George HW Bush fighter carrier, Waddingham said during a TV appearance over Christmas “I have to say, I have a real problem with anybody that goes at him now.”

She continued: “He is without doubt one of the loveliest and encouraging, positive and inspiring human beings I have ever met. Isn’t he gorgeous? I have no time for anyone saying anything about him.”

Squatters reveal their plans for Gordon Ramsay’s £13m gastropub

Squatters who took over a Gordon Ramsay pub in London have announced that they plan to turn the Grade II-listed building into a cafe and art gallery welcoming “the victims of gentrification”.

The celebrity chef had long run his York & Albany gastropub at former nineteenth-century coaching inn near Regent’s Park, but following legal battles between Ramsay and the site’s freeholder, film director Gary Love, the property was reported in December to have been put on the market with a guide price of £13m.

But this week, a group of at least six squatters commandeered the premises, locking themselves inside, boarding up the windows and putting up a “legal warning” defending their takeover, the Sun reported.

A notice taped to a door said the group had a right to occupy the venue, which they said was not a “residential building” and was therefore not subject to 2012 legislation which had created a new offence of squatting in a home.

Mr Ramsay was reported to have called the police on Wednesday but was unable to have the squatters removed, with the Metropolitan Police saying in a statement: “This is a civil matter and so police did not attend the property.”

In a further twist on Sunday, the squatters revealed their intentions of turning the space into a community cafe and art gallery

In a statement, they said: “We are occupying the York and Albany Hotel in Camden as the collective Camden Art Cafe. We aim to open our doors regularly to anyone and everyone, particularly the people of Camden who have been victims of gentrification and parasitic projects like HS2.

“We provide free food, drinks, and a space to display their art without the ridiculous red-tape galleries that require people to jump over. We believe all of us and our art deserves dignity.

“Camden is a borough with one of the biggest wealth disparities in London, so it seems only fitting that £13m properties that most locals would never be able to afford to visit should be opened up to all.

“The York and Albany is an iconic building in Camden since its opening in the 1820s; it has withstood wars and bombs, and despite what the media says, it will withstand the potentially short but hopefully long stay we squatters have here.

“At a time when Camden market has been bought out by a billionaire and many longstanding local businesses are being evicted from their units, it’s even more important that we all band together in all the forms of resistance that we know and can.”

They also extended their “solidarity to the Palestinian people and the longstanding residents of Drummond Street and the surrounding estates who have had their whole lives upturned by HS2”.

The occupation of a person’s non-residential property without their permission is not itself a crime in the UK, athough police can take action if crimes are subsequently committed, including damaging the property or stealing from it.

Mr Love purchased the property in 2007 and subsequently leased it to Mr Ramsay on a 25-year term with an annual rent of £640,000.

The Kitchen Nightmares host unsuccessfully attempted to free himself from the lease in a legal battle at the High Court in 2015. The venue went on sale at the end of last year.

The new takeover appears to be linked to the group Autonomous Winter Shelter, which notably previously occupied a former convent in east London, helping to house dozens of homeless people there before being evicted by police last year.

Three killed and one fighting for life in horror car crash at retail park

Three people have been killed and one left fighting for life in a horror car crash outside a busy shopping centre in north London.

The Met Police believes the incident near Staples Corner Retail Park in Brent Cross on Sunday night involved one vehicle carrying five young men. London Fire Brigade said the car hit a pedestrian bridge.

Police and firefighters attended the scene on the North Circular Road shortly before 11.30pm along with London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance.

However, three people could not be saved and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Two others were taken to hospital, with one said to be in a critical condition while the other is being treated for injuries that are not thought to be life-threatening.

The Met Police has said the five people involved were all believed to be men in their 20s.

Inspector William Mcdonald, one of the officers responsible for policing in Barnet, said: “Emergency services responded last night to what seems to have been a terrible accident.

“An urgent police investigation is under way to establish the full circumstances, led by detectives from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit.

“Officers are in the process of informing the families of the five young people. The families will be supported by specialist officers. I send them my sincere condolences.”

Roads in the area remain closed as the investigation takes place. Police say there have been no arrests made.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Pat Goulbourne said: “This was a tragic incident attended by our specialist crews who attended alongside our blue light partners to make the scene safe.”

The crash happened at the North Circular’s junction with the M1 outside Staples Corner Retail Park, which is a popular shopping destination with stores including Currys, Argos and Dunelm. It was also close to Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Nearby business owners have spoken of their shock following the news of the deaths.

Tommy Bicak, owner of Work Man’s Cafe, told The Independent that he was aware of numerous casualties on the North Circular with pedestrian railings installed at a nearby junction to the crash after a customer’s father died 30 years ago.

He said: “It took me a long time to get to work today and I did wonder. Then I put two and two together and realised something serious must have happened. I’m very sorry to hear of the deaths and my thoughts are with the families.

“It’s a busy road and I’m not sure what further safety improvement can be made.”

Sunday’s crash follows several road deaths in London this year.

On 9 January, a 28-year-old woman died after she was hit by a car while walking her dogs in Enfield, and on 29 January, a person died after being struck by a bus outside Victoria station in central London.

Aristocrat’s baby ‘died at centre of toxic relationship with Mark Gordon’

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon’s baby died at the centre of a “toxic relationship”, a jury at their manslaughter trial was told at The Old Bailey today.

With the trial nearing its end, lead prosecutor Tom Little KC is today delivering his closing speech as the crown concludes its case that Marten, 36, and her partner Gordon, 49, are responsible for the death of their daughter Victoria.

The baby died while they were camping on the South Downs in wintry conditions last January.

In a bid to keep their baby after four previous children were taken into care, the couple had gone on the run and evaded police for nearly two months. Following their arrest, Victoria’s decomposed remains were found in a Lidl shopping bag covered with rubbish in a disused allotment shed.

On Monday, Mr Little told a packed court room that baby Victoria was neglected amid her parent’s ‘toxic relationship’.

He added: “She was neglected and was exposed to dangerous conditions. A freezing cold baby girl with just – we say – a single baby grow and one vest.”

The couple deny charges of gross negligence manslaughter of Victoria between 4 January and 27 February last year, charges of perverting the course of justice by concealing the body, along with concealing the birth of a child, child cruelty, and allowing the death of a child.

The trial continues.

Treatment can help if gynaecological symptoms affect your daily life

“I’d had very painful, very heavy periods for a number of years and when I was about 20 my GP said, ‘let’s get you checked out’,” says Shazia.

The 40-year-old, who lives in Hertfordshire, was sent to be tested for what her GP believed was polycystic ovary syndrome – however the scan ruled this out.

“It wasn’t until I was 25 when I went back to the GP and said ‘look, something is really not right’ that I had some more tests done, and I had a year’s worth of ‘let’s try this pill, let’s try that pill’,” she says.

Shazia was subsequently diagnosed with endometriosis and has undergone three surgical procedures to treat the condition.

“I ended up with a great female GP who was well-versed in understanding endometriosis. One of the things I loved about her was whenever I’d go in after that first surgery, she was really good at going, ‘if you are concerned, you know your body better than anyone so why don’t we investigate?’ I’m really fortunate.”

Shazia’s advice to other women in a similar position is to ask for help when you feel you need it: “Always say, ‘I know my body well, these are the things that I’m experiencing, I suspect it is endometriosis.’”

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

It can affect women of any age, including teenagers, and can have a significant impact on your life and may sometimes lead to depression.

Some women are badly affected, while others might not have any noticeable symptoms.

Contact your GP practice if you have:

Karen, 56, from London, started to experience brain fog, heart palpitations and insomnia – but she wasn’t aware the symptoms pointed to early menopause.

“Menopause symptoms creep up on you and they can get muddled in with whatever’s going on in your life at the time,” she says.

“I had my second child at 38 and it was hard to untangle what was being exhausted from small kids and what was actually menopause.

“The first real symptom was insomnia, but when my daughter started sleeping it didn’t go away. Then came the mood changes, irritability and heart palpitations, which I now know are down to hormonal changes.

“At the time, I was working in a publishing company and I’d be stressed out and overwhelmed by deadlines. Because I had the Mirena coil for birth control, I wasn’t having periods so I didn’t see any change there.”

She adds: “I didn’t get hot flushes until later, so it didn’t occur to me that brain fog and poor concentration were symptoms of an early menopause. At times, I felt like it was all in my head.

“When I was 43, I was having hot flushes and that’s when I was diagnosed as post-menopausal. The GP asked if I wanted to talk about HRT, but I went off and did everything under the sun to try and manage it myself. I tried herbal supplements, homeopathic remedies and acupuncture – they all helped a little, but I still didn’t feel right.

“But when I was 50 I went back to the GP practice. I took a list of my symptoms and I’d done my research on what was available, so I had an idea of what I wanted. She was really good and I came away with [HRT just like the hormones lost during the menopause]. It felt like the missing piece.

“Now I work as a health and wellness coach helping women understand menopause and what they need to do, including good sleep, nutrition and exercise.

“If you’re feeling these symptoms, don’t despair. It might take a lot of tweaks and patience, but seeing your GP and looking after your lifestyle you can feel well again. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Period problems, gynaecological conditions and menopause symptoms are common and can significantly impact women and girls’ physical and mental health, and the ability to go about their daily life.

Don’t suffer in silence. Treatment can help if periods, menopause or gynaecological symptoms affect your daily life. Contact your GP practice or visit

Israel cannot afford to risk alienating its allies over Iran

The wider Middle East conflict that many people have feared since the horrific attack by Hamas in Israel last October moved a big, worrying step closer at the weekend, when Iran launched a barrage of more than 300 drones and missiles in its first ever direct assault on Israeli territory.

Thankfully, 99 per cent of the weapons were intercepted by Israel and allies including the US, UK, France and Jordan, and casualties were minimal. However, this alarming episode might not be over yet. Iran’s retaliation for the airstrike on its consulate in Damascus two weeks earlier, which Israel has not admitted but the whole world knows it carried out, was inevitable. Tehran’s response was dramatic enough to allow it to think it will deter Israel, but it also gave Israel and its allies time to prepare their defences and limit the damage.

Iran says “the matter can be deemed concluded”, but the ball is now in Israel’s court and there are real fears that the tit-for-tat battle will continue with another Israeli intervention on Iranian soil. Tehran warns that its next retaliation will be “much larger” if Israel responds.

Can Rishi Sunak overcome this week’s Rwanda and smoking ban obstacles?

Rishi Sunak is poised to fight two significant battles this week as parliament reconvenes following the Easter break.

The first will be a test of his government, the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, which will see MPs and peers undertake what looks likely to be the final round of wrangling over Rishi Sunak’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The second will be a test of Mr Sunak’s personal legacy, as his proposed smoking ban will be given a free vote when it comes to the Commons on 16 April.