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UK May bank holiday set to be busiest since Covid

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A busy motorway in the UK during the sunset
More than four million journeys are planned on Friday, May 24th, for the long Bank holiday weekend in the UK

More than 20m leisure journeys are expected to be made by car this late May bank holiday as traffic returns close to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study of drivers’ getaway plans from the RAC and INRIX.

Analysis suggests the worst day to travel will be Friday 24 May when more than 4m journeys are planned, as this is not only the start of the long weekend but also the beginning of half term for many UK schools. Traffic volumes look set to remain consistently high throughout the long weekend as 3.7m trips are expected to take place on Saturday 25 May, while 3.4m journeys are anticipated on both Sunday and bank holiday Monday.

With a further 5.7m leisure trips by car planned at some point throughout the long weekend, traffic could be at its worst since 2019 when over 22m drivers hit the road during the same period – meaning the volume of getaways this year could reach 90% of pre-pandemic levels.

The data also indicates that day trips are top of many drivers’ itineraries for the late May bank holiday. Twenty-two per cent said the main reason they’ll use their car will be for a day out with friends or family, while 8% intend to spend a day in the countryside or by the beach. Staycations rank third on the list as 7% said they are planning a short break, while a smaller proportion (3%) are heading to an airport or ferry port over the long weekend.

Traffic is predicted to build through the day on Friday, with transport analytics specialists INRIX advising motorists to delay their departures until 6pm to miss the worst of the queues when both commuter and leisure drivers are sharing the roads. The M25 clockwise between J7 for the M23 and J21 for the M1 is expected to bear the brunt of the traffic with those travelling on this stretch suffering delays of more than an hour and a half in the late afternoon.

On Saturday, traffic is expected to peak between 3pm and 6pm, with motorists advised to start their journeys as early as possible in the day to be in with the best chance of avoiding traffic. With day trips expected to be particularly popular, and even more so in those areas which see the best of the sun and warmth, INRIX is expecting routes from cities to coasts to have some of the worst delays as drivers head to the seaside. In the middle of the day, the M5 southbound – a major holiday route – is likely to suffer major hold-ups with journeys on a 45-mile stretch between J16 north of Bristol and J25 for Taunton in Somerset expected to take over an hour longer than usual.

Elsewhere, snarl ups are also anticipated on Saturday afternoon on the M25 anticlockwise towards the M23, the A14 eastbound towards the east coast, as well as on the M3 and A34 that funnel large volumes of leisure traffic towards resorts on the south coast.

Meanwhile the clockwise M25 is expected to again be the busiest route for traffic at the end of the school half term on Friday 31 May, with journeys between the M23 and the M1 likely to nearly triple in duration to three hours.

“Our research suggests this weekend could be the busiest of the year so far on the roads, with millions of people embarking on getaway trips to make the most of the three days and, for those with school age children, the start of the half-term holiday,” says RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson.

“In fact, we’re looking at possible leisure traffic volumes returning to levels similar to what we last saw in 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, as drivers’ desire to make the most of the UK increases. And, in those places where the warm spring sunshine makes its presence felt, the number of people deciding to get behind the wheel and head for the coast or countryside will only go up, swelling the overall volume of cars on the roads.”

Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said: “While there’s still plenty of detail to work out for the Bank Holiday weekend, signals are suggesting there’s a chance of some dry and fine weather developing in places for the UK, though periods of showery activity will still influence some of the weather. Temperatures should above average for the time of year, though will be slightly subdued where those showers do develop. There remains a chance for the development of some thundery showers in places through the weekend, which is something we’ll be able to add some more detail to as we get closer to the time. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the forecast through the week as the details become clearer.”

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Lifestyle

Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama

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Model-turned-comedian to star in BBC fashion drama
Written, created by and starring British actor Michelle De Swarte, Spent launches this Summer

A new six-part comedy-drama created by and starring Michelle De Swarte (The Baby, The Duchess) will premiere this summer on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

‘Spent’ is produced by BAFTA award-winning production company Various Artists Ltd. (Juice, I May Destroy You, Such Brave Girls, Sally4Ever). It is part-inspired by Swarte’s own experiences of the modelling industry and the trials and tribulations that come along with it. Michelle de Swarte stars as Mia, a former catwalk model who is on the run, mainly from herself. Long term it’s a story of personal renewal but for now, the stark reality is that her career is over, she’s flat broke and she’s homeless.

Alongside Swarte, the series stars Juliette Cowan, Amanda Wilkin, Matt King, Jamali Maddix, Karl Collins, Eleanor Nawal and Rachel Ofori.

Born in South London, Michelle De Swarte was scouted at 19 whilst working in Segaworld in the Trocedero Centre at Picadilly Circus. Soon after, Swarte moved to New York where she worked for major major fashion houses round the world including Burberry, Missoni, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, and Michael Kors. However, Swarte’s career as a runway model stopped abruptly and she moved back to London with nothing to show for her time in the fashion industry. Having to re-evaluate her career, Swarte transitioned to stand-up comedy and acting where she has starred as a series regular in Katherine Ryan’s series The Duchess for Netflix and had her first leading role in Sky/HBO’s The Baby.

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties

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UK Police officer who ran down cow removed from duties
The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK at around 9pm

An officer who was driving a response police car to ram an escaped cow twice has been removed from frontline duties, Surrey Police has confirmed in a statement released on Sunday, June 16th.

The incident took place on Friday on a residential street in Staines-upon-Thames, UK, at around 9pm, where the animal was hit in front of members of the public.

“I fully appreciate the distress our handling of this incident has caused and will ensure that it is thoroughly and diligently investigated. In addition to an internal referral to our Professional Standards Department, we have also referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for independent consideration,” said Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp.

“At this time, the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of these investigations.

“I know there is much concern around the current welfare of the cow. She is now back with her owner and recuperating with her herd. She did sustain a large cut to one leg and cuts and grazes. She continues to be monitored by a vet and our rural officers are staying in contact with the owner for updates.

“I can confirm that on the night, efforts were made to contact local vets without success and efforts were simultaneously being made to identify the owner.  Why these were unsuccessful and what more could and should have been done will form a key part of the investigation.

“As well as our overriding duty to protect the public, the welfare of animals is important to us and we know people want answers about how this happened and what led up to it. I am committed to ensuring that we have a full understanding of what took place and why, and we will fully support any investigation. I have also briefed the Home Office on what action we are taking and we are liaising with several animal charities that have been in touch with us about this incident.  

 “We will continue to provide both our local communities and the wider public with updates as investigations into this matter continue”.

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Appetite for Ozempic boost Novo Nordisk brand value up 59%

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A woman checks her toned image in a mirror
Novo Nordisk emerges as Denmark’s second most valuable and second fastest-growing brand | Photo: Szabolcs Toth

Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical company producing semaglutide drugs Ozempic and Wegovy which are in high demand for weight loss, is now Denmark’s second most valuable brand according to new data from Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Second only to LEGO, Novo Nordisk is valued at DKK35.4 billion, up 59%. Now also Denmark’s second-fastest growing brand, Novo Nordisk has surpassed  LVMH to become Europe’s most valuable company by market cap.

LEGO is Denmark’s most valuable brand for the ninth consecutive year, with a 3% brand value increase to DKK55.2 billion. With an AAA Brand Strength Index (BSI) rating, LEGO also remains Denmark’s strongest brand, underscoring decades of built-up brand equity and enduing nostalgia, demonstrated by excellent scores for familiarity, satisfaction, and consideration.

Tryg is Denmark’s fastest-growing brand, up 62% to DKK11.0 billion. Brand Finance data shows the brand is well-known and highly reputable across Denmark.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented:

“The massive and unrelenting demand for semaglutide has led to Wegovy and Ozempic supply shortages while also dramatically raising brand awareness for Novo Nordisk. With projected sales growth of 19-24% for 2024, the pharmaceutical company must expand production while strategically positioning its brand to stay ahead of emerging competitors. If Novo Nordisk manages its brand well while successfully meeting demand for its products, it could surpass LEGO in the 2025 rankings, blocking LEGO from a decade-long reign as Denmark’s most valuable brand.”

Vestas, Danfoss, and ROCKWOOL are Denmark’s strongest industrial brands. Vestas (brand value up 6% to DKK23.9 billion), the strongest industrial brand with a BSI score of 82.4 out of 100 and an AAA- rating, notes high scores across several brand strength metrics, including reputation and promotion. Danfoss (brand value up 10% to DKK12.4 billion) ranks second, with an AA+ rating. ROCKWOOL (brand value DKK3.6 billion) maintains an AA+ rating and ranks as Denmark’s third strongest industrial brand, boasting a BSI score of 75.3 out of 100. ROCKWOOL performs well across brand strength metrics, such as promotion and its ability to command a price premium.

As part of its brand valuations, Brand Finance analyses the contribution of sustainability on overarching brand value. Brand Finance quantifies brands’ sustainability perceptions in its Sustainability Perceptions Index. According to Brand Finance research, Vestas is recognised as the most sustainable Danish industrial brand across the environmental and social dimensions of ESG (environmental, social, and governance). ROCKWOOL ranked second across all three ESG dimensions among Danish industrial brands, attributed to its commitment to climate resilience and sustainability.

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