Man arrested after seriously injured toddler dies in Edinburgh

A two-year-old child has died after being found seriously injured in Edinburgh.

Emergency services were called to a property in the Muirhouse area of the city at about 09:30 on Saturday morning. The boy died at the scene shortly after.

Police have confirmed a 40-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Officers called for anyone who may have information to contact them.

Ch Insp David Happs, from Drylaw Police Station, said: “Inquiries are at an early stage and ongoing.

“We understand an incident such as this can cause distress and alarm to the local community. There will be a continued police presence in the area as we conduct enquiries.”

Safety checks eased to help flat owners in limbo

Safety checks that left thousands of people unable to sell their flats after the Grenfell disaster are being eased.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said homes without cladding would no longer need an EWS1 external wall safety certificate – which involves a survey.

Thousands of people have been refused mortgages on flats because owners have been unable to get the surveys done.

But mortgage lenders said they “did not consent” to the changes and questioned how many homeowners would benefit.

The checks were introduced after 72 people died at Grenfell Tower when a fire spread along outside walls.

To begin with, only those who owned flats in tall buildings with dangerous flammable cladding were affected. But in January the government extended its advice to smaller properties and mortgage lenders began demanding fire surveys from a much wider range group of sellers.

With fewer than 300 qualified surveyors for hundreds of thousands of properties, many owners have been unable to access them, leaving them stuck, unable to sell or remortgage.

Earlier, Mr Jenrick announced he had “secured agreement” that the survey would not be needed for homes without cladding.

“Through no fault of their own, some flat owners have been unable to sell or remortgage their homes, and this cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.

The housing secretary said the decision to ease checks for blocks without cladding would help almost 450,000 homeowners who “may have felt stuck in limbo”.

But mortgage lenders’ bodies named by the government as having struck the agreement – UK Finance and the Building Societies Association – said they “did not consent” to being included in the announcement.

A finance industry source with knowledge of the negotiations told the BBC the proposal did not mean properties with issues other than cladding would automatically be exempt from a fire survey.

It would still depend on the decision of a “suitably qualified, independent and properly insured surveyor”, the source said. They did not recognise the figure of 450,000 homeowners stuck in limbo.

Only a “small subset” of buildings would benefit from the announcement, the UK Cladding Action Group said. Estimates by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government suggested that more than 800,000 homes would still require the EWS1.

Some blocks which appeared to be built from solid brick were in fact “clad with unknown materials behind the brick”, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association warned.

An industry source suggested that buildings with wooden balconies should have been included among those which still required the external fire safety checks.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said it had agreed the announcement that buildings without cladding did not need the EWS1 assessments, but it added that it would still need to review the government advice before deciding what guidance to issue to surveyors.

Sean Tompkins, RICS chief executive, said there had been an “acute market shortage of fire engineers” to carry out the checks.

“We are aware of the severe impact this has had on some homeowners and we agree that buildings without cladding should not be subject to the process,” he said.

Mr Jenrick also said the government was paying to train 2,000 more assessors within six months to speed up checks on blocks which did have cladding.

But some cladding experts questioned whether the £700,000 in government funding would be enough.

“Do they think they can just give these people a two-day training course for £350?” said Adrian Buckmaster, director of Tetraclad. “You can’t train experience in the built environment.”

Brexit: UK and Canada agree deal to keep trading under EU terms

The UK and Canada have agreed a deal to continue trading under the same terms as the current EU agreement after the Brexit transition period ends.

The government said it paved the way for negotiations to begin next year on a new comprehensive deal with Canada.

The PM and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau made the “agreement in principle” in a video call, the Department for International Trade said.

The agreement does not give any new benefits to businesses.

But it rolls over the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement reached by the EU and Canada after seven years of negotiations.

Boris Johnson said the extension was “a fantastic agreement for Britain”, adding: “Our negotiators have been working flat out to secure trade deals for the UK and from as early next year we have agreed to start work on a new, bespoke trade deal with Canada that will go even further in meeting the needs of our economy.”

Welcoming the continuity deal, Mr Trudeau suggested a new comprehensive trade agreement with the UK would take several years to negotiate.

Speaking during the video call, which also included International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and her counterpart Mary Ng, Mr Trudeau said: “Now we get to continue to work on a bespoke agreement, a comprehensive agreement over the coming years that will really maximise our trade opportunities and boost things for everyone.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry welcomed the “necessary” deal.

“It is now vital that Boris Johnson and Liz Truss show the same urgency in securing the other 14 outstanding continuity agreements with countries like Mexico, Ghana and Singapore, where a total of £60bn of UK trade is still at risk and time is beginning to run out,” she added.

Before it is formally signed, the UK-Canada Trade Continuity Agreement will be subject to final legal checks.

The UK has now left the EU, but its trading relationship remains the same until the end of the year. That’s because it’s in an 11-month transition – designed to give both sides some time to negotiate a new trade deal.

No new trade deals can start until the transition period ends on 31 December.

Norwichs much-loved otter found dead in illegal trap

A young otter, which became a “much-loved local character”, has been found dead in an illegal crayfish trap.

Wildlife film-maker Phil Coles discovered its body as he removed a net he spotted tethered on the River Wensum in Norwich while walking his dog.

He said: “This young animal, which has brought happiness to so many, suffered a hideous death.”

The Rivers Trust said the number of illegal traps had risen during lockdown and urged people to report incidents.

Mr Coles said: “This cocky, confident young otter has been delighting observers all along the Wensum from the city centre to Earlham but on Friday, the much-loved local character was found dead.”

He said the dead otter and the net were collected by the Environment Agency, which was investigating.

Jessie Leach, from Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: “We’ve seen a big and unacceptable rise in trapping illegally since the start of lockdown.

“This kills our wildlife and can spread crayfish plague to other river catchments and so we do urge members of the public to report any incidents to the Environment Agency.”

Permission from the Environment Agency is needed to trap crayfish in England and the rare, native white-clawed species is protected by law.

“There are strict rules about the design and size of crayfish traps because they can harm other wildlife,” its website said.

Climate pledge on gas boilers for 2023 vanishes

The prime minister’s pledge to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2023 has been withdrawn.

The promise first appeared on the Downing Street website this week attached to Mr Johnson’s climate plan.

But the date was later amended, with the PM’s office claiming a “mix-up”.

The original statement from Number 10 announced this goal; “2023 – Implement a Future Homes Standard for new homes, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.”

That means no room for gas central heating, which is a major contributor to the emissions over-heating the climate.

The latest version of the 10-point climate plan on the Number 10 website includes the line: “Homes built to Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’ and have 70-80% lower carbon emissions than those built to current standards.”

Crucially there’s no target attached to the new version of the policy – the 2023 date has disappeared.

A Downing Street spokesperson told BBC News there had been a “mix-up”, saying: “The government wants to implement the measures under the Future Homes Standard in the shortest possible timeline.

“We’ve consulted on introducing this by 2025 and will set out further details in due course.”

But Andrew Warren from the British Energy Efficiency Federation said: “It’s unbelievable to think there would have been a ‘mix-up’ on a really important prime minister’s document like this.

“Are we expected to believe they can’t tell the difference between a 3 and a 5? Here we go again.”

Mr Warren harked back to 2015, when the government was preparing to introduce a zero-carbon home standard.

At the last minute, the home-builder Persimmon lobbied the Chancellor George Osborne to get the measure scrapped.

Persimmon said the standard would make homes unaffordable, but engineers said better-insulated homes saved money on bills.

If homes are well insulated they can also use low-energy electric heat pumps, which suck warmth from the surrounding ground or air – a bit like a fridge in reverse.

Hydrogen will also be used to heat some low-carbon homes, although it’s expensive, so it’s not ideal for poorly insulated houses.

Mr Warren added: “Some of the major house-builders simply don’t want to change the way they build homes. They have a plan for building and they want to stick with it.”

A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation rejected that. He said: “The industry is committed to deliver its carbon saving objectives as soon as can be realistically achieved.

“The Future Homes Standard contains ambitious deadlines that pose enormous challenges for all parties involved including developers, suppliers, energy companies in terms of skills, design, energy infrastructure and the supply chain.

“We will continue to engage to ensure requirements are realistic and deliverable – but any proposals to advance the timetables already set out (for 2025) would cause significant concern.”

A Persimmon spokesperson said it hadn’t contacted the government to get the 2023 date removed.

Joe Giddings from the Architects Climate Action Network told BBC News: “The industry needs to halve emissions by 2030. As such, the more ambitious timeline for 2023 was welcome – we called for this when the government ran its consultation earlier this year.

“To see this ambition speedily retracted is frustrating and will set the industry back.”

He said the 10-point plan should include not just emissions from heating and cooking, but also the emissions from building a new property.

More and more architects are urging the government to reduce demolition and re-building to reduce construction emissions.

Alan Whitehead MP, shadow minister for energy and the green new deal, said: “It’s deeply worrying the Government is already rowing back on one of its key pledges and can’t make its mind up on the future of home heating.

“Boris Johnson’s low-carbon 10-point plan is already falling to pieces within just days of being announced with one commitment mysteriously vanishing and government admitting that only £3bn of the funding is new.”

Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin

Bharti Singh: Indian comedian arrested after cannabis found in raid

Indian comedian Bharti Singh has been arrested after cannabis was found during a raid on her home.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said 86.5g (3oz) of the drug was found in the house she shares with husband, screenwriter Haarsh Limbachiyaa.

The pair, who co-host the reality show India’s Best Dancer, were taken in for questioning.

The raid was part of an investigation into allegations of illegal drug use in the entertainment industry.

The investigation emerged from a high-profile inquiry into the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June and has led to multiple raids on figures from the TV and film world.

Rajput, 34, was found dead in his flat in Mumbai on 14 June. Police at the time said he had killed himself.

“[Ms Singh] and her husband have been detained for questioning about possession of narcotics substances,” Sameer Wankhede, one of the investigating officials, told the ANI news agency.

The PTI news agency quoted an official stating that Ms Singh’s name came up during an interview with a drug pusher.

Upon leaving her home in Mumbai, Ms Singh told reporters: “They have called us for some questioning, that’s all.”

Top Bollywood actors including Deepika Padukone, Rakulpreet Singh and Shraddha Kapoor have been questioned as part of the recent investigation.