Rare black fox sighting in Somerset brings traffic to a standstill

A man who saw a rare black fox on a country lane said he initially had “no idea” what he was looking at.

Karm Singh was heading home after a walk on the beach at Brean in Somerset when he saw the animal on the side of the road.

The 34-year-old said traffic came to a halt as people stopped to see the rare sight.

The animals are a type of North American red fox with a trait that makes their fur silvery-black.

“The car in front of me stopped and then I saw what I thought was a stray dog at first but as it got closer I realised it was a fox,” said Mr Singh, from Bristol.

“I had to Google it as I had no idea a fox that colour even existed.

“The traffic was building up behind me. It was crazy.”

With their car stopped, he and partner Lily McDonald managed to take several photographs.

Mr Singh reported the sighting to campaign group Black Foxes UK, which says the animals are sometimes escaped pets that need to be returned home.

According to the group, about 0.1% of foxes in the UK are melanistic (black) and are often referred to as ‘silver foxes’.

Mansfield landslide: Families evacuated for second time in a year

Families who were evacuated after a second landslide at the same spot in just over a year have said they are now “terrified” of it happening again.

Four properties on Bank End Close in Mansfield were evacuated on Wednesday night following heavy rain.

The residents living on the housing estate, which sits on the site of a former quarry, returned to their homes the following day.

Mansfield District Council has asked them to “remain vigilant”.

Toby Herring, whose home backs on to the cliff wall, said: “It felt like a big gust of wind and our dog started barking.

“There were loads of sirens and police cars outside. We then thought it’s not happened again, has it?”

He added: “It’s really worrying. It’s terrifying.

“When we moved back on Christmas Eve it was hard to go back to sleep knowing it’s sort of still there.”

Another resident Jai Krishnaa said: “We thought it was fixed and it will be OK, so never thought of it as a worry.

“But to see it slip again – now I’m constantly thinking about it.”

The district council said the debris was cleared and were people given temporary accommodation before being allowed to return to their homes on Thursday.

A spokeswoman had said previously, soil had slipped at the rear of two properties, but this had been “contained within the defined drop zone and behind the barriers that were installed by the council in November 2019”.

Last November, another landslide led to 35 homes being evacuated at the same spot near the former Berry Hill Quarry.

Nobody was injured, but about 19 households spent two weeks in temporary accommodation.

An independent consultant concluded in August the site should not have been developed until the quarry face was secured.

Following repair work, the cliff wall was last inspected by the district council in early November and no issues were reported.

Hilaria Baldwin denies faking her Spanish heritage

Hilaria Baldwin, TV host and wife of actor Alec Baldwin, has responded to accusations she misled the public about her Spanish heritage.

Ms Baldwin, a popular yoga instructor, has been accused on social media of faking her Spanish accent.

In a response posted to Instagram, Ms Baldwin said she was born in Boston but was partly raised in Spain.

However, her management’s biography of her states that she was born on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

She also previously claimed in an interview that she did not move to the United States until she was 19 to attend university in New York.

“I’ve seen chatter online questioning my identity and culture,” Ms Baldwin wrote. “This is something I take very seriously, and for those who are asking – I’ll reiterate my story, as I’ve done many times before.

“I was born in Boston and grew up spending time with my family between Massachusetts and Spain. My parents and sibling live in Spain and I chose to live here, in the USA. We celebrate both cultures in our home – Alec and I are raising our children bilingual, just as I was raised.”

Suspicions started to rise on social media as people claiming to be former classmates of Ms Baldwin in Boston disputed her Spanish accent.

“I went to high school with her,” wrote one person. “She was perfectly nice and serious about ballroom dancing. Her name was indeed Hillary Hayward-Thomas and she did not have her current accent.”

A video of Ms Baldwin asking how to say cucumber in English has also been widely shared.

But Ireland Baldwin has leapt to her stepmother’s defence.

“It’s so pathetic that anyone would want to play detective, and dig that deep into someone’s life that they don’t know, don’t know anything about, how they were raised, who they were actually raised by,” she said on Instagram.

Stockwell stabbing: Murder probe after woman found dead

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a woman who was stabbed to death at a home in south London.

Scotland Yard said the 27-year-old suspect and the victim, who is believed to have been in her 20s, were known to each other.

Police were called to a disturbance in Clapham Road, Stockwell, at about 21:10 GMT on Sunday.

The woman was found suffering from stab injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Martin Lambie-Nairn: Designer behind famous BBC and Channel 4 idents dies

Martin Lambie-Nairn, the noted designer who created popular “idents” for the BBC and Channel 4, has died aged 75.

His design consultancy created Channel 4’s original animated “blocks” logo in 1982 and the globe balloon idents used by BBC One from 1997 to 2001.

His company also produced memorable idents for BBC Two, one of which had blue paint splashing horizontally across the screen to hit a metallic 2.

He was recently seen discussing his work on BBC Four’s The Sound of TV.

Lambie-Nairn’s death on Christmas Day was announced by ML-N, the consultancy he co-founded.

In a statement, it described him as “one of the leading graphic designers and creative directors of his generation”.

“His exceptional work, kindness and infectious creative spirit touched the lives of so many people,” the statement continued.

“He will be hugely missed by everyone who had the privilege to work alongside him over the years.”

Lambie-Nairn’s other credits include satirical puppet show Spitting Image, which he co-created with John Lloyd, Roger Law and and Peter Fluck.

Episodes of the original show, recently revived by streaming service BritBox, credited the programme to “an original lunch” that he attended.

Other brand signifiers in which his company had a hand include the bubble logo used by mobile phone company O2.

He also oversaw a Blue Peter competition to design the official emblem for the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.

Speaking to the BBC in 2013, Lambie-Nairn said designers like himself were “in the business of setting channels apart from each other”.

“All branding is about setting yourself apart and trying to be clear to your audience or customers that you stand for this set of values,” he continued.

Ident is an industry term used to describe a moving logo shown to identify a TV channel between programmes.

Heavy snow in Midlands leads to travel warnings and road disruption

Heavy snow in the Midlands has led to police warning drivers they should only take to the roads for essential trips.

In Stoke-on-Trent, cars were abandoned and roads shut after 3in (76mm) of snow fell. Rail services are also disrupted.

Authorities in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire have urged people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for much of the west of England and parts of Wales and Scotland until 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

There were reports of delays, stranded motorists and abandoned cars on the A53 at Etruria and in Hanley, in Stoke on Trent, with more issues on the A34, in Stone, and on the A500.

Police in Lichfield said the Burntwood bypass, between the M6 Toll and Miners Way, had also been closed due to a crash.

It said police across Staffordshire were dealing with “numerous snow-related incidents”.

Delays were also reported on rail services through Stoke-on-Trent from both Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it was gritting and had sent snowploughs out to clear routes. It said it had only expected light flurries of snow overnight but some places had had about 3in (76mm).

Heavy snowfall prompted Gloucestershire Police to warn members of the public to take care and to “only go out if it is essential to do so”.

Elsewhere, Dudley Zoo is closed for the day and a football match between Kidderminster Harriers and AFC Telford United was called off because of the weather, which has also led to the closure of a number of roads in Worcestershire.

On the M54 in Shropshire, at the westbound junction five slip road in Telford, a lorry became stuck.

As well as the snow. there are dozens of flood warnings in place in England.

Large swathes of London, the Midlands, the South, the South West plus the east of England and Wales have been warned more freezing weather could hit on Wednesday and Thursday.

Brexit: EU ambassadors approve EU-UK trade deal

Ambassadors from the 27 EU member states have unanimously approved the EU-UK post-Brexit trade deal, paving the way for it to take effect.

The deal is likely to become law on 1 January, as the UK Parliament is expected to approve it on Wednesday.

Under EU rules it can take effect provisionally, though the European Parliament will vote on it in January.

The deal sets the framework for trade once the UK leaves the EU single market and customs union in four days’ time.

The deal, which ended nine months of negotiations, will be approved by all 27 EU governments in writing at 15:00 (14:00 GMT) on Tuesday, the German EU presidency said.

They have had three days to analyse the details of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement, since its publication. But most of the 1,246-page document had already been seen by member states in previous weeks.

The deal ends nearly 50 years of UK membership of the bloc, covering a vast array of policies besides those governing common trade rules.

What happens next with Brexit?

There was much relief that the tortuous negotiations – including last-minute haggling over fish quotas – finally ended on Christmas Eve.

The no-deal scenario would have meant reverting to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on 1 January, notably the immediate imposition of tariffs – import taxes – and quotas on a huge range of goods. The tariffs on some food items would have been 50% or higher.

The new trade deal:

Steven Clark: Missing mans voice and walk shown on film

Footage of a man missing for nearly three decades has been released by police investigating his disappearance.

Steven Clark, 23, was last seen near his home in Marske, near Redcar on 28 December, 1992.

His part in a disability charity training video was first shown in television appeals a year later.

Det Ch Insp Shaun Page said it was being aired again in the hope hearing how Mr Clark spoke and seeing how he walked might jog someone’s memory.

“Steven had a distinctive walk as a result of a childhood road accident and the footage shows his walk, and you also hear his voice when he is sat at a computer and speaking,” he said.

“The response from the public so far has been fantastic, but I would urge others to come forward.”

The film was made by the Rathbone Society, which supports people with disabilities.

Mr Clark attended its centre in Redcar because his accident had left him with a damaged arm and leg and a pronounced limp.

Detectives originally believed Mr Clark was last seen going into toilets near Saltburn Pier.

But, in September this year, Cleveland Police said he had been sighted later the same day near his home.

His body has not been found but police are treating his disappearance as murder following a cold case review.

Mr Clark’s parents, Doris and Charles, were arrested on suspicion of his murder in September and have been released under investigation.

Cleveland Police has not named them but Mr and Mrs Clark confirmed their arrest.

Mrs Clark, of Marske, said the couple denied murdering their son and described the situation as “absolutely ludicrous”.