Bitesized Blighty: April 26, 2019
- Speculation is mounting that Banksy, the elusive graffiti artist, joined the climate activists and may have been present at Extinction Rebellion's London protests, after the appearance of a mural at the group's Marble Arch base. The stenciled street art of a girl along with the words "From this moment despair ends and tactics begin" was found overnight on a wall at the famous London landmark which was occupied by the Extinction Rebellion group for nearly two weeks. The group began demonstrations in London on April 15, causing the shutdown of major roads and bridges in the capital, and on the final day of action, activists targeted London's financial district by blocking roads, climbing on a train and gluing themselves together outside the Treasury. The protests have resulted in more than 1,100 arrests and six people have been charged with obstructing trains on the railway network following one protest at Canary Wharf Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station in east London. Banksy experts are certain that the Marble Arch piece is 'legitimate and could be worth more than £1 million', however Banksy has not confirmed if he was behind the work.
- This week, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda, two of the UK's ‘big four’ supermarkets. Had the merger been approved, it would have created the UK's biggest supermarket chain, accounting for £1 in every £3 spent on groceries. The decision by the UK's competition watchdog came about due to concerns that the merger would raise prices for consumers at the supermarkets' petrol stations and lead to longer checkout queues. Both supermarkets had said the planned tie-up would have cut their costs, and would have allowed them to lower prices for consumers across the UK. However, analysts believed the merger was designed to help Sainsbury’s and Asda counter the rise of discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl in the increasingly competitive grocery market. Prior to the CMA’s decision this week, Sainsbury's and Asda, which is owned by US retail giant Walmart, had promised earlier this year to sell between 125 and 150 of their supermarkets to allow the merger to proceed, along with some petrol stations and convenience stores. Despite talks of a possible appeal of the decision, according to people briefed on the two companies’ intentions, Sainsbury and Asda are unlikely to appeal against the regulator’s verdict.
- The London Marathon is set for near-perfect running conditions on Sunday April 28, as Storm Hannah clears the UK, leaving more settled weather. Storm Hannah, named by Irish forecaster Met Eireann, is expected to bring strong winds to the UK with gusts of up to 75mph, and the Met Office has a issued a yellow weather warning for the south west of the country from Friday night until Saturday afternoon. However, the weather will clear up by Sunday and the city is expected to see highs of 60F in the afternoon as more than 40,000 runners take on the grueling 26.2 mile route. The forecast offers a soothing contrast to 2018’s blistering conditions, which saw the hottest London Marathon on record. Temperatures soared to 75F, leaving many runners suffering dehydration and a number collapsing from heat related illnesses. Blazing sunshine is not on the cards in the run up to this year’s big event.