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Budget 2017: Hammond to ‘seize opportunities’ from Brexit

Theresa May and Philip HammondImage copyright AFP
Image caption Theresa May made Philip Hammond her chancellor in June 2016

The UK must “seize the opportunities” from Brexit while tackling deep-seated economic challenges “head on”, Philip Hammond is to say in his second Budget.

The chancellor will promise investment to make Britain “fit for the future” as an “outward looking, free-trading nation” once it leaves the EU in 2019.

But he will also commit to supporting hard-pressed families with the cost of living and address housing shortages.

Labour say he should call time on austerity and boost public services.

In his Commons speech, which will begin at about 12:30 GMT, Mr Hammond will set out proposed tax and spending changes.

He will also update MPs on the current state of the economy, future growth projections and the health of the public finances.

He has been under pressure in recent months from sections of his party who argue that he is too pessimistic about the UK‘s prospects when it leaves the EU.

In response, he will set out his vision for the UK after Brexit as a “prosperous and inclusive economy” which harnesses the power of technological change and innovation to be a “force for good in the world”.


What will be in the Budget?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Millennials are getting money off rail tickets but will there be anything else for them?

Unlike past years, few announcements have been briefed out in advance of the big day.

But the chancellor is expected to announce more money for teacher training in England and extra cash to boost the numbers of students taking maths after the age of 16.

He has signalled he wants to speed up permitted housing developments and give more help to small builders.

In a nod to younger voters, discounted rail cards will be extended.

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An extra £2.3bn for research and development and £1.7bn for transport links are designed to address the UK’s lagging productivity.

Extra money is also expected to be found for new charge points for electric cars and for the next generation of 5G mobile networks.

Expect the theme of innovation to ring through the speech, with Mr Hammond hailing the UK as being “at the forefront of a technological revolution”.


Will it be a ‘bold’ or ‘boring’ Budget?

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Media captionWatch Nicholas Watt’s 2016 profile of the man nicknamed SpreadSheet Phil

The image Mr Hammond has cultivated as a safe, unflashy pair of hands in uncertain times – hence his ironic “box office Phil” nickname – was dented in the March Budget when he had to backtrack on plans to hike National Insurance for the self-employed.

Asked on Sunday whether this would be a bold or boring Budget, he settled for describing it as “balanced”.

While some Tory MPs would prefer a safety-first approach with no controversy, others want him to turbo-charge efforts to prepare the UK for life after Brexit.

Most hope he will begin to address issues perceived to have hurt the Tories at the election, such as the financial pressures on public sector workers and young people.

In remarks released ahead of the speech, Mr Hammond strikes an upbeat tone, saying he will use the Budget to “look forwards, embrace change, meet our challenges head on and seize the opportunities for Britain”.


Isn’t the Budget normally in Spring?

Image copyright PA
Image caption Leaves rather than daffodils will be the backdrop to Budgets from now on

Yes, that’s the way it’s been for the last twenty years. The last one was in March and normally there wouldn’t be another one until Spring 2018.

But Mr Hammond thinks late autumn is a more suitable time for tax and spending changes to be announced and scrutinised before the start of the tax year in April. So from now on, Budgets will take place in November.

But aside from the timing, the choreography of Budget day will remain the same.

Mr Hammond will be photographed in Downing Street holding the famous red ministerial box – used to carry the statement – aloft before making the short journey to the Commons.

While tradition dictates he can take a swig of his chosen tipple during his speech, Mr Hammond is expected to eschew anything too strong and confine himself to water during what is normally an hour-long statement.


What’s happened since the last Budget?

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Media captionThe chancellor speaking about the economy on the Andrew Marr show

Quite a lot. In the last nine months, the UK has triggered Brexit and begun negotiations on the terms of its departure from the EU.

Economic conditions have changed too, although there is fierce debate about how much of this is attributable to uncertainty and negativity over Brexit.

Inflation has risen to 3%, its highest level in five years, while growth has faltered a little.

However, borrowing levels are at a 10-year low, giving Mr Hammond more flexibility, while employment remains at record levels.

The political backdrop has also changed enormously.

The loss of their majority in June’s election sparked fresh Brexit infighting within the Conservatives.

The government has the backing of the DUP, but Mr Hammond – who is distrusted by many on the right of the party – does not have unlimited political capital in the bank.


What sort of advice he is getting?

Free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute is among campaigners urging an end to stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable says housing and the NHS should be the priorities.

And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell wants immediate action to reduce inequality.

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New Northern penalty fares will tackle ticket evaders on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines

ANYONE caught without a train ticket on the Airedale and Wharfedale line could face a penalty fare of £20 from next month.

Train operator Northern is getting ready for the latest phase of a campaign to get all its customers to buy their tickets before they get on board.

The penalty fares system that is already in motion in other parts of the country, will start on the district lines from December 6.

It means any customers travelling without a ticket on a Northern train from that date anywhere between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square, Leeds/Bradford and Ilkley, or Leeds/Bradford and Skipton, could be penalised on the spot.

Posters are going up at stations and leaflets will be handed out to rail passengers to explain all about it.

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail User’s Group said in principle it is important to stop people without paying but more ticket machines were needed at stations first.

“There are some stations such as Silsden and Steeton where there is only one machine, a five minute walk from other platforms and in Cononley people from the village wanting to go to Skipton will have to cross the level crossing twice to get a ticket first.

“I’ve had e-mails from Northern saying they plan to put in more machines but I doubt it will happen before December 6.”

Paul Barnfield, Regional Director for Northern, said: “The penalty fares are a natural extension of the Buy Before You Board Campaign we launched last year.

“Sadly there is still a minority who believe they have a right to travel without buying a ticket.

“Their actions reduce the overall income of the rail industry and, as a result, reduces the money available to invest in further improvements to the railway.

“Everyone who travels by train should have a valid ticket or pass. Or must be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to buy a ticket before they boarded.

“If they are unable to do either of these then, from December 6, our authorised collectors will be on hand at stations along the routes to either issue £20 fines or ask customers to pay double the cost of a single ticket to their destination.”

Penalty fares have been used by a number of train operators across the country for more than 20 years. The scheme works to a national set of rules which include signs and warning notices at stations. There is also a clear appeals process which has been tried and tested by the industry. Go to northernrailway.co.uk/penalty-fares to find out more.

Passengers without tickets to be hit with on-the-spot fines

RAIL passengers travelling without a ticket on two routes in the Bradford district could be hit with on-the-spot fines in a fresh crackdown on fare dodgers, a rail company has announced.

A team of ‘authorised collectors’ will be positioned at stations along the Airedale and Wharfedale lines to issue £20 ‘penalty fares’ to ticketless travellers.

Train operator Northern is bringing in the changes as part of a campaign to get all its passengers to buy their tickets before they get onboard .

The penalty fares system – already used by other train operators in different parts of the country – will start in the Bradford district on December 6.

It means passengers travelling without a ticket on a Northern train from that date anywhere between Leeds and Bradford Forster Square, Leeds/Bradford and Ilkley, or Leeds/Bradford and Skipton, could be penalised on the spot.

Other stations on those routes include Frizinghall, Shipley, Keighley, Baildon and Guiseley.

Northern says it has invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines at all stations on the two lines. Posters are going up at stations, while leaflets will be handed out to rail passengers to explain all about it.

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail User’s Group said that, in principle, it was important to stop people travelling without paying, but more ticket machines were needed at stations first.

“There are some stations such as Silsden and Steeton where there is only one machine – a five minute walk from other platforms, and in Cononley people from the village wanting to go to Skipton will have to cross the level crossing twice to get a ticket first.

“I’ve had emails from Northern saying they plan to put in more machines but I doubt it will happen before December 6.”

Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern, said: “The penalty fares are a natural extension of the Buy Before You Board Campaign we launched last year.

“Sadly there is still a minority who believe they have a right to travel without buying a ticket.

“Their actions reduce the overall income of the rail industry and, as a result, reduces the money available to invest in further improvements to the railway.

“Everyone who travels by train should have a valid ticket or pass, or must be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to buy a ticket before they boarded.

“If they are unable to do either of these then, from December 6, our authorised collectors will be on hand at stations along the routes to either issue £20 fines or ask customers to pay double the cost of a single ticket to their destination.”

Mr Barnfield spoke of the measures that have been introduced to prevent well-intentioned passengers falling foul of the new crackdown.

He said: “We have invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines at all stations on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.

“These machines offer a full range of fares – including discounts.

“With online and mobile ticketing, as well as ticket offices at our staffed stations, there is really no reason for anyone to board a train without a valid ticket.

“For customers who want to pay by cash, our ticket machines will issue Promise to Pay notices which can be exchanged (along with a cash payment) for a ticket when on board the service or at the next available ticket office.”

Penalty fares have been used by a number of train operators across the country for more than 20 years.

The scheme works to a national set of rules which include signs and warning notices at stations. There is also a clear appeals process which has been tried and tested by the industry.

The new scheme seems set to replace a previous ‘failure to purchase’ system, which had prompted complaints from passengers.

Go to northernrailway.co.uk/penalty-fares to find out more about the new scheme.

Charities benefit from Tinder date that went wrong

Liam Smith standing in front of the now-mended windowImage copyright Liam Smith
Image caption Liam said it was amazing to have had an impact in the developing world

Remember the story about the Tinder date that went horribly wrong and ended up with a woman stuck in a window? Well it now has a happier ending.

Liam Smith’s date got stuck in between two window panes, trying to retrieve faeces that just would not flush.

She was eventually rescued by the local fire service, who had to break the window to set her free.

After the date, Liam set up a Gofundme page to raise some money to help pay for the repairs to his broken window.

Unsurprisingly, the story gained a lot of interest on social media and #poodate started to trend on Twitter as people began making donations.

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Liam’s goal had been to raise £200 to fix the window, but after two months he raised £2,800 and promised to give any excess to charity.

Fittingly, the charities Liam has selected are Toilet Twinning and the Fire Fighters Charity.

Lorraine Kingsley, the chief executive of water and sanitation initiative Toilet Twinning said she understood the date had been a “difficult experience” but Liam’s decision to crowdfund had been a public-relations gift that had raised the charity’s profile across the world and enabled 20 households in Malawi to have a life-changing lavatory. “So we are extremely grateful to him.”

Image copyright Toilet Twinning
Image caption Were these villagers told how the money was raised?

One of the projects, in Rumphi, helps local people build proper lavatories and learn about hygiene and hand washing.

As for the Fire Fighters Charity, its chief executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey, told the BBC they were grateful “whatever the circumstances” in which the money had been raised.

The charity helps provide life-enhancing services to firefighters recovering from injury, illness or psychological trauma.

Liam is equally delighted to have made a difference.

“It’s great to hear about the impact the donations have had for people living in Malawi, as well as from the Fire Fighters Charity about the positive impact the donations have had for their work here in the UK,” he said.

Ever the gentleman, Liam has still not revealed the name of his date, but has said they have remained friends.

Interviews by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social News team

Bus tours for future teachers expand to Bradford’s secondary schools

TEACHER training students will be taken on bus tours of secondary schools across Bradford as part of a major recruitment campaign.

Bradford Council organises the tours to give people who are training to be teachers an insight into how rewarding working in the district’s schools can be.

Tours have so far been of primary schools, but students are now being shown around Bradford’s secondary schools.

The bus tours have already been credited with helping to recruit more than 200 teachers into Bradford’s primary schools since they were first launched two years ago.

Councillor Imran Khan, executive for education, employment and skills said: “We know that when people see the work that our schools do first-hand they want to be involved. We hope the teacher training students who take part are inspired by what they see.

“Bradford’s secondary schools are already achieving some amazing results – having been the fourth most improved area in the country for the progress pupils are making at GCSE. We hope more talented teachers taking part in the latest round of bus tours will join us to help improve the district’s results further.”

The tours are followed by a ‘Journey to Your First Teaching Post’ workshop where candidates are given advice about applying for jobs, writing personal statements and preparing for their job interviews.

The newly qualified teachers are then invited to apply to a talent bank which has been set up by Bradford Council to allow the district’s schools to find the best candidates for their vacancies.

VIDEO: Mum tells of burglary ordeal for crime-busting campaign

Mum-of-two Natalie Starr has recorded five videos telling of her ordeal, which West Yorkshire Police have released on their website.

Mrs Starr’s house was burgled while she was walking her dog with her children, aged four and five. She received a call from one of her neighbours to say she had seen her car being driven away, and returned home to find her house ransacked.

She said: “The biggest upset was actually going through the babies’ things and going through the children’s rooms and thinking there might be something expensive in a toy box or a baby’s memory box. The thing that was actually the most disturbing was when you realise somebody has been in your house.”

Mrs Starr, 35, has now set up a Neighbourhood Watch group.

As part of their new campaign, West Yorkshire Police have put together simple crime prevention advice to help homeowners protect their possessions, backed by a poster campaign.

The three messages are to always remember to lock the door, leave a light on upstairs, and to always set the burglar alarm.

Mrs Starr said: “I didn’t ever believe it would happen to me. I thought I lived in a very safe place, I’m at home a lot and felt very secure.

“We had always talked about adding additional security but felt safe enough for it not to be top of the priority list. They were in the house for 19 minutes, and went through 11 rooms, every cupboard and drawer and the baby boxes to see if anything valuable was in there.

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“The impact has been far more than I ever anticipated.

“After the burglary I was a little scared to be in the house on my own at night. I became a bit neurotic about locking doors behind me and making sure every door was locked in the house.

“We have ordered new gates to make sure it is not so open to see our children playing in the front garden, because you start to worry about other things happening to you as well.”

Police are not revealing the location of Mrs Starr’s home.

See all five videos here.

Racing driver Tim Sugden talks about his latest project and living life in the fast lane

ICONIC classics – the power and practicality of the reliable ‘Landy’ and the super cool and cute Mini stand wing to wing in Tim Sugden’s Horsforth showroom.

Launched in October, Purple-Dot-Performance.com is another turning point in Tim’s glittering motor racing career which is heading full circle.

Coincidentally, the circular ‘purple dot,’ Tim explains racing drivers are clamouring to achieve on race timing screens symbolises success – it is, to put it simply, being the best you can be hence its inclusion in his business branding.

Glancing at the aforementioned wheels in the showroom in Long Row this is evidently the bar Tim has set himself in business as well as on track.

The Morgan parked elegantly in the window is brand new and unregistered; the 1979 MG Midget in pristine condition following its previous pampered existence inhabiting a heated garage in Switzerland; the C reg Mini Mayfair, cherished by one lady owner from new and with only a few thousand miles on the clock and one of the last Land Rovers to roll off the production line are among the prestigious marques Tim has procured through expertise.

Car sales was where it all began which is why his career is now coming full circle. As a young entrepreneur Tim began selling cars to fund the motor racing ambition he had harboured since taking the wheel of his first go-kart when he was 12.

By the age of 19, and with a boost from the Government’s new business start-up scheme, Tim began selling cheap runabouts from two pitches in Lidget Green and Wibsey in his then home city, Bradford.

“They were £500, £600 Allegros; Marinas, Chevettes, Cortinas and old Minis,” recalls Tim.

Years later he was climbing into the cockpits of some of the world’s most iconic wheels, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Porsches and Mercedes, the dream cars young boys pin to their bedroom walls on posters as aspirations of the symbols of success they yearn to own.

By this time Tim was literally living the dream – but it didn’t come easy as anyone wanting to enter motorsport without money will know.

“We didn’t have that sort of money. It is ridiculously hard to get into motorsport,” recalls Tim.

His father, David, who effectively fuelled Tim’s early fascination with cars when he watched Dad’s brief dabble at amateur racing, recalls taking out a three year loan simply to fund a year‘s lease on a racing car while making ends meet on a sales rep’s wage.

“I was 26 and still living at home with my Mum and Dad. I didn’t have a penny to my name,” recalls Tim.

Conscious of his own struggles, Tim’s success has enabled him to establish a scholarship helping young talented drivers to rise through the ranks.

Coaching and motorsport management are other strands to the Purple Dot brand he is busy developing through initiatives such as the Purple Dot branded BMW racing car he runs on the famous Nurburgring racing circuit in Germany.

“Everything I do in motorsport is around the world,” says Tim, who is eager build a ‘car community’ closer to home – hence the opening of the showroom.

While he’s enjoying his success now, Tim recalls the struggles which forced him to briefly park his dream of becoming a racing driver.

It was, he recalls, a contact, he had known previously, who fuelled his enthusiasm to race again after popping in to the car sales pitch he was running.

“He said ‘what are you racing these days?’ I said I had stopped. He asked why and I said because it’s a nightmare. I said I’d put everything into it and got nowhere. He said ‘you shouldn’t give up – you’re really talented, you should keep going.”

Tim took advantage of his wise words. “I could have started building the business up and I could have ended up with a huge car sales business if I’d stuck at it at 20, but I would have always looked back and regretted not trying to make a career out of what I had dreamed of doing,” says Tim.

His lucky break, and the climb to the big-time began when renowned racing car manufacturer, Van Diemen, in Snetterton, Norfolk, loaned Tim a brand new RF87 and racing car engine builder, Scholar, gave him an engine.

Formula Ford beckoned and the offer of a factory drive through Swift catapulted Tim’s career. He spent a season driving for Honda, finishing third in the CRX challenge. Tim recalls it was the first time he’d participated in a race without spending a penny.

“That was a real pivotal moment,” says Tim.

It also paved the way for 1990 – the ‘big year’ when he was selected to drive for BMW’s Junior Team following the company’s talent competition to find young racing drivers.

Tim and two other young drivers were offered four races each. At the end of the year Tim was taken on full-time.

Finally he was entering life in the fast lane – literally. He swapped the unreliable Renault 11 he’d purchased for £75 for a brand new BMW road car and was competing in touring car races garnering significant numbers of spectators.

Three years after driving for BMW, Tim was approached by Toyota before switching to GT racing which saw him take the wheel of a range of sports cars; Ferraris, Porsches to name-drop a few.

He spent six years driving for a team put together by Pink Floyd manager, Steve O’ Rourke, during which he participated in the world famous 24 hour Le Mans FIA World Endurance Championship.

After turning professional Tim’s racing career began to go global. In 2002 he participated in 22 international races with 17 top six finishes, nine podiums and five wins.

According to David, only two British drivers won more international races than Tim during this period – Lewis Hamilton and Alan McNish.

In 2004 Tim competed in 29 races, finished in the top six 21 times; had 13 podiums and five wins.

Chatting about his son’s career, David is naturally proud of Tim’s achievements and the fact that he has ‘stuck at it.’ “It is the hardest thing in the world to do and be paid to do it since he was in his early 20s and that is what makes me proud of him.”

Cars are a shared passion for father and son. “I had always been a car enthusiast and the opportunity to work for Aston Martin was heaven sent,” says David, who worked at the Farsley factory after joining the company in 1956 as a 17-year-old apprentice.

He recalls Tim’s interest developed as a young boy. “Obviously in a family like ourselves people bought him Dinky toys as a child. He always carried one in his pocket.”

Now Tim is stacking them up – models of the super cars he has driven are neatly arranged in a tower on his office desk. A McLaren pencil tin, modelled on a car he once drove and once retailed through Woolworths, has a poignant memory for Tim who recalls signing autographs on the many brandished by fans.

Polished trophies are flanked by the poster recording one of Tim’s many memorable achievements in 2005 as the only second British driver to win the Porsche Cup for 25 years.

His most recent success, bringing his story up to date so far, is with GruppeM, the racing team set up by Kenny Chen in 2004.

Tim, who already had the expertise of setting up and running his own race team for five years, helped Kenny form Gruppe M. He has participated in championships around the world, including Asia and America. More recently, and driving for Mercedes, GruppeM won the Blancpain Asia GT championship this year.

And so Tim’s success continues through motorsport and his new business. “The idea is to build up a car community in this area,” explains Tim, who is also offering track days for those who want to experience life in the fast lane.

Being a racing driver is a natural ability – according to Tim: “It is a real strange blend of qualities. I manage drivers now and it is controlled aggression but it is a rare set of traits,” Tim explains.

“You have to have a good hand to eye coordination and a really good sense of balance and you need to have the ability to stay calm under pressure, your brain has to keep working calmly under pressure because everything is happening so fast,” he says, hinting at the 180mph speeds they regularly reach on the racing track.

Fuelled by his passion, Tim is keen to continue living life in the fast lane. “The main thing is to keep doing what I am doing; keep enjoying what I am doing. My job never feels like a job.”

Theresa May’s policy board chief George Freeman stands down

George FreemanImage copyright PA

Theresa May’s policy chief is standing down to concentrate on boosting the Conservative Party’s campaigning strength and appeal to younger voters.

George Freeman said the party needed to change after its “ill-conceived” general election campaign.

He warned the PM during the campaign that they risked becoming “a narrow party of nostalgia, hard Brexit, public sector austerity and lazy privilege”.

Labour said his resignation “speaks volumes” about the state of the Tories.

Mr Freeman was originally made chairman of Mrs May’s policy board when she became prime minister in July 2016.

The board was a small group of advisers set up to encourage “fresh thinking” in key policy areas, such as affordable housing. It has not met since the general election.

‘Urgent threat’

Writing on the ConservativeHome website, the Mid Norfolk MP said he would now be focusing on his role as chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum, which was set up in 2011 to give ordinary members more of a say.

In his article, Mr Freeman said he wanted to address falling membership and the “urgent” threat of “a rejuvenated Labour Party” by instigating a “bold programme of Conservative Party renewal”.

This would mean a new party chairman and team at party headquarters to “oversee the intellectual, organisational and cultural renaissance of a conservatism fit to shape and lead us through the 21st Century”.

“Given the deepening disconnection between the Conservative Party, the new generation of aspirational voters under 45 and the new intellectual battle of ideas reshaping our political landscape, this is now urgent,” he added.

He said the party had not yet “framed a coherent economic programme to tackle the underlying economic causes of the injustices which so many voted against in the election” but warned against becoming “Corbyn-lite”, which would only risk “tempting voters to vote for the real thing”.

Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: “For a man who once said that the ‘raison d’etre’ of his role in No 10 was to face the challenge of renewal in office, his resignation speaks volumes on the current state of the Tories in government.”

“He has caught the essence of the Conservative Party in a two-word phrase: lazy privilege.”

Paddington team to adapt Faraway Tree

The Magic Faraway TreeImage copyright Hachette
Image caption The books are set in a fantasy world in the sky

Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree is being brought to life on the big screen for the first time.

StudioCanal, which was behind the Paddington films, is joining forces with Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions, for a live action adaptation of the book series.

The tales follow a group of children’s adventures at the top of a tree in an enchanted forest.

Blyton wrote the Faraway Tree books between 1939 and 1951.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Blyton (centre) is one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors

The characters in the stories included Silky the fairy, Moonface, Dame Washalot and Saucepan Man.

Simon Farnaby, who will write the adaptation and was also behind the Paddington 2 screenplay, said: “The Magic Faraway Tree books are a firework display of the imagination.

“The pages are lit up with wonderful characters, humour, peril and adventure. Most homes have a well-worn jam-fingerprinted volume somewhere on their shelves.

“I’m very much looking forward to bringing the likes of the Old Saucepan Man and Dame Washalot to the big screen for fans both old and new.”

Image copyright StudioCanal
Image caption Paddington 2 was recently released in the UK

Danny Perkins of StudioCanal UK described Blyton’s work as “timeless”, saying he’d “loved her writing since childhood”.

He added: “Not unlike the work of Michael Bond CBE, we very much look forward to bringing enduring family classics to audiences worldwide.”

Blyton is one of the world’s best-selling children’s authors and her books have sold more than 500 million copies. She died in 1968.

The four novels that have been optioned for film adaptation are The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of the Faraway Tree and Up the Faraway Tree.

Previous films from Neal Street Productions include Oscar-nominated Revolutionary Road, Starter for Ten and Jarhead. It also makes BBC series Call The Midwife.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Three face no action over Gaia Pope death

Gaia PopeImage copyright PA
Image caption Gaia Pope’s body was found 11 days after she went missing

Three people who were held over the death of teenager Gaia Pope will face no further action, police have said.

Paul Elsey, 49, his mother Rosemary Dinch, 71, and her 19-year-old grandson, Nathan Elsey, were all arrested on suspicion of murder.

They were questioned by detectives over the disappearance of 19-year-old Miss Pope, who went missing from Swanage, Dorset, on 7 November.

Her body was found on Saturday in a field near the town.

A post-mortem examination was conducted on Sunday but did not identify any injuries to suggest the involvement of other people, Dorset Police said.

The force is treating the death as “unexplained” pending toxicology results.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A police cordon was set up in a field near Swanage after Miss Pope’s clothing was found on Thursday

Det Supt Paul Kessell, of Dorset Police said: “Following the results of the post-mortem examination and other ongoing investigative enquiries, we have concluded that no-one else was involved in Gaia’s death.

“As such we have today released from our investigation two men aged 19 and 49 and a 71-year-old woman, all from Swanage, who had been arrested and were assisting with our enquiries.

“I appreciate our enquiries would have caused these individuals stress and anxiety, however we have an obligation in any missing person investigation to explore every possible line of enquiry.

“The public would expect Dorset Police to fully investigate the sudden disappearance of a teenage girl. Our aim was not only to find Gaia but to find out what happened to her.

“Gaia’s family has been informed of this latest development and our thoughts remain with all her family and friends at this incredibly difficult time.”

Image caption People in the town came together at the church to say prayers and light candles on Sunday night

Following her disappearance, searches by police, the coastguard and police helicopter – along with hundreds of volunteers – were carried out in the Swanage area.

On Thursday, police discovered clothing belonging to Miss Pope on open land outside Swanage.

Her elder sister, Clara Pope-Sutherland, said the 19-year-old was the “light of my life” and “intelligent, beautiful and emotionally wise”.

On Sunday evening a church service was held at St Mary’s Church in Swanage with candles lit in memory of Miss Pope.


The search for Gaia Pope

Image copyright Gaia Pope

7 November: Miss Pope is driven by a family member from Langton Matravers to Swanage. At 14:55, she is seen on CCTV at St Michael’s Garage buying ice cream. The last confirmed sighting is at 16:00 at an address in Manor Gardens on Morrison Road

8 November: Her family makes a plea through police for her to make contact. Dorset Police says it is “becoming increasingly concerned”

9 November: Searches by police, the coastguard and force helicopter are carried out in the Swanage area. Miss Pope’s relatives release a statement saying they are “frantic with worry”

10 November: CCTV footage shows Miss Pope on Morrison Road, Manor Gardens, at 15:39 on 7 November

13 November: Rosemary Dinch and Nathan Elsey are arrested on suspicion of murder and released under investigation

14 November: Searches continue with the coastguard and volunteers from Dorset Search and Rescue and Wessex 4×4

15 November: CCTV images of Miss Pope at St Michael’s Garage are released. Searches continue to concentrate inland

16 November: Paul Elsey is arrested on suspicion of murder. Miss Pope’s clothing is discovered in a field near Swanage and a police cordon is set up

17 November: Mr Elsey is released under investigation

18 November: Police discover a body near the coast path and a field close to where her clothing was found

20 November: Police announce Paul Elsey, Ms Dinch, and Nathan Elsey are to face no action