Sugar Tax Set to Sweeten UK Economy


    The sugar tax will come into effect in the UK on 6 April to target population obesity. It's hoped younger adults will fully benefit, though the often controversial, measure is aimed at people of all ages to help reduce the adverse health and cost burdens of diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

    The Tax Broken Down

    There will be two bands to the Sugar-sweetened beverages tax or SSBs - one for soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml, and a higher one for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml. The measure will not apply to all other high-sugar content drinks, like juices, or drinks made up of 75 per cent milk, though all are regarded as potentially dangerous to health.

    Sugary Truths

    Sugar has been found to carry low satiety, with the result of stimulating the appetite and assisting the promotion of weight gain. Intake of SSBs has been shown to result in dramatic increases in blood glucose and insulin concentrations. This contributes to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, independently of obesity. In fact, based on scientific evidence The World Health Organisation has recommended a reduction of free sugars consumption from less than 10 per cent, to less than five per cent of total daily energy intake.

    Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "The sugary drinks affected by this tax have no nutritional benefit, often containing levels of sugar well above a child's daily recommended limit. These drinks are a major contributor to the high sugar intakes of children, particularly teenagers, and we are in no doubt that they are, in part, contributing to this country's obesity crisis."

    Gavin Partington, of the British Soft Drinks Association, disagrees saying: "There is no evidence worldwide taxes of this sort reduce obesity, and it is ironic soft drinks are being singled out for tax, when we've led the way in reducing sugar intake, down over 17 per cent since 2012.”

    International Comparison

    Such a tax in Mexico, France and Hungary has been hugely successful with purchases of sugary drinks decreasing between six to 27 per cent after the tax was applied. In the case of France and Hungary however, apart from all types of sugar sweetened drinks, both biscuits and confectionery products are all subject to extra taxation. The Organics council claims we will only be pretending to emulate success abroad as the UK legislation stands. In terms of reaching the daily limit - one 250ml drink of apple juice or the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar will suffice. But of course, many people go well over this without even realising.

    Scientific Evidence

    Organics Council’s science committee member Dr Gonzalo Delgado says: “When it comes to public health policy decisions, it's essential these are based in solid scientific evidence. Sugar taxes can be useful to decrease sugar consumption, but they need to target all high sugar content and artificial sweetened foods, not only soft drinks as in the UK case. Consumers, and people in general, need to be well informed about current scientific knowledge, so they can make the correct choices in regard of their nutrition and health.”

    Malcolm Clark, a coordinator for the Children’s Food Campaign certainly agrees with the sentiments of the council stating: “The sugary drinks tax in its present form will not solve the UK’s childhood obesity crisis. We need other policy interventions including restrictions on marketing.”

    And for those looking to artificial sweeteners, experts say they are certainly not free of calories and also linked to glucose intolerance, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.

    The Outcome

    The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates the levy could add 18p to 24p to the price of a litre of fizzy drink, if the full cost is passed on to the consumer.

    For further information around how The Organics Council work to protect the public through organic practice, research and campaigning, please visit the official website at

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    Former Bradford Lord Mayor Acquitted Of Misconduct In A Public Office


    Britain's first female Muslim Lord Mayor was acquitted on Wednesday of Misconduct in a public office by The Court of Appeal in London.

    The Charge

    Last year Naveeda Ikram  pleaded not guilty to a charge of misconduct in a public office between 1 November 2014 and 31 August 2015. She was accused of seeking contracts for Nexus Assist and failing to declare an interest in that company, while an elected member of Bradford Council. She has always denied any wrongdoing.

    Originally, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), alleged she was said to have 'a financial interest' in the success of Nexus Assist Ltd, which helped young people leaving care in Bradford.

    As a Labour councillor for Little Horton since 2004, she resigned from the Council on November 15 last year, a day before she would have been automatically removed for failing to attend meetings for six months. This she said, was due to ill health. Ms Ikram was the first Muslim female Lord Mayor of Bradford in 2011-2012.

    Case Thrown Out

    Even before the half way point, the case against her was dismissed at Leeds Crown Court by Judge Geoffrey Marson QC at the end of last year. He said there was 'no case to answer', because of a lack of evidence. Prosecutors challenged this decision taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

    A popular figure in the British-Pakistani community Ms Ikram maintained she had never sought contracts for Nexus, had no financial interest in the company, and 'did not abuse the public's trust in her.'

    Court Of Appeal Verdict

    At The Court of Appeal Lord Justice Colman Treacy said: There was 'no sustainable evidence' Ikram had sought council contracts on behalf of Nexus, and that Judge Marson was justified in having described the evidence against Ms Ikram as 'wholly insufficient'.

    From 2016, despite the intense scrutiny she was placed under from these accusations, Mrs Ikram continued to represent her constituents with the same energy and determination she always had in the preceding 12 years of public service.

    Philip Goldberg of Minton Morrill Solicitors, acting on behalf of Ikram, said in a statement:

    “Having taken time to consider its decision, the Court of Appeal today rejected the prosecution’s argument that the judge had acted unreasonably in reaching the conclusions he did, accepting the arguments put forward by the defence. The effect of this is that the judge’s conclusion that the defendant should be acquitted on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to justify a conviction stands, and Mrs Ikram has been found not guilty.

    “Mrs Ikram has found this period of her life very distressing but would like to thank all of those people who have offered her support over the last two years, especially her husband, family and friends. Mrs Ikram would like to thank publicly her legal team who have represented her throughout the process especially her solicitor Philip Goldberg who headed the defence team at Minton Morrill and her barristers Paul Greaney Q.C. and Nicholas de la Poer.

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    Counter Terrorism Police probe vile 'Punish a Muslim day' letters

    Counter Terrorism Police North East are investigating reports of vile hate mail  which is being circulated in Bradford telling recipients to “punish a Muslim”.

    The alarming  A4 letters contain a list of violent acts alongside a number of points for performing them on Muslim members of the community on a specific day.

    The letters have caused outrage and condemnation from politicians, activists and members of the community.

    Tell Mama, UK a charity which monitors hate crime, told the BBC it had received reports of people in Bradford, Leicester, London, Cardiff and Sheffield getting the letters.

    Tell Mama Director Iman Atta said: "This has caused quite a lot of fear within the community.

    "They are asking if they are safe, if their children are safe to play outdoors.

    "We have told them to keep calm and to phone the police if they receive one of these letters."

    She said a number of the letters had been posted from Sheffield and bore a similarity to letters sent to mosques in the UK and US in May 2017, which were also posted from Sheffield.

    "They are inciting violence against the Muslim community," she said.

    Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain also condemned the letters and 'condemns hate crimes in all its forms which seek to divide our communities'

    He said in his statement: "I have spoken at length to senior police officers including Chief Superintendent Scot Bissett from West Yorkshire Police and with Assistant Chief Constable Russ Foster from Counter-Terrorism Police in the North East, who have both assured me that the police are aware of these letters and that there is a serious and ongoing national investigation led by Counter-Terrorism Police and supported by local police.

    "I urge people to remain vigilant and if anyone receives or has received this letter, please contact the police and follow police guidelines to not pass the letter on to anyone else to prevent any contamination of evidence."

    A police spokesperson said: "Counter Terrorism Policing North East are co-ordinating the investigation at this time and will consider any potential links to existing inquiries.

    "Anyone with any concerns about a communication they may have received should contact their local police force."



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    PM Launches Extensive University Fees Review


    Prime Minister Theresa May has admitted UK university fees were the world's most expensive on launching a review of the cost of courses. In the majority of cases Universities charge £9,250 per year, with most students graduating financially toward spiralling debt as a result. She did however, rule out scrapping tuition fees, also citing it wouldn't be fair on taxpayers who didn't go to university. “It would leave higher education in a losing struggle for funding with schools and hospitals, she said: “And it would mean limiting university places and funding.”

    The Opposition

    The Labour party are in favour of scrapping fees as things stand. Tuition fee architect the Labour peer Lord Adonis, called for a return to fees of £3,000 a year saying:  “Universities have become extremely bloated, due to the hike in fees, resulting in sky-high salaries for vice chancellors and management staff.”

    A Complicated System?

    Things are further complicated given the connection to the loan system underpinning the market, with companies pushing up interest charges. The highest current rate is standing at 6.1 per cent. In light of this the Government could well decide to drastically reduce the rate.

    Rather than creating a new system it seems more likely the current one will be changed, though the Government would like to encourage a variation in fees across the board. As an example, according to education experts, courses - such as arts and humanities - could be made cheaper than sciences, which are more expensive to deliver, and where graduate earnings are potentially much higher.

    This also means students will still be required to pay fees as a starting point, though ideas of a graduate tax are being pushed to one side. It's not all about full time students either, with ministers aware more support is needed for those wanting to work and study at the same time. Vocational and technical training could also receive more support.

    Yorkshire Insight

    Yorkshire has some excellent universities with three here given all round scores made up of entry standards, student satisfaction, graduate prospects and overall quality.

    Leeds currently stands 14th in the university league table with a score of 850. The university of Bradford meanwhile is in 58th position carrying a score of 675, with Huddersfield sitting in 72nd place on a total of 635.

    Looking ahead

    Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Unit, said: “The Prime Minister's review team had enormous expectations on their shoulders. There is a long shopping list of demands for reducing fees, and at the same time increasing levels of support. The Government has encouraged this speculation, but it will be hard to satisfy all the hopes, especially if the Treasury is not willing to allow additional public spending on post-compulsory education.

    It's reported the Government has been impressed by the Welsh system, whereby students receive greater maintenance support while studying.

    Blunt Reaction

    Sally Hunt, leader of the UCU lecturers’ union, stated: “The review must be more than tinkering at the edges. There needs to be a fundamental review of university funding.”

    The Russell Group of leading universities has warned any changes to fees and funding should not mean places suddenly become limited. A spokesperson said: “Finding the right balance is likely to involve making a series of difficult trade-offs.”

    This Government-led review will examine all aspects of student funding, including maintenance grants. The current rate of fees will stay in place at least until the application cycle for 2020-21, in the light of both the freeze on fee rises and this year-long review.


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    Bradford to Celebrate Its Cultural Cuisine

    There's little doubt Bradford is the undisputed King of curry having won Britain’s Curry Capital award six years in a row and are still the current title holders.  But who is the best of the best, as locals get to decide who should receive the city's own prestigious accolade.

    In the 1960s and 70s, following the demise of the British Empire, Britain saw an influx of Indian and Pakistani communities. Many of these settled in industrial centres such as Birmingham and Bradford. The majority of immigrants who came were men, with most ending up working in the mills. Kashmiri and Indian men emigrating to Bradford around this time weren’t used to cooking, and there were no Pakistani or Indian restaurants around.

    It was then restaurants such as The Sweet Centre, and Karachi, established to serve the demand for South Asian cuisine from Britain’s new immigrants. Both restaurants are still trading today, and the city now boasts more than 200 curry establishments. Each one serves some of the best and award winning South Asian cuisine in the Bradford District.

    Following years of success, the people of Bradford think the time is right to celebrate the finest examples of South Asian cuisine. Enter, an inaugural awards night charged with highlighting both city pride and profiling the industry dedicated to serving up the finest cuisine. The awards will aim to celebrate this rich heritage, while also recognising the best restaurants, and those people who work hard behind the scenes creating Bradford's culinary craftsmanship. This magical evening will unashamedly be a platform to lobby for the industry, and to inspire and nurture future talent.

    Fatima Patel, Event Director for Bradford Curry Awards said, “Curry is at the heart of Bradford’s heritage and culture and now we can bring the industry together to celebrate their collective achievements and the pride of Bradford’s most successful industry. I am really looking forward to showing off our great curry industry that has become the crown of Bradford.”

    Patricia Tillotson, Visitor and Business Manager at Visit Bradford added to that and said, "Bradford is Curry Capital of Britain and these awards will now showcase the best of Bradford.  It's great that the people of Bradford can vote for their favourite restaurant and look forward to the awards"

    The official charity partner for this year’ Curry Awards is the international humanitarian aid organisation Penny Appeal, Aamer Naeem, CEO of Penny Appeal says: “Curry is something that is loved by so many and so when Fatima approached us for the inaugural Bradford Curry Awards, we were simply delighted to be chosen as the official charity partner. It’s so wonderful for Penny Appeal to be aligned with a city that’s won Britain’s curry capital title for six consecutive years. We have every confidence it’s going to be a great event and via the awards night, we hope to raise funds which in turn will help many people abroad and at home who are in need of help”.

    These inspiring awards will provide an opportunity for the public to nominate who they feel deserve to win the Bradford Curry Award. There are eight categories to choose from, with nominations going live on Thursday 1 February and closing on 18 March midnight.

    All public votes will then be verified and shortlisted for a panel of esteemed judges from within the industry to then take over and find the final winners of the inaugural Bradford curry awards, who will be revealed at a glittering awards ceremony in April.

    The ceremony will be host to an entertaining evening of music, inspirational speakers, comedy and above all great food. There'll be a buzzing ambiance of business leaders, politicians, members of the community, and above all the crème de la crème of Bradford’s curry industry.

    No other City can boast winning the Curry Capital Award so many times – in this sense they really are the nation's best. It's a perfect excuse to share both the love and the glory in one of Britain's most treasured curry destinations.

    Nominations are now open. To nominate your favourite visit:

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