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News in brief

A loan company that was exposed by the Manchester Evening News – for targeting the poor and then keeping them hanging on £1-a-minute premium phone calls – has been fined £1,000 by phone watchdogs.
More than 45 people complained to the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services after being kept waiting for up to 15 minutes.

The Weston & Somerset Mercury got the interview everyone wanted when managing editor Judi Kisiel represented the only newspaper to be invited to a select interview with David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, stars of Only Fools and Horses.
The pair were filming in Weston-super-Mare for their new series of three episodes, the first of which was aired on Christmas Day.

Calls to move the William Wilberforce statue in Hull to Queen Victoria Square have been rejected by the council, despite Hull Daily Mail columnist Steve Regan’s campaign in support of the proposal.
One councillor said: “It’s OK for Steve Regan to say this but what about our citizens? Would they want to pay for the work?”
Regan responded: “It is clear from the councillors’ comments that they were motivated in their decision by a dislike of me and my column rather than a proper appreciation of Wilberforce’s column.”

A newspaper reward of £1,500 to catch a killer has been boosted with an anonymous donation of £500 from a reader.
The bounty, put up by the Shields Gazette, now stands at £2,500 after a series of other donations from readers.
Editor Rob lawson said: “Despite the Gazette only appealing for business bosses to dig into their pockets, we have received many calls from readers who want to help out with anything they can afford.”

The Evening Chronicle has sent an open letter to Transport secretary Stephen Byers asking “Whatever happened to the age of the train?”
It is calling for public transport to be relaxing, pleasant and free from stress.
The Newcastle paper is calling for the minister to be “shunted into the sidings”, as he is “obviously not up to the challenge”.

The Haven House children’s hospice in Essex is more than £2,000 richer thanks to the Ilford Recorder’s Light Up Christmas Appeal.
The paper asked readers to help raise £2001 to see out the year in aid of the hospice project but they smashed the target and reached a final total of £2361.62.

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