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Transit strikes snarl London, Paris

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Protesters take to the streets in Nimes, southern France, on Thursday, as part of a nationwide strike. SYLVAIN THOMAS/AFP

PARIS — Commuters in London and Paris scrambled for alternatives on Thursday — or just stayed home — as public transport workers went on strike for higher pay, the latest industrial action aimed at relief from soaring prices in Europe.
Spreading labor unrest is a growing problem for governments that are already spending billions trying to blunt the worst effects of rising prices, at least for the most vulnerable.
“I took my car, the train and now I have to cycle,” said 36-year-old Nicco Hogg in London.
The action in the United Kingdom, by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport, and Unite unions, followed several walkouts this year amid a long-running dispute over job cuts, pensions and working conditions.
Some 100,000 UK civil servants on Thursday voted to strike, in the latest industrial action to hit a country hit by a cost-of-living crisis.
In France, the strike aims also to ratchet up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron before he brings a controversial pensions overhaul bill to parliament, which would require millions of people to work beyond the current retirement age of 62.
Five Paris Metro lines were completely shut down, with most others operating with only limited rush-hour services.
Many commuters appeared to heed the call by transit operator RATP to postpone trips or work from home, making transport less chaotic than many had feared, while the city’s growing network of bike lanes saw a surge of cyclists.
Others decided to book a day off ahead of a long weekend thanks to Friday’s French bank holiday.
But the two main suburban rail lines called RER A and B, which connect central Paris with Disneyland Paris and the Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, saw more severe disruptions.
Trains on the metro lines still open were packed, with some running only every 15-20 minutes instead of the usual three-minute rhythm.
“It’s a mess,” said Sylvie, 46, after failing to board a metro on the No 7 line because of the crowds.
Authorities in London also said the Underground system was “severely disrupted”, with limited or no services running, and advised people to avoid trying to use the network.
Reports said many buses were packed to capacity, while roads were more congested than usual.
AGENCIES VIA XINHUA

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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The dwindling case for living in London

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The recent debate around ‘levelling up’ may be missing something. I would argue that there is another way to consider geographical inequality – and, by this alternative measure, a levelling has been under way for more than 20 years.

I’ve spent three decades working in advertising, so it’s unsurprising that I tend to view economic life through the lens of consumption. By contrast, mainstream economists tend to view disparities through the medium of earnings or wealth. To me, measures of wealth should include not only the quantity of money you have but the breadth of worthwhile options available in choosing how to spend it.

Let’s put it another way. If you live in a boring village, and suddenly a great pub or café opens on the high street, then by my measure you have become richer; by the economist’s measure you have not.

Things that would once have been available in London decades before the provinces now appear everywhereat once 

There was undoubtedly a time when you were richer in London in two ways. You had more money, but you also had a far more exciting range of ways to spend it. Now not so much.

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London is a great city but, in terms of consumption quality, it has not improved markedly in the past 20 years. Over the same period, many smaller cities and even towns have advanced rapidly, significantly narrowing the gap. The kind of things that would once have been available in the capital decades before making it to the provinces – like sushi – now appear everywhere at once. Consider Turkish barbers, who seem to have taken over the country in only five years. (I can remember a time when it was enough just to get a haircut without having burning methylated spirits flicked in my ears. Back then I just didn’t know any better.)

This levelling is especially true of anything in the digital world: Amazon gadgets, Netflix films, Asos fashions and PlayStation games hit Aberystwyth the same day they hit Islington. But it also applies to the physical environment, as anyone over 50 can attest. I went to Manchester and Sheffield for the first time in 1989. Compared with London, they were then, let’s be honest, utterly rubbish. Now, when I visit those same cities, I experience mild ‘northern envy’. There are interesting places open everywhere. Northerners have better cars, because they have more money left over after paying for housing. And they are much better-looking, because they can nip home to get changed before going out.

Relatively speaking, London has improved far less dramatically than these provincial cities have. (New York, many aficionados argue, has got worse.) OK, the Tube is better than it used to be. Uber is a handy addition. But some things are awful – the last pleasure of driving in London ended when they put speed cameras on the Westway. Accommodation costs for the young wipe out any salary gains.

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By my measure, high property prices won’t just hit Londoners once – they’ll hit them twice. Not only do high rents wipe out what you earn, they also put at risk London’s once unassailable advantage as a great place to spend what money you have left. Creative businesses of any kind require space at a price which allows them to take risks. For a time, London found this space by moving its heartland from west to east. But suppose the people supporting what Douglas McWilliams calls ‘the flat white economy’ flee altogether? In my own experience, Kent suddenly seems weirdly full of fascinating restaurants founded by London exiles. If more of these people leave, the case for staying weakens further.

Londoners always say things like ‘Yes but there’s the theatre’. Let’s face it though – even Shakespeare left London for Stratford in his mid-forties. As he no doubt found, the theatre is all very well, but it’s nothing like being able to park outside your house.

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Gentrification is not a sin

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Gentrification is not a sin – UnHerd

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