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Brexit: How one French port town is preparing



Dieppe, on the Normandy coast, is tied to Sussex by centuries of sea crossings. Nowadays, the ferry from Newhaven is a gateway to France – carrying up to 40 lorries and 600 passengers two or three times a day in each direction. As the UK makes preparations for a possible no-deal exit from the EU, how are people in Dieppe responding?

I trudge along the quayside in the early morning light. A cool breeze blows salty air my way. A godsend, after a choppy crossing overnight.

I’ve come to the historic port of Dieppe. You could draw a straight line from Paris to London, and it would pass right through here.

Back home, the public conversation is dominated by Brexit.

But what do the Dieppois make of it all?

I approach the traders on the quayside, laying out their shellfish on upturned crates.

Here, my question is met with a gallic shrug.

“I’ve got nothing to say on that,” snaps one vendor, barely glancing up from her work. “I am not well informed.”

Another passer-by strikes a more conciliatory tone. “I don’t think it’s going to change a whole lot. I hope our relationship will last.”

‘Got to adapt’

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, France has said goods and people would once again need checking as they enter the country.

In January, it activated its plans for such a scenario, and 50m euro is being spent across France’s ports and airports.

In Dieppe, that means an extra eight customs officials at the port, as well as setting aside the old fruit warehouse for holding goods.

Nicolas Langlois, the 35-year-old mayor, explains this all with a calm, relaxed air.

“The challenge for us is to reassure local people, because there are many of them who work around the cross-channel route.

“We’re also asking for a fourth daily crossing, all year round, between Dieppe and Newhaven. If we were to get back 1%, 2%, 3% of the freight from Calais, then we’d multiply by two, by three, by four the freight to Dieppe and that would be economically important.”

How does he feel, I wonder, about having to spend money and make preparations because of a decision France was allowed no part in?

“Pah! That’s a very English question! C’est la vie. We’ve got to adapt.”

In the afternoon, we’re off to the races – Dieppe’s well-manicured hippodrome, which has its own role to play in the town’s Brexit preparations.

I’m joined by Agnes Sibers, president of a European racing club – the Fédération Internationale des Gentlemen-Riders et des Cavalières.

She explains: “Since British stallions are the best, and Norman ones are as well, British owners tend to send half of their mares to Normandy to get covered by French stallions.

“And going the other way, French owners and breeders send their mares to Ireland and England to be covered.”

If the UK leaves without a deal, these Channel-hopping horses – along with their foals – would be subject to veterinary checks not previously necessary.

The racecourse plans to build extra stabling and a 250m exercise yard for horses in quarantine.

Printing in coffee

My final stop takes me out of town, to a business park in the shadow of the gargantuan Nescafe factory.

The smell of coffee fills the valley – other brands presumably available elsewhere.

Here, Graham Precey from the Newhaven Regeneration Group joins Audrey Fontaine, of Normandie EcoSpace, to show me a workshop which makes expensive technology available to local start-ups and schools.

“Would you like to be scanned?” Audrey asks, earnestly brandishing a hand-held piece of kit.

It could, if I’m not careful, take a 3D map of me, ready to be printed in what looks like plastic.

In fact – the 3D printers here use coils made from recycled coffee and shellfish.

Graham loves the setup. He’s in talks to bring something similar to the Newhaven area.

Next month, both organisations are running a ‘start-up cruise’ across the Channel, where Norman and Sussex firms will link up.

Why all this cross-channel activity? Is Brexit focusing the mind?

Graham explains there’s something else, too. In three years’ time, the Normandy region will decide whether to continue subsidising the crossing to Dieppe.

“It’s a 26m euro a year subsidy from the French side to fund the ferry. From our perspective, how can we make the ferry busier and prove it’s value?”

A lot can change in three years, of course.

But in Dieppe, Brexit preparations tick on pragmatically, without much panic.

Read this and more articles at BBC Sussex

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PayPal urged to block essay firm cheats



The education secretary is calling on payments firms such as PayPal to block transactions for essay writing firms, in a bid to beat university cheats.

Damian Hinds says it is “unethical for these companies to profit from this dishonest business”.

He also suggests UK universities should consider US-style “honour codes” where students promise not to cheat.

A PayPal spokesman says an “internal review is already under way” into essay-writing services.


Such firms might say they are offering legitimate help for students, but the higher education watchdog, the Quality Assurance Agency, has warned they can be “unscrupulous services that damage reputations and lives”.

“Companies that try to entice students to buy so-called plagiarism-free essays pose a real threat to the academic integrity of our higher education,” said Douglas Blackstock, head of the QAA.

“These unscrupulous operators, increasingly and falsely marketing themselves as providing legitimate study aids, must be stopped in their tracks.”

Mr Blackstock also warned of students being blackmailed by essay-writing firms, with demands for money under the threat of exposing the previous cheating.

The QAA wrote to PayPal in November calling on the firm “to close down the payment facilities for the essay-writing companies that encourage students to cheat”.

But the university standards watchdog says there has not been any indication of any change in policy.

A PayPal spokesman said: “We carefully review accounts that are flagged to us for possible violations of our policies, as well as UK laws and regulations.

“An internal review is already under way looking at the implications of essay writing services.

“We would be happy to talk to the Department of Education about their concerns.”

‘Black market’

The education secretary wants payment service companies to take action to stop such “essay mills” – and says their “corporate reputation” should matter to them.

He said the QAA identified 17,000 academic offences in 2016 – but it was impossible to know how many cases had gone undetected.

“Sadly there have always been some people who opt for the easy way and the internet has seen a black market in essay writing services spring up.”

Mr Hinds added that such firms are “exploiting young people and it is time to stamp them out”.

“I am determined to beat the cheats who threaten the integrity of our system and am calling on online giants, such as PayPal, to block payments or end the advertisement of these services – it is their moral duty to do so,” said Mr Hinds.

He also suggested that universities should adopt “honour codes”, in which students formally commit to not cheating, and also recognise the consequences facing students who are subsequently caught.

There has been research from the US showing that such honour codes can act as a deterrent and reduce levels of cheating.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, said: “Cheating should be tackled and the problem should not be allowed to fester any longer.

“Legislation is needed to outlaw this abominable practice, but this is a valuable first step.”

The education secretary’s call for a tougher line on essay writing services was backed by Chris Hale of Universities UK.

He said the university organisation wanted “essay mills to be made illegal and we continue to work together with government, the Quality Assurance Agency and other higher education bodies to tackle their use”.

Read this and more articles at BBC Sussex

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Man swept out to sea at Brighton 'could not be saved'



A man who was swept into the sea and drowned during stormy weather could not have been saved, a coroner has concluded.

David Dooley, 38, had been drinking heavily in Brighton but was swept away as Storm Callum battered the south-east English coast on 13 October, 2018.

Mr Dooley, who lived in Chiswick, London, was seen “waving his arms and making attempts to return to shore”.

The coroner delivered a conclusion of accidental death.

Sussex Police officers were ordered not to go into the rough seas because he had drifted too far out, the inquest at Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court was told.

‘Impaired judgement’

East Sussex assistant coroner Gilva Tisshaw said this was the correct decision as he could not have been saved.

Police on the scene also did not know where the life rings were located, leading to delays in trying to rescue him, the inquest heard.

The body of Mr Dooley, who was originally from Dublin, was pulled out of the water close Brighton Palace Pier.

The inquest heard he had started drinking in the afternoon of 12 October and continued until the early hours.

Ms Tisshaw said: “The level of alcohol would have impaired his judgement. I believe there was nothing further the police could have done.”

The married father-of-one also had traces of cocaine in his system, a post mortem examination found.

In her report Ms Tisshaw said: “I believe steps should be taken to increase police awareness of the locations of life rings.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “We have done a lot of work on water safety and throw lines were introduced as standard equipment on our response cars last year.”

He said the force would be working with the coroner so any lessons from Mr Dooley’s death could be learned.

Read this and more articles at BBC Sussex

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