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Anti-poverty campaigner Monroe praises Asda for price cuts

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Credit: Jack Monroe Instagram

Activist Jack Monroe thanked Asda for helping “millions of people” by lowering prices.

For the first time since her viral tweet, Monroe returned to the supermarket on Saturday and “gasped” at what she saw.

The anti-poverty campaigner discovered that multiple common food items had drastically dropped in price.

She commended Asda for being the only one “to actually act on our conversations and make things right.”

In a tweet, Monroe said: “Today I could put extra treats in my shopping basket for SB. Today, I managed to get so much in my £20 basket that I was clutching rice and oats and muesli to my bosom as I wrestled to the checkout.

“Today is the happiest shopping experience in over a decade.”

She applauded Asda for a “remarkable” turnaround that was almost “immediate.”

Monroe added: “I was very quick to vilify Asda for what I saw as a change of direction for their company, and a watering down of their commitment to an entire group of their customers.

“And to their credit, they read it all, and a LOT of your comments too, reached out, and said they’d do better.”

The activist has been campaigning for supermarkets to make the cheapest food ranges more widely available.

It follows the inflation in products such as rice and value ranges disappearing from the shelves in her local Asda amid the current cost of living crisis.

On her recent visit to Asda, Monroe found pasta, rice, baked beans and canned spaghetti had all reverted back to the same price they were last year.

1kg of rice had increased from 45p last year to last month costing £1. Now it has dropped back down.

Curry sauce has even been lowered further down. After an original increase to 85p from 30p, it has been reduced to 28p.

Asda recently announced it promised to stock its Smart Price and Farm Stores range in all in all 581 supermarkets.

In her original tweet, Monroe fumed: “The margins are always, always calculated to squeeze the belts of those who can least afford it, and massage the profits of those who have money to spare.

“And nothing demonstrates that inequality quite so starkly as tracking the prices of ‘luxury’ food vs ‘actual essentials.”

In her Twitter thread posted on Saturday, she spoke of how she had “cried tears of humiliation” in supermarkets in the past but today she did for a different reason.

She said: “I’ve cried in supermarkets plenty in the last 10 years. Putting back jam that had crept up by sixpence, meaning SB and I faced a week of bone dry toast.

“Trying to work out what to put back, what to do without, out of a tenners worth of groceries that weren’t enough to start with.

“I’ve cried tears of humiliation when a shelf edge label turned out to be advertising an expired promotion, tipping my shopping over what I could afford from the six pounds or so in change – the only money I had in the world – in my hand.

“And today I cried, quietly, to myself, in Asda, as the enormity of all of the last few weeks finally sank in amongst all the white labels in my shopping basket.”

By 1 March, it is expected that all 200 Smart Price and Farm Stores products will be available in all Asda.

Meg Farren, Asda’s Chief Customer Officer, said: “We want to help our customers’ budgets stretch further and have taken on board the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe.

“We are taking steps to put our full Smart Price and Farm Stores ranges in store and online to make these products as accessible as possible.”

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Biggest Rail Strikes in 30 years to go ahead as talks fail

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Britain is braced for the biggest rail strikes in 30 years after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a row over pay and conditions.

Thousands of staff affiliated to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union at Network Rail and 13 other train operators will walk out tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday.

The RMT says plans by Network Rail – the body which owns stations, track and signals – to cut 2,500 jobs, will put safety at risk. But the industry says it has to modernise and safety will not be compromised.

The Rail Delivery Group – which represents train firms – says the Covid pandemic has led to a decline in passenger numbers and while it wants to offer a pay rise to staff, the way the network operates has to change. But the RMT says it is prepared to take industrial action “for as long as it takes to get a settlement” and warned strikes could take place for the next six months.

It says train operators have now made an offer, but there is no further offer from Network Rail, after one was rejected last Friday. General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, whose department oversees the operation of the network, described calls by the RMT for ministers to intervene as a “stunt” and accused the union of “gunning” for industrial action. He said the strike was orchestrated by “union barons” and will cause misery and chaos to millions of commuters.

Services have begun to be affected this evening, and are likely to be disrupted throughout this week as the impact of the staggered stops cause an impact even on non-strike days.  Talks had continued this afternoon, but the two sides could not reach a deal.

Sources close to the negotiations said Network Rail was prepared to offer striking unions a five per cent pay rise to settle the dispute.

Use this tool to see if trains will run from your station.

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Aldi launches dog ice cream just in time for the Heatwave

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Aldi will be the first UK supermarket to sell Beechdean Doggy Ice Cream, which comes in two tasty flavours; pea & vanilla and apple & carrot.

Priced at £2.99 per tub, the ice creams will make for the perfect healthy snack for your pooches, with them being 100% plant-based and made with real fruit and vegetables.

And as part of the exciting rollout, Aldi has partnered with local ice cream vendors across the country so pups far and wide can enjoy the tasty treat.

The supermarket has also enlisted volunteer dogs to take part in an adorable ‘dog-livery’ service to help dish out the cooling treat to their furry friends.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “With more of our customers now owning dogs, we’re delighted to launch a nutritious and tasty treat that will help keep dogs cool in the heat.

“Being the first UK supermarket to launch a dog-friendly ice cream comes just in time for summer as we look forward to the warm weather.

“Teaming up with ice cream vans across the country gives us the chance to get the product straight into owner’s hands, so they can share a special moment alongside a tasty treat outside with their furry friend – we’re confident they won’t be able to keep their paws off it.”

Aldi’s Beechdean Doggy Ice Cream will be available in the Freezer aisle – next to Aldi’s full ice cream range – nationwide from Thursday June 16th.

Will your pampered pooch be getting some?

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Man Dies In Download Festival Arena Following Medical Incident Before Iron Maiden Set

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A man tragically died at Download Festival after being taken from the crowd by medical staff just before Iron Maiden started their headline set.

Emergency services saw to the man, who hasn’t been named, after he fell ill in the main arena just before 9pm on Saturday (11 June).

A spokesperson for Leicestershire Police confirmed the news, stating: “We can confirm the death of a man who had been attending the Download Festival in Castle Donington at the weekend.

“The man became unwell at the festival on Saturday evening (11 June) and was taken to the Derby Royal Infirmary where he sadly died.

“The death is currently being treated as unexplained and enquiries remain ongoing.”

More to follow.

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