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Swann sues Van Morrison over ‘dangerous’ chant at Europa Hotel

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Northern Ireland’s Minister of Health is suing Sir Van Morrison after the singer branded him “very dangerous” over his handling of Covid-19 restrictions.

The legal action focuses on a high-profile incident at the Europa Hotel in Belfast in the summer when Mr Morrison, a vocal lockdown critic, took to stage and criticised Robin Swann.

The defamation proceedings also cite two subsequent incidents when the singer elaborated on his views on Mr Swann.

In the first, when he was challenged by a Sunday Life reporter about his initial comments, Mr Morrison was reported to have described the Minister as a “fraud”.

The second relates to content the songwriter uploaded on YouTube in which he addressed the Europa Hotel controversy. In that video, he again criticised the Minister and called him “dangerous”, albeit referring to him incorrectly as “Robert Swann”.

Mr Swann is being represented in the action by libel lawyer Paul Tweed. “Proceedings are at an advanced stage with an anticipated hearing date early in 2022,” he said.

The development was first reported by the Sunday Life on Sunday.

It is understood Mr Swann’s legal team sent a writ to the singer in June and followed that up with a detailed statement of claim in September.

It is understood Mr Morrison’s lawyers responded to the claim last month.

Europa Hotel

The Europa Hotel incident in June unfolded when a concert Mr Morrison was supposed to perform at was cancelled at late notice due to Covid-19 restrictions.

At one point while criticising Mr Swann on stage, Mr Morrison called up Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley from the audience to join him. Mr Paisley joined in with the singer in chanting that the Stormont Minister was “very dangerous”. Video footage of the episode went viral.

Mr Swann said Mr Paisley subsequently apologised for the incident. It is understood the Minister of Health is not taking legal action against the North Antrim MP.

Mr Morrison, a Belfast-born singer, has been an ardent critic of coronavirus restrictions, particularly those that prevented live music performances.

He recorded a number of anti-lockdown songs last year that he said were aimed at the UK government.

The lyrics included claims that scientists were “making up crooked facts” to justify restrictions that “enslave” the population.

Mr Swann subsequently responded to those songs in a piece written for Rolling Stone Magazine.

In that op-ed, Mr Swann described the singer’s claims as “bizarre and irresponsible”.

He said some of what he was claiming was “actually dangerous” and would provide “great comfort to the conspiracy theorists”.

Mr Morrison’s lawyers have been approached for comment. – PA

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Universities want Leaving Cert moved to May to ease pressure on students

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Universities want Leaving Cert exams to be shifted to May to reduce stress on students and give families more time to find accommodation when college offers are made.

Their comments follow a report in The Irish Times on Monday that Leaving Cert results and college offers may be issued later than the traditional mid-August date.

Students and colleges fear that late results could delay the start of the academic year for thousands of first-year students and results in a last-minute scramble for accommodation.

In a letter to the Minister for Education Norma Foley, the Irish Universities Association (IUA) – which represents eight universities – warned that late results would have a “hugely disruptive” effect on Leaving Cert students’ further study and career options.

Jim Miley, the IUA’s director general, said later than normal results last year resulted in first year students being admitted to third level about three weeks late.

“This meant that the orientation process for first-year students was negatively impacted due to capacity constraints, as all other student cohorts had already returned to college by that time,” he wrote.

“It also resulted in first year students facing an even greater challenge in finding accommodation in an already stressed environment.”

Planning

Mr Miley asked that date be finalised “immediately” to facilitate more orderly planning.

“Even in a ‘normal’ year, results in mid-August are too late. To achieve this, we believe that the final examinations should be brought forward by at least a month, with a similar advance in the results timetable.

The Technological Higher Education Association, which represents technological universities, also warned that delayed entry to higher education would present “quality assurance” issues in relation to a shorter semester for first years, exam pressures, and late publication of timetables for all students.

“Late induction for the first year cohort limits the opportunities for peer interaction with existing students who have returned to class and there is limited availability for academic staff to engage due to teaching commitments,” it said.

“The consequences are not only at an academic management level but for students anticipating the uptake of an offer, early planning in respect of student accommodation remains crucial. Similar consideration attaches to students contemplating a move across international boundaries.”

Education authorities recently told higher education representatives that there are logistical challenges in finalising a date for issuing this year’s results.

These include a deferred sitting of the Leaving Cert exams for Covid-19 reasons and the Government’s decision that the outcomes of this year’s Leaving Cert will on aggregate be “no lower” than last year’s.

Clarity

The Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) also called for clarity on the results date to given as soon as possible.

ISSU president Emer Neville said it was vital not just for students’ mental health, but also for accommodation deposits and those planning to attend college abroad.

“The ISSU would urge the department to give clarity to these students as soon as possible to mitigate these issues, and also to begin work with international counterparts to ensure students can continue to study abroad should there be delays,” she said.

Ms Neville said the union recognised the importance of the second sitting of exams, which were put in place for students who may fall ill or suffer a bereavement during or before their exams.

“It is vital that the second sitting of exams goes ahead and that they are respected as an important component for the 2022 state exams, they are there for fairness.”

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Ivanhoé Cambridge acquires distribution center in Hamburg (DE)

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Ivanhoé Cambridge has acquired a large logistics and distribution centre from ADF Asset Management Co, Ltd., a South Korea based asset management firm. The property had been in an ADF fund since 2015, whose LPs are large Korean institutional investors. H&M Group, single-tenant since occupancy in 2008, leased the 114,500m² property, ideally located on an approximately 150,000m² site. This H&M Group distribution centre in Hamburg Allermöhe, Rungedamm 38, supplies varied European markets of their store networks. An interdisciplinary and international team of Avison Young investment experts from Germany, the UK and Korea exclusively advised Ivanhoé Cambridge on this transaction.

 

Christian Daumann, Head of Investments Germany, Ivanhoé Cambridge, said: “With the acquisition of this logistics asset in Hamburg, we continue to reinforce our presence in Germany, one of the key markets for our growth in Europe. We are delighted to have worked on this transaction with the experienced team of Avison Young.”

 

Mehdi Patrick Riahy, Managing Director & Head of Capital Markets Germany, Avison Young, commented: “The German and in particular the Hamburg logistics investment market are highly attractive for both domestic and international investors. We are very pleased to have exclusively advised Ivanhoé Cambridge on this landmark transaction and to have had an excellent outcome for both parties.”

 

Penny Hacking, Lead European Capital Markets, Avison Young UK, said: Avison Young’s cross-border investment expertise combined with in-depth regional market knowledge has allowed us to complete this significant transaction, despite a challenging economic climate. We are proud to have advised our client on their first direct logistics acquisition into the German market, which remains highly competitive, as an increasing number of investment companies shift their focus towards the sector. Our strength in collaborating across multiple geographies to provide holistic, data-driven advice has helped secure this year’s largest single asset logistics transaction in Germany to date.”

 

CG Kang, Team Leader, Global Alternative Investment Advisory Division Capital Markets Group, Avison Young Korea, commented: We worked as one team and knowing the exact needs of the seller and buyer helped us to maneuver the deal into right direction for successful closing.”

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Rent inflation at the highest level for 14 years, says Zoopla

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Tenants are under increasing financial strain as new figures show average asking rents have jumped to almost £1,000 a year.

Zoopla found that average asking rents now stand at £995 a month, up £88 a month compared to the start of the pandemic.

But the average rent in London is £1,698, up £73 since the start of the pandemic, more than two years ago. It equates to £20,376 for a year’s tenancy.

It is an increase of 11 per cent, the highest rate of growth in 14 years – and represents a strong bounce back from last year when average rents were down by more than 1 per cent.

The average rent in London is £1,698 a month - and this two-bed flat in North West London is for rent for just under that amount at £1,500 a month via New Circle Estate lettings agents

The average rent in London is £1,698 a month – and this two-bed flat in North West London is for rent for just under that amount at £1,500 a month via New Circle Estate lettings agents

The rise has led to a significant increase in the proportion of gross income spent on rent.

This is particularly the case in London where it has risen to a significant 52 per cent for a single earner, a level not seen since March 2020.

It falls to 26 per cent for sharers and means that a new let agreed for an average rent in London will cost more than £20,000 in rent during the next 12 months.

It is evidence of increasing pressure on tenants who are already dealing with the backdrop of the cost of living crisis.

The average rent in Britain now accounts for more than a third of gross income, at 37 per cent, for a single earner.

Around a third of renters live alone, according to the English Housing Survey.

RENTAL GROWTH SINCE MARCH 2020 AS PERCENTAGE OF AVERAGE EARNINGS
avg monthly rent increase
since Mar 2020
as % of avg
monthly earnings
S West £127 5%
Wales £93 4%
E Mids £93 4%
N West £82 3%
Y & H £81 3%
Eastern £95 4%
S East £98 3%
W Mids £78 3%
N East £65 3%
London £73 2%
Scotland £41 2%
UK £88 3%
Source: Zoopla             

There has also been a strong bounce back in rental growth in London from falls of 10 per cent seen last year.

Average annual rental growth in the Capital rose to 15 per cent at the end of the first three months of this year, driven by demand for flats from students, office workers and international demand.

Demand for rental property continues to outpace supply across the country, according to Zoopla.

This is pushing up rents, although the rate of rental growth will slow through the second half of the year, the property website added.

More affordable rents are available in Great Yarmouth, where this two-bed terrace house is for rent for £600 a month via Your Move lettings agents

More affordable rents are available in Great Yarmouth, where this two-bed terrace house is for rent for £600 a month via Your Move lettings agents 

With tenants facing increased pressure on their disposable income, there has been a marked increase in tenants deciding to stay in their rental property for longer.

Typically tenants are staying in their rental properties for an extra five months compared to five years ago, with the average tenancy length up to 75 weeks, from 51 weeks at the start of 2017.

This trend has extended beyond lockdowns when the ability to move was hampered, and Zoopla suggested this indicates that landlords with existing tenants may not be raising rents at the same rate as rental growth.

Rental demand is strongest in Scotland, Wales and London, with demand levels more than 65 per cent above the five-year average.

London’s market is also one of the most constrained when it comes to stock levels, with homes available to rent at just over half the 5-year average, creating the conditions for the sharp rises in rents.

Some parts of Somerset offer more affordable rents, with this two-bed terrace house in Martock for rent for £795 a month via Martin & Co lettings agents

Some parts of Somerset offer more affordable rents, with this two-bed terrace house in Martock for rent for £795 a month via Martin & Co lettings agents

The rental market remains highly localised, with the most affordable rental markets for dual earners located in more rural areas.

These include Great Yarmouth in the East of England, South Somerset in the South West and North East Lincolnshire in Yorkshire & the Humber.

In these markets, average rents account for up to 15 per cent of joint gross income.

In London, Bromley is the most affordable rental market, where average rents account for 19 per cent of joint gross income.

In the North West, Copeland, a local authority on the edge of the Lake District, encompassing the towns of Whitehaven and Cleator Moor is the most affordable rental market.

Gráinne Gilmore, of Zoopla, said: ‘Rental growth is being driven by high rental demand and limited supply, trends that are more pronounced in city centres.

‘The surge of post-pandemic pent-up rental demand will normalise through the coming months however, which means rental growth levels will start to ease.

‘Affordability considerations will also start to put a limit on further rental growth although this may occur at different times depending on location.

‘Rents are likely to continue rising for longer in areas that have the most constrained stock levels – currently London, Scotland and the South West.’

Gareth Atkins, of Foxtons, said: ‘The tenancy renewal numbers we have seen so far in 2022 are unprecedented.

‘Steadily increasing demand, severely limited stock and a swift rise in rental prices are all compelling reasons to renew – and renters are responding.

‘We have seen a 29 per cent rise in renewals year-on-year verses 2021. Renters are also choosing longer tenancies to avoid a market in flux; our deal length for renewals has gone up 9 per cent in 2022, reaching an average tenancy of 15.7 months.’

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