Newspaper headlines: Health pledges, heist images and cricket tributes

Election pledges on health, the fallout from the London diamond burglary and tributes to cricket great Richie Benaud are among the main topics for the papers.

The Guardian focuses on the Conservatives' promise of an extra £8bn a year for the NHS by 2020.

Writing in the paper, George Osborne announces that the Conservatives will pledge to meet a £30bn funding gap by the end of the decade in their general election manifesto to be launched next week.

In the Guardian's view, the chancellor is moving to address concerns that the Tories have abandoned compassionate Conservatism in a week that has seen signs of a slip in the polls and claims that the party is running a highly personalised campaign against Ed Miliband.

"No 10 will hope that the funding pledge may provide a poll boost to the Tories and go some way to meeting - or at least neutralising - Labour's lead on the NHS, which is regularly listed by voters as the most important issue in the election campaign," says the Guardian.

The Times leads with a pledge by Labour that every woman would get individual care from a designated midwife during childbirth.

David Cameron, the paper continues, will meanwhile commit to giving same-day access to a GP for all patients aged 75 and over.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The parties will launch their general election manifestos next week

"The rival offers are the latest in a slew of spending pledges as parties' campaigns switch from focus on the economy to giveaways before they launch their manifestos next week," says the Times.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says Britain must face up to the demographic timebomb caused by a rapidly ageing population.

The Independent says a senior cabinet minister has told the paper that moves over health and volunteering were part of a plan to enter a "positive" phase in the campaign which will highlight the Conservatives' vision for five more years in power.

"Tories switch to campaign Plan B," is the paper's headline.

The Financial Times says Mr Cameron is seeking a more positive election pitch after a week of aggressive campaigning which failed to break the deadlock in the polls.

The Times urges the parties to take the long-term view when they unveil their manifestos and "equip Britain for the exacting demands of the modern world".

"Politicians can be forgiven for wanting to announce vote-winning policies during an election period but we've had more than enough of them from all of the parties this week." it says.

Macer Hall of the Express writes that with the parties set to unveil their election manifestos over the next few days, the campaign has already descended into a grim war of attrition.

Incredible feat

The Daily Mirror splashes with pictures apparently showing the Hatton Garden diamond burglary taking place.

The images from a video, obtained by the Mirror, show three raiders working over two nights to steal the gems with a wheelie bin in one of Britain's biggest crimes.

The paper gives the burglars Reservoir Dogs-style names - including Mr Ginger, Mr Strong and The Gent. One source tells the paper: "This was clearly the work of a professional gang."

The Telegraph reports that insurance experts have warned that Scotland Yard could face compensation claims running into millions of pounds after admitting that officers failed to respond to a burglar alarm during the heist.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Video of the Hatton Garden heist has been obtained by the Mirror

The Metropolitan Police has said it is investigating why the call was given a grade that meant no police response was deemed necessary.

Joe Shute writes in the Telegraph that the raid was an incredible feat because the basement vault was deemed the safest place in London's jewellery quarter, used by the public and traders to store stock.

The Guardian says one reason for the fascination with the theft is that it seems so improbable, more Ocean's Eleven or League of Gentlemen than Crimewatch.

The Sun is outraged that police did not respond to the alarm - yet investigated a UKIP election candidate for handing out sausage rolls.

The paper says Kim Rose was summoned by police for allegedly "bribing" potential voters with a spread of tasty snacks at a party event in Southampton.

Hampshire Police said it was looking into a complaint but no arrests had been made.

'True gentleman'

Tributes abound for cricket commentator and former Australia captain Richie Benaud who has died at the age of 84.

Ex-England captain Mike Atherton writes in the Times: "He was loved. For longer than people care to remember he was the voice of the English summer, just as he was in Australia.

In the Mirror, Sir Ian Botham says: "Cricket has lost an icon and for those of us lucky enough to have worked alongside Richie Benaud, enjoyed his company or shared a glass of wine with him, we've lost a great friend and a true gentleman."

In a leading article, the Times says: "Richie Benaud was such a superb broadcaster that it is easy to forget how great a player he had been.

"As another English spring starts to resound to the crack of leather on willow, this fine ambassador for cricket will be remembered with enormous affection and respect."

The Guardian says: "Mr Benaud pioneered the precious art of addressing the viewer when there was something he could add to the pictures. Gradually he also acquired the ability of wry observation. But he never tried to become a character."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richie Benaud: "The voice of the English summer"

The Independent has a picture of floral tributes laid at a statue of him on its front page.

An obituary inside the paper states: "Benaud was the voice of the game, the mellifluous timbre to accompany leather hitting willow and the cheer of the crowd.

"He was the Australian cricketing captain-turned-journalist and broadcaster who brought his immense skill and experience to the game itself in the 50s and 60s - and to the world of sports commentary in his subsequent career."

"Farewell to a legend of the crease and voice of cricket," is the headline in the Express.

The Sun says his genius was not just his eloquent insight, it is that he said nothing when nothing needed to be said.

"The voice of cricket has died, a man colossal in every way," writes BBC Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld in the Sun.

Hot favourite

Champion jockey AP McCoy is pictured on the front of the Telegraph ahead of the Grand National in what will be his final ride in the race before retirement.

The paper calls him the man the bookies fear most, with so much money being piled on McCoy and his mount Shutthefrontdoor that they will start as the shortest-priced favourite since Red Rum.

The papers look forward to a sporting match of a different kind - British tennis number one Andy Murray will marry his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears in his home town of Dunblane on Saturday.

The Telegraph describes how the bunting is out and the Champagne on ice as Dunblane prepares for "the nearest thing we'll have to a royal wedding".

Matthew Norman in the Independent writes: "This wedding will be anything but flash. The non-guest list is simply stellar, with the serried ranks of the uninvited including compatriots Sir Sean Connery (a fervent Murray cheerleader at Grand Slam tournaments) and Billy Connolly.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dunblane is preparing for its own "royal wedding"

"The most gratifying absentees will be OK! or Hello! magazine, whose seven-figure offers were rejected.

"Admittedly, the party will be held at the nearby hotel Mr Murray bought recently for £1.8m. Apart from that minor detail, and the fact that a bunting-bedecked Dunblane will erupt with celebration, this will be a determinedly ordinary wedding."

And finally, the Telegraph reports that the owners of a university building in Cambridge are so fed up with classicists chaining their bikes to railings they have put up warning signs in Latin and Greek.

However, there is a suggestion that the sign-writer could benefit from further tutoring after critics pointed out that there were mistakes in the Greek wording.

Dr Rupert Thompson, a classics lecturer at Selwyn College, tells the Telegraph: "It's trying to say 'bicycles left here will be destroyed'. The second word actually means 'taken' not 'left'.

"I don't know what to make of it really, but it's very amusing."

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