Newspaper headlines: 'Sickening betrayal' over NHS parking fees

By BBC News


The revelation that nearly half of hospitals in England have raised parking fees over the past year is widely reported, and leads some papers.

"It makes you sick", is the Daily Mirror's front-page headline, with the paper describing the charges as a "tax on the sick".

For the Daily Mail, the increases are a "sickening betrayal", despite a promise by ministers to end what it calls rip-off charges.

The Sun complains that every year the government makes the right noises about the need to slash fees, and every year nothing happens and they rise even further.

Sales figures

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Many papers have pictures of crowded shopping centres and long queues of bargain hunters waiting for stores to open for the Boxing Day sales.

But, the Mail reports, they weren't enough to save shops from disappointing sales figures.

It's the main story for the Financial Times, which sums things up with a front-page headline saying: "Boxing Day brings little cheer to retailers hoping for sales bonanza".

The paper says longstanding shopping patterns are being disrupted by online buying and there are also signs of consumers tightening their belts.

Money worries

The Daily Express leads with a report that an estimated three million people are falling deeper into debt because they don't have enough money to cover their day-to-day costs.

According to the paper, experts say people are falling behind on paying household bills such as utilities, rent and council tax.

The debt charity, StepChange, tells the paper most of its clients are able to manage their finances until their income is affected by either redundancy, shorter working hours or ill-health.

On a related note, the Sun is aghast at a plan to increase the charge on plastic bags in England to 10p. It says it's yet another little nibble at the pockets of hard-pressed shoppers when we should be encouraging them on to the high streets.

Others are more supportive. For the Mail, the move is another big step towards a cleaner, greener globe.

The "i" leads on the proposal, describing it as commendable. But it suggests going further by banning plastic bags altogether in favour of alternatives.

Packed lunches

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The Daily Telegraph also leads on an environmental story, under the headline: "Don't wrap your child's sandwiches in plastic."

It says parents are to be told not to put their children's packed lunches in cling film under plans to make all schools plastic-free within three years.

The paper reports that Education Secretary Damian Hinds has urged head teachers to stop using items such as plastic straws, bottles, food packaging and plastic bags, and opt for sustainable alternatives - and this could also encourage parents to do the same.

However, a proposal by Public Health England for a cap to be imposed on the number of calories in restaurant meals and supermarket foods is widely resisted.

"The nanny state is getting totally out of control," the Daily Express declares. The paper's commentator, Leo McKinstrey, says the scheme would represent state interference gone beserk.

The Sun describes the move as insane, and says getting people off their couches would reverse obesity far more effectively than punitive meddling.

Flight of fancy?

Finally, all the papers have the story of a couple who met on a dating app earlier this month, then decided to meet for the first time at Gatwick airport where they would board a flight to Las Vegas to get married on Christmas Day.

The Mirror says thirtysomethings Sarah Elliott, from Tunbridge Wells, and Paul Edwards, from Chichester, were dressed in their wedding clothes for the flight.

Ms Elliot tells the Times: "We're not looking at everything through rose-tinted glasses. We know it will be challenging."