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News stand: What the papers say

THE INDEPENDENT

The government is to strip Strategic Rail Authority bosses of much of their power as ministers believe the network is running out of control. The decision will concentrate power in the hands of transport secretary Alistair Darling.

Traffic wardens are to be given powers to fine motorists up to £100 for offences such as ignoring amber lights, misuse of bus lanes and box junctions.

The measures will also allow councils more control over where and when roads are dug up. They will also be able to fine companies up to £5,000 for failing to repair roads properly and employ new traffic officers to patrol motorways and keep traffic moving.

Prince Charles has been attacked over his plans to build a village on the fringes of Britain's surfing capital, Newquay in Cornwall.

Residents fear the settlement will become an exclusive holiday resort for wealthy Londoners. To answer his critics, the prince plans to consult local residents on the form and shape of the new village.

Power was finally restored to 700 homes and businesses in Cleveland, County Durham and North Yorkshire which had been without electricity since New Year's Eve. Snow and ice brought down supply lines affecting more than 50,000 homes.

THE OBSERVER

France's 80 year old Stade de Colombes athletics stadium is to be saved from demolition by a last minute decision to raise £180M to fund reconstruction. The historic venue hosted the 1924 Olympics which inspired the film Chariots of Fire.

THE TIMES

Cross Channel rail service Eurostar is expected to announce record numbers of passengers on routes between London Paris and Brussels in its latest full year figures. Passenger numbers have increased after improvements in journey times following the opening of section one of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link last September.

DAILY TELEGRAPH

A buddhist has been told that he must apply for planning permission before he can meditate with friends in an area of woodland he owns. Concerns of the Essex Wildlife Trust over damage to trees forced the owner to apply for a change of use to 'meditational woodland' and accept restrictions on numbers of vehicles and people using the area so as not to disturb residents.

Natural and man-made disasters in 2003 cost the world economy £37bn and forced insurance companies to pay out over £9bn in compensation.

Swiss Re said it had been a 'modest year' with insurance losses only a little higher than average and considerably less than 2001 following the World Trade Center disaster.

FINANCIAL TIMES

Ineffective government implementation of European Union environmental policy and lack of government guidance has delayed investment in facilities to cope with the anticipated sharp drop in landfill sites. This has led to fears of a upsurge in fly tipping.

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