ROK to make 160 workers redundant at troubled plumbers

Listed construction group Rok is set to make more than 150 people redundant as a result of financial problems at the England division of its plumbing, heating and electrical business.

Rok suspends finance chief and issues profits warning

The building group Rok issued its second profits warning in just three months yesterday and suspended its finance director over "serious failings" in financial controls at its plumbing, heating and electrical (PHE) business.

1 in 4 Blue Flag beaches 'should lose status'

More than a quarter of Britain's top-rated beaches should be stripped of their Blue Flag status, campaigners said today.

Gaza ban on women smoking pipes

Hamas has banned women from smoking water pipes in Gaza's cafés, calling it a practice that destroys marriages and sullies the image of Palestinians.

Travis Perkins buys plumbing and heating firm for £557m

Travis Perkins has agreed to acquire BSS Group for £557m to become the UK's biggest plumbing and heating distributor.

Wolseley plots sale of tool hire business

Proposed sale of Brandon Hire could be the first step in a revamp of the building materials group's UK operations

Minor British Institutions: The British Toilet Association

It is all too easy to deride the BTA – until you find yourself caught short, in which case you might want to sign up to their mission statement: "More and better toilets". It reminds us that our public lavvys were once the envy of the world, a national expression of our excellence in sewerage and plumbing.

DIY: Unblock the sink - with your laptop

Online how-to guides, blogs and instructional videos are transforming the way we renovate our properties, says home-improvement addict Anna Leach

Everyone’s doing
character analysis

Ranking games characters has been a popular sport this week. Both ‘Empire’ and ‘Entertainment Weekly’ have been having a go.

In The Red: 'This time I'm definitely selling my flat – I think'

Right. Deep breaths. Here we go: I think I want to sell my flat. I’m not, it has to be said, 100% sure. But I’m fairly certain, so there you go; that’s about as much of a definite statement as you can hope for from a chronically indecisive commitment phobe like me. In fact, this is one of the reasons I want to sell. So that I can rent. So that I’m not tied down. So that I can up and leave at a moment’s (or, at least, a few months’) notice.

Travis Perkins offers £553m for rival BSS

Travis Perkins has made an indicative offer of £553m for its rival BSS Group in a deal which would create Britain's biggest plumbing and heating supplies business.

The City Diary: Wheel keeps turning: Work's not just for fools and horses – ask The Plumber

Slackbelly exposes The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of The Square Mile

The real Mario is
finally revealed

For anyone who thought that Mario existed only in a fantasy world where plumbers spend their days fighting angry plants and rescuing princesses, think again.

Buyers guide to doing your due diligence

Found your dream home? Kate Watson-Smyth presents the essential buyer's guide
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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...