Cameron dismisses 'abandon the north' call

Tory leader David Cameron today branded a report by a Conservative-leaning think tank which suggested people should abandon northern cities as "complete rubbish".

Buildings destroyed after rate relief is abolished

Some landlords are already demolishing buildings, as the financial pain of the Government's removal of business rate relief on empty commercial property hits home.

Cities in North doomed, says favourite Tory think-tank

Struggling northern cities will never be able to regenerate and should be given up, a Tory think-tank with close links to David Cameron concludes today.

Tories call for review of standards over 'cheating' at universities

An urgent investigation should be carried out into the system for monitoring degree standards in the wake of The Independent's revelations that lecturers were being forced to turn a blind eye to cheating, the Conservatives' universities spokesman said yesterday.

Nigel Morris: A result that puts Cameron on course for Downing Street

The Tories claimed early today that they were on course to evict Gordon Brown from power after they won a steady series of local election victories across England.

You write the reviews: Simon Armitage, Art Gallery, Huddersfield

The poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage looked relaxed as he waited to be introduced to a full house in Huddersfield Art Gallery; born in the town, the 44-year-old was tonight a local boy made good. Clearly, the youthful-looking Armitage of 2008 is an experienced performer. Here, he was in the best sense artful, experimental and yet at ease in his own skin in front of an audience of mainly literary professionals, who were confident of their own tastes and standards. Light entertainment was provided by a series of anecdotes relating to the writing of a recent translation of the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Pet's Corner: How do I help my dog release his pent-up energy?

I have an 8 week-old labradoodle puppy. He is full of mischief. I was wondering how long can I walk him for? Is there any other way of releasing his pent up energy? Thomas Hill, Sunderland

Plans to get every young child speaking a foreign language are on track

Young children may be receptive to languages, but until last year, language teaching in primary schools was a matter of luck. The right head and the right teachers meant that some schools were teaching French, German and Spanish, but, for most, languages were something to be left to GCSEs.

School admissions: How to appeal against a decision

If the estimates are correct, there will be more than 100,000 disappointed parents today who have not got their child into their first choice secondary school.

Preview: Whispering In The Leaves, Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Sunderland

It's time to get four to the forest floor

Live Reviews: Peter and the Wolf

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Searching for the big-race winner: Just pick a name that will look right on the roll of honour

It is frequently stated that a good horse never has a bad name, particularly a Derby winner. A glance down the Blue Riband roll of honour shows this to be not entirely true - among 18th and 19th century heroes Waxy, Lapdog, Spaniel, Macaroni and Common are just a few who lack something in nobility and Noble, Eager, Champion, Pope and Sam in originality - but it seems that even so, once a horse earns immortality at Epsom, his name acquires a certain ring.

PR: How to sell without selling your soul

How much of a role does belief play in public relations? Or, for that matter, ethics and scruples? Sarah Ebner asks the professionals how far they would go for publicity
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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...