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vital statistics

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12,000 poppadums have been stacked up to form a 45ft tower by staff at an Asian food shop and restaurant called Hyperama. They hope the West Bromwich tower will find a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

In 1980 only 5 per cent of retail turnover was in out-of-town shopping centres. By 2000 it could be as much as a third and still rising, according to the detr's Richard Caborn.

The creative industry employs more than 1.4 million people and has the potential to create 50,000 new jobs in the next three years, says culture secretary Chris Smith. His report, 'Creative Industries Mapping Exercise', says the industry is worth £60 billion a year and exports £7.5 billion in goods.

One in ten hotels will close over the millennium because party-going staff are refusing to work, says the Observer. Every police officer will be on duty from 31 Dec-3 Jan, earning a total of £60 million.

A survey of more than a third of a million shops makes London's West End the favourite shopping area, ahead of Glasgow and Birmingham. Top seaside resort is Brighton followed by Blackpool, says the survey, by Experian.

September saw 14,400 homes started in the uk compared with 15,400 a year ago, says the detr. Completions were 14,100 compared with 15,500 last year. 44,900 homes were built in the latest three months, down 4 per cent on last year.

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