Newspaper headlines: Sugar cut pledge, Google tax, EU 'at risk' and a Cotswolds village row

Some of the world's biggest companies find themselves on the front pages of Saturday's newspapers.

The Sun reports that Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Kellogg's are vowing to cut the sugar content in their products to "beat" the introduction of so-called sugar taxes in the UK. The pledge, which includes plans to ban adverts aimed at children, comes just days before David Cameron decides whether to press ahead with a controversial levy to help tackle childhood obesity, says the paper.

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The announcement by Google that it will pay £130m in UK back taxes following an audit by HM Revenue & Customs is the lead in the Financial Times. The FT says campaigners against tax avoidance by companies which use legal loopholes to lower their liabilities may still feel the internet giant is not paying enough, while HMRC may face demands to explain how the deal was reached.

Meanwhile the lead story in the Independent highlights the UK tax arrangements of GE Healthcare. It suggests there will be questions about why the US-owned firm hardly paid any corporation tax while winning contracts from the NHS, which is seeking to find savings of £22bn. GE tells the paper "it pays the taxes it owes in every country where we operate", and has invested £500m in British research and development in the past 10 years.

Claims by campaigners that about 60% of the £23.7bn companies make from alcohol sales in England comes from people whose drinking is destroying or risking their health provide a focus for the Guardian. Its report highlights the differing views surrounding proposals on introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

The Daily Mirror claims the decision to award Spanish company CAF a £490m contract for new train carriages on the Northern Rail service amounts to "another betrayal" by the Conservatives. The announcement was made a day after after it was revealed British steel may not be used for the Royal Navy's new warships. The Mirror argues the final decision on the deal may have been taken by German-owned Arriva Rail North "but it was this government which flogged the Northern Rail contract... in the first place".

Telecoms giant BT is in the spotlight in the Daily Telegraph's splash. It reports the call by a cross-party group of MPs for the company to be made to sell off its Openreach division, which owns and maintains the UK's broadband infrastructure. In a letter to the paper, the MPs say homes and businesses are being "held back" by poor internet connections.


Eye-catching headlines

  • Anarchy gives way to tourism as punk hits 40 - The Financial Times reports on the events being planned by the Mayor of London and Heritage Lottery Fund to mark the anniversary of the movement's year zero - "a cultural event but also a lucrative marketing opportunity"
  • Rise in space junk could provoke armed conflict say scientists - The Guardian carries Russian research which suggests fragments of spent rockets and other hurting hardware in space poses a "special political danger"
  • China has highest ambitions in a world reaching for the sky - The Times says more skyscrapers will be built in 2016 than in any other year, with many of them in China, and 27 in the "supertall" category of 300m or higher

'Sense of proportion'

There is much coverage of the deaths of at least 42 migrants in the Aegean Sea and remarks by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that the refugee crisis is putting the European Union at grave risk.

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Mr Valls' comments, reports the Daily Express, were a "stark warning" and evidence of just how much trouble the continent is in.

According to the Daily Telegraph, passport-free travel in Europe could be suspended for two years under emergency measures being discussed at a meeting to be attended by Home Secretary Theresa May and her counterparts on Monday.

Still, the Independent calls for a "sense of proportion, matched by thick skin and long term vision". Even if Europe turns its back, nobody should be in any doubt that asylum-seekers will keep coming, it says in a leading article.

The Guardian says the "signs are not heartening" but governments across Europe must establish "principles for managing community relations in challenging times".


The Cameron job

There is also an assessment of Prime Minister David Cameron's latest meeting with a European leader as he seeks EU reforms ahead of the UK's referendum.

In talks with his Czech counterpart, Mr Cameron raised the possibility of allowing borders to close temporarily as an alternative to his central demand of a four-year ban on EU migrants claiming in-work benefits.

In a leading article, the Daily Mail says the EU is is disarray as its leaders "wake up" to pressures stemming from the migrant crisis. This presents Mr Cameron with a "golden opportunity to beef up his negotiating stance and restore real power to Britain."

However, the cartoonists do not appear to feel Mr Cameron is making much progress.

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The prime minister is pictured by Peter Brookes in the Times walking along a U-shaped road saying "We're moving forward".

In the Guardian, Martin Rowson places Mr Cameron on a ship flying the EU flag but one that is slowly sinking as migrants in life jackets cling to its hull.

And with a nod to Sir Michael Caine - who told the BBC he he "sort of feels certain" that Britain should leave the EU - Bob in the Daily Telegraph features Mr Cameron in a scene from one the actor's film roles, The Italian Job. He is pictured on his "European tour" coach dangling off the end of a cliff, saying: "'ang on a minute lads... I've got a great idea."


What the commentators say...

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Media captionMartin Bentham, home affairs editor of the London Evening Standard, and Lindsay Watling, Westminster correspondent at the Press and Journal, join the BBC News Channel to review Saturday's front pages

Coaches in 'Venice'

Finally, there are reports of a row between residents and local traders in a picturesque village in the Cotswolds.

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"Life's turned ugly" in Bourton-on-the-Water where coaches are to be banned from its only parking area from 1 February, reports the Daily Express.

About half of the 300,000 day-trippers who visit the village - dubbed Venice of the Cotswolds because of the low stone bridges spanning the River Windrush - come by coach, says the Daily Telegraph. But the homeowners in a recently-built gated community have complained about the noise of engines and fumes.

Shops and restaurants rely on the tourist trade to keep "afloat" and now fear ruin, says the Times. "This village will be destroyed if this ban on coaches goes ahead," complains shopkeeper Melissa Samuel.


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