New Year’s Eve 2017: UK prepares to celebrate despite storm and strikes

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Media captionFireworks in Sydney and Auckland welcome the new year 2018.

The UK is preparing to bid farewell to 2017 and see in the new year with parties, fireworks and fizz.

There are warnings, however, that celebrations could be scuppered by travel disruption and stormy weather.

Storm Dylan is forecast to bring high winds to Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland but Hogmanay organisers in Edinburgh say it will still go ahead.

Meanwhile, a 24-hour rail strike could cause delays for partygoers travelling in or out of London’s Waterloo.

In central London, rain should hold off for the New Year’s Eve firework display, expected to be watched by more than 100,000 ticket holders from the banks of the River Thames.

The soundtrack will be dominated by female artists, including Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande and Florence Welch, to mark the centenary of women getting the vote.

At midnight, Big Ben will chime again, having been turned back on over the festive period.

Some 10,000 fireworks will then light up the sky in a 12-minute display.

This year fewer Met Police officers will be working during the celebrations, despite four terror attacks in the city in the past year.

Superintendent Nick Aldworth said: “We are providing a proportionate number of officers based on the threat, number of people coming and the secure environment we’ve been able to build.”

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Reuters

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Revellers are being warned against taking a midnight dip

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Reuters

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Fewer Met Police officers are working this New Year’s Eve

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PA

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A torchlight procession marks the start of Edinburgh’s three-day Hogmanay festival

In Edinburgh, up to 150,000 people will gather for Hogmanay, one of the world’s biggest street parties.

The worst of the storm was expected to hit the city before the party kicks off at 19:00 GMT.

Around lunchtime, police had to close Princes Street to pedestrians after parts of a stage were blown over in high winds, it is understood.

Ambulance crews are preparing for a busy night, with the South Western Ambulance Service saying it expected demand to rise on New Year’s Eve.

The service, which covers from Cornwall to South Gloucestershire, said it has extra staff working and every vehicle in use.

Sunday’s walkout by Rail, Maritime and Transport members on South Western Railway and CrossCountry networks is expected to cause delays and cancellations at Waterloo, the UK’s busiest station.

The union says it is striking over concerns about rosters, Sunday working and guards – but the government has accused members of causing misery for passengers.