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Car sales fall 6.3%
UK car sales fell 6.3% in January, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. Some 163,615 cars left the showroom, SMMT, said, compared to 174,564 in January 2017. Diesel sales slumped 25.6%, and saw their market share fall to just 35.9%. Meanwhile electric/hybrid sales climbed 23.9%, to grab 5.5% market share.
Downing Street insists UK will leave customs union
Downing Street has insisted Britain will leave the EU customs union after Brexit amid claims of Tory disunity over the UK-EU future relationship. Theresa May has faced calls to spell out what she wants from the talks ahead of the UK’s departure in March 2019. In a customs union the UK would have tariff-free trade within the EU, but would lose the ability to strike its own deals with other countries. It comes ahead of a meeting with the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Fresh interest rate rise on the way as growth picks up
The Bank of England is set to upgrade its growth forecasts this week as it prepares the ground for another rise in interest rates. No immediate change is expected at the Bank’s monthly policy meeting on Thursday, but the quarterly inflation report is expected to acknowledge that the economic outlook has brightened since November. The Bank is currently forecasting growth of 1.6% this year. “The economic data have proved stronger than expected,” said Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank. “I think we’ll see a hawkish tone — a step towards the next interest rate hike.” Futures markets see a roughly even chance that the Bank will follow November’s rate increase — the first in more than a decade — with a further rise in May.
Driver escapes parking fine for answering call of nature
A motorist in his eighties had a parking penalty ripped up after arguing that he had the right to park illegally to answer the call of nature. Michael Nyman saw his £130 fine for parking on a pavement quashed when an appeals body ruled that he could have been involved in a crash “if he had not stopped to relieve himself”. The ruling appears to confirm that the loo can be defined as an “emergency”, particularly among older people, and justifies the temporary flouting of parking rules. There has been a surge in the number of parking tickets issued by local councils.
France bans drivers from using mobile phone even when car is stopped
A French court has ruled that it is now illegal for drivers to use mobile phones in their cars even when they have stopped, pulled over or have the hazard lights on.
In fact, drivers can be punished for using a mobile any time the vehicle isn’t parked in a designated parking area, including a car park or private driveway. As a result, they face a fine of up to €135 and get three points on their driving license for three years which is the same punishment already handed out to people caught using their phones at the wheel in France. The new rule only applies to the use of a smartphone the driver is holding in their hand and not to cars fitted with hands-free sets. The decision came after a driver appealed a fine he received in 2017 which punished him for using a phone while he was parked at a roundabout with his hazard lights on.
‘Ghost’ car insurance scam: thousands of motorists driving unwittingly without cover
Thousands of motorists could be unwittingly driving around without valid car insurance, police have warned after identifying a worrying new scam known as ‘ghost broking’. With premiums soaring, fraudsters have been taking advantage of car owners’ desperation to find the best deal. Using popular social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, they pose as legitimate brokers working for reputable insurance firms, and contact motorists directly, offering to save them hundreds of pounds on their renewal. But the policy documents they produce are worthless and many victims only becoming aware they have been duped, when they have an accident and attempt to make a claim.