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Volkswagen faces its first legal action in Germany from a big corporate client over the diesel emissions scandal. Deutsche See, which leases 500 vehicles from VW, said it had been unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, Reuters news agency reported. VW is involved in numerous lawsuits from individual owners, regulators, states and dealers, many of them class-action cases in the US.
The number of human interventions in journeys made by driverless cars from Google company Waymo in California more than halved in 2016. There were only 124 “disengagement” incidents last year, where a driver had to take control of a test vehicle on public roads, down from 341 in 2015. The cars drove nearly 636,000 miles last year, compared with just over 424,000 in 2015. Other states in the US do not require such reporting.
New business rates that will apply from April will skew competition further in favour of online retailers at the cost of high street shops, according to new research. The typical London shop is facing a 14 per cent rise in rates, while online retailers operating from out-of-town warehouses will only pay an extra 2 per cent, according to analysis by CVS, a business rates and rent consultancy.
Motorists are being pushed into paying parking tickets by councils that ignore evidence exonerating drivers and fail to give access to a proper appeal, the local authority watchdog has said. A report published today warns that drivers may be “paying more than they need to” because of flaws in the system used to issue ten million fines a year. Councils “all too often” ignored good reasons for cars being illegally parked, the local government ombudsman said. According to the Fairer Fines report, authorities also regularly refused to take notice of “credible information” that they had targeted the wrong person by issuing fines to the previous owner of a car, or using an old address.
The manufacturing industry is at its most optimistic in almost two years as business confidence picks up across the economy, according to surveys. A monthly business trends report from BDO, the accounting firm, and a quarterly business confidence monitor from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales both show companies becoming more upbeat about their prospects. The surveys add to evidence that the UK is weathering the after-effects of the EU referendum and the election of President Trump better than expected.
Mid-sized companies that drive economy ‘are being ignored’
Medium-sized businesses grew more quickly, generated larger profit growth and created more jobs in the past year than Britain’s large and small companies, according to research. However, despite their importance to the economy, the needs of such companies risk being ignored as the nation prepares to leave the European Union, according to BDO, the accountancy firm that conducted the study. Mid-sized businesses created 780,000 new jobs last year, more than smaller businesses (135,000) and FTSE 350 companies (320,000) over the same period, BDO said.
The Chancellor is being urged use the Budget to fix Britain’s “outdated” business rates system and end the recent tax assault on financial services. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for a “boring” Budget on March 8 that will “supercharge” investment and provide companies with stability. It says further reform of business rates is vital for companies that face “a growing burden of operational costs” and rising inflation that threatens their “ability to grow and compete”.
Private sales of new cars rose last month for the first time since before the Brexit vote, helping dealerships record their best January for 12 years. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 76,729 new private car sales were recorded, up 5% on the same month in 2016. It was the first increase since March last year and comes at a time when businesses are warning that price rises and uncertainty will take their toll on consumer spending, and see the car market slow this year.
The number of new cars registered in the UK hit a 12-year high in January, with electric vehicles taking a record share of the market, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The industry body had warned of a slowdown in the motor trade in 2017 because of the impact of the weak pound, but there was no sign of deceleration in the first monthly numbers of the year. Drivers registered 174,564 cars in January, up 2.9% on last year, to reach the highest monthly level since 2005, the trade body said.
The number of accidents between cyclists and pedestrians has soared by almost 50 per cent in seven years.
One crash on pavements or roads now takes place every day as the number of cyclists increases. The total number of accidents rose to 408 in 2015, according to official figures, a significant jump from the 274 in 2009. They involved several collisions in which pedestrians were killed and the cyclists were subsequently prosecuted for reckless behaviour.