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Pothole repairs: Councils to get extra £100m for road damage
An extra £100m is being shared among councils in England to fund repairs to roads damaged by recent storms, the transport secretary has announced. Chris Grayling said the money would help patch up nearly two million potholes and protect roads from future severe weather conditions. It comes in the wake of Storm Emma and the “Beast from the East”. Devon was given the largest sum at £4.5m, on top of £2.5m it had already received to “quickly repair the A379”. Norfolk and North Yorkshire councils have each been allocated more than £3m. Birmingham, Sheffield and the Isle of Wight were not given any money.
New car sales ‘to fall 5.5% in 2018’ amid consumer slowdown
Car sales in Britain are set to slide this year amid a slowdown in consumer spending, a report has claimed. Ratings agency Moody’s said new car registrations were likely to fall 5.5% in 2018, making the UK the “worst performing” market of any big European economy. By contrast, it said Germany, Spain, France and Italy would all see gains. Moody’s said the fall in the value of the pound since the EU referendum had made imported cars more expensive. It also said Brexit-related uncertainty was “weighing on consumer spending decisions”.
Firms failing to report pay gap in ‘last chance saloon’
Employers that fail to publish their gender pay gap on time are being warned they are in the “last chance saloon” and may face “unlimited fines”. For the first time private and public bodies have been instructed to publish the difference between what their male and female employees earn. But with the final 4 April deadline looming, many of them appear to be holding back until the last minute. Fewer than 4,000 out of 9,000 have so far published the required data.
Brexit talks on Irish border to begin in Brussels
Talks aimed at reaching a deal on what will happen to the Irish border after Brexit will start in Brussels later. The UK and EU agree there should be no hard border, but differences remain on how to achieve that goal. Monday’s negotiations will cover customs, food safety, animal health and the regulation of other goods. Further talks will take place next month with EU leaders due to assess progress at their next summit in June.
Ombudsman must clean up act before expanding reach
The Financial Ombudsman Service needs to put its house in order before it can be given more responsibilities, according to Nicky Morgan, chairwoman of the Treasury select committee. More than one million people a year contact the ombudsman, which has promised to appoint an independent figure to investigate claims that poorly trained staff with little grasp of financial products have been ruling whether or not claims should be upheld. The ombudsman was set up by parliament and funded by industry to rule on disputes between financial firms and consumers and small businesses. It can make binding decisions and award up to £150,000 in compensation.
Crumbling roads cost councils £43m in compensation claims
Councils have spent more than £43 million in five years to settle legal claims brought by cyclists and motorists injured on Britain’s deteriorating roads. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that cyclists received an average of £11,000 in compensation for each successful claim against councils, 13 times higher than equivalent payouts for motorists. Campaigners said that the sums underlined the seriousness of the injuries faced by cyclists when they hit a crack or pothole. Cycling UK, which obtained the figures, said that riders were being put at serious risk “due to years of persistent underinvestment in our rotting local road networks”.
Congestion charge increases diesel pollution levels
London’s congestion charge has increased diesel pollution by a fifth, putting people at a higher risk of severe lung and respiratory problems, scientists say. The charge, introduced in 2003 for traffic in central areas, reduced some forms of pollution such as carbon monoxide, particulate matter and nitrous oxide by up to 30 per cent. However, it has had the unintended consequence of increasing damaging forms of pollution, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, because of the increase in traffic from diesel buses and taxis. Nitrogen dioxide levels have increased by 20 per cent since the introduction of the levy, which now costs £11.50 a day.
Sat nav rip off as owners of modern cars face annual £300 bill to update their GPS
As modern cars become festooned with evermore gadgets, the in-built sat nav is now a standard fixture. However, as they become indispensable for driving, many motorists may not realise they are far from inexpensive. Indeed, owners face unforeseen charges down the line should they wish to have the most up-to-date road maps on their device. An investigation by Auto Express magazine found that the cost of updating the in-built sat nav system varies by hundreds of pounds, depending on the make, model and age of your car, even though most get the mapping software from the same provider. Owners of older Jaguar XFs pay up to £316 for sat nav updates, while those for Ford cars vary from £81.90 to £159, depending on model and age, the research found, with those driving earlier editions paying most.
One in ten cars which had free VW fix have experienced ‘limp mode’ at high speed, lawyers claim
One in ten owners of Volkswagen cars which were modified after the emissions scandal have reported their vehicles failed while travelling at high speed, a law firm has said. Thousands of owners of affected cars – including VWs, Audis, Seats and Skodas – have reported reliability issues following the free “fix”. It was offered by Volkswagen to UK customers after it recalled 1.2m cars because it was caught cheating emissions tests in 2015. Although owners of affected vehicles have been compensated in the US, VW has so far refused to compensate those affected in the UK. Lawyers are now taking action on behalf of affected UK customers in a bid to win mass compensation.