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Ride-by moped thefts on shoppers rise in London
Ride-by moped thefts and robberies on London’s main shopping streets have increased six-fold over the last two years. Met Police data shows Oxford Street is the worst hit with 291 offences in one year – up from 13 in 2014-15. A criminology expert said moped-enabled theft is the “crime of the moment” as it is “ridiculously easy” to do. Oxford Street’s crowds give thieves cover and there are plenty of “rich pickings” to choose from, he added. Regent Street saw the number of thefts jump from three to 91 between 2015 and 2017, while Bond Street went from one to 14. Supt Mark Payne, from the Met, said “intensive operations” in the West End have led to a decrease in moped-enabled crime since October 2017.
Brexit: EU ‘removes transition punishment clause’
EU diplomats have removed a so-called “punishment clause” from a draft text of the arrangement for the Brexit transition period, the BBC understands. A footnote published by the European Commission last week suggested that the UK would lose access to elements of the European single market if it broke EU rules during the transition period. But officials have now promised new wording that makes reference to the EU’s standard infringement procedures. Brexit is scheduled for 29 March 2019.
Faulty appliances ’cause 60 fires a week’
Faulty household appliances – primarily washing machines and tumble dryers – account for 60 house fires a week in the UK, consumer group Which? has said. It said the number of fires has stayed roughly the same each year for five years. It wants the government to draw up a plan to tackle the issue within three months, having set up an Office for Product Safety. However, manufacturers have questioned some of the data that Which? used. The consumer group wants a reform of the UK’s product safety system, following a series of fires, including the including Grenfell Tower tragedy, which was started by a faulty fridge freezer.
European Union grows at fastest pace for 10 years
The European Union economy grew at its fastest pace in a decade last year, figures from the EU statistics office Eurostat have confirmed. The 28-strong EU expanded by 2.5% in 2017, its strongest performance since 2007, when it grew by 2.7%. In the final three months both the EU and the 19-nation eurozone grew by 0.6% compared with the previous quarter. That was mirrored by growth in the EU’s biggest economy, Germany, which grew by 0.6% in the final quarter of 2017. France also expanded by 0.6%, while Spanish growth was a notch stronger at 0.7%. Overall in 2017, the eurozone grew by 2.5%, Eurostat said, the fastest growth rate since a 3% rise in 2007.
Big demand for Minis keeps used car sales puffing along
Britain’s used car market held steady last year despite a slip in fourth-quarter sales, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. More than 8 million vehicles were sold over the period, a 1.1 per cent dip but still the second highest figure on record. While the market performed well over the year, sales fell by 5.1 per cent in the final quarter compared with the same period in 2016. Mike Hawes, chief executive of the society, said: “While such healthy demand is reassuring, to keep it that way and accelerate renewal throughout the fleet — the fastest way to improve air quality — government must now restore confidence to the new car sector”.
Bank urged to dump target for inflation
The Bank of England should dump inflation targeting and switch to nominal GDP to help policymakers manage price shocks during periods of weak growth, according to a leading think tank. Anthony Evans, of the Adam Smith Institute, called for the change to ensure that central bank decision-making was more “coherent” in the future. In the decade since the financial crisis, inflation has gyrated wildly around the 2 per cent target for consumer prices but the Bank has “looked through” the peaks and troughs and held rates at record lows to manage growth.
Britain ‘becoming a scrapyard’ as number of cars dumped on the roadside trebles
Britain’s roads are seeing a resurgence of old bangers as higher scrappage costs are leading to more drivers abandoning cars on the roadside, data suggests. Freedom of Information requests to over 400 councils revealed the number of cars being reported as abandoned has risen nearly three times from 40,876 in 2012 to 147,616 in 2016. Experts said the phenomenon was down to rising scrappage costs and a trend for drivers choosing to run their cars into the ground instead of switching them for newer models. Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Twenty years ago if you had a rubbish car you could get £150 for scrapping it. But in recent years the price of metal has gone down and nowadays people will be asked to pay over £100 to have their car taken away and scrapped.
Third car tax change in four years: Motorists face new rates in 2020 – but is it true that costs ‘shouldn’t rise’?
For the third time in four years, British drivers will need to get their head around a new car tax system. Motorists have already needed to fathom out a new car tax system introduced last year, as well as higher rates for new diesel cars from April 2018 – and in 2020 they will see yet more changes to vehicle excise duty. The Department for Transport has proposed that car tax bands for new vehicles be adjusted in two years’ time to align with a new vehicle emissions test that was made compulsory for manufacturers last year. While assurances have been made that costs won’t increase for car buyers, the new test could see new vehicles with eco-tuned smaller engines become more expensive to tax.