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UK must tackle ‘astonishing’ cost of congestion, study says
UK drivers wasted an average of 31 hours in rush-hour traffic last year, costing each motorist £1,168, a study by traffic data firm Inrix suggests. The UK is the world’s 10th most congested country and London is Europe’s second most gridlocked city after Moscow. Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh completed the UK’s top five major areas affected. The government said a record £23bn was being invested in road schemes.
BP profits double on higher oil price
BP’s annual profits more than doubled in 2017, largely thanks to the global increase in oil prices. The oil giant made $6.2bn ($4.4bn), up from $2.6bn made during the previous 12 months. Chief executive Bob Dudley hailed it “as one of the strongest years in BP’s recent history”. BP opened seven new oil and gas fields during 2017 and its oil production rose 12% to 247 million barrels of oil per day.
Lloyds to cut more than 900 jobs
More than 900 jobs are being axed by Lloyds Banking Group as it continues to adapt to changing customer habits. The bank is creating more than 450 new roles which leaves a net loss at 465 posts across five of the bank’s divisions. A spokesperson for Lloyds said that the affected employees had been briefed about the changes at the end of January. They said the that bank’s policy was to redeploy staff wherever possible.
Nissan in talks to make electric cars and batteries in Thailand
Nissan is in talks with Thailand’s government about producing electric cars and automotive batteries in the Southeast Asian kingdom, according to a senior executive at the Japanese carmaker. Yutaka Sanada, Nissan’s regional chief, said on Tuesday that Thailand was “keen to support investment” in electric vehicles and batteries, and that the carmaker and its competitors were seriously considering investing in the new technology there, primarily for export to other countries in the region. “We are considering . . . shifting our portfolio to a more electrified line-up in the coming three to five years,” Mr Sanada told the Financial Times on the sidelines of a conference on EVs organised by Nissan. “If so, considering the lead time, we need to consider now some local battery assembly in Thailand.” The carmaker, with its alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors, is one of the biggest in Thailand, which has Southeast Asia’s largest automotive industry, producing just under 2m light vehicles last year. Nissan also manufactures in Indonesia and has an assembly plant in Malaysia.
UK diesel car sales plunge in January
Sales of diesel cars have continued to drop significantly, with the first figures of 2018 showing a 25% fall from last January. Overall, the UK’s new car market declined by 6.3% in January with 163,615 cars leaving showrooms. It follows a downward trend that started last April after years of record growth. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the decline in diesel sales was concerning, although dealers said the figures were “an expected correction”.
The director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, Sue Robinson, said: “The sector performed exceptionally well in the first quarter of 2017, meaning the decline reflects an expected market correction. “Franchised dealers continue to see a buoyant market on the used car side.”
Retailers and services struggle with squeeze on spending
Britain’s retailers battled through “tough” trading conditions in January as consumers preserved their cash for essential food shopping and shunned big ticket purchases. Non-food sales declined by 1.2% in the three months to the end of January with furniture sellers, shoe shops and high street clothing retailers recording their worst performance since 2009, according to British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG data. There was better news for supermarkets after like-for-like food sales increased by 2.9%, but with all the extra spending accounted for by higher prices.
Driving test cheat still didn’t pass
A learner driver used a Bluetooth headset connected to a mobile phone to cheat in two driving theory tests but still did not manage to pass. Isa Yazgi, 23, a Turkish chef, was caught after the first offence in Chatham, Kent, when he could get no signal. Officials from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) took no action against him. On the second occasion, at Hanley, in Staffordshire, his earpiece was spotted by a member of staff. Yazgi admitted cheating. His solicitor told North Staffordshire justice centre that the scam had been set up by Turkish fraudsters in London, who Yazgi agreed to pay £1,000 if he passed.
Ambulance bot set to save lives by clearing roads
Artificial intelligence will clear a route for ambulances through Oxford’s notoriously heavy traffic in the first trial of a system that could cut response times dramatically. The Life congestion-clearing system, developed by a Liverpool startup with NHS and government backing, changes traffic lights along the vehicle’s route based on a combination of real-time and historical traffic data. Ambulance drivers can already run red lights, and push-button systems have been tested to enable them to change lights as they travel. However, the new algorithm plans further ahead to clear the route so drivers are not forced to weave between cars, reducing response times and potentially saving lives.
Garage group finds deal for US store chain most convenient
Europe’s largest fuel and forecourt operator is set to buy the Kroger Co’s American convenience stores in a $2.15 billion deal. EG Group, or Euro Garages, said that it would buy Kroger’s 762-site network, which operates in 18 states and includes 66 franchise operations. The shops employ 11,000 staff and operate under brand names including Turkey Hill, Kwik Shop, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb and Loaf ‘N Jug. Kroger’s convenience shop business generated revenue of $4 billion in 2016. As part of a move that marks its debut in North America, EG said that it would establish an American headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, and would continue to operate the shops under their established banner names.
Air-CON! Kwik Fit mechanics try to charge student £600 to fix air conditioning her Citroën C1 does not even have
A bemused student was quoted £685 to fix an air conditioning unit which her car does not even have. Stevie Stowell says technicians at Kwik Fit Plus in Brighton said she would have to fix the air conditioning in her car after a warning light flashed up on her dashboard. But when her father got a second opinion, he found out the Citroën C1 his 19-year-old was driving did not even have any air con. Kwik Fit has now reimbursed Ms Stowell the £50 fee it charged her for the diagnostics test and Mr Stowell said the branch manager apologised to him for the error. A Kwik Fit spokesman said they had spoken to Stevie’s father Dean on the phone rather than to her. The spokesman said: ‘This was a genuine mistake for which we fully apologise. ‘We made a misdiagnosis which led to incorrect information and a wrong quote being given to Mr Stowell.
France bans drivers from using mobile phone even when car is stopped
Car insurance costs now swallow up around 10% of a young driver’s salary on average, according to a trade body. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said this sum equates to everything a young driver has earned so far from the start of 2018 to Tuesday, February 6. This makes Tuesday “insurance freedom day” for young drivers aged 18 to 21 years old – when they will typically have earned enough to cover the cost of their annual car insurance. The average motor premium for an 18 to 21-year-old old is £973 and the average annual income for that age group is £9,319, the ABI’s research, which also included Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, found. Across all other age groups combined, motor insurance costs only equate to around 2% of their salary. Drivers aged 50 to 59 pay the lowest proportion at 1.3% of salary on average, the ABI said.
Living next to noisy roads, train tracks or an airport increases the risk of developing heart disease, major review reveals
People who live near noisy roads, train tracks and airports are at greater risk of developing heart disease, research suggests. Experts believe a constant background drone raises the level of stress hormones to dangerous levels. This increases the burden on the body’s blood vessels and damages cells, which over time can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The researchers, writing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reviewed all available studies on the link between noise pollution and heart risk.
Revealed: Boss of car scheme for the disabled is on £1.7million… and YOU pay: MPs question Motability’s lavish salaries and its £2.4billion cash stockpile
A company providing taxpayer-funded cars for the disabled is hoarding £2.4billion – and paying its boss £1.7million a year. The cash ‘surplus’ has been run up by Motability, a charitable scheme run by chief executive Mike Betts. Thanks to bonuses, incentives and pension payments, he pocketed 11 times as much as the Prime Minister in 2017, a Daily Mail investigation reveals. The firm offers a fleet of vehicles to wheelchair users and others in return for part of their State disability allowance. If it handed the £2.4billion to the Treasury it could fund 68,000 police officers for a year, the building of two hospitals and also cover prostate cancer research for a decade.