TOPS NEWS March 2007

Luxury car
manufacturers are expected to be the main casualties of future CO2 legislation in Europe (130g of CO2 per km).  The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti has 475 compared with the Land Rover Freelander V6 at 298.

Abu Dhabi will host a Grand Prix in 2009 on a new racing circuit on Yas Island which will combine a 1.8-mile permanent circuit with a special 1.5-mile section running through a built-up area and around a marina.  Chimay, which was in danger of losing race approval has found the money to improve its circuit.  Brands Hatch has moved the barrier on the inside of Paddock Hill to create more run-off area.  Oulton Park’s run-off area at Druids has been extended.  Shelsley Walsh hill is to be resurfaced. Dubai F1’s 5 million sq ft theme park has started construction.  The future of Pukekohe circuit, N.Z. is in doubt due to noise regulations, a newly built circuit nearby and increased horse racing.  A 100 year lease on Donington Park circuit, land, and Grand Prix car collection, has been bought by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd., a newly formed company owned by Lee Gill and Simon Gillett. Exciting but expensive new plans for Silverstone were discussed at a BRDC forum in February.

The BRDC are expected to reduce their sportscar championship to 4 UK rounds.  

Maria McCarthy has  passed her driving test after 23 years, 250 lessons and 10 instructors.

The swiss bank UBS is asking $800m for Ford’s Aston Martin company.  David Richards is reputedly interested.

Henry Hobhouse, a Somerset farmer, has converted his Jaguar to run on rotting apple fumes.

A German lorry driver won £60,000 after he agreed to throw most of it out of the window as a novel idea to use the money. He was allowed to keep £10,000 after competition judges ruled £50,000 was enough to qualify as 'most'.

An Edinburgh double-decker bus was given a traffic ticket for driving illegally in a restricted zone in Oxford Street and caught on CCTV. But Lothian Buses' own video cameras placed the vehicle 400 miles away in Edinburgh. The fine has been cancelled. 

Councils are considering allowing Motorists carrying passengers to use underused bus lanes in rush hour.

An Irish convict who stole a car to get back to prison after missing a weekend release deadline has been given a 6 month suspended jail sentence.

According to the BBC, Yorkshire councils are now paying out more in compensation for road damaged cars than they spend on the roads.

The Government is considering making driving tests more difficult.

The Formula One group of companies has secured $2.9 billion of funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lehman Brothers, in order to pay off a loan taken out by new owners CVC to buy the Formula One group.  For this, a new company called Delta Topco has been established in Jersey and Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan (which were previously shareholders in SLEC before the CVC purchase) are both shareholders, as are CVC, the Ecclestone Family Bambino Trust and Ecclestone himself. (Are you a lot wiser? Ed)

Richmond Borough Council is to increase the residents’ permit charge to £300 for owners of cars in Vehicle Excise Duty band G (4 x 4s).

22,400 drivers were banned from driving in 2005 and 13.5m were given points. claims that 50% of drivers continue to use their mobile phone while driving.  Penalties will be incurred if spotted by any of the cameras.

As predicted, the police will soon have powers to enter your property and remove any car which is not insured unless it is registered for SORN.  And Councils are expected to be allowed to seize cars, wherever parked, for outstanding parking tickets, even if incurred by a previous owner. (Private bill going through with minimum debate - be warned).

A loophole whereby uninsured drivers can reclaim their cars from police pounds is to be closed by insurance companies.

16,000 motorbikes now drive into London (free) every day but there are only 4500 motorbike parking spaces. To pay to expand these, there is a proposal to charge bikers £1.50 per day. 

The government claims it takes £50 billion in car tax p.a. which is almost £1bn p.w.

A new type of cat’s eye is being investigated following the suggestion that they could trigger epileptic fits.

Britain's biggest bus company, FirstGroup Plc, has agreed to buy Laidlaw International Inc., the U.S. operator of inter-city Greyhound buses, for $2.8 billion plus debts of $800 million. 

42 cameras have been installed at traffic-light controlled junctions in Avon & Somerset to monitor cars but they show that cyclists ignore the signals.

3 parking ticket machines have been blown up in Lewes by putting industrial-sized fireworks (bird scarers?) inside the machines.  Replacement cost £300,000.

The cost of converting UK’s road signs to metric is estimated at £760m.

Terrafugia, Inc. has developed The Transition - a road-able aircraft which can land at the airport, fold up its wings, and drive on the road. 

The Government is refusing to fund councils' public transport schemes unless they are linked to a new tax on motorists. 

The AA has stated that ‘Eco’ parking is a farce. 

The number of people killed in road accidents has increased despite the proliferation of speed cameras, according to new Government figures.

Bohmte, a German town, has scrapped all its traffic signs as part of an EU backed project to encourage responsible driving.

A Shell Ferrari TV car advertisement, budget £2m, to help celebrate their 60 years together, was due to be filmed in main cities of London, Australia, New York, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Hong Kong and Rome. It has been cancelled in London (police difficulties) and Australia (extra money wanted) but has taken place in Monaco.

Ferrari announced a 16% increase in profit to $240m for 2006 with a turnover of $1.9bn. 

The Fiat Group has changed its name to Fiat Group Automobiles SpA and formed 4 new companies. 

More than £1m in fines in London remain unpaid by foreign countries, including the US. 

The future of  The Red Arrows is in jeopardy so here is another petition for you to sign.

NCP, the car park operator which employs 4,000 traffic wardens and made £245m profit in just 18 months, is being sold.  

Road signs in Polish have been put up in Cheshire.  “Bonkers” was a general reaction.