TOPS NEWS May 2016     followed by March and January

Police have raided 29 car washes in Manchester investigating slave labour, they also raided car washes in Hampshire, Essex, Devon and South Wales where human trafficking continues to thrive.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for new diesel cars should be raised by up to £800 a ‘think tank’ has said and proposes funding a scrappage scheme for older diesel models with £2,000 grants for the owners to purchase a cleaner car, but Ministers have rejected calls for a diesel car scrappage scheme to help tackle air pollution.

By 2020 Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton are intending to charge diesel vehicles entering the cities. Age limit?

In Germany 630,000 cars are to be recalled because of their emissions. VW is to hand out cash settlements to owners of diesel cars in America but not in the UK.

A stretch of the M6 near Carlisle has been earmarked as a potential test route for Driverless lorries to be tested in ‘platoons’. Steering, acceleration and braking of the road train will be controlled by a driver in the lead vehicle although the drones will have a driver in each cab as a safety precaution to regain control in the event of an emergency

Volvo is to test self-driving cars in London—permissible because the Vienna Convention which states that “every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle or to guide his animals” was never ratified in the UK.

1.5 million drivers were hit by penalty charge notices (£70) for failing to pay to use the Dartford Crossing bridge in the period between November 2014 and October 2015. Previously, motorists paid the charge at the toll booths but Highways England replaced the system with Dart Charge and now drivers are charged through number plate recognition and have to pre-pay or pay within 24 hours.

Ferrari driver Neil Casson was jailed for 10 weeks after posting himself racing on UTube at 102 mph on a narrow road in Lytham, Lancs.

A speed camera in Gloucestershire on the A46 caught 25,000 offenders in its first week. The police identify speeders and send them a letter warning them against further speeding or they will be fined.

Production for the TVR is to begin in Ebbw Vale South Wales, next year, with 4 new models produced over the next 10 years creating 150 jobs.

Blackpool council has refused to pay compensation to Barbara Fielding for injuries received after tripping over a pothole because it measured under 40 mm.

Aston Martin is opening a new production facility in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Drivers who park on grass verges in some streets in Birmingham are likely to be fined £70 after residents, fed up with their verges being churned up by cars, obtained a specific order under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Jaguar is to build nine XKSS cars, to be known as ‘continuation cars’. They will begin delivery in January 2017 and be built in Jaguar Classic’s new experimental shop in Warwick.

A TomTom Traffic survey shows that motorists lose 5 days a year due to traffic jams. Delays in the UK have increased by 14% in 5 years compared with Europe which had a 3% reduction.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that cars were incorrectly loaded on to the Hoegh Osaka which then capsized in the Solent. 80 vehicles were destroyed including Jaguars, JCBs and a Rolls-Royce for the Middle East.

The M5 is due to trial signs showing the price of fuel at the stations ahead – as in France. It is hoped to encourage a reduction in price.

Most of the UK bus operators are intending to make it necessary to use a ’tap-and-pay’ card and in London it is already often impossible to pay with cash or credit card unless it is ‘contactless’. (Trisha was recently thrown off a London bus for not having a contactless card, Richard was not allowed to pay for 2 on his card and they would not accept cash. Ed)

Since their introduction in the 1980s, speed humps have risen to 60,000.

A young Saudi recently brought several friends and a collection of gold vinyl wrapped cars to London for use around Kensington. The cars included a Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 - a six-wheel off-roader, a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe, a gold Bentley Flying Spur and a Lamborghini Aventador SuperVeloce.

Daniel Kaizen, booked an Uber taxi for a 5 mile journey in London over Easter but fell asleep and was given a bill for £102.17 for the scenic route taken. Uber has offered a refund.

Heinz and Ford are developing a fibre for a bio-plastic made from their products which can be used in cars.

Andrew Garner has stepped down as Chairman of the HGPCA and been replaced on a temporary basis by Barry Cannell who held the post previously. A Competitions Secretary to replace Martin Grant Peterkin is being sought.

Thomas the Tank Engine has been told to become multi-cultural with friends from India, Brazil, China and Mexico.

Insurer 1st Central has analysed accident claims for 2015 and concluded that the worst drivers by profession are: Accountant, Solicitor, Doctor, Financial adviser, Letting agent, Airline cabin crew, Bank manager, IT manager, Pharmacist and Train driver. This is similar to research done by Admiral insurance who also found that women are better drivers than men.

Ministers have promised to take action to stop the “clocking” of cars – c 100 firms reportedly offer to “wind back” the shown mileage.

The number of traffic lights in England has increased by 25% since 2000 but vehicle traffic only rose by 5%.

Britain’s first speed camera was installed in 1992. By 2012 there were over 3,000 at 2,300 fixed sites.

In London bus lanes have increased from 59 miles in 1997 to 172 miles in 2007.

Following the removal of traffic lights in Poynbton resulting in faster journey times and a reduction in accidents, there is a suggestion to widen the trial.

Two Bills have failed to get through parliament – the right for councils to ban all pavement parking and the right to set their own speed limits.

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring a property developer who painted her Kensington townhouse in red and white stripes to the fury of neighbours, is now demolishing the building. Work began in March with asbestos being removed and the interior stripped out. But she cannot actually level the building until she gets a so-called party wall agreement from her adjoining neighbours, which could take months.

Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.1 million cars because they may roll away after drivers get out of their automatic ‘park’ vehicles.

In Paris, the first Sunday of every month is now a car free zone in the Champs Elysees. Nine new routes will also be pedestrianised every Sunday and public holiday in France.

Wolverhampton city council has issued a private hire taxi cab licence for a Lamborghini Huracan (c 200 mph). Minimum charge £349 for 90 minutes.

Black taxi cabs feel under threat again as Uber tests self-driving vehicles at its technology centre in Pittsburgh.

Rows of red LED traffic lights have been put into pavements in Augsburg, Germany, so that zombie pedestrians do not have to look away from their mobile phones when they want to cross a road.

TRISHBITS March 2016 – abridged version

The London Taxi Company failed in a bid to claim exclusive right to the shape of the traditional black cab, thus allowing Metrocab to launch its eco-friendly taxi.

Figures published by the AA say the number of older drivers on the roads has been increasing steadily and this is expected to continue. By 2030, more than 90% of men over 70 will be behind the wheel.

Whisper Films a company owned by David Coulthard and F1 presenter Jake Humprey will produce the new free-to-air coverage of F1 in Britain this year. David Coultard will continue with his F1 coverage for Channel 4.

A crackdown on mega-rich drivers racing through Kensington and Chelsea appears to have worked.

The roads minister Andrew Jones has claimed that electric cars are proving hugely successful with 28,188 new cars sold in 2015.

Sales of Jaguar Land Rover surged last year to 137,653 but revenues fell 2% to £499 million profit.

In March 2011 Keven Hughes paid a £10,000 deposit for a limited edition Porsche 911 GT3 RS4 to the Porsche Centre in Bolton but when it arrived they sold it to someone else. He was awarded £35,000 by the Court as the probable amount of collector’s value increase.

Julie Geue arranged to have gravel laid on her drive but when workmen arrived they found a stranger’s car had been left in the way so she had the gravel dumped anyway blocking it in for several days.

A report from the Institute of Economic Affairs estimates that a 2-minute delay to every car journey costs the UK economy c £16 billion p.a. and could be reduced by the removal of 4 out of 5 of the traffic lights.

David Richards of F1 fame uses a field near his 2 hotels in St Mawes, Cornwall to land his private aircraft and has applied for a helipad nearby for his (£5m) Augusta Grande. Villagers are objecting.

Production of the DB10 was strictly limited to ten examples, with the car built in Aston Martin’s Gaydon headquarters for the latest 007 film. Most of the 10 carbon fibre and aluminium DB10s were modified for use in the filming of Spectre, but one unmodified car was sold at Christies auction for £2,434,500, with the proceeds being donated to Medicines Sans Frontiers.

Feeling sad, angry or agitated, behind the wheel of a car raises the risk of an accident by nearly ten times. In contrast, fatigue makes a crash three times more likely, while talking on a mobile only doubles the risk.

A garage owner fed up with cars parked across his entrance moved some onto his roof in Quingdao city, China. The owners had to hire a tow truck to lower them back to the ground. No one has parked in front of the garage doors recently.

The proliferation of 20 mph zones has led to council spending on speed bumps rising by 50% in a year.

White is the most popular colour for new cars with 564,393 registered in 2015 compared with 509,677 black cars.

ANPR cameras are now recording between 25 and 30 million number plates every single day.

New proposals are being considered for speed cameras to be switched on permanently on stretches of the motorway. All drivers at over 70 mph would be fined £100 and have points on their licence.

The government plans to retest vehicles as a result of the VW emissions scandal. To remain impartial it will not ask for contributions from manufacturers – only from the tax payers!

The ACEA want Europe’s roads to be resurfaced to provide low resistance – the continent would pay c £30 billion p.a. However the UK has a 13-year backlog of road repairs and would need a one time catchup of £12 billion. Green transport agencies say the claims are out of touch with reality.

Councils are demanding new powers to fine lorry drivers who cause chaos in villages by following sat-navs down tiny country lanes.

‘Black Badge’ limited editions of the Rolls Royce Ghost saloon and Wraith coupe are to get a power boost, plus black detailing and exotic cabin materials. They will become permanent editions in the range.
FIVA, the Federation Internationale Vehicules Anciens has sparked widespread panic by calling for pan-European consensus on what constitutes an historic vehicle and what should be considered merely an ‘old car’ – with many of our cherished classics set to be excluded on grounds of age, use and condition. A defiant FBHVC has demanded FIVA withdraw its statement and consult with them first.

A new car hacking study showed thieves can disable immobilisers and drive off without a key in 26 types of car – particularly in Volvo, VW, Audi and Fiat.

Range Rover’s keyless 4x4 was the most stolen vehicle in 2015, beating the BMW X5 which held the position for 6 years.
The 'Swiss Army Knife' combat vehicle, so dubbed because of is armoury of tools, now comes with a telescopic investigation arm. It can probe for buried explosives and split solid concrete with a rock hammer that stretches more than 26 ft; wade through deep waters and withstand waves of up to 6½ ft. The remote controlled 32-ton Terrier can dig ditches, drill holes, excavate defensive positions, clear obstacles e.g. boulders, structures, bridges, cars and logs and haul all types of building materials. It has many attachments including trailers, pincers, rock hammers, hoists, shovels, augers and buckets. A medium machine gun can also be installed for self-defense.

The funeral of Elizabeth Morris in South Wales was disrupted when a car crashed into the horse-drawn hearse killing one of the horses.

In February a self-drive Lexus RX450h (speed 2 mph) tried to skirt sandbags in a wide lane and crashed into a bus doing 15 mph. Changes have now been made to the software …… but who would be blamed in an accident?

C&SC is calling on enthusiasts to help to oppose London Mayor Boris Johnson's proposal to ban classic cars from the centre of London. It plans to deliver a petition personally to the London mayor in a convoy of classic cars.

Foreign motorists are allowed to drive for six months on their own country’s plates before needing to apply for a UK registration and pay vehicle excise duty. Since the trial was started in April 2014, the DVLA has seized nearly 3,000 vehicles from abroad that have illegally overstayed in the UK, recouping more than £42,000 in lost taxes.

Rétromobile, the Paris car show, was this year visited by 110,000 people. 550 exhibitors and 500 vehicles were on show. Artcurial auctions sold 80% of their Lots and realized £43,192,611, an increase of 21% on last year’s record which included the Baillon Collection.
The Press Report from Race Retro (under new management) is not worth printing but I understand the visitor numbers were about the same as Paris.

Are you properly insured? Mrs Pucci (of fashion fame) is under a manslaughter investigation due to a giant pine tree on her property falling on a passing car killing the driver.

A man from York has been banned from having any sexual activity with a woman unless he tells police 24 hours in advance.

A lorry driver in Minnesota left his dog in his vehicle with the engine running. The dog managed to let off the brake and the lorry drove off crashing into a car and then a tree where it stopped just before some petrol pumps.

TRISHBITS January 2016 – Abridged version

Twickenham residents are protesting over “completely unacceptable” plans to bring a US monster truck festival to the home of English rugby

A thousand young drivers were given the chance to wear the first 'drug driving suit' developed by car manufacturer Ford. The suit simulates symptoms of being high or drunk to give young drivers an idea about the effect it has at the wheel. Driving under the influence of cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and LSD is also simulated.

Women driving in Iran with their hair uncovered have been warned that their cars will be impounded and they could be sacked. The authorities claim that improper dress has led to serious psychological problem in the opposite sex. However President Hassan Rouhani says Iran’s parliament may lift the restriction on the hijab.

Mr Wadhwani pre-booked a £5 all-day parking deal at the NCP car park in Portland Square - but when he tried to exit five hours later, was hit with a parking bill of £3,731 at the barrier. He had used the car park in August but when leaving an attendant had to open the barrier for him and the computer did not register his exit – therefore he was charged for 93 days parking.

Cash payments for minor whiplash claims are to be banned. Instead claimants will be offered physiotherapy.

The Chancellor has pledged £25 million over the next 5 years to fill Britain’s potholes.

A new lorry park able to hold 4,000 vehicles is to be built near Folkestone.

Milton Keynes council has decided to reduce the size of 5,000 parking bays to 90” (2.3m) to create 235 more parking spaces – for those who fit in.

Fire engines are having difficulty getting past parked cars which have become wider. East Kent has ordered 29 smaller and lighter vehicles. Sussex brigade is due to buy a few. Devon & Somerset bought some last year and Staffordshire has a specially designed response vehicle.

Residents in Claines, Worcestershire, have complained about rumble strips which have been installed on the A449. The noise from vehicles running over them can be heard a mile away.

A new championship called Roborace, for driverless cars, will run next year at city-based circuits in London, Beijing and Mexico City, alongside the Formula E race series. The cars can reach 150 mph. 10 teams will have the same cars but compete using real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies.

The police have broken a ring of drug runners from the Netherlands who used a fleet of fake ambulances with bogus patients and hidden compartments to bring in £1.6 billion of cocaine and heroin in one year.

Porsche has confirmed it is to build the Mission E electric 4-door, 4-wheel-drive car, 0-62 mph in 3.5 secs, powered exclusively by batteries with a range of 310 miles.

Vincent Bollore is expanding his French electric car-sharing scheme and hopes to have 100 vehicles operating in London in February. Rental rates are expected to be £5 per half hour.

Jamie Sharp was jailed for 4 years after he filmed himself crashing a stolen Porsche Boxster into a wall and was rescued by emergency services.

Eight London councils took a total of more than £188 million in parking fines last year. Westminster was highest at £46.4 million. "The reality is that 600,000 cars come into central London on average every day, and we have to keep the roads of Westminster moving.”

The use of CCTV "spy cars" to catch people who park illegally is to be banned. Parking wardens will have to fix tickets to windscreens. Councils will still be able to use the CCTV to issue postal tickets for any offences that occur on ‘critical’ routes.

Drivers who have been using the area around Knightsbridge (Harrods) to show off their supercars could now face fines of up to £1,000 under a Public Spaces Protection Order.

Jaguar First has set up 6 training areas in England for 11 to 17 year-olds, to teach them to drive correctly. Lessons start at £45. Currently 25% of 18 to 24 year- olds crash within 2 years of passing their test.

Rickshaws could be banned in parts of the West End if Camden Council gets backing for a new local law. The vehicles have been linked to antisocial behaviour, noise pollution and aggressive touting by rickshaw drivers. A Dutch man was recently charged £600 for a half-hour journey to Selfridges.

Bus operators Stagecoach and Metroline, have signed deals with Argent Energy to supply them with B20 green diesel made from waste fats and oils. By March almost 3,000 of the capital's 8,900 buses will be powered by the B20 fuel blend, reducing carbon emissions by 10% (21,000 tonnes p.a.).

Cathy Bernstein was involved in a hit and run accident and thought she had got away with it but her own car, a Ford Focus, called emergency services in Port St Lucie, Florida to report the incident.

Britains’ motor industry had sales of 2,633,503 cars in 2015 an increase of 6.3% on 2014.

Sales of vans increased in 2015 by 15.6% to 371,830 – attributed to the increase in online shopping. Rigid truck sales rose by 19.5% and articulated lorries by 35.6%.

A learner driver from Oxford has 51 points on her licence but avoided being banned from driving when the court exercised its discretion.

Green Tomato Cars, based in London, are using hydrogen-fuelled minicabs which have fuel cells which use gas stored in two tanks behind the rear seats and under the back axle, to generate electricity. There is also a conventional battery as back-up. The only by-product is warm water vapour which condenses as it hits the cooler air via a plastic tail pipe. The vehicles have a range of up to 300 miles in town with a full tank and only take up to five minutes to refill. They have a top speed of more than 100 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in under 10 seconds.

Sales of Lotus, owned by Malaysian group DRB-Hicom Berhad, rose 11.7% last year. Bentley sold fewer cars last year after a 36% fall in sales in China. Rolls Royce, owned by BMW, also reported a drop of 6.8% but still recorded the 2nd highest result in their history.

Last year 7 hospital trusts made over £3 million from car parking fees and apx 45 made over £1 million.

In 2008 we reported the theft of an entire bridge, now it is a road! Russian Alexander Protopopov, head of the national prison service, has been arrested in Sytyvkar for stealing an entire road. He took 82 reinforced concrete slabs, removed with a manipulator, transported in 3 heavy trucks, that had made the 1 mile road linking the village of Parcheg with the Vychegda River.