TOPS NEWS November 2013

Although there is no specific law to prevent women from driving in Saudi Arabia, they cannot apply for driving licenses and many have been arrested on charges relating to public order or political protest after getting behind the wheel. A female member of the Shoura Council has proposed lifting the ban on women drivers but one of Saudi Arabia's top conservative clerics has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems. A decision is awaited.

In China, women are guaranteed equal rights under the law but are often discriminated against. The Beijing police department has sparked an internet blogging backlash by their patronizing suggestions: “Don't wear high heels while driving. Make sure you release the handbrake before setting off. And don't panic if you suddenly realise you're going the wrong way”.

Westminster council has revealed that out of £2.8 million parking fines that have not been paid, French motorists owe £1 million+, Belgian drivers £270,000+, the Spanish £150,000, Germans £130,000 Romanians £127,000 and UAE £73,000. The worst are all Romanian-owned customised luxury cars - 1 Mercedes has 71 unpaid tickets.

A picture appeared after the Singapore Grand Prix titled “David Beckham poses with an aged fan” who happened to be Nicki Lauda!

Watchdog investigated BMW recalls wondering why not Minis with the same power steering problem?

Alfa Romeo has at last launched a rear-wheel-drive car, the 4C coupé at £45K. 1742cc. Turbo petrol engine, top speed 160 mph.

The Government is still considering an 80 mph limit on motorways.

TOPS reported the inexplicable sinking of the yellow duck marine tourist bus in Albert Dock last May. Now one has caught fire in the Thames and 30 people had to be rescued from the water. Apparently the buoyancy foam used was packed too close to the engine.

The BRDC has sold a 150 year lease on 760 acres of Silverstone Industrial Estates and a 999 year lease on Silverstone circuit.

Taras Lesko has made a template for a Lamborghini Aventador for people to build using card and a chipboard base, weight 25 lbs when built.

Met officers stopped a Lamborghini Aventador with no number plate or insurance. When the owner failed to claim the £350,000 car, it was sold for £218,000.

One driver in five has dozed off behind the wheel. (Post Office Car Insurance).

China is to install GPS systems in government cars to thwart personal use by officials. 200,000 government cars have been misused for private purposes. The government has vowed to fight the "four tendencies" of bad cadres, which include "hedonism" and "extravagance".

250,000 items were handed in to the Transport for London lost property offices in 2012 - 51,000 books and documents, 12,000 umbrellas, 35,000 articles of clothing and 29,000 valuables e.g. purses, wallets and cameras, 27,000 phones and 11,000 sets of keys.

A motoring survey has found that middle-aged men think a sportscar makes them sexier but women said it made men seem arrogant, self-centred and dangerous on the roads and they preferred men who drove eco-friendly cars like the Toyota Prius (!)

McLaren has started delivery of its £866,000 supercar P1. Production limited to 375 and almost all sold.

Charles Morgan is appealing against the Boards decision to remove him from his position in the family company. He remains a major shareholder in Morgan.

Minister Brandon Lewis has suggested that councils provide some free parking and allow short-stay parking in High Streets in order to save them from turning into ghost towns.

French Travellers moved into the staff car park at The Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, forcing its closure for 3 days while Newport city council tried to sort out the problem. Following this, British Travellers took over a school car park in Walsall during half term and were still there when children returned to school.

Polish Mateusz Weronikci told the court he stole an Audi A4 from a factory car park to satisfy his addiction to driving. He was jailed for a year.

Boris Johnson is to introduce a new rental scheme for hundreds of electric bikes in London in 2014. The cost of the £700 e-bikes and hi-tech docking stations will come out of the Mayor’s £913 million cycling fund.

Next year Londoners will be able to rent electric cars on a pay-per-use basis from Britain’s debut “e-car” club. £45 p.d or £5.50 p.h. In 2012 only 198 of London’s electric vehicle charging points were used.

Motorways are to display petrol prices and distances so that motorists may choose which service station to use. (As done in France).

Single carriage A roads are more dangerous than dual carriageways with the A537 between Macclesfield and Buxton being the worst – from another ‘report’.

Peter Sissons, ex BBC, has won his case against a traffic warden who gave him a £90 ticket for moving his car and returning within 2 hours. The warden claimed he knew because he had monitored the position of the tyre valves on all vehicles in the parking lot to see if they moved.

Council staff in Arnprior, Stirlingshire have painted wiggly lines on the road to try to slow traffic.

The number of catalytic converters being stolen from cars has doubled as thieves from Eastern Europe steal them for the platinum and palladium to sell for scrap metal. More than 25,000 have been ripped out of cars and vans over the last 3 years.

The M6 toll lost £1m per week in 2012.
Under the new French tax system, lorries using French main roads (not motorways) will pay €13 per km travelled, calculated by roadside terminals, but protesters keep destroying them – cost of spy device €1m, cost of installation €250K. Contract worth €18m a month even if the project is abandoned.

Commuters spent an average of 9 working days stuck in traffic in Britain’s biggest cities during the past year. (TomTom research).

Google has been ordered to block links in France to images of an orgy involving Max Mosley, pay his legal fees and €1 in damages.

The Highways Agency have stated that UK drivers are taxed £5.4 million every hour or £50 billion p.a. but only £10bn is returned to the road network. The Agency invested £420m in road repairs in 2012 but estimate the backlog of pothole repairs is already £10.5bn. They are using lower speed limits to avoid some repairs.

Councils are banned from using CCTV cameras and “spy cars” for parking revenue but their income from this keeps rising. Parking fines are forecast to make a £635m profit in 2013 and in 2012 UK councils made £565m from parking. Westminster Council made a profit of £41.6 m. It intends to remove 50 of its 179 traffic enforcement cameras.

Marc Lang bought a Ford Thunderbird in Essex, imported from Mexico. He found a nest of black widow spiders under a hub cap – dealt with by an exterminator.

The Scottish Government is to install 100 cameras at 40 sites 4 miles apart on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness.

Milton Keynes is to test run 20 driverless cars (autonomous pods) and expects to have 100 operating by 2017. The pods will carry 2 people at £2 each, charged to a smartphone app, use GPS and not exceed 12mph. It relies on a combination of radar and camera, and is capable of avoiding everything. The Government is investing £1.5m in this new technology. The manufacturer, Ultra Global, already has some pods in use at Terminal 5.

Race competitors should note the item in the MSA Rule Changes (14.4.2 b) A driver will be judged to have left the track if any wheel of the car either goes beyond the outer edge of any kerb or goes beyond the white line where there is no kerb. (Previously 4 wheels).

VW is recalling 2.6 million cars worldwide due to a potential gearbox fault, as well as issues with lights and fuel lines.

Humberside police now have a 190mph Ducati superbike Panigale 1199cc to help catch motorcycle speeders.

Bridport council are spending £250 a day running 4 mini buses to take children half a mile to school on the B3162. The cost of a footpath is estimated at £100,000.

Metropolitan Police officers have spent nearly £300,000 of taxpayers’ money in four years by pumping the wrong fuel into patrol cars.

Work on a £280m racing circuit in Blaenau, Gwent will begin soon. It will be able to host all motor racing championships, except Formula 1.

Abridged version of TOPS NEWS sent to members by Trisha Pilkington