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Police forced to respond to 999 calls without sirens

Police forced to respond to 999 calls in Vauxhall Corsas without sirens

Police forced to respond to 999 calls without sirens

Police say they are having to respond to emergency calls in Vauxhall Corsas not equipped with sirens following budget cuts made by the Government.

West Midlands Police have had to use the Vauxhalls – which are kitted with blue lights but no sirens – to reach emergency calls over 100 times in the last 12 months, according to reports.

The force has 109 Vauxhall Corsa patrol cars on its fleet, intended for non-emergency use only. Budget cuts, however, mean they’re being used to respond to urgent 999 calls.

Officers are told they’re not allowed to break the rules of the road without sirens – leading to ‘huge frustration’ as they struggle to make their 15 minute target to reach crime scenes.

Superintendent Kerry Blakeman, from the West Midlands Police’s operations department, told local newspaper the Express and Star: “Any officer can respond to an incident if they are suitably trained to drive at speed and are in an appropriate vehicle – with lights and siren.

“Officers who are not appropriately trained and/or driving an appropriate vehicle can attend an incident as quickly and safely as possible while complying with the Road Traffic Act just as members of the public should.

“Incidents graded as ‘immediate’ are responded to as soon as possible, usually in a matter of minutes and on many occasions require the use of lights and sirens.

“At no point was the Corsa intended for response work as it is a low performance vehicle.”

New trucking laws introduced in London from TODAY

New trucking laws introduced in London from TODAY

New trucking laws introduced in London from TODAY

Lorries heading into London from today will have to comply with tough new Safer Lorry Scheme regulations in a bid to make the capital safer for cyclists.

HGVs will now have to be fitted with bigger mirrors and side guards to prevent cyclists being dragged underneath.

If caught in London without the new safety kit, drivers could face on-the-spot fines of £50, increasing up to a maximum of £1,000 at Magistrates Court.

The new laws were announced earlier this year after it emerged that a number of cyclist deaths involved HGVs.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “We know that a large number of cyclist deaths and serious injuries involve a relatively small number of trucks and lorries that are not fitted with basic safety equipment.

“Such vehicles are not welcome in the capital and the Safer Lorry Scheme will see them effectively banned from our streets. The lives of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians will be much safer as a result and I urge all operators of HGVs to get on board and make it a success.”

The new law is one of many being introduced that could catch out motorists – brush up on 7 new laws drivers need to know.

Lord Montagu

Beaulieu founder Lord Montagu dies

Lord MontaguLord Montagu, founder of Britain’s National Motor Museum and a groundbreaking figure in the classic car world, has died after a short illness. He was 88.

Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, inherited the Beaulieu Estate when he was two years old: it was managed by his father’s widow and trustees until he was 25.

But with an allocation from his inheritance of just £1,500 a year to run the estate, Lord Montagu was faced with a dilemma. “In 1951, to any sensible, rational being, the house was a white elephant,” he said.

“The wise solution was to get rid of it. For me, however – neither entirely sensible nor rational – that was unthinkable.”

He thus decided to open the estate to paying visitors, with an added USP: exhibiting classic veteran cars.

This, he said, commemorated his father’s life – he was a car enthusiast too – but “without it, my life would have been very different and I doubt whether I would have been able to remain as owner and occupier of my ancestral home.”

In 1952, the collection became Britain’s first car museum. By the 1960s, it was attracting half a million visitors a year.

Lord Montagu also created the world famous Beaulieu Autojumble in 1967 – a name he invented and which has long had an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Because it was proving so successful, an all-new 40,000 square-foot museum was built in the early 70s and opened by the Duke of Kent on 4 July 1972: it became the National Motor Museum. It won the title of National Heritage Museum of the Year in 1974 – the same year a monorail was opened to help visitors tour the 7,000-acre estate.

In recent years, the World of Top Gear, displaying cars as driven by Clarkson, Hammond and May in the huge hit show, has proven an ever-popular attraction.

Montagu was also chairman of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission: one of his early actions as chair was to rename it English Heritage.

Lord Montagu is survived by his wife Fiona, his son and heir Ralph, daughter Mary and second son Jonathan.

In accordance with his wishes, the estate and visitor attractions are continuing to operate as usual.

An estate funeral will be held at Beaulieu, followed by a memorial service at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

Toyota Tundra Grile

The Toyota that transforms into a barbeque

Toyota Tundra GrileHow to showcase the huge bed of the latest Toyota Tundra? If you’re Toyota Canada, by creating THE ultimate mobile barbeque, that’s how.

Earlier this year, the firm partnered with Canadian grill experts Napoleon to create two amazing Tundra ‘tailgating vehicles’.

Amazing, because sliding out the 8.1-foot deck is a massive grille that houses the barbeque to beat them all.

The grille is massive enough to cater for even the pickiest eater. It has no fewer than SEVEN burners, an integrated wood chip smoker tray – even the controls are illuminated for night-time barbeques.

That’s not all: there’s also a preparation area. Even a separate area for condiments, rolls and onions.

Oh, and brilliantly, the cooking grilles have the Toyota logo cut into them…

Toyota Tundra Grile

Toyota says it’s been a showstopper even when it’s not been fired up. When it has, the queues have stretched far. And now the word is out, its forthcoming appearances from September through December may well be even more popular.

“The Toyota Tundra is known for being up to the task for anything Canadians throw at it,” said Toyota Canada vice president Stephen Beatty.

“It has certainly proven to be ideal for this special tailgating vehicle.” Indeed. Hands up who’ll be looking at their Bank Holiday barbeque with a little bit of a scowl now?

Children in car

Revealed: the disturbing reasons why parents leave kids alone in the car

Children in car

Almost a quarter of UK parents admit to leaving their kids on their own in the car for as long as 27 minutes.

The research, by Kwik Fit Insurance Services, reveals that dads are likely to leave kids alone in cars for longer than mums – despite half of parents saying they’ve returned to misbehaving children as a result.

The most common scene to return to is fighting between siblings (15%), tears (13%) and beeping the horn (13%).

Worryingly, one in six parents admitted to locking their kids in the car as punishment – while more than a quarter said they simply forgot about them.

‘Shocking’

Child behaviour expert Richard Curtis said: “The results of this survey are very shocking.

“While it is not appropriate to take a child out of a car whilst filling up with petrol, there are many other times where the children should go with their parents.

“There are a number of hazards that could pose a risk to children in an unattended vehicle, plus, as this report shows, siblings will often bicker or fight.”

The survey found that the youngest age on average that UK parents leave their children alone in the car is 7 years – dropping to 5 years for younger parents.

Curtis added: “Children left alone in an enclosed space with a sibling will often get bored or frustrated with them, especially left without an activity to do.

“My advice would be to never leave children under the age of 12 unattended if you haven’t got line of sight to them, and even then not for more than a few minutes.

“Whatever parents decide, having some games and activities in the  car is only ever going to be beneficial to keep little people occupied.”

TomTom traffic map

14 million extra cars on road for Bank Holiday weekend

TomTom traffic mapThe RAC says up to 14 million MORE motorists may take to the road over the final Bank Holiday weekend of 2015 – and it’s warning drivers to plan ahead and leave as early as possible to try and beat the rush.

The first predicted spike in traffic is already underway: early Friday morning will be busier than usual as 55% MORE people plan an August Bank Holiday this year compared to 2014.

Saturday will actually be the busiest day though, with 2.6 million more cars on the road than normal.

Other traffic spikes will occur on Sunday late afternoon and early evening, and early on Bank Holiday Monday.

It’s all being fuelled by cheap petrol and diesel prices, reckons the RAC. This is encouraging people to plan a road trip and perhaps drive further afield than they otherwise would.

Potential traffic hotspots include:

  • Coastal areas
  • Reading and Leeds (because of the music festivals)
  • Overton, Hampshire (because of Chris Evans CarFest)

As a result of all these journeys, the RAC is predicting a busy weekend for its recovery crews. Engine breakdowns are common, said spokesman Pete Williams, “with many cars suffering from ignition coil, head gasket and cambelt issues, along with radiator cooling and overheating problems due to congestion and extended journey times.

“Punctures are also a common reason for call-outs over the August Bank Holiday weekend as a number of cars no longer come with a spare.”

He also has a top tip for Bank Holiday motorists: “Take a spare car key in case you lock your keys in the boot as many holidaymakers will know all too well….”

Go Ultra Low

Plug-in Car Grant extended to ‘at least’ February 2016

Go Ultra LowThe government has guaranteed the Plug-in Car Grant, offering up to £5,000 off the price of an ultra-low emission car, will continue for “at least” the next six months.

Previously, the grant was due for review once volumes hit 50,000 units: a recent boom in ULEV registrations – they’ve grown 256% so far in 2015 – means the SMMT expects that benchmark to be reached in November 2015.

The government has responded early though, by committing the Plug-in Car Grant to at least February 2016: it means cars emitting 75g/km CO2 or less remain eligible for the £5,000 grant for at least six months more.

Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP said: “The UK is now the fastest growing market for electric vehicles in Europe. We will continue to invest to help make this technology affordable to everyone and to secure the UK’s position as a global leader.”

The SMMT welcomed the announcement. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “With British buyers taking to ultra-low emission vehicles faster than anyone else in Europe, the extension of the Plug-in Car Grant is good news.”

Hetal Shah, head of Go Ultra Low, said: “This announcement demonstrates the government’s commitment to supporting the growth of the ULEV market.”

With one eye to future CO2 targets, Shah said this commitment is almost an imperative: “If we are to meet ambitious targets for ULEV uptake, continued investment is paramount.”

Hawes added: “The market for these vehicles remains small… it is essential that government continues to provide effective incentives for their uptake – including the Plug-in Car Grant and other measures.”

This makes it unlikely to government will completely withdraw the grant when February arrives: indeed, the government has recently announced that “at least” £200 million has been made to continue it.

Expect more details about the next step in the Plug-in Car Grant to be announced in the spring 2016 budget, coincidentally likely to take place soon after the current extension to today’s incentive is due to expire…

RMCTF Aston Martin

Win an Aston Martin and help the Royal Marines

RMCTF Aston Martin£10 could buy you a brand new Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster if you’re the lucky winner of this year’s Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund raffle.

The top prize of the £90,000 car has been donated by entrepreneur and TMCTF trustee David Weil: he wants to see it raise more than twice its value for the fund.

At least £9 from every £10 ticket sold will go directly to the trust, said head of fundraising Richard Kenworthy.

“In effect, you are donating at least £9 to the RMCTF, with the added chance that you may also become the proud owner of this fantastic vehicle.”

If a brand-new Aston Martin isn’t for you, a £75,000 cash alternative is up for grabs.

You have to be quick, though: closing date for the competition is 4 September, and the winner will be announced in 11 September.

Want to enter? Here, you are in luck: head to the RMCTF’s online raffle page to buy your tickets.

Petrol pump

UK fuel prices edge closer to £1 a litre mark

Petrol pumpAnother round of price cuts by Britain’s leading supermarket fuel retailers has accelerated the fuel price war and led many analysts to predict prices will soon fall BELOW £1 a litre.

Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all cut fuel prices over the weekend by up to 2p a litre. Asda now guarantees a litre of unleaded will cost no more than 109.7p nationwide: diesel is cheaper still – a guaranteed 106.7p a litre.

The price cuts are filtering through thanks to the plummeting price of oil: “Brent Crude is now nearly 25% cheaper than it was two months ago,” said RAC spokesman Rod Dennis, “and is just half a dollar from being at its lowest price all year.”

Combine this with a strong pound and you’ve a perfect recipe for lower fuel pump prices.

There’s more to come too, said Dennis. “If the conditions stay right, we could see some even lower prices in a few weeks as people return to work after the summer and the school run begins again.

“And if Brent Crude were to move to the $40 per barrel mark, the prospect of some enterprising retailers selling fuel for £1 per litre will make a return.”

Why have fuel prices taken so long to fall?

Of course, oil prices have been falling for some time now, but it’s only in recent weeks that pump prices have started to reflect this. Why the delay – are fuel companies taking us for a ride?

Not so, said Dennis. “The reason we’ve been slower to see unleaded price cuts is because the wholesale price of petrol – the price retailers buy the fuel for – has not fallen at the same rate diesel has.

“Diesel has been on a steady downward path since the start of May, driven by increased capacity from Asia, but the same cannot be said for petrol.”

At last, though, the wholesale price is beginning to drop – question is, how low can they go?

Nordschleife

Nürburgring speed limits to be lifted for 2016

NordschleifeNürburgring circuit bosses have announced speed limits are “to become a thing of the past as of 2016” thanks to circuit upgrade work set to commence in November 2015.

The ‘safety on the Nordschleife’ round table has already presented the planned changes to the German motorsport association DMSB, ADAC, the car industry, racing teams, race drivers and other interested bodies – “finding wide approval”.

The circuit will now thus include the planned changes as part of its application to renew its circuit approval with the FIA, which expires at the end of 2015.

Circuit owners capricorn Nürburgring GmbH say the changes will bring to an end the controversial speed limits that have been imposed at the Nordschelife circuit since a spectator was killed in an accident at the VLN Endurance Championship race in March.

Crucially, promise circuit bosses, “the unique character of the Nordschleife will be preserved”.

Nürburgring 2016 upgrades: in detail

“Safety on the Nordschleife during races, but also during test drives of the industry and during tourist ride sessions, is our highest priority,” said Carsten Schumacher, managing director of Nürburgring operator CNG.

His team have thus proposed 16 upgrades for the circuit, seven of which will be in place by the start of the 2016 season.

Upgrades include extra safety fences in several areas, plus a restricted zone in the Schwedenkreuz area (5km into a full lap of the Nordschleife).

FIA-grade safety fences will be installed in the Döttinger Höhe section, which runs parallel to a public road.

500 metres of track through the Flugplatz section will be renewed as well – “smoothing out five bumps which are the result of years of high utilisation and heavy use” said Schumacher.

The proposed changes will now be submitted by the German motorsport association to the FIA’s Circuit Commission for formal approval.