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News Round-Up

Dec 16: Business growth up; Energy price cap to rise; Alfa names Milano; Perry death ‘accident’

  • Here are the headlines on Saturday, December 16

Time 5:51 am, December 16, 2023

UK business growth rebounds to six-month high

UK business growth increased to a six-month high this month and boosted hopes that the economy will dodge a recession.

The closely followed S&P Global/CIPS flash UK purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reported a reading of 51.7 for December, up from 50.7 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates the sector is growing. 

The report said this meant Britain’s private sector continued its ‘modest recovery’ after a downturn in the three months to October. Economists said this could point towards the UK avoiding a technical recession.

Energy price cap could rise to help firms recover £3bn in debts

The UK’s energy watchdog has unveiled plans to lift the energy price cap from April in order to help suppliers recover nearly £3bn in debts from customers.

Ofgem said it wants energy companies to use the extra funding to support struggling customers and write off bad debts.

The watchdog is proposing a one-off price cap adjustment of £16, equivalent to around £1.33 a month, to be paid between April 2024 and March 2025. Customers on pre-payment meters will not be affected.

Smart motorway breakdowns three times more risky

Smart motorways without a hard shoulder are three times more dangerous on which to break down than those that keep the emergency lane, new figures show.

The report by National Highways also showed the rate of incidents involving people being killed or seriously injured during breakdowns on three out of five smart motorway stretches – the M1, M25 and M6 – increased since their hard shoulder was removed.

In April, PM Rishi Sunak announced the cancellation of planned projects to build all-lane running (ALR) smart motorways, which use the hard shoulder as a live traffic lane.

Weather warnings issued for Scotland

Parts of Scotland could be hit by severe rain as a series of weather warnings were issued by the Met Office.

A yellow weather warning was posted on the forecaster’s website on Friday night, warning of heavy rainfall.

The affected area begins just north of Helensburgh and spans the entirety of the west of Scotland north of the town, with the exception of the Outer Hebrides and a handful of other islands on the western coast. The warnings come into place at 6pm on Saturday.

Italy topples Bulgaria for ski holiday deals

Bulgaria has lost its position as Europe’s cheapest ski destination for UK tourists, according to a new report.

Bardonecchia in Italy has overtaken the Bulgarian resorts of Borovets and Bansko to claim top spot in the annual value-for-money analysis of ski holidays by Post Office Travel Money and Crystal Ski Holidays.

Researchers assessed the cost of ski passes, equipment hire and tuition, plus lunch and drinks on the slopes, in 36 European locations. Prices have fallen in nine of the 31 resorts that were surveyed, with the largest drops in France’s Les Arcs and Switzerland’s Wengen.

FTSE recoils as interest rate cut speculation dampened

London’s markets took a step back on Friday amid cooling expectations over the potential for rate cuts.

It came after the FTSE 100 had risen to an almost two-month high on Thursday amid dovish projections from the US Federal Reserve, after it had held interest rates.

London’s top index moved 0.95%, or 72.62 points, lower to finish at 7,576.36. In Europe, the Dax index was flat for the day at the close and the Cac 40 closed up 0.28%.

Watchdog to investigate mattress firm Simba

The competition regulator has launched a probe into mattress seller Simba Sleep amid concerns it could be misleading shoppers with price reduction claims.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it will examine whether the firm has ‘misled consumers about price reductions and put unfair pressure on consumers to make quick purchases’.

The CMA said on Friday that the probe will focus on claims by Simba related to the extent of price reductions on its mattresses and other products.

One-of-two Lamborghini Diablo SV Roadster heading to auction

One of only two Lamborghini Diablo SV Roadsters is to be auctioned.

Billed as ‘one of the rarest Lamborghinis in existence’ by RM Sotheby’s, the Diablo SV Roadster features a front lift system that can help it navigate speed bumps and a huge rear wing.

First delivered at an official dealership in Milan, Italy, the car has been owned by three people but only amassed 26,620 miles. It’s being offered through RM Sotheby’s Sealed online platform.

Sunak in Rome for illegal migration talks

Rishi Sunak will hold talks with the leaders of Italy and Albania later during a visit to Rome, where illegal migration is expected to top the agenda.

The Prime Minister will meet Italian premier Giorgia Meloni and Albania’s Edi Rama during the brief Rome trip this weekend. Number 10 said that discussions would focus on ‘joint efforts to tackle illegal immigration and organised crime’.

Billionaire Elon Musk is also expected to attend the Brothers of Italy’s annual Atreju event.

Pentagon orders US aircraft carrier to remain in Med

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered the USS Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier and one other warship to remain in the Mediterranean Sea for several more weeks to maintain a two-carrier presence near Israel as its war with Hamas grinds on, US officials said.

It would be the third time the Ford’s deployment has been extended, underscoring the continued concerns about volatility in the region during Israel’s war in Gaza.

The US has two aircraft carriers in the region, a rarity in recent years.

Yard manager jailed and company fined £400,000 after employee fell into shredder

A yard manager has been jailed for seven-and-half years and a company fined £400,000 after an employee was killed in an industrial shredder.

David Willis, 29, fell inside a machine designed for shredding wood and commercial waste at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Mander Street, Wolverhampton, on September 15 2018. His remains were never found.

TWS and yard manager Brian Timmins, 54, who was operating the diesel-powered machine at the time, were found guilty of corporate manslaughter and manslaughter respectively last week after a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Friday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Reindeer use night vision to detect food 

Reindeer use a special form of night vision to detect food sources, a new study has revealed.

Researchers from the University of St Andrews teamed up with Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, US, in order to conduct a study to find out why reindeers’ eyes change colour depending on the season.

The surface of a reindeer’s eyes changes from golden-orange in summer to a rich blue hue in the winter months. They are the only animals known to do this and it allows their eyes to transmit ultraviolet light.

Matthew Perry death ruled accident

The death of Friends star Matthew Perry has been ruled an accident from the ‘acute effects of ketamine’, the County of Los Angeles Department of Medical Examiner confirmed.

Perry, who played Chandler Bing in the hit US sitcom, was found ‘unresponsive in the pool at his residence’ on October 28 before he was pronounced dead at the age of 54.

A post-mortem examination concluded Perry died from the ‘acute effects of ketamine’ while contributing factors included ‘drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine’ – which is described as an ‘opioid-like drug used in the treatment of opioid addiction as well as acute and chronic pain’.

Alfa Romeo’s upcoming small SUV to be called Milano

Alfa Romeo has announced that it will be releasing a new compact SUV called ‘Milano’.

Alfa has stated that the new car, which will be unveiled in April 2024, will be available as an EV though it’s expected that more conventional hybrid and petrol options will also be there to choose from.

Referred to by the Italian brand as a ‘Sport Urban Vehicle’, the Milano returns Alfa Romeo to the B-segment of the new car market, which is an area it hasn’t been in since its compact Mito was discontinued in 2019.


The BBC says it will be a largely cloudy and windy day across the UK. North-west Scotland will see heavy and persistent rain with some gusty winds. Light and patchy rain further south, but dry in Wales and southern England.

Tonight, heavy rain will continue in north-west Scotland, moving into the Northern Isles too. Patchy and light rain for some in the west. Dry but cloudy elsewhere. Staying windy for most.

Tomorrow, rain persists in north-west Scotland, later moving in south-western Scotland, Northern Ireland and far north-western England. Largely dry but continuing cloudy elsewhere. A windy day.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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