News Round-Up

Mar 28: Shocking ‘Horizon’ Post Office recordings; Cambridge £2 tourist tax; New GR Yaris prices

Here are the headlines on Thursday, March 28

Time 6:49 am, March 28, 2024

Starmer to say Tories’ ‘time is up’ as Labour launches local election campaign

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is to accuse prime minister Rishi Sunak of ‘bottling’ calling a general election, ahead of launching Labour’s local election campaign in the West Midlands.

On Thursday Sir Keir is set to launch the campaign alongside deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner by criticising the government for failing working people on levelling up, and affirming their party’s commitment to ‘full-fat devolution’.

Voters will go to the polls on May 2 to elect local councillors and mayors.


Calls for police investigation over recordings of Post Office executives

A senior MP has called for police to investigate a series of covert recordings from 2013 which include Post Office executives discussing the Horizon IT scandal.

Liam Byrne, chairman of the Commons Business and Trade Committee, said the recordings were ‘the first evidence that people knew there was a problem’. The recordings, obtained and aired by Channel 4 News on Wednesday, contained conversations between Post Office executives and two forensic accountants on May 22, 2013.

These conversations – which included Post Office company secretary Alwen Lyons and Post Office chief lawyer Susan Crichton – suggest they knew there was an issue with the company’s Fujitsu IT system two years before the last sub-postmasters were jailed, in 2015.


Water industry under fire over ‘3.6 million hours of sewage spills last year’

The water industry has come under fire after figures revealed storm overflows dumped sewage into rivers and seas for more than 3.6 million hours in 2023.

Campaigners reacted furiously to the news that the amount of time storm overflows were spilling sewage in England was more than double the previous year, while there were calls for water company bosses to be denied bonuses.

Data published by the Environment Agency (EA) reveal there were 464,056 spills in 2023, up 54% from 301,091 in 2022, which the organisation said was partly due to England experiencing its sixth-wettest year on record.

King hails importance of care and friendship in times of need in Easter message

The King is to stress the importance of acts of friendship ‘especially in a time of need’ in a personal Easter message in the wake of his and the Princess of Wales’s cancer diagnosis.

Charles’ pre-recorded audio – his first public words since Kate revealed she was undergoing chemotherapy – will be broadcast in his absence at a Royal Maundy service in Worcester Cathedral on Thursday.

He will say how Jesus set an ‘example of how we should serve and care for each other’, and how as a nation ‘we need and benefit greatly from those who extend the hand of friendship to us, especially in a time of need’.

Households urged to send energy meter readings this weekend to avoid overpaying

Some 10 million households should send energy meter readings to their supplier this weekend to ensure they do not overpay when cheaper prices come into effect on April 1.

The average household energy bill is to fall to its lowest point in two years from next month after Ofgem lowered its price cap in response to wholesale prices.

The regulator is dropping its price cap by 12.3% from the current £1,928 for a typical dual fuel household in England, Scotland and Wales to £1,690, a drop of £238 over the course of a year or around £20 a month.


Wednesday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed

Big four broadband firms beaten by smaller rivals in latest Which? survey

The UK’s four biggest broadband providers have been beaten by smaller rivals in the latest customer survey carried out by consumer champion Which?.

The group’s latest broadband rankings placed Virgin Media, Sky, BT and TalkTalk below smaller rivals – including Zen Internet, Hyperoptic and Community Fibre, which topped the table based on a survey of 4,471 people with a home broadband contract.

Virgin Media finished bottom in the rankings, according to the survey, receiving the lowest scores in the areas of customer service and communication. Sky was second bottom, receiving the lowest rank for connection speed, while BT scored poorly on value for money, and TalkTalk received low ratings for customer service and communication.

Cambridge may introduce £2-per-night tourist tax at city’s hotels

Hotel guests in Cambridge could face a £2 per night tourist tax to help fund investment in the prestigious university city, under proposals being considered by councillors.

The payment of a local charge by visitors is common in Europe, according to a Cambridge City Council report, and the launch of a similar scheme in Manchester last April was ‘successful’.

A scheme in Cambridge could achieve ‘significant investment in the visitor economy in the Greater Cambridge area at a level previously unseen’, according to the document.

New Toyota GR Yaris goes on sale from £44,250

Toyota has revealed prices and specifications for its updated hot hatchback – the GR Yaris.

There will be four versions available. The standard GR Yaris with a six-speed manual gearbox will cost from £44,250 and jump to £45,750 with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Two special editions will be available from launch, too. The GR Yaris Ogier edition and the Rovanpera edition – both will have a six-speed manual gearbox and have price tags of £60,000. The Ogier gets a ‘Seb’ mode which tunes the front and rear differentials as well as the four-wheel-drive system, while the Rovanpera adds a Gazoo Racing Livery and adjustable rear spoiler.

Weather

Heavy rain in Wales and southern England will clear leaving heavy showers, reports BBC Weather. There will be 50-70mph gusts along the south coast, too. Showers will cover most of the country later. Temperatures around 10 degrees.

Tonight will be a continuation of today with heavy and persistent rain in most areas. It’ll be clear to start off with in the south, before heavy showers move in again.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.



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