Voters head to the polls across the UK to elect new local leaders
Voters are preparing to head to the polls to have their say in a host of local elections across the UK on Thursday.
The Conservatives will find out in the coming days as votes are tallied whether they will be made to pay the price for the so-called partygate saga in Downing Street, which has seen prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak fined for breaking coronavirus laws.
In England, more than 4,000 councillors in 146 councils will be standing for election in major cities including Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and all 32 London boroughs. All 32 councils in Scotland and all 22 in Wales will also be holding elections, with polls open between 7am and 10pm. Meanwhile, tensions were high in Northern Ireland ahead of Stormont elections where voters will go to the polls across 18 constituencies to elect 90 MLAs. Opinion polls have suggested Sinn Fein is likely to top the poll.
Bank of England to hike interest rates to 13-year high to tackle cost crunch
Interest rates are expected to be hiked once again on Thursday to their highest level for 13 years as the Bank of England battles to cool rocketing inflation.
The Bank’s policymakers are predicted to increase rates from 0.75 per cent to one per cent – a level not seen since early 2009 – and ramp up its forecasts for inflation as the Ukraine war compounds a crippling cost-of-living crisis.
Members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) have already raised rates at each of its past three meetings to try to rein in inflation, which hit a 30-year high of seven per cent in March. The cost crunch is expected to tighten its grip later this year when the energy price cap is revised once again, with warnings inflation could peak at nine per cent or even double digits in the autumn.
UK provides more aid to help most vulnerable in Ukraine
The UK is providing £45m in funding to help the most vulnerable in Ukraine and at its borders, the government has said.
The money will go to UN agencies and charities delivering vital aid and supporting survivors of sexual violence in the war-torn nation, where the Russian invasion continues to exacerbate a massive humanitarian crisis and force people to flee.
This means the UK’s full £220m humanitarian aid package for Ukraine has now been allocated.
Russian strikes try to disrupt delivery of Western weapons to Ukraine
Russia has moved to obstruct the flow of Western weapons to Ukraine by bombarding rail stations and other supply-line targets across the country.
Heavy fighting also raged on Wednesday at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol that represented the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined southern port city, according to the mayor.
A Russian official denied that Moscow’s troops were storming the plant, but the commander of the main Ukrainian military unit inside said Russian soldiers had pushed into the mill’s territory. The Russian military said it used sea and air-launched missiles to destroy electric power facilities at five railway stations across Ukraine. Artillery and aircraft also struck troop strongholds and fuel and ammunition depots.
UK and Japan set to agree ‘landmark’ new defence agreement
Boris Johnson will host the Japanese prime minister in London on Thursday as the two are set to agree a ‘landmark’ new defence agreement.
Fumio Kishida’s first official visit at the invitation of the government is due to be marked with a guard of honour and an RAF flypast over central London.
Downing Street said the leaders are expected to agree in principle a ‘landmark’ reciprocal access agreement (RAA), which would allow Japanese and British forces to deploy together to carry out training, joint exercises and disaster relief activities.
Minister labelled ‘out of touch’ for suggesting shoppers swap to value brands
The Conservatives have been branded ‘out of touch’ after a Cabinet minister suggested consumers should swap to value brands as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.
Environment secretary George Eustice has been rounded on by political rivals and social commentators after saying that shoppers could ‘contain and manage their household budget’ by changing the brands they buy in supermarkets and elsewhere.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it showed how ‘out of touch and out of ideas’ the government is when it comes to understanding the issues facing those on the lowest incomes.
Citroen and Vauxhall’s largest electric vans gain longer range and quicker charging
Citroen and Vauxhall’s largest electric vans are now available with a new 75kWh battery, enabling a longer range for the two models.
The Citroen e-Relay and Vauxhall Movano-e went on sale last year, using a 70kWh battery linked to a 118bhp electric motor. Previously, the two vans could travel 139 miles from a single charge, now they can now manage a claimed 154 miles.
Both vans can be charged to per 80 cent battery capacity in an hour using a 50kW rapid charger. Improved battery technology also allows quicker charging using a 22kW (non-rapid) EV charger, with the two vans able to have a full charge in four hours if plugged in this way – down from eight hours. A smaller 37kWh battery option remains available in both vans’ ranges.
Wednesday Car Dealer headlines you might have missed
- Investors show their nerves for Cazoo stock but Chesterman says dramatic drop in value is due to ‘irrational fear’
- Dealer group Waylands Automotive announces record profit and turnover in 2021
- Aston Martin’s CEO quits as manufacturer reports huge pre-tax loss for first quarter and increased EBITDA
- Land Rover Defender adverts banned after two viewers complain about cliff-edge scene
- More than 80 per cent of new car buyers won’t consider anything with fewer than four stars from Euro NCAP, survey finds
- Tees Valley Motors signs up with SsangYong after departure of Mitsubishi
- Car dealers could soon be charged to use Twitter under new plans by Tesla boss Elon Musk
- Motorpoint continues expansion as Portsmouth store officially opens its doors at former Imperial Cars site
- JBR Capital celebrates record £80m of loans over four months
- Dealers are urged to make most of online presence as used car growth momentum eases
Motor insurance price falls to lowest level since 2015
The amount paid by motorists for insurance fell to its lowest level in more than six years in the first quarter of 2022, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Prices for new policies have increased but renewals have decreased after an insurance shake-up earlier this year. The average price paid for comprehensive motor insurance in the first quarter of the year was £416. This was a five per cent drop over the year compared with the first quarter of 2021.
The latest average premium is the lowest since the third quarter of 2015, the ABI said.
Ocado shareholders revolt over £20m-a-year bonus plan for bosses
Ocado has been dealt a bloody nose by dissenting shareholders over controversial plans which could hand up to £20m a year to its top bosses.
The retailer confirmed that almost 185m shareholder votes, or 29.27 per cent, were cast against its executive pay proposals. The firm still passed the 50 per cent threshold for the plans to be approved, with 70.7 per cent of votes in favour.
Advisory groups and major shareholders had been critical of the online grocer’s Value Creation Plan (VCP) before the Wednesday morning meeting. The payment scheme, which received a substantial negative vote at the previous general meeting, uses Ocado’s share price to determine whether significant bonuses should be handed out.
Markets slump ahead of predicted interest rate hikes
Nervousness ahead of key interest rates decisions by the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve kept Europe’s main markets lower on Wednesday.
In London, retail stocks suffered ahead of the latest Bank of England inflation forecasts, while Cabinet ministers also said shoppers should look to buy value products in order to manage their household finances amid the surging cost of living.
The FTSE 100 ended the day down 67.88 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 7,493.45 points. Across the Channel, the situation was similar as EU investors also digested the trading bloc’s plan to ban Russian oil exports. The French Cac was down 1.24 per cent and the German Dax decreased 0.49 per cent by the end of the session.
A bright start for most of the UK with plenty of warm sunny spells later on, reports BBC Weather. Elsewhere a duller start is in store, while Scotland will see damp conditions.
Tonight, cloud and outbreaks of rain for Northern Ireland and Scotland. England and Wales, meanwhile, will be clear though it’ll turn cloudy by dawn.