Drivers ignore Government plea

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The Independent Online

The Government's plea for motorists to stay off the roads to help cut air pollution in hot weather was largely ignored yesterday.

But the school holidays, traditionally a quiet time on the roads, helped ease fears about the effect of car exhausts on air quality.

On Tuesday, Robert Jones, the environment minister, urged drivers to leave their cars at home when air quality was poor. About 10 per cent of motorists stopped using their cars in July last year, the last time the Government made such an appeal.

But motoring organisations yesterday reported a normal day on the roads for the time of year. An AA Roadwatch spokeswoman said: "From the end of July to September it's always quiet. A lot of people have gone away on holiday and parents aren't having to do the school run."

An RAC spokesman added: "It just seems like any other day." Asked about Mr Jones's advice to stay off the road, the spokesman said: "I think people take these things with a pinch of salt."

The environmental group Friends of the Earth called on the Government to reduce motorway speed limits, close city car parks and some streets to cut pollution.

Roger Higman, a spokesman, said: "The Government must understand that people aren't just in a position to abandon cars. The Government has to improve public transport by laying on more trains."

The very hot weather will continue into the weekend, a London Weather Centre spokeswoman said. The hottest place yesterday was Bristol, which recorded temperatures of 33C (91F). There was no prospect of a significant amount of rain, although there had been a thunderstorm in Cardiff.

In Birmingham, health chiefs have backed down over their decision to charge office staff 10p for a cooling glass of water. Managers at Birmingham's Family Health Services Authority office changed their minds after a call to a local radio station.

The authority's general manager, Mike Waterland, said yesterday: "Staff can now have a cup of water if they want it. They can drink iced water free of charge - certainly throughout this hot spell - then we'll review the situation."

XThe burn time for Great Britain is just 20 minutes for fair skin and 30 minutes for average skin.

XThe tourism office in Minehead estimated that it has welcomed its largest crowd of sunseekers for six years.

XDespite the hot weather, Thomas Cook has sold 10 million holidays abroad this year.

XThe Royal National Lifeboat Institution reported July 1995 as its busiest ever month, with an average of 34 launches a day - double the general average of 16 launches a day. On one Sunday the Rye Harbour lifeboat in Sussex rescued 28 children and adults swept out to sea on inflatable toys and airbeds.

XThe Royal Society for the Prevention of cruelty to Animals is warning goldfish owners to keep their fish off windowsills, where that water in a bowl can reach temperatures of up to 100f in this year's summer sun.

XAtmospheric conditions have carried television signals thousands of extra miles. Viewers in East Anglia are receiving German gameshows instead of the BBC.

XPolice say that there are fewer road rage incidents in heatwave because drivers become lethargic behind the wheel .

XA French company has designed a bra with built-in ice packs to beat the summer heatwave.

XWith the succession of warm summers the number of nudists in Britain has gone up by 25 per cent in the last four years.

XEnvironmental officers in the West Midlands are receiving over 80 calls a day from hysterical householders beseiged by wasps.