The Week in Review: Home News

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The Independent Online
AN EARLY holiday rush ended the week, with do-it-yourself retailers expecting bumper business following a gloomy weather forecast.

Having Friday off for the second week running after last week's national rail strike seemed to be popular with the public and the rail unions obliged by announcing a further stoppage next week.

Jimmy Knapp, the rail union leader, said talks to avert the strike had not delivered an agreement and unions were still seeking a guarantee of no compulsory job losses.

House prices were up, after years of decline, but so was the cost of home contents insurance. Abbey National, the second biggest mortgage lender, said it was increasing premiums by up to 37 per cent in response to rising claims.

Not all price movements were upward. Ford cut prices of its new Mondeo model by pounds 1,200 in a 10 per cent cut across its range of cars. Rover launched its new 600 series, aiming to take on BMW in the quality car market.

John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, failed to pacify the annual assembly of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers as the moderate union voted to ballot on a boycott of school testing. All three teachers' unions are now preparing to confront the Government over its tests for 14-year-olds in English, maths and science and technology.

A depressing verdict was delivered by Gordon Wilson, the Irish Senator whose daughter Marie was killed in the Enniskillen bombing, after a meeting with two IRA representatives. 'I got nothing,' he said and warned that Northern Ireland could face another 40 years of terrorism, suffering and violence.

Critics of the Criminal Justice Act were given ammunition when jobless Vaughan Watkins, 20, was fined pounds 1,200 by Cwmbran magistrates for dropping a crisp packet. He admitted the offence, but failed to fill in a form stating his financial circumstances. As a result he was given the maximum penalty under a system that relates fines to the severity of the crime and the defendant's disposable income.

One woman welcoming the prospect of a court appearance was Lindi St Clair, better known as Miss Whiplash, who returned to Britain after vanishing three months ago. Police mounted a search when her car was found abandoned at Beachy Head and she faces possible charges of wasting police time. 'The cops are coming to take me away in chains - but I love it,' she said on arrival aboard the Canberra at Southampton.