News The MP Louise Ellman branded the use of parking fines to raise revenue unacceptable and illegal

Councils across England have been accused of implementing “an unacceptable mass ticketing culture” after the release of figures showing that car parking charges have generated £600m of surplus profit in the past year.

The Knack: How To Survive Winter Streets By Adrian Bradley

YOU HAVE to be organised or you're going to get into problems. Get some good kit, especially sleeping bags. I always have two for the winter, so being cold isn't a problem at night - although it is when you've got nowhere to go.

Letter: Runaway trolleys

Sir: The writer of Outlook on 28 October saw his pen rather ran away with itself like one of Sainsbury's trolleys before the pound coin trolley-release mechanism was introduced to encourage customers to return trolleys after use. Previously, local streets were littered with discarded shopping trolleys in roads, on pavements and in car parks, to the inconvenience of the public and with consequential costs of retrieval to the store. A pity more stores do not have this system, which has been normal practice on the Continent for a number of years.

Pope opens car park in Vatican

Pope opens car park in Vatican

Profit slump knocks Royal & Sun shares

ROYAL & Sun Alliance, the insurance group, saw profits slump 72 per cent in the first quarter to pounds 214m because of large loss claims in many countries and continued weakness in commercial rates, writes Andrew Garfield.

Bouncers to declare criminal records

BOUNCERS, wheel clampers and private security guards will be required to declare their criminal records under proposals for a new licensing system to be announced by the Government this week.

IMO Car Wash sold for pounds 138m

IMO CAR Wash Group, one of the fastest growing in Europe with operations in seven countries, has been the subject of a pounds 138m buyout organised by NatWest Equity Partners, writes John Willcock.

Can't shop - won't shop

Only five days to the big C, and you haven't set foot in a shop. Looks like you've blown it? Never, says James Sherwood. Not while there's a corner shop, a late-night garage and a little ingenuity

Letter: Nappies at the carwash

Sir: There are yet more advantages to reusable nappies (letters, 2, 6, 9, 15, 20 May).

Famous friends push up price of insurance

TONY BLAIR would like you to think he's the kind of guy who would drop in for a cup of tea, but you would be well advised to turn him away if one day he appears on your doorstep.

Outlook: Sir Donald's exit is as well timed as his entry

SIR DONALD GOSLING and Ronald Hobson, the duo who founded a dull old car park business 50 years ago only to discover they had a goldmine on their hands, look like they are selling out at the top of the market. The pounds 800m that Cendant of the US is paying for National Parking Corporation (National Car Parks to the rest of us) may only represent a 17 per cent premium. But this is hardly the most liquid of stocks, given that 72 per cent of it is in just two pairs of hands. What's more, those institutions who bought into NPC back in 1986 have already had their stake money back and can now look forward to a four-fold return on their original investment.

Bomb-site likely lads make pounds 580m fortune from sale of car parks

FOR MANY, there is little to be gained from the nation's car parks. But for one pair of likely lads, there are, in fact, 580 million reasons to be interested - and they all have the Queen's head on them.

The Investment Column: Kwik-Fit finds new markets

KWIK-FIT'S pledge to give "100 per cent customer delight" has also been applied to its shareholders. Under the astute leadership of Tom Farmer, the group's irrepressible chairman and chief executive, its shares have outperformed the market by more than 85 per cent over the last five years.

Society: Night owls keep the tills ringing

One in three people - nearly 17 million of us - now go shopping at night, according to new research. Unsociable working hours mean that people are now demanding more shops and services to be available 24 hours a day.

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The Half Penny

Personal finance: Car insurance on the way up

Prepare for the cost of motor insurance to go up over the next year. The cost of comprehensive policies rose just over 2 per cent in the last quarter. Non-comprehensive cover rose 1.7 per cent, according to a survey by AA Insurance.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there