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.

Cash raiders

A man leaving a car park in Wokingham, Berkshire, to deposit pounds 5,200 at a bank was pushed to the ground by a man and a woman who then snatched his bag containing the cash and fled on foot.

Pensioner killed on way to church

A murder hunt was launched last night after an 85-year- old woman was stabbed as she walked to church. Phyllis Saville was attacked yards from Wimborne Minster in Dorset, where she was a church warden. Another parishioner raised the alarm after finding Mrs Saville, a widow, dying in a car park.

Halifax pays pounds 2m in dispute over name

HALIFAX Building Society has paid damages and costs understood to be about pounds 2m to Provident Financial as a result of a dispute over the use of the name Halifax, writes Peter Rodgers. .

Bottom Line: Providential loans

PROVIDENT Financial is continuing to perform a minor miracle from its Bradford headquarters, with another sharp increase in profits - up 54 per cent before tax to pounds 62.5m - and a 47 per cent dividend rise that puts the banks in the shade.

Royal loses on work-related illness cover: Concern over increasing number of claims as profits recover to pounds 151m

ROYAL Insurance yesterday reported a significant rise in its losses on employers' liability insurance because of increasing claims for damages due to work-related illnesses such as repetitive strain injury.

CU says fear of price war has been exaggerated: Pre-tax profits accelerate to pounds 188m despite greater competition in motor insurance sector

COMMERCIAL Union has tried to reassure investors that fears of an insurance price war are exaggerated, following a sharp mark-down of insurance company shares on Tuesday because of pessimistic remarks from Guardian Royal Exchange.

Bottom Line: CU and semantics

COMMERCIAL Union was talking the insurance market up as fast as GRE appeared to be talking it down the day before, but this did not do much for the shares. They mostly closed down a few pence more.

Cuttings: Bean feast

ON LIGHT soils the hardier varieties of broad beans can be sown now, if you missed doing so in November. If you prefer, start them in individual 3in pots in a cold greenhouse, but watch out for mice.

Nothing beats a good rant: When the car park lift got stuck, Rosalind Twist got a ticket . . .

I have just lost my temper. Lost it completely, utterly, irrevocably. As this only happens to me about once in every 10 years, it has a powerful cleansing feel to it. I sit here feeling like the echo of a harp string plucked and think I ought to do it more often.

Cheap car insurance

Motorists looking for the cheapest car insurance are being offered a service claiming to be able to find the best quote across nearly every company in the market.

Departures: Orlando offer

THE US specialist Bon Voyage (0703 330332) has cut the price of a two-week holiday in Orlando, Florida, by pounds 225 per person. For departures on 4, 10 or 11 August it offers a scheduled flight with Virgin, accommodation in a two-bedroom villa and car hire (including collision- damage waiver) for pounds 499 each (based on four people sharing).

Witness appeal on boy's murder

Police investigating the murder of Sean Williams, eight, who was killed yards from his home on Monday, were still questioning a man last night and have appealed for witnesses who were in the Kitchener Road area of East Finchley, north London, between 5.30 and 5.55pm.

1p car insurance

A 101-year-old man has had his car insurance policy renewed for 1p because of his good record. George Preece, of Hereford, has been driving for 85 years.

Baby in lift tragedy

A 17-day-old girl was 'stable' last night after she was catapulted on to the roof of a lift in a multi- storey car park. Charlotte Morley was being pulled from the lift in Portsmouth, Hampshire, when the doors closed, the cage shut on her pram and the lift began to descend.

Competing for cars

THERE ARE now two long-term car park companies at Gatwick where there was just one. Why, I asked the airport. 'Two companies means increased competition and better value for money,' said a spokesman. But since both are charging the same rate, pounds 3.65 per 24 hours, it is hard to see the benefit of competition: nicer courtesy buses, more attractive parking bays? One innovation: you can book your long-term car parking - handy if your car has a favourite spot.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?