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.

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.

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. .

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.

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.

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.

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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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness