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British Gas orders 2,000 electric vans in big upgrade

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British Gas orders 2,000 electric vans, in one of the biggest such upgrades by a UK company so far

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British Gas has ordered 2,000 electric vans, in one of the biggest such upgrades by a UK company so far. 

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The energy provider said that after buying the Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans, 3,000 of its 12,000-strong fleet will be all-electric. 

Parent company Centrica has vowed to make all of its vehicles electric by 2025, as part of efforts to tackle climate change. 

Running out of gas: The energy provider said that after buying the Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans, 3,000 of its 12,000-strong fleet will be all-electric

Running out of gas: The energy provider said that after buying the Vauxhall Vivaro-e vans, 3,000 of its 12,000-strong fleet will be all-electric

British Gas runs the UK’s third-biggest van fleet and its purchase will boost calls for the Vivaro-e – which is made in France – to be built in Britain. 

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BT-owned Openreach last year called on Vauxhall to make the vans at its plant in Luton, where it already makes the diesel Vivaro. 

Openreach said it wanted to band together with Centrica and Royal Mail to support the business case. 

Yesterday Centrica boss Chris O’Shea said: ‘Fully electrifying our fleet will make a big difference.’

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Three people dead after plane crashes into wooded ravine just moments after taking off

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Three people have died after a plane crashed in a wooded area just moments after taking off.

The plane took off on Friday evening at around 6pm while headed from Georgia to Florida.

It crashed two miles northeast of Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Emma Duncan said.

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“The aircraft crashed shortly after departing from Gainesville on a planned flight to Daytona Beach,” Duncan said, reports Bakersfield.

Hall County Fire Services spokesman Zach Brackett confirmed: “Three adult occupants were found deceased and it was confirmed with the FAA that this matches the occupants reported to them for this flight.”

The single-engine Cessna 182 crash caused damage along Memorial Park Drive starting at Titshaw Drive, reports Fox10.

The deceased have not yet been identified.

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After fuel fell onto a home, one family was evacuated in the area.

An eyewitness said: “It was just crazy. I was like ‘Did I just see that? Did that actually happen?'”

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“And I hear this like loud, I can hear, it’s like a plane, I know, and I hear it’s a loud noise coming this way and I look and the plane’s like really low and it’s like flying right above the trees.

“And then I see it hit the trees right there. And then when it hit the trees, I didn’t see it go any further, so I just assume it fell down right there,” the eyewitness added.

Firefighters, emergency services and the Red Cross rushed to the scene.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.





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ALEX BRUMMER: Budget risk of rising rates

Rina Latuperissa

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ALEX BRUMMER: Combination of big spending and monetary laxity is stoking future inflation fears, sending interest rate yields higher

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The fretwork of any budget is the state of the public finances. The closer we have moved towards Rishi Sunak’s March 3 statement, the greater the number of revenue-raising kites which have been flown. 

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The Chancellor is in a bind as the pandemic budget deficit and the volume of national debt have soared. 

Treasury orthodoxy dictates that the Government needs a flightpath, over five years, to restore some kind of balance to current spending. Capital spend on infrastructure, or investing with the private sector and universities in new technologies such as fuel cells for electric cars, or hydrogen to power locomotives and lorries, has a longer and less urgent trajectory. 

Amid the myriad voices heard in the budget build-up, the case for caution in the public finances has been well made by ex-chancellor ‘Spreadsheet’ Philip Hammond. He has a point. Covid economics, as preached by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is spend and avoid slump. 

Decision time: The Chancellor is in a bind as the pandemic budget deficit and the volume of national debt have soared

Decision time: The Chancellor is in a bind as the pandemic budget deficit and the volume of national debt have soared

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In the US, which never usually listens to the IMF, President Biden has taken up the challenge. His $1.9 trillion fiscal package, with perhaps a further $1trillion to come, on updating the US’s ageing infrastructure is on the scale of Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. It is radical enough to have divided the big voices in Democrat economics. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in favour and one of her predecessors Larry Summers is in the Hammond camp. 

Financial markets have been making up their own mind. The combination of big spending and monetary laxity is stoking future inflation fears, causing bond prices to tumble around the world and sending interest rate yields higher. In Britain the most upbeat of Bank of England policy makers, Andy Haldane, argues in an online speech that the tiger of inflation has been stirred by the extraordinary events and policy responses of the past 12 months. 

The record of the Bank of England in containing the tiger over the past quarter of a century has been good. 

Better in fact than at any time in the last 800 years, as deputy-governor Ben Broadbent told the Commons this week. 

Taming inflation comes at a price. In the US, the prospect has caused what Barclays calls a ‘yields tantrum’ with the cost of ten-year money jumping to 1.5 per cent. 

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In the UK the interest rate on one-year bonds has moved back into positive territory and the ten-year gilt yield has climbed 61.27 per cent to 0.787 per cent over the past year. That is fantastically low by historic standards, but the trend is very pronounced. 

What it tells the Chancellor and Treasury mandarins is that the age of government borrowing for next to nothing could be drawing to a close. 

It is not a huge problem at present and the 2020-21 budget deficit, now expected to come in below £400billion, has been financed. 

However, if inflation should perk up towards or even beyond the Bank’s target of 2 per cent, there could be trouble ahead. 

A jump in bank rate and higher bond yields will raise the cost of servicing the existing debt pile of £2 trillion-plus, and with even more to come it could become onerous. Tax revenues have been buoyant in the pandemic, in spite of business rate and VAT breaks, and it is just possible that the UK could melt the current deficit away by growing. 

That may be a laudable free market approach. But the risks of doing nothing, and the wheels coming off, are too high.

Plane speaking

In some ways IAG, owner of BA, Iberia and much else, is pursuing a similar approach to HMG. 

Britain’s flagship carrier has refinanced itself through cheap borrowing, is holding its nerve through the pandemic and trusting previous dominance of the skies – especially across the Atlantic – will come back. 

How fascinating to think that in 2019 the squabble with the unions was all about the share out of £2billion or so of profit. The same Bolshie workforce is quieter now that losses-before-tax have soared to £6.7billion (after heavy exceptional charges). The short-term request from IAG is some form of digital vaccine passports. But the bigger, long-term worry must be that the magic of Zoom, Teams et al will mean that the business travel market is uprooted forever. 

It is going to be a nervy, testing time for investors, passengers and staff. 

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Powerplay: America eyes ICBM-killing ships

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There was a cool rock song from the 1970s, from a Detroit rocker by the name of Alice Cooper.

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It was called, “Welcome to my nightmare.”

Alice was no Bob Dylan, but he was great on stage, and his theatrics became legendary to rock fans and aficionados.

Well, Beijing and Xi Jinping have a new “nightmare” to face, and I’m afraid it is a biggie. It’s called “power-scaling laser” technology.

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Remember that phrase, you will be hearing more about it in the near future, I am sure.



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Tiger Woods ‘won’t walk for three months’ as he moves to new hospital after car crash

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Tiger Woods has been moved to a new hospital to continue his recovery from a horror car crash – but won’t be able to walk for three months.

That’s the verdict of orthopedic surgeon and former PGA Tour golfer Bill Mallon as Woods faces the biggest fight of his legendary career.

Woods’ hopes of playing again are under severe threat after he suffered two open fractures and a shattered ankle after flipping his car in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

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The 15-times Major winner has now been moved to LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center – a level one trauma centre known for rehabbing athletes.

He was previously treated at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where his right leg was put back together during surgery with the insertion of a rod, screws and pins.

Tiger Woods of the United States hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club on December 20, 2020 in Orlando, Florida.
Tiger Woods’ extraordinary career is under threat after he suffered devastating injuries

Woods was told by doctors he is lucky to be alive following the crash, and he faces a huge challenge to resurrect his trophy-laden golf career.

And it will be at least three months before the 45-year-old is able to put weight on his foot, according to Mallon.

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“With fractures of this sort in the lower extremities, it takes about three months to heal enough to fully bear weight,” said the surgeon, quoted by The Sun.

Woods suffered open fractures to the his tibia and fibula and further injuries to his foot and ankle in the single-car crash on Tuesday.

Woods has been moved to LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to continue his recovery

But despite the huge challenge now facing him, the stricken star vowed to make a sensational return to the golf course, telling close friends: “It can’t end like this.”

He made the promise as his girlfriend Erica Herman, agent Mark Steinberg and caddie Joe LaCava all visited him in his hospital bed.

A source close to Woods added that the 45-year-old was “frustrated” and let slip to People magazine: “He doesn’t want his career to end like this.

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The unnamed source also said: “This is a massive setback, and he knows it, but he’s overcome obstacles in the past and thinks he can do it again.”

Woods was told he was lucky to be alive after flipping his car this week

Meanwhile, hospital chiefs at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center said it had been “an honour” to be entrusted with Woods’ care.

Interim CEO Anish Mahajan said on the hospital’s Twitter account: “Woods was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for continuing orthopaedic care and recovery.

“It was an honour to provide orthopaedic trauma care to one of our generation’s greatest athletes.”

Woods survived “what would otherwise have been a fatal crash” on Tuesday morning because the interior of his vehicle remained largely intact, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

The police chief added that “deputies at the time did not see any evidence of impairment” after arriving on the scene at 7.18am local time and confirmed on Wednesday that Woods was “not drunk” and that the crash was “purely an accident”.

READ MORE: Tiger Woods horror car crash sent NBA star Stephen Curry into ‘a dark place’

READ MORE: Tiger Woods’ pro career likely over with Rory McIlroy just grateful kids didn’t lose father





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Profits fall at RSA Insurance as it prepares to be sold

Rina Latuperissa

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Profits fall at RSA Insurance as it prepares to be broken up and sold

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Profits have fallen at RSA Insurance as it prepares to be broken up and sold. 

Danone

The UK group said profits in 2020 fell 2 per cent to £483m, blaming costs related to a restructure and Covid-19. 

Boss Stephen Hester said the results were ‘excellent’ but shares remained virtually unmoved yesterday at 675.4p.

'Excellent': The UK group said profits in 2020 fell 2 per cent to £483m, blaming costs related to a restructure and Covid-19

‘Excellent’: The UK group said profits in 2020 fell 2 per cent to £483m, blaming costs related to a restructure and Covid-19

Last month investors voted in favour of the £7.2billion bid from Intact, a Canadian insurance firm, and Denmark’s Tryg. 

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The companies have agreed to split RSA’s business between them, separating the Scandinavian part of the firm from the UK and Canada wing.

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LSE could be buffeted by factors outside its control this year

Rina Latuperissa

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LSE trying hard to set its own course but business could be buffeted by factors outside its control this year

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The London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) has had a blockbuster start to the year. 

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It finally managed to complete its long-awaited takeover of Refinitiv in January, dodging competition concerns from international regulators. 

The £20billion deal will mean the LSE, already a leader in financial markets, has data and analytics capabilities and should be able to rival titans such as Bloomberg and CME Group. 

But while the LSE is trying hard to set its own course, with chief executive David Schwimmer attempting to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Xavier Rolet in making astute acquisitions, the business could be buffeted by factors outside its control this year. 

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First there is Brexit and the ongoing battle between officials in Brussels and London over ‘equivalence’ in the financial sector. 

An agreement on equivalence would mean both sides recognise each other’s rules and regulations, allowing financial trades to continue between the UK and the EU. 

But so far, the EU has not granted the UK equivalence – meaning some EU institutions have had to take business which would usually be done in London to the continent. 

This has not fazed the LSE. But if the EU could poach more clearing business from the LSE’s London Clearing House, Schwimmer and his team may be more worried. On the other hand, the Government is consulting on ways to encourage more firms to list on the stock market. Then, the LSE could be a major beneficiary. 

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