Train fares rise by an average of 2.3% Image copyright PA Rail passengers are facing higher fares across the UK as average price increases of 2.3% are introduced on the first weekday of the new year. The increase covers regulated fares, including season tickets, and unregulated, such as off-peak tickets. Campaigners said the rise was a "kick in the teeth" for passengers after months of widespread strike disruption. The government said it was delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century. The increase in fares came as a strike by conductors on Southern Rail entered its third day, as a long-running row about the role of guards on new trains continued.
The RMT union began the 72-hour walkout on New Year's Eve, while another strike is set for 9 January. Why are prices rising? Image copyright Dan Kitwood By Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent Even if you allow for inflation, rail fares have gone up by around 25% since the mid-1990s. Some tickets have spiked by 40% in just a decade. Why? New trains. Help Refugees: a lifeline for teenagers living in seedy Athens squats | Society. When Karim’s father sent him, aged 17, from Kabul to find safety in Europe, he hoped to get work in his uncle’s supermarket in Germany. This month he was selling drugs on the streets of Athens to make money for food. He considers himself relatively lucky, since other teenagers from Afghanistan have turned to prostitution in the nearby park to earn money to survive, but he concedes that this is not what his father, an academic, had in mind for him.
“I escaped Afghanistan for a good future. This was unexpected,” he said, pacing around a corner of Victoria Square, a seedy part of central Athens, at about midnight in early December. Official shelters in Athens are full and the city is overflowing with refugee children, many of whom have fled war zones without their parents and are now sleeping in squats, struggling to look after themselves and turning to desperate measures to survive. The squats have no beds, no hot water and no regular food provision. Andy Burnham: Labour wrong to put single market ahead of immigration | Politics. Andy Burnham, Labour’s candidate to become the mayor of Greater Manchester, has accused his party of getting its priorities over Brexit wrong by placing single market access at the top of the list ahead of controlling immigration.
The former shadow home secretary suggested the referendum result was not about putting the economy first, as the party leader, Jeremy Corybn, and a string of senior Labour colleagues have suggested, but instead a clear vote in favour of ending free movement across Europe. Writing in the Guardian, Burnham said Labour’s “collective failure” to tackle concerns over jobs, wages, housing and schools linked to migration had contributed to the loss of the referendum. But he claimed that politicians were still scared to speak out over the issue because, even in the wake of the Brexit vote, they knew they might face a hysterical reaction. “Accusations of ‘pandering to Ukip’, xenophobia or even racism are thrown around quite freely. BBC helpline sees 26,000 people seek domestic abuse advice | Society. Almost 26,000 people sought advice about domestic abuse from the BBC over the phone and online in 2016, driven by a gripping storyline on The Archers and the BBC1 documentary Behind Closed Doors.
Helen Titchener’s abuse by husband Rob in The Archers also covered issues including sexual abuse, emotional distress and self-harm, and culminated in her being acquitted of attempted murder. It prompted 635 people to call the Action Line service, almost three times the largest number of calls for any single storyline on a programme between 2012 and 2015.
In total, 24,400 people visited the service’s webpages on domestic abuse and more than 1,350 called for advice during the year. A donation page inspired by the storyline to raise money for a rescue fund for women suffering domestic abuse raised more than £135,000 over seven months. The BBC’s dementia season led to a larger number of calls than The Archers, with almost 700 people getting in touch by phone and 8,784 visits to a dedicated webpage. RBS investors call for governance changes to improve transparency | Business. About 160 investors are calling for the Royal Bank of Scotland to shore up corporate governance by creating a shareholder committee to sniff out “poor stewardship”. The aim is said to be to avoid a rerun of the bank’s near-collapse in 2008. The change would prevent a repeat of the chain of events that triggered the RBS’s crash during the financial crisis, according to the investor groups ShareSoc and the UK Shareholders’ Association (UKSA).
Mark Northway, chairman of ShareSoc, said shareholders deserved a new approach that gave more effective input. “One objective is to stop the events that took place at RBS from ever happening again,” he said. “A dominant CEO, concealing the true financial position of the company from investors, proceeding with a reckless acquisition, and then publishing a rights prospectus which concealed the problems faced by the company. These are not examples of good governance.” Learner drivers to be allowed on motorways under training shakeup | World news. Learner drivers will be allowed to practise on motorways for the first time under government plans to improve road safety.
Under current rules, drivers are permitted on motorways only after they have passed their test, though there is no mandatory training for the 70mph roads. The transport minister, Andrew Jones, announced the plans on Friday, which would allow approved instructors to take “competent” trainees on motorways in dual-controlled cars. The RAC director, Steve Gooding, and Neil Greig, policy director at the IAM RoadSmart charity, backed the proposal. Gooding said: “The casualty statistics tell us that motorways are our safest roads, but they can feel anything but safe to a newly qualified driver heading down the slip road for the first time to join a fast-moving, often heavy, flow of traffic.
Greig said it was a “sensible and measured solution”, adding: “It makes no sense that new drivers learn by trial and, often fatal, error how to use our fastest and most important roads.” Carney warns about popular disillusion with capitalism. Image copyright Reuters The Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned that people will turn their backs on free and open markets unless something is done to help those left behind by the financial crisis. In a speech, he said: "Globalisation is associated with low wages, insecure employment, stateless corporations and striking inequalities.
" In many advanced economies there are "staggering wealth inequalities," he added. Mr Carney was speaking in Liverpool. He told his audience that politicians and central bankers must act to ensure people do not lose faith in the current system. "Turning our backs on open markets would be a tragedy, but it is a possibility," he said. "It can only be averted by confronting the underlying reasons for this risk upfront. " Ahmed: Carney says get real, there are losers from free trade Mr Carney, giving the Roscoe Lecture at Liverpool John Moores University, spoke of the need for wealth distribution and putting individuals back in control.
Image copyright AP. Austria far-right candidate Norbert Hofer defeated in presidential poll. Image copyright AFP Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has lost Austria's presidential election. On Facebook, he described himself as "infinitely sad" and congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen, former head of the Greens, on his victory. The elections had been seen as a sign of how well populist candidates might do in upcoming elections in the EU, though the post is ceremonial.
The result is sure to be welcomed by establishment parties and officials in the EU. France, the Netherlands and Germany all face elections next year in which anti-mainstream and anti-immigration parties are gaining ground. The election was a re-run of May's poll which suffered irregularities in the postal vote. Projections based on early results give Mr Van der Bellen 53% to 46% for Mr Hofer. Mr Hofer had campaigned on an anti-immigration platform amid disquiet in Austria at an influx of refugees.
Scheme to place 'elite teachers' in struggling schools scrapped after a year. Train fares to rise by average of 2.3% Image copyright PA Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 2.3% from 2 January, the rail industry has announced. The increase in regulated fares, which includes season tickets, is capped at July's RPI inflation rate of 1.9%. Unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets, can go up by as much as the train companies like. The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said the industry was working to simplify fares and improve services.
"We understand how passengers feel when fares go up, and we know that in some places they haven't always got the service they pay for," said Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group. "Around 97p in every pound passengers pay goes back into running and improving services. " But Lianna Etkind of the Campaign for Better Transport said some passengers were "finding themselves priced off the railways". The increases cover fares in England, Scotland and Wales. Tim Farron: Is it all over for this classical liberal wing of the Lib Dems? - Jane Merrick - Commentators - The Independent. Remember when orange really was the new black?
In the summer of 2004, a group of radical Lib Dem MPs and parliamentary candidates contributed to a collection of essays designed to drag their party to the centre ground and make it a grown-up, credible partner in a government by proposing greater choice and market solutions in public services. It was The Orange Book and its authors included Nick Clegg (not then an MP) and Vince Cable. Six years later when David Laws, one of the book’s editors, brokered the deal with the Conservatives to form a coalition, the project was complete. But now that Tim Farron has defeated Norman Lamb, the candidate who came closest to The Orange Book mission, is it all over for this classical liberal wing of the Lib Dems?
In his victory speech, Farron said he wanted to bring the “millions” of liberals in Britain into the Lib Dems but his politics are closer to the old SDP element of the party. Britain is a “small l” liberal country. Boris Johnson Off the rails. Labour pledges to keep pensions triple lock. Labour says it will keep the "triple lock" protecting the state pension throughout the next Parliament. Pensions currently rise by the highest of inflation, average earnings or 2.5%. There have been warnings over the cost of the lock, and the government says it will review it after 2020. Shadow Treasury minister Rebecca Long-Bailey said this caused "uncertainty and worry", pledging to protect it "throughout the lifetime of the next Parliament", due to end in 2025.
Speaking during Treasury questions in the Commons, Chancellor Philip Hammond said it was responsible for the government to decide which commitments it can afford to keep at a spending review before the end of Parliament. Attacking Labour's pledge, he added: "I think it tells us everything we need to know about the Opposition - that three-and-a-half years out they're willing to spray around commitments without any idea of what it's going to cost them. " Executive pay: Companies told to justify rates. The government has outlined its plans to make companies justify high levels of executive pay. Among the measures under consideration are pay ratios, which would show the gap in earnings between the chief executive and an average employee.
Shareholders would be handed more powers to vote against bosses' pay, but the government will not force companies to put workers on boards. Prime Minister Theresa May has made tackling corporate excess a priority. Her Conservative government is "unashamedly pro-business", but big firms must earn and keep the public's trust, she said in the consultation plans. Chief executives of FTSE 100 firms now have a median pay package of £4.3m, which is 140 times that of the average worker, according to the High Pay Centre. "There may be some circumstances where that is defensible, but it should be for the boards of companies and executives to justify that," Business Secretary Greg Clark told the BBC. 'Goldman-Waitrose issue' Simon Jack: The great pay crackdown?