Residents of Central London have noticed an unusual trend hitting the streets each summer. It’s not a more relaxed approach to clothing or a heat wave, but the incredible amount of supercars hitting inner city streets. The cars have become a fairly standard sight around the city, with a collection of ultra-expensive supercars appearing every summer, and disappearing just as fast as the weather.
The cars in question are owned by a group of mega-rich Middle Eastern businessmen, who fly the vehicles in each year to escape the aggressive summer throughout the Gulf. It’s not unusual to see registration plates from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait – an obvious indication that the cars in question aren’t owned by residents of Central London, but by temporary holidayers.
It’s the latest development in how the Middle East’s richest families spend their vacation time. With temperatures in the region routinely exceeding 40ºC, even the bravest of the brave are uninterested in spending their summer sweating. The smart ones have picked London as their preferred holiday spot, jetting in their vehicles privately and racking up millions of pounds in parking fines.
Yes, that’s right: millions. The cars in question tend to be parked illegally and have been involved in more than their fair share of crashes. Foreign-owned vehicles are responsible for an estimated £4M worth of fines in London alone, leaving many residents more than a little annoyed at the vacationers and their antics. Noise is also a problem, with high-power cars accelerating and disturbing residents.
But for their owners, it’s a mere inconvenience. It could be London this year, Berlin the next. While the city worries about the after effects of its high-profile tourists, some of London’s most exclusive hotel chains are enjoying the surge in high-end customers.
A new survey from Hotels.com has revealed that London’s taxis are the most friendly, comfortable, and safe in the world. The survey and complete report asked users to contribute their experiences in taxis around the world, pointing out how safe they felt and how comfortable the ride was. Britain’s capital took the top spot, closely followed by other major European cities such as Madrid.
Surprisingly, it was taxi capital New York City that came in last place for ‘taxi quality’, with users suggesting that despite the city’s large fleet of go-anywhere transportation, the surly and abrasive nature of many taxi drivers made it a poor place to hail a cab. Paris also achieved a low ranking, with its taxi fleet being judged as the rudest of any major global city.
While London cabs are far from cheap, they offered a level of safety that few other cities can match, the survey claims. Travellers ranked the demeanour of London’s drivers positively, while saying that the city’s drivers tend to take direct routes to destinations without wasting time or driving fare prices upwards. Rome received the lowest ‘driver quality’ ranking due to reckless driving habits.
However, one Italian city – Milan – managed to feature in the report’s top rankings. Other surprising additions include Bangkok, which took fifth place, and Sydney, which saw its drivers feature as the least navigationally competent. European cities topped the poll for service quality and ride comfort while simultaneously falling into the poll’s bottom ranks for affordability and value.
The news has been well received by London’s large collection of taxi drivers. The city is frequently thought of as one of the most tourist-friendly in the world, and the confirmation of its taxi quality is another point of pride. For the millions of tourists expected to arrive in London throughout the rest of the year, the results are a comforting, if expensive, reminder that they’ll never be completely lost.
For most truant schoolchildren, it’s illness that’s keeping them at home. But new figures researched by the Department of Education have suggested that the second-largest cause of school truancy has been the family holiday. With peak-season travel prices often unattainable given the economic state, more families are opting to plan their holidays in off-peak periods, taking their children with them.
It’s a phenomenon that the department wishes to crack down on, claiming that the midterm holidays simply aren’t in the best interests of children. A series of new fines could go into effect next year, an expert within the education sector suggests, limiting the amount of days for which children could be away from school due to planned family holidays and non-illness commitments.
Parents are upset about the proposed new measures, claiming that holidays represent an opportunity for their children to gain important skills outside of the classroom. Excess truancy currently results in a fine of approximately £50 – a price that many parents are willing to pay due to the low cost of off-peak holidays. Top-level fines can approach £100, though they are rarely handed out.
Teachers are allowed to give ‘authorised’ absence passes to students planning to holiday with their families, provided the holiday plans are built around work obligations. Most parents opt to holiday with their children during the final days of each term, aiming to minimize the amount of time spent outside of the classroom during peak learning times.
An estimated seventy-thousand students miss school classes daily due to vacations and non-school events, with almost forty percent of all absences unauthorised by their respective schools. Holidays were the most frequent case of non-illness absences, closely followed by unexplained absences due to students skipping classes, tutorials and school commitments.