Grayling urged to quit as spending on Brexit ferry deal consultants revealed

Grayling urged to quit as spending on Brexit ferry deal consultants revealed

Transport secretary had told MPs no money went on £13.8m Seaborne Freight contract

Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, is facing calls to resign after auditors found his department spent £800,000 of public money on consultants assessing the bid of a company with no ships that was temporarily awarded a Brexit-related ferry contract.

The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said his opposite number had been shown to be “off the Richter scale of incompetence” after announcing the demise of plans involving the startup Seaborne Freight.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Monumental issues around Stonehenge | Letters

Monumental issues around Stonehenge | Letters
Malcolm Reading says it is more likely that ancient Greece and Rome, rather than Stonehenge, were the inspiration for The Circus in Bath, John Bailey wonders whether Chris Grayling is the right person to resolve road planning issues around the monument, Phil Turner says the need for the military training area nearby is questionable, and Mark Lyall wonders whether a relocation of the stones would be easier

It is fanciful to assign Stonehenge as the inspiration of the architect John Wood’s Circus in Bath (The battle for the future of Stonehenge, The long read, 8 February). Wood worked in the classical tradition and was very mindful of the urban planning of ancient Greece and Rome. The Circus is part of an architectural stagecraft that marries the hilly topography with the practicalities of enlightenment domestic living, disposing a square, a circus and ultimately the wonderful crescent in a rich and delightful play of axial geometry, light and movement. Rome and Athens are the more likely models than the standing stones in Wiltshire.
Malcolm Reading
Architect, London

• I thought Charlotte Higgins’ piece on the past and future of Stonehenge was excellent, but couldn’t decide if her entirely neutral reference to the man responsible for the resolution of this monumental problem, Chris Grayling, reveals her journalistic objectivity or subtle sense of humour.
John Bailey
St Albans, Hertfordshire

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Supposed backer of no-ships Brexit ferry firm denies having a stake

Supposed backer of no-ships Brexit ferry firm denies having a stake

Arklow Shipping saw itself as just one of many prospective investors in Seaborne Freight

Chris Grayling’s Brexit ferry fiasco has taken a further twist after the reported backer of the startup company with no ships that was awarded a £13.8m contract said it never had a stake in the venture.

Sources at Arklow Shipping, which operates 55 dry bulk vessels in northern Europe, said it had been in talks with Seaborne Freight twice last year, but it “never had any agreement” with either Seaborne or the Department for Transport to run a service from Ramsgate to Ostend.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Labour calls for contactless payment across rail network

Labour calls for contactless payment across rail network

Industry criticised for lack of reform as ministers demand overhaul of ticketing system

A nationwide system of contactless or mobile payment should be introduced for rail travel, according to the Labour party, which has accused the industry of lacking ambition for reform.

Publication of an anticipated fares and ticketing review by the Rail Delivery Group, an industry body, has been delayed for more than four months. The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, will tell delegates at the Transport for the North conference in Sheffield on Monday that the lack of ambition and progress reflect a wider inability to tackle one of the rail industry’s most deep-rooted problems.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Sack Grayling over the Brexit ferry fiasco, demand MPs

Sack Grayling over the Brexit ferry fiasco, demand MPs
Cross-party calls for transport secretary’s dismissal follow collapse of £13.8m contract to Seaborne Freight

Theresa May faced cross-party calls to sack her transport secretary, Chris Grayling, last night, after the calamitous collapse of a no-deal Brexit ferry contract handed to a company with no ships.

Senior Tories said the prime minister had turned “a blind eye” to Grayling’s decision to award the £13.8m contract to Seaborne Freight to run ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend, despite widespread derision and accusations that it had been awarded illegally.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Chris Grayling’s glassy-eyed confidence doesn’t help with Brexit debacle

Chris Grayling’s glassy-eyed confidence doesn’t help with Brexit debacle

Transport secretary’s apparent contingency planning smacks of insouciance and desperation

The decision to cancel the £14m Seaborne Freight contract marks the inevitable ending of another farcical chapter in the government’s pre-Brexit preparations. But it should nonetheless send a further chill down the spines of those nervously awaiting what 29 March may bring – and once again leave many marvelling at the continued survival of Chris Grayling in post.

The hapless transport secretary, who avowed as a leading Brexiter that leaving the European Union would be easy, has been maintaining a tricky course since the referendum: continuing to project a glassy-eyed confidence that planes will fly and lorries will cross borders, while belatedly trying out some no-deal plans, just in case.

Related: Government cancels Brexit ferry contract with no-ship firm

Related: Chris Grayling not welcome in Calais, says port’s chairman

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Source: Guardian Transport

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UK weather: Gale force winds sweep country as Storm Erik brings disruption

UK weather: Gale force winds sweep country as Storm Erik brings disruption

Exposed coasts likely to see strongest winds, with some bridges closed to vehicles

Gale-force winds have swept through the UK, felling trees and causing delays for travellers and motorists.

Storms on Friday caused trees to fall on vehicles across the country. Part of a doubledecker bus in Poole, Dorset, was crushed by a felled trunk and a road in south Belfast was closed when a number of branches fell on the bonnet of a car.

Related: UK weather: Storm Erik to bring heavy rain and strong winds

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Government cancels Brexit ferry contract with no-ship firm

Government cancels Brexit ferry contract with no-ship firm

Seaborne Freight had won £13.8m contract despite never having run Channel service

A controversial no-deal Brexit ferry contract awarded to a firm with no ships has been cancelled by the Department for Transport.

The decision by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8m had attracted widespread criticism.

Related: Brexit ferry firm: the lawyer, the submariner and the shotgun-toting former veal exporter

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Overcoming obstacles to access national parks | Letters

Overcoming obstacles to access national parks | Letters
Readers respond to a report which reveals that England’s protected countryside is out of reach for poorer people

We are disappointed but sadly unsurprised by the findings of the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s research (National parks are out of bounds for England’s poorest people, study finds, 4 February). As a charity we have long dedicated ourselves to overcoming the obstacles the most marginalised in society face in getting into the great outdoors.

The fact is, it is those from marginalised communities who stand to gain so much from the national parks. The benefits of the national parks to personal health and wellbeing are well evidenced in our conversations with those communities. But for too many they remain out of reach.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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Plane struggles to land at Heathrow as Storm Erik hits UK and Ireland – video

Plane struggles to land at Heathrow as Storm Erik hits UK and Ireland – video

Video posted on social media shows the moment a British Airways plane had difficulty landing at Heathrow airport in London due to strong winds. The pilot swiftly aborts landing and takes off again. 

A wet and windy start to the weekend has been forecast, with Storm Erik bringing winds of 70mph to some areas and heavy rain across large parts of the UK. The Welsh and Cornish coasts could have winds of 55mph, while along the coast of southern England gusts may reach 50mph. 

UK weather: Storm Erik to bring heavy rain and strong winds

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Source: Guardian Transport

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