THE Government pledged to write off the huge and spiralling Humber Bridge debt this week. The move marked a reprieve for local poll tax payers, who would otherwise have had to shoulder the burden of the £400m-plus deficit from 1994 onwards.
Roads Minister Christopher Chope told the Commons that no specific figure was yet available, but enough would be written off or suspended to ensure that the remainder of the debt could be met from toll charges. It was thought that the total write-off could be as much as £300m.
Seven months after she was ousted from Number 10 by Conservative party colleagues, Margaret Thatcher announced that she would give up her Finchley seat at the next general election. The former PM, who had represented the constituency for more than 32 years, said she hoped to continue in politics with a seat in the House of Lords.
She added that leaving the Commons would give her more freedom to speak her mind, and made it clear that she would fight any European integration that might threaten UK sovereignty.
In business news, the Burton Group moved to protect itself from the twin effects of plummeting property values and plunging retail sales by announcing plans to sack 1,600 employees and raise a balance sheet-bolstering £161m with a 30p rights issue.
The announcements came after a “secrecy squad” of 51 executives and consultants spent six months looking into operation of the group’s 1,692 stores before deciding to close 120 of them.
The High Street spending crisis had, in the previous few months, reduced total retail sales by nine per cent compared to the same period the previous year.
As a result, Burton Group was forecasting that profits to the end of August would be down to £10m compared with £146.1m the previous year.
On its foreign pages, The Yorkshire Post reported that a ceasefire between Yugoslavia and the breakaway republic of Slovenia had been announced, with Slovenian president Milan Kucan telling the state broadcaster the Yugoslav government accepted that the latest bout of conflict should stop.
A halt was called to the invasion after blitzkrieg tactics had apparently succeeded in taking all the border posts between the republic and neighbouring European countries. Federal forces had also used jets to pound Slovenian airports.
More than 15,000 British tourists we’re to be flown home from Yugoslavia, following Foreign Office advice not to travel to the country because of its current state of unrest.
Jail reformers called for an end to the “barbaric” practice of locking suicidal prisoners in bare cells. The Howard League For Penal Reform claimed that some of the 293 prisoners who committed suicide in the 1980s were held in strip cells with only a nightshirt to wear and in conditions of sensory deprivation.
A spokesman for Armley prison in Leeds said prisoners were only put in unfurnished or padded cells for their own safety and always under strict medical supervision.
Britain’s leading opera singer Doncaster-born Dame Janet Baker was to become the new chancellor of York University.
The former pupil of York College For Girls was the fourth in a distinguished line of chancellors, following on from Lord Swann, Lord Clark and the Earl of Harewood.
She said: “I am immensely honoured and privileged to be given this opportunity to serve the University of York, and therefore to serve the city which I regard as my home.”