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Police last year conducted lowest number of roadside breath tests since 2002

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police last year conducted lowest number of roadside breath tests since 2002

Official figures released today show that the number of roadside breath tests are at their lowest point since 2002, despite road casualty figures in Britain showing an increase in deaths caused by intoxicated motorists.

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous – a decline of 11.6 per cent, with the rate of positive results highest it’s been since 2007.

The decline in breathalyser assessments is despite the latest government statistics revealing that drink-drive related casualty rates in Britain are on the rise.

While breath checks were at a statistical low, fines issued by the police for speeding were up by 8 per cent, Home Office data confirmed. 

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous

Just 285,380 roadside breath tests were conducted by police in England and Wales in 2019 compared to 322,769 the year previous 

Final estimates published by the Department for Transport last month show that in 2018 approximately 240 people died in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver or rider was over the drink drive limit.

An estimated 8,680 people were killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. 

This represents an increase of one per cent from 8,600 in 2017, but is still four per cent lower than the level in 2016.  

Of the 285,380 tests conducted by officers in England and Wales last year, 16 per cent of drivers were over the limit, the Home Office data said.

That’s the highest proportion of positive tests on record since 2007. 

The numbers also show a huge spike in roadside breath checks carried out in December as part of tougher enforcement levels during the festive season, though the percentage of positive tests is lower than any other month in the year.  

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

Breath tests conducted by police in England and Wales have dropped to their lowest level since 2002, the Home Office confirmed today

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

The most worrying chart shows that while tests are on a massive decline, the percentage of positive results have been surging year-on-year since 2012

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Latest DfT stats show that drink-drive related deaths have flat-lined since 2010, though there was an increase in the number of total casualties (including serious injuries) in 2018

Safety groups said the ‘worrying’ decline in roadside breathalyser tests is due to reduced road policing.

A report published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) in June stated there was an 18 per cent reduction in the number of dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales between 2015 and 2019. 

Edmund King, AA president said the new breath test figures ‘only highlights the massive reduction in the number of specialist traffic officers on our roads’.

Hunter Abbott, managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense and a member of PACTS expressed his concerns to This is Money that more tests should be carried out on motorists, especially during the pandemic. 

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

Home Office figures clearly show the increase in breath tests conducted by police as part of campaigns to crackdown on drink driving during the festive period

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

But while police in England and Wales carried out far more tests in December, there was a significantly lower rate of positive results

‘With several studies showing people drinking more alcohol since Covid struck, roadside tests should now be stepped up,’ he explained.

‘But without more traffic police, testing will continue to spiral downwards.

‘The latest government figures show 8,860 people killed or injured on the roads due to drink driving. 

‘There’s a direct correlation between the increase in casualties and the decrease in law enforcement.’ 

Government road safety chiefs are already looking at ways to reduce road casualties in Britain, including tougher restrictions on novice drivers and the introduction of ‘alcolocks’ for previously-convicted drink drivers

The devices are installed in cars and force motorists to pass a breathalyser test before the engine will start.

They will also look at issuing police with more advanced breath tests from next year, which can give more accurate readings.  

'Alcolocks', which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

'Alcolocks', which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

‘Alcolocks’, which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, could be introduced after government figures revealed a rise in crashes involving motorists over the legal alcohol limit

32471160 8669597 image a 39 1598557314397

32471160 8669597 image a 39 1598557314397

While the newly published Home Office data showed a decline in roadside breath tests, it revealed that other offence types had increased.

The stats show that more than 2.2 million speeding fines were issued to drivers last year – an increase of 7.8 per cent compared to 2018. 

Police also targeted careless driving and car occupants not wearing a seatbelt which have significantly increased between 2018 and 2019, up 33.5 per cent and 84.3 per cent respectively.

By contrast, the number of fines issued for using a handheld mobile phone dropped by more than a quarter (26.5 per cent), which is also as a result of tougher penalties for motorists caught using devices at the wheel. 

Commenting on the data, Edmund King said: ‘While cameras are a useful tool in helping police our roads, we cannot solely rely on them. 

‘A camera cannot stop a drink driver, or pull over someone driving carelessly, so having more cops in cars will help eliminate poor and dangerous driving.

‘The lack of roads police has led to drivers thinking they can get away with certain offences. More than two thirds (69 per cent) say it is unlikely they would be caught driving carelessly where they live, while two fifths (43 per cent) say they could drive without insurance and feel they wouldn’t be caught.’

King added that the AA is calling for the government to set a an optimistic target of zero road deaths by the end of the decade, but warned that this can only be reached with more policing, increased road safety campaigns and road safety being made part of the national curriculum. 

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How I won access to my disabled son’s frozen Child Trust Fund savings

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how i won access to my disabled sons frozen child trust fund savings
Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver

Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver

Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver 

The mother of a 17-year-old boy with profound learning disabilities who would be unable to access his Child Trust Fund cash when he became an adult has won her battle to unlock more than £2,000 in frozen funds.

In one of the first reported examples of the parents of a disabled child succeeding in an attempt to access their money, Catherine, from Worcestershire, will be able to manage her son Oliver’s funds when he turns 18 next April.

Catherine wrote to her son’s Child Trust Fund provider, OneFamily, at the start of October after the mutual’s savings chief told This is Money parents affected by the CTF lockout should get in touch and their cases would be looked at ‘sensitively and with compassion’.

She fed this quote back to the Brighton-based mutual, which looks after a quarter of CTFs and finally had confirmation at the start of this month she would be able to look after her son’s money when he turns 18, saving her thousands of pounds in court fees.

It is a rare example of a happy outcome to a problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled young children who cannot currently access their own savings due to their disabilities making them unable to manage money and make their own decisions.

The Government and industry bodies are currently in discussions over long-term solutions to the problem, with some individual CTF providers currently deciding on a case-by-case basis whether to allow parents to access the money on their child’s behalf.

Without a solution parents face the prospect of a costly application to the Court of Protection to get permission to become a ‘deputy’ and manage the money on their child’s behalf, eating into the savings and completely wiping them out in some cases.

‘No one ever indicated at any stage that there would be problems accessing Oliver’s money’ 

Catherine, who only wanted to provide her surname, faced the prospect of this earlier this year when OneFamily wrote to her son Oliver when he turned 17 to tell him his trust fund would mature in 2021.

What’s the problem? 

Campaigners warn as many as 200,000 disabled children face the same issue as Oliver, that they are unable to access CTF money because of their lack of mental capacity, due to their disabilities. 

While some have been warning about the problems facing the first batch of trust fund teenagers turning 18 this year for years, the issue has only really come to light in the last few months.

In order to access the money, carers, guardians and parents must apply to become a ‘deputy’, which involves an application to the Court of Protection.

The court application can cost £365 plus up to £2,500 in solicitors’ fees.

Campaigners and families have complained this problem was never made clear to parents, who continued to pay money into a savings ‘lobster pot’, that their child could not get the money out of.

This is despite the fact those children on Disability Living Allowance were given extra payments into their trust funds.

The Government has insisted the measures are needed to prevent the children from being exploited.  

He had just over £2,000 in his account, she said, thanks to a combination of birthday cash from his grandparents and higher government vouchers due to his ‘profound learning disabilities’.

At this point she began to wonder if there might be a problem accessing the funds, something which the mutual confirmed to her at the start of June. 

It told her she needed to apply the Court of Protection to become a deputy in order to access the money on his behalf.

This is despite the fact the Government had handed him more money because of his disabilities and allowed her to manage his benefits when he turned 16.

She told This is Money: ‘No one ever indicated at any stage that there would be problems accessing Oliver’s money. 

‘The Government were, at the time, actively encouraging parents and grandparents to add to the CTF for the child’s future.

‘Had we known, or even suspected, that there would be difficulties accessing the funds, we would never have encouraged Oliver’s grandparents to add to it at birthdays. 

‘They would have put the money in a different account.’

Having ‘almost given up all will’ at the prospect of tackling the Court of Protection forms, she discovered the story This is Money published at the end of September. 

OneFamily’s head of investments had told us in the article that ‘in certain circumstances it may be possible to release funds if sufficient proof of identification can be provided by the person responsible for managing the young person’s finances.’

How a line from a company statement helped me access my child’s frozen funds 

‘I phoned OneFamily, quoting their head of investment directly from your article,’ Catherine said when she first contacted us at the start of October. 

‘The lady on the phone was very cagey and asked several times where I had read this.

‘She then put me on hold for 20 minutes. When she came back, her tone had changed, and she was very helpful. 

‘She asked if I had any supporting evidence such as a doctor’s letter? I burst out laughing; as the parent and carer of a profoundly disabled young person, you have files full of professional letters and reports.’

She sent over a letter with attached documents a day later on 9 October, which were received on 12 October. 

However, she never received a reply to confirm OneFamily had received the documents and attempted follow-ups through its online messaging service on 17 and 22 October were also unanswered.

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

But after making a formal written complaint about the lack of a response from the mutual on 25 October, she finally received some good news at the start of this month.

In a letter dated 5 November, the letter apologised for the delay in responding to her and said: ‘The information you’ve provided makes it clear Oliver will be unable to manage the closure, and that you can do so instead.

‘I’ve enclosed a declaration document for you along with a return envelope. Please complete and send this to us when you can. 

Do you have a OneFamily CTF? 

This is Money asked the mutual which looks after one in four CTFs what parents in the same situation as Catherine needed to do. 

Its head of investments, Paul Bridgwater, said: ‘Every case is different, but in some circumstances it is possible to release the funds if sufficient proof of identification can be provided by the person responsible for managing the young person’s finances.

‘We aim to review each application sensitively and with compassion, and would encourage all customers who may be in this position to get in touch, so that we can give them all the support that they need.’

‘Upon receipt, we’ll pend the instruction until Oliver’s 18th birthday in April next year.’

Catherine told This is Money she had returned the declaration form which should mean she can access her son’s Child Trust Fund cash without penalty next year.

In response to Catherine’s case, Paul Bridgwater, OneFamily’s head of investments, said: ‘I’m very sorry for the delay Catherine experienced in receiving a response from us. It’s definitely not the service that we aim to give. 

‘Unfortunately, our team of specialists who handle enquiries of this nature became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of applications that were received in October.

‘However, this should not have happened, and we have subsequently increased the size of our team.

‘I can’t comment specifically on Catherine’s case, for confidentiality reasons. 

‘However, it became clear to us earlier this year that the child trust fund maturity procedures, as defined by HMRC, would not meet the needs of all of our customers.

‘Therefore, we supported our industry bodies in lobbying the Ministry of Justice for new draft guidance to help families in this position. 

‘In the meantime, we chose to adopt a more flexible and customer focused approach, to see if there might be way for customers like Oliver to be able to access their balances without the need of a Court of Protection Order.’

The Ministry of Justice told This is Money at the end of last month that proposals handed to it by TISA, which represents CTF providers, were ‘being considered’ and that it would ‘respond shortly.’

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Land Rover with a fully working kitchen to be auctioned

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A bespoke Land Rover ‘Gastrowagon’ that featured in the popular River Cottage television series with celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is to be offered to the highest bidder next month.

The 1982 Land Rover 109 will be one of a selection of collectible vehicles available at the next Bonhams MPH Sale on 11 December.

An entirely unique motor, it features a fully functioning kitchen at the back with a two-burner hob, oven, and even a fridge.

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks.

The 1982 long wheelbase 109 Land Rover, which has been converted to a camper-cum-kitchen, became familiar to viewers of the chef’s 1990s series ‘A Cook on the Wild Side’, as Hugh’s transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients.

Built especially for the television show, the Gastrowagon has a fully operating kitchen that extends from the rear section of the vehicle, with a worktop, drawers, fridge and oven fitted into the back of the Land Rover.

The double-burner hobs and sink are fitted to the inside of the rear doors. Once folded out, it creates a fully operational kitchen.

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space. 

The back also has a wind and waterproof canopy so a user can whip up their favourite dish no matter what the weather conditions. 

Sleeping accommodation is provided by a roof-mounted upturned boat and ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle.

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that's mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that's mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that’s mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef's 1990s series 'A Cook on the Wild Side', as Hugh's transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef's 1990s series 'A Cook on the Wild Side', as Hugh's transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef’s 1990s series ‘A Cook on the Wild Side’, as Hugh’s transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

Inside, there’s even a vintage ice cream maker. 

Another extra special feature is Hugh’s signature on the bulkhead.

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive ‘like new’.

Rob Hubbard, Head of Bonhams MPH, said: ‘Land Rovers are always popular at MPH sales and we are pleased to offer this true one-off which would be perfect for anyone wanting to take a post-lockdown staycation.’ 

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive 'like new'

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive 'like new'

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive ‘like new’

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

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Regular saver accounts: HSBC and First Direct slash rates again

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HSBC has once again chopped the rate on its popular regular saver account available to current account customers.  

The bank and its offshoot First Direct have cut the rate from 2.75 per cent to 1 per cent. Up until last October, they paid 5 per cent, while as recently as 2016, First Direct offered 6 per cent.

With HSBC, savers can put in between £25 to £250 a month, while at First Direct it is £300. It is likely to have proven a popular home for those Britons who have been able to squirrel more money in the pandemic. 

On the maximum £3,600 allowance for First Direct customers, it works out as a cut in interest from £99 a year to £36. For HSBC customers on the full £3,000, they will be paid £30, down from £82.50.

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC snuck out the change, which came into effect at midnight, unannounced on the same day heavy cuts from Treasury-backed National Savings & Investments affecting 25million savers came into effect.

However, some customers were possibly prepared for the news, after they were sent paperwork last week dated 24 November telling them the interest rate was 1 per cent.

HSBC last week refused to confirm whether the cut to its regular saver was coming, with customers told it was a ‘technical error’. 

Both it and First Direct failed to respond to This is Money yesterday when asked whether there would be a cut meaning we couldn’t alert readers beforehand for them to get in before it closed its doors.  

M&S Bank, another managed by HSBC, took its regular saver paying the same interest rate off-sale on 12 November.

HSBC and First Direct customers who got in before midnight last night will still receive 2.75 per cent, but everyone who applies from now on will get the lower rate. 

Those who already have the account will be unaffected until the 12 months is up.

It is a blow to savers suffering from rock bottom rates as these regular savings accounts, which lock customers’ money away for a fixed period in return for a greater payoff, are some of the last decent rates available from Britain’s biggest high street names. 

HSBC cut its basic easy-access account to just 0.01 per cent earlier this year.

The cap on how much can be saved each month and the fact money can’t be accessed straightaway also means they are often described as a good option for people trying to get into the savings habit, with the best rates often only available to banks’ current account customers.

The best account available to everyone is offered by Coventry Building Society

It pays 1.55 per cent and doesn’t require a minimum deposit each month, with savers able to put away up to £500.

A raft of other providers have cut rates on these accounts in recent years, or have scrapped them altogether.  

The account with Britain’s second biggest mutual can be opened online, by post or over the phone and savers would earn around £93 in interest after the 12-month term if they stashed away the full £6,000 allowed by the account.

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