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In the papers - Friday, 18 2008

Signal workers at Network Rail are to be balloted over strike action in a pay dispute...

...The RMT union described a revised management offer as "cynical" and more than 5,000 workers will be balloted. In a two-year pay offer, the rail network operator has tabled 4.9% in the first year and a rise equal to the retail prices index figure plus 0.5% in the second - The Times

Taylor Wimpey sent shockwaves through the housebuilding sector yesterday after it said the British market conditions had continued to weaken. The company had said that first-time buyers and investors were finding it difficult to get mortgages, resulting in lower sales and more cancellations, adding that the value of its current order book was 26% lower than last year - The Times

She has caught 186 of London's wildest cats - in buses, behind a Chinese supermarket and across 800 acres of industrial wasteland that is to be levelled and reshaped into the 2012 Olympic Park. Now, with only days remaining before she must pack up her traps and make way for the builders, Celia Hammond - Sixties model turned stray cat-catcher extraordinaire - may have met her match - The Times

Local authorities have been colluding with builders in the "bid rigging" of construction projects to make it appear as if the proper competition has taken place, it was claimed yesterday. Widespread price fixing by building companies had cost the taxpayer up to £4bn, according to one of the largest investigations by the Office of Fair Trading(OFT), the competition watchdog - The Times

Taxpayers may have lost more than £300M because of alleged bid rigging by construction firms who were vying to build schools, hospitals and universities. More than 100 firms were accused yesterday of conspiring to fix prices when bidding for public money to work on major projects for councils and NHS trusts - The Daily Telegraph

Visitors to Kew Gardens will soon be able to enjoy a bird's eye view of London's most famous horticultural attraction. Work is well underway on the Xstrata Treetop walkway, which is due to open on May 24. People with a head for heights will be able to walk through the treetop canopy on the 18-metre, 220-yard structure, which is being built using 550 tons of steel. The walkway will be accessible by stairs or a lift, and includes an open-air classroom - The Daily Telegraph

A Learner driver turned his double-decker into an open-top bus after smashing it into a low bridge yesterday. The top deck was ripped off and left on the road after the accident on the village of Four Ashes, near Wolverhampton - The Daily Telegraph

A Village cul-de-sac is to be renamed in an attempt to stop lorries getting stuck after being misdirected down the lane by their satellite navigation systems. Residents of Holdenhurst Village, near Bournemouth, have gained permission to change the name of their section of no-through-road from Holdenhurst Road to Holdenhurst Village Road after cars and lorries were directed along it on a daily basis - The Daily Telegraph

The sudden and dramatic disappearance of a large lake which had formed on the surface of a melting ice sheet in Greenland has been documented for the first time by scientists. They estimate that the lake's outflow was greater than that of Niagara Falls. Rising temperatures in the Arctic are causing more meltwater lakes to form on top of the Greenland ice sheet and satellite pictures have shown that they can disappear almost overnight for no apparent reason - The Independent

An architecture competition, announced today, will help to cement the Marylebone Cricket Club's reputation with a strong list of internationally renowned designers vying to establish a masterplan for Lord's, the world's best-known cricket ground. The competition, organised by the Architecture Foundation, aims to increase the 14-acre ground's seating capacity from 28,000 to 40,000, enhance the museum and shop, and develop a venue that is active even when cricket is not being played - The Financial Times

The water industry regulator, Ofwat, cut the amount it is fining Thames Water for misreporting and poor customer service from £12.5M to £9.7M yesterday - The Guardian

The Crown Estate, which owns almost all of the UK's territorial seabed within 12 miles of the coast, has agreed to buy the prototype of the world's largest offshore wind turbine - known as the Britannia project - from the AIM-listed company Clipper Windpower. The 7.5MW turbine will have a 100m tower and blade diameter of 150m - The Guardian

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