Monday, 19 December 2011

Country Credit Ratings

I am no economist so perhaps someone out there can explain to me the beneficial uses of country and bank credit ratings.
It seems to me that some of them will be self-fulfilling prophecies as if  companies like Fitch downgrade a country then the cost of borrowing increases for that country putting it in a worse position than before.
Why do organisations and media talk down the world financial situation so much? We all know that the borrowing culture, by individuals, banks, countries has got out of hand and everyone needs to reign in their borrowing habit so why make the situation worse by spreading gloom and doom?
The UK situation looks brighter than we are led to believe. We are reducing our public spending in order to control borrowing. It does not take a genius to realise that this is the only course of action we can take as if taxation is increased then the public will borrow more, so reduction in spend is the only answer. Hopefully history will tell that we have a government that is putting the future of the country ahead of its own political fortunes.
Of course we will hear the usual political rhetoric from those who are on the other side, but that is what they do!! It has nothing to do with logic, reality or common sense.
It is a pity that we have political parties at all during this time as the pragmatic approach is the only one which will resolve the problems we currently have.
The coalition government will probably not have long enough to put in place all the actions we need to take and we will get a change of government too soon.
Remember, there are less than one million people in the membership of the parties that rule the country and more than 60 million people who are not members of any party, so we are governed by a tiny majority, although the current incumbents seem to be doing what the majority wish.
So let's get more positive, the media MUST curb their enthusiasm for bad news and their ill hidden joy at any thing which seems detrimental to us all.
The silent majority has the power to change the world if only they could be motivated to do so. Things can not be too bad yet or they would be uniting now. Small innefective groups such as "Occupy xxxxx" are distracting us from the solution.  It would be better if they used their enthusiasm to unite millions of others in a sensible course of action

Thursday, 15 December 2011

BBC Cost Cutting

How can anyone justify paying enormous salaries to the likes of David Dimbleby and contemplate cutting local celebrities from regional radio shows?
Dimbleby is reportedly getting £450000 per year for hosting Question Time ( increasingly badly in my view) and another £250000 for just being available and covering any other odd jobs.
BBC Devon Radio have already reduced a morning program hosted by local hero Gordon Sparks, and there are fears that he will be axed altogether. Local MP's Gary Streeter and Alison Seabeck have both written to Lort Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, to intervene.
Dimbleby appears as a shallow, self-opinionated , rude curmudgeon whereby Gordon Sparks ( known locally as Sparksy ) is passionate about local issues, local sport and has enormous support from councillors, MP's and the majority of the local public.
What sort of arrogance is there at the top of the BBC that can ignore the feelings of those that pay them their wages through licence fees?
We, the British Public, must not allow ourselves to be browbeatebn into submission over issues such as these. Write to your MP's, stop listening to the BBC national stations for a period to show the power of the silent majority.
Start a coordinated campaign to boycott the corporation until they submit or until there is a major change in their management.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Let's Change: Who needs Mary Portas

Let's Change: Who needs Mary Portas: It's not that I have anything against Mary Portas per se, but this trend for "gurus" ( used to be linked with transcendential meditation etc...

More Hidden Costs re Badger Cull

I do not like the idea of killing badgers to see if it will reduce the incidence of bovine TB, however I dislike even more the way that society allows minority groups the power and  ability to cost taxpayers money.
Our democratically elected government have taken it on themselves to allow a cull in order to try to reduce the extremely rapid increase ( approx 600 cases in 1990 and 25000 cases in 2010 ) of TB in cattle .
That is their prerogative and it is fair for people to express their concerns relating to this act but it is not fair in my opinion for a minority group to seek legal action against the government.
Any sort of legal action will cost the taxpayers extra money in the long term and it should not be possible for this burden to be passed to the working man.
We kill approximately 50000 badgers on the roads each year but I do not see any legal action to ban cars from the roads, therefore I believe this type of protest is not necessarily for the benefit of the poor badger, but is prompted by other motives.
We know the opposition will be against any decision made by the government, but that is what they do!!!
It should be accepted in this economic climate that public debate is fine, but additional cost to taxpayers must absolutely not be permitted.

Who needs Mary Portas

It's not that I have anything against Mary Portas per se, but this trend for "gurus" ( used to be linked with transcendential meditation etc,") who are so expert that they can tell us what we already know.
Almost the whole of the population knows what is wrong with our town centres and villages and cities. The small, interesting, customer friendly shops are disappearing from the centres in favour of out of town supermarkets because it has become increasingly difficult to compete. We are told that this is because it is what the consumer wants. It is not the case, it is more that this is what is thrust upon the consumer by the culture that has developed around shopping practice.
Quick, easy and cheap seem to be the drivers in this increasingly frantic society that we live in. While that may be the case for those in employment, and those who are juggling family with jobs, but is is not necessarily true for the increasing population of elderly people.
Many would prefer the small friendly shops - remember when you could find someone to talk to about the things you want to buy?
The major causes for the demise of smaller, local shops are parking fees ( free in supermarkets ), rents (far too high ) and business rates. There are other factors such as crime that will come into the equation but the first 3 I mention are all controllable.
Parking fees for shopping MUST be reduced or abolished as this creates unfair competition for the supermarkets. Rents need to be controlled, and if necessary, by commercial legislation to ensure that rents represent reasonable return on investment rather than the "going rate" which is hiked up by blatant profiteering. Business rates should be much more reasonably balanced with normal rates and not used in a punitive way to squeeze extra from the commercial sector, thereby relieving the burden on the voting public.
The silent majority could play a part in shifting the emphasis from the major chains to smaller establishments by voting with their feet, but they need to be educated in the dangers that are on the horizon for continuing their current the pattern of buying.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Panorama and the Supermarkets

Well done Panorama in highlighting what many of us new already. Never mind the Office of Fair Trading or consumer watchdogs, these issues can be resolved by you and me.
What has been reported is just a symptom of the "rip-off" disease rampant in our country. Groups that have been "occupying" London, Manchester, Exeter and many other cities are not really achieving very much other than annoying the general public.
Real results can be obtained with even less effort by the shoppers of Britain. It is not necessary to protest with placards, write letters, but far more effective to change the policies of the major supermarkets by negative actions.
It is well known that fruit and vegetables, for example, are cheaper in local markets, farmers markets and local grocers.
A well coordinated and planned campaign to boycott, for a period, fruit and veg from one or all the main supermarkets would certainly make them sit up and listen. If enough people took part then the power would shift from major organisations to us as individuals.
We have the power, but it is necessary to harness that power.
In later blogs I will explore how this can be applied to banking, utilities, international chains, but this power would have to be very carefully managed in case we put out of business organisations that we need.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Public Sector Pensions

It is strange that 2 years ago Dave Prentis of Unison called for a review of his Unison staff pension scheme because of the black hole in it.
Unison staff pay 9.1% of salary while Unison pays 25% so they must acknowledge that approximately 35% of salary is necessary to produce a reasonable pension.
Teachers are paying about 6% currently and so the 29% shortfall will be met by taxpayers. There are about 4 times as many private sector workers as public sector so that means that you and 3 of your friends or colleagues will pay for the pension of one public sector worker. As less than 40% of the private sector have pensions and more than 80% of the public sector enjoy pension benefits this also means that of the 4 people paying for the public sector pension 2 of them will not even get a pension of their own.
A teacher was quoted as saying she already paid £100 per month and if this represents 6% then the other 29% would be over £400 so you and your friends and colleagues will each pay via your taxes £100.
If you think this is fair then do nothing, but if you think that enough is enough then spread the word via email so that you galvanise the silent majority into serious thought. 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Public Sector Pension Debate

The following figures and discussion do not take into effect growth and inflation but represent a simplistic, though reasonably realistic view of the pension debate.
In order to achieve a pension of, say £20,000 it is necessary to have a pension fund of £400,000. During as 40 year working life is would be necessary to pay the equivalent to £10000 per year which would be approximately 10% of a £40,000 salary.
In the private sector, where in many cases employees have also suffered a pay freeze for 2 or 3 years, large numbers of employees have had their final salary pension schemes closed and frozen and only money purchase schemes made available.
Those who have had their final salary schemes left open have had to pay increased contributions to safeguard their final pension. In my case my contributions went from 8% to 13%.
The public sector in the past traditionally had lower wages and generous pension with low contributions (in many cases zero contributions). The lower wages argument is no longer valid.  For example any movement in national minimum wage will not affect public sector workers  as most have national agreements well in excess of the national minimum wage.
The argument that pensions should be exceptionally attractive is no longer relevant as work pressures in the private sector are much higher than they were and working longer for their pensions is not an attractive proposition.
The Public Sector can no longer rely on the private sector to safeguard their futures by paying higher taxes.
It is time the public sector workers got away from political and union rhetoric and dogma and started to think pragmatically and logically about the general situation. There is no such thing as “Government Money” – it is our money, earned by us and given to the government to look after our infrastructure and needs while we generate more money.
Yes, these current measures are unpleasant but will have to be made as we, the general public and silent majority are no longer prepared to reduce our disposable income for the public sector workers.
So come on you silent majority and make your voices heard. STAND UP AND PROTECT our FUTURES and let these who would like to blackmail us into submission that they have to contribute the same way as the rest of the British workers.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Southern Cross Care Homes

The article on the One Show this week was unfortunately too one sided. This tone of discussion can easily frighten potential staff ( already a problem given the financial difficulties ) but more importantly upset residents and their families.
The team should visit Revelstoke Lodge in Plymouth. This is a home which could well close, does not get enough funding, and probably has the barest minimum of staff.
These staff are incredibly badly paid, highly qualified and wonderful carers ( obviously not in the job for the money )
Go to this home, interview families and residents and see if it is the type of place you would want to spend your twilight years and please, please try to avoid giving such a bad impression.
Put these staff in front of the camera so the public can see the passion with which they care for their people.

Friday, 17 June 2011

HMRC versus Hartland Farmer

A north Devon farmer who mows a local football pitch for free has been fined £250 for having red diesel in the tractor he used for the work.
John Thorne has been mowing the Hartland Football Club's field for free every fortnight for a year.
His tractor was examined by customs officials earlier this week.
HM Revenue and Customs said it was illegal to use it for mowing as it was was purely for agricultural, horticultural and forestry use.
However in December 2010 the following occurred:-
FARMERS are being allowed to use red diesel in their tractors to help grit and clear snow from public roads during the extreme weather, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced.  
This suggests that HMRC does have some discretion in these matters so why did 3 people from HMRC travel over 50 miles to enforce this petty action?
The rules surrounding red diesel appear to be unique to HMRC, generally relating to the vehicle and not the use of that vehicle. The vehicle classifications do not even coincide necessarily with those of the DVLA. You can use red diesel if the tractor had been transported to the playing fields. You can use red diesel if the tractor was purely designed for grass cutting and not used for any other purpose. You can’t use red diesel if the tractor is normally used for something else but temporarily is used with a mower attachment. What utter nonsense!!!
Bournemouth Council had a similar issue in 2008 but were advised that it would cost too much to fight.  
I do not feel that the actions taken by HMRC, who are in reality public servants employed by all of us, is not a good use of our funds and individuals who embark on this type of action should be fired as I no longer want to pay the wages of time wasters such as these.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Southern Cross Care Homes

I am fearful for elderly residents of Revelstoke Lodge in Plympton who could be forced to move home due to the collapse ( restructuring ) of Southern Cross. Everyone seems to write about what the causes of the collapse are, who to blame etc, but no one seems to write about these elderly people, some in their nineties, who have made Revelstoke their home but who may now be forced to move if it is closed. Imagine your own elderly and possibly frail relatives being told they can no longer live in their home but will have to move somewhere else. Write to councillors, MP's, millionaires, philanthropists, Bill Gates - anyone who can have some influence on their future. Don't let this go - spread the word in the hope that some useful contacts may be made. Send me links to MP's, personalities, anyone you can think of who might have even the slightest influence.
Read other pages by GMB.
Come on someone - do something.
Look at the web created to create wealth for a few at the expense of many.

Maybe it is time to boycott Sainsbury's until something is done.
I am not generally a great supporte of unions but the GMB is doing an amazing job on this case.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


The lunatic fringe are at it again!!! When will people learn that there is no money left in the safe. Unions are calling for strike action against changes to the public sector pensions. What the hell do they think has been going on in the private sector. My contributions went up from 8% to 13% and they are complaining about 6% to 9%. We have had a pay freeze for 3 years also. I read a statement the the Local Government Pension scheme is not funded by the taxpayers but by underlying investments of employees and employers contributions. Where do they think the employers portion comes from and do they think the employees will not want more basic pay if forced to pay additional contributions? The rest of the public will be expected to cough up in both cases.
The public sector used to have low wages and that is why they were protected with generous pension schemes. They are no longer the lowest paid in society. Few of them would work for the wages of carers working for Southern Cross, for example, let alone do the work they have to do and almost none of those workers will get a pension at all.
Of the 6.2 million workers in the public sector it expected that .75 million will come out on strike and try to hold the country to ransom.
Are the other 23.1 million workers going to let them do this? Probably. But there will come a time when the Silent Majority will unite and rebel and there will be a backlash against those who are not prepared to be "in it together".
Spread the word, unite the Silent Majority, show you really care. No action other than send a link to this blog to ALL your friends. One day we will be able to be a force for the good.

Monday, 28 March 2011

More Strikes by BA Cabin Crew

I can not believe it!!! When will these Cabin Crew ever learn that they have no support from anyone but themselves.
I have been flying regularly for the last 30 years, and in the last 15 up to 40 to 50 flights per year. When I started flying BA was the preferred supplier to our company ( and unfortunately still is !!) and because it was easy to get a Silver or Gold card with all the kudos that attracted, I and many of my colleagues went out of their way to fly BA. Eventually Executive Club Cards were more difficult to obtain due to BA changes to the rules and so my flight preferences generally were based on convenience. This opened my eyes to better experiences when flying.
The BA cabin crew used to be friendly, pleasant, efficient and a made the travel experience relatively enjoyable.
However in recent times the change to Terminal 4 was a disaster, the lack of an Executive Club Card a slight disappointment, but the attitude and professionalism of the BA Cabin Crew and also many of the Ground Crew made the flying experience with BA uncomfortable.
The BA employees seem to have lost sight almost totally of the phrase "customer service", which in all aspects of life I seem to value more and more. They appear to be self-centered and only go through the motions on board the flights. There are many occasions when I have seen people almost embarrassed to interrupt the conversations between staff as their private lives appear more important than the customers' needs.
The BA staff have been extremely privileged in the past with perks far greater than the ordinary working folk.
If they were in fact being really hard done by, and if they were providing excellent service then it is possible they might get some support outside of their own circle.
However, they are being led by a union ( UNITE ) that seems hell bent on destroying BA. The union appears to need publicity and membership increase  as they are well known for overstating their membership figures ( by as much as 20% ) and in my opinion, seem to be using the BA cabin Crew fort heir own purposes rather than for the benefit of the BA employees.
Check all the comments on the Internet and in the press and see how much support there is for the Cabin Crew and Unite - very little.
So come on BA management - don't give in to this riff raff. Employ better staff, retrain the ones you keep and get your eye back on the ball of customer service. I will not use BA again by choice, only through necessity, as if I have a choice I will use Austrian, Air France, Lufthansa, Swiss Air - all who give a more pleasant experience to the traveller.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hundreds Arrested Amid Violence At Mass Demo

I could write about this for hours but it will not get me far - why? Because large sections of the public, expecially members of groups, political parties, public servants only hear what they want to hear and what their leaders want them to understand.
Bigotry is so deep seated in politics and Trades Unions that it would appear that their views would never change.
Unfortunately many of these views defy logic.
I read a comment relating to the news of the demonstration that was complaining about the state of pensions at the same time as condemning the greed of shareholders.
WHERE THE HELL DO THEY THINK THE MONEY COMES FROM FOR PENSIONS. I apologise for telling the informed majority but for the uninformed if you do not invest in a way that your money grows then your pensions will be worthless.
In the private sector the money paid for pensions is invested in funds that give returns to pay pensioners in the future. In many areas of the public sector the monies were never invested but pensioners are paid from current receipts. More and more pensioners, less and less receipts - do I need to explain further?
Many of the minority groups in this country, like political parties, trades unions, members of Liberty need to realize that 60 million people in this country were not at the demonstration. There were approximately 2 million people fishing, 10 million visiting friends and family, 15 million working. etc, etc,.
Come on you SILENT MAJORITY. For our sakes and the sake of our descendants start to educate these minority groups. Join in these discussion, write comments, start your own blogs, Tweet and send to Facebook. Do something, just like I have because we really need to make a difference now. 

Sir Alex Ferguson versus BBC

So Sir Alex Ferguson is to meet Mark Thompson of the BBC according to the Daily Mirror. Who really cares?
We pay our TV Licence fees  and this ignorant man refuses to speak to us but sends one of his lackeys to talk to the BBC. He only has a job because we pay for the football, either directly or indirectly and it is an absolute affront that he puts his own personal gripe with the BBC before his duty to talk to the public.
It is right that he should be sanctioned by the football authorities.
Until he deigns to talk publicly about his work then the media should boycott his workplace and impose a complete media blackout on anything connected with Manchester United until he is removed from his post.
Too many well known people think they can put themselves above the rest of us but if they are in the public domain they should remain there or totally remove themselves.
The rights or wrongs of his disagreement with the BBC are neither here nor there to most of us and he has not backed his actions by any legal means but resorts to pathetic puerile petulance.
Grow up Ferguson or retire.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

More PUBLIC SERVANT strikes planned

Here we go again. Yet minority another group of public servants holding the taxpayers to ransom because they have the power ( but absolutely not the right ) to do so.
A 'day of action' on Thursday has been planned by the University and College Union (UCU). Members are angry at the plans to raise retirement age, increase contributions and closure of their final salary scheme.
Where have these "academics" been living for the last 10 years. MILLIONS of private sector workers have had to put up with these changes and have not been able to disrupt the country because they are not in unions, or their employers do not recognise unions. These millions who have suffered are the ones paying the salaries and a large percentage of the pensions that these academics enjoy.
Do they really expect 20 million people to put their hands in their pockets and pay them more out of sympathy? We really can not afford to have our earnings milked anymore by these minority groups. 
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said "University staff really value their pension rights and have made their views of the detrimental changes crystal clear" .
What the hell does she think the rest of us feel about having to pay more for our pensions, having them reduced and so having to work longer?
It is now a fact that pensions in the PUBLIC SECTOR are greater than those in the PRIVATE SECTOR.
Come on, you SILENT MAJORITY for your own sakes speak up now. Make your feelings known and tell these idiots that they can not expect us to fund them any more.
Other unions, including the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, are preparing to ballot members on possible strike action over pensions.
Write to your MP's, tweet on twitter, comment on BLOGS, write to your local press. Do not sit at home and think "it doesn't really affect me". Of course it does and is part of the reason we are less well of than before and our standard of living will go down at the expense of those who are paid to serve the public.
I mentioned in my last blog the idea that there might be "food riots". This latest type of selfishness is much more likely to result in civil unrest than the cost of food increasing 

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Food Riots

A senior economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar. Speaking on Jeff Randall Live, senior global economist Karen Ward cautioned that the UK could experience the kind of food riots seen in other countries.
This type of comment is sheer sensationalism and really has no place in our society. People who make strong statements like this must be curbed for such irresponsibility.
If we want to do something about the economic effect on our lives then the power lies in the hands of 60 million people and not one idiotic economist. We do not need riots in this country as it will cost the taxpayers money again.
If we could get organised better it would only be necessary to put pressure on food and fuel retailers one at a time just to prove we can do it. Say, for example, a few million of the SILENT MAJORITY agreed to BOYCOTT a supermarket chain and a fuel retailer just for one week until they agreed to reduce their prices then ALL retailers would have to think twice before increaseing their prices as frequently as they do. This could also follow for utilities ( except water which is monopolised ) and services such as Sky television.
Food and fuel retailers seem to think it is acceptable to increase costs to the public in order to protect their income.
Our income does not increase as we have no way of doing so and therefore our personal "profit" decreases in difficult times.
It is time retailers reduced their profits in difficult times and spread the pain across the whole society instead of always taking it out on those who can ill afford the increases.
I understand that they feel they must protect their share prices and the shareholders, but we, the normal majority of people are the ones who constantly bear the brunt of the difficult times. It is time now to share the burden and change priorities.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Public Sector Pensions

The distress and upset caused by announced changed in pension benefits is something which affects everyone and has an impact nearly as great as redundancy.
It can make people feel cheated and devalued and forces them to rethink their future more carefully. This has been the case for several years now in the PRIVATE SECTOR where only approximately 35 % of the employees have pension provisions as opposed to 85% in the PUBLIC SECTOR. There are almost no “Final Salary Schemes” left and so most employees who had these great schemes are now placed into less advantageous pension funds.
Some had the choice to continue in Final Salary Schemes but this entailed additional contributions up to 15% of salary which in many cases was also met by another 15% from the employer. In order to gain a good final salary pension it is currently necessary to put approximately 32% of earnings into a fund.
The impact of this was enormous and indeed only those close to retirement could contemplate the additional contributions whereas the younger element were naturally forced to join “Money Purchase Schemes” which have an unknown yield at the end of the working life.
The pensions of the PUBLIC SECTOR have generally been much more favourable than those of the PRIVATE SECTOR, with earlier retirement and smaller contributions. Unlike the PRIVATE SECTOR the monies for the pensions were not placed into funds which would increase through investment but the pensions are paid for by TAX PAYERS. That means that the shortfall between an average contribution of 8% and the 32% necessary to produce a good pension is met by tax payers. As there are 4 times as many taxpayers as PUBLIC SECTOR workers this means the average funding is 6% for every worker. That would mean someone still in a final salary scheme contributing 15% to his scheme and an additional 6% to pay PUBLIC SECTOR pensions while their contributions remain at 8%.
The review recently published that recommends pension calculations based over the working life is FAR MORE GENEROUS than necessary and should be welcomed gratefully.
The tax payers are no longer prepared to pay out more to give PUBLIC SECTOR workers more generous conditions than they themselves have for their retirement.
It is obvious and expected that Trades Unions will stir up their members for strike action but this time it MUST BE TO NO AVAIL. The Government and Councils and all tax payers must totally resist the form of blackmail that the PUBLIC SECTOR will place on the rest of us. They have to equalise their conditions to the rest of the country, difficult as it may be.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Who's Money

It seems recently that we are being bombarded with rhetoric that is designed specifically to stir up  the emotions and anti-government feeling. Who is behind this sustained attack on our senses and our reasoning ability?I feel that in particular the media are behaving in a most irresponsible manner in order to increase either their circulation or viewing figures. The silent majority has no way to express opinions on a wide base such as press, radio or television. I sent a letter to the local paper and although it was published as the leading letter, it had been censored without my knowledge or agreement and therefore the whole sense of what I was trying to convey was diluted.
We are subjected to the views on televison, radio and in the press only of minority groups such as the Labour Party, the Tory Party, Unison, GMB, NFU etc., etc.
The total membership of these minority groups is less than 10 million which means that the other 50 million of us have no voice at all.
These minority groups combined with the desperate media are trying to twist our view of reality. They use words such as "devastating" to describe the effect on the police of a pay cut. Devastating means "destroying completely"
There is constant reference to Government Financial cuts as if the Government can produce money and then decide how to spend it.
The reality is that ALL THE MONEY comes from our back pockets and purses. Whether this is through taxes and other deductions, or the increase in goods and services such as utility prices where tax is also deducted from the profits for the Government's Treasury WE ARE THE ONES PAYING.
So when the public sector want their fringe benefits maintained, their overtime paid for, services that we can not do without, WHERE DO THEY THINK THE MONEY COMES FROM.
Yes, cuts are terrible and affect many sectors of our society in uncomfortable ways but I for one am no longer prepared to put my hand in my pocket and pay out more of my earnings for all these social benefits, road repairs, libraries, or whatever some people see as essentials. 50% of all I earn is going back to the country either directly or indirectly and I want to keep what I have left and not spend any more,
There are times in all our lives when things are difficult to manage, either through illness, loss of jobs, children arriving, education to pay for, high interest rates, but in the end we have to balance our own budgets and buy what is necessary and what we can afford.
Every sector of society, whether it be the police, charities, hospitals, road repairers all believe they have a special case and indeed if we won the Euro Millions we would all be happy to pay for these services but at the moment it is no longer feasable to spend more than we are earning as a society.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Let's get down to business

This is the start of my attacks on modern business practices which I believe add no value to the customer. It is my opinion that if a task or process adds no value for the customer then DON'T DO IT!!!
These days business has been complicated by people who do not have experience or confidence enough to operate successfully or efficiently.
I want to take a brief look at one modern idea as an example of the stupidities we have to endure and that is the idea of CONSIGNMENT STOCKS.
This concept originated in the Automotive Industry and was designed to reduce the stock holding of the manufacturer and increase his inventory turns. No doubt Inventory turns was a key performance indicator that some managers were judged by, but that is beside the point.
The use of Consignment stocks is a great idea if you "do it to them before they do it to you". However, if we look at the total business process from raw materials to the retail market then it would appear that if every organisation in the supply chain adopted this process then the goods that each member of that chain stocked would ultimately be at the material value plus all the added value he had added to it, as he would be holding "Finished Goods" instead of "Raw Materials". (Except the retailer !!!)
There will undoubtedly be  some pundits who will come up with a justification for this but in reality there is no benefit to the ordinary man in the street who buys the final product as he will go to the store, select his goods and pay his money EXACTLY AS HE DID BEFORE.
Trying to manage consignment stock is a more difficult process than managing without it as it involves additional steps in paperwork.
I work for a company that is now being managed primarily by Americans who unfortunately do not always have a grasp of reality because in Europe particularly and also South America, laws relating to the ownership of goods and the use of "Self Billing Invoicing" varies.
Also the common practice in each country differs. For example in America the majority of manufacturers have contracts with their suppliers that allow the practice of self billing, whereas, culturally, in Central Europe for example this is not normal practice.
I have written this to try to persuade managers not necessarily to change, but to ponder why they use this process. Is it because it is a sensible business practice ( for a one-off gain in cashflow ) or is because it is the latest trend in business and all their friends and peers are doing it)
I believe this practice, as well as others I will discuss in later articles, is not the  product of some well thought out strategy but more than likely an ill considered directive from above, about which most managers and employees feel unable to comment.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

South West Water Price Increases

On my extensive travels through Europe and also some in America is appears that it is common practice for visitors to be required to pay local taxes for each nights' stay.
Much of the high cost of water in the South West is due to the cost of improving the water quality so that the region is more attractive to visitors. While some commentators are suggesting that the cost of our water is spread to other regions in the UK I would content that a "local tax" or surcharge should be payable by each visitor per night in the South West region.
Typically there are over 60 million visitor nights spent here each year and if one pound per night surcharge was placed on each visitor who enjoys our amenities then the increase in water charges could be  kept to less than 3% instead of 5.1% which then keeps the increase below the inflation figure. 

Joby and Intellectual Property Rights

Some time ago I purchased a camera and received 2 flexible tripods, one in a box. As I did not require both I tried to sell one on eBay. After a few days I had an email from eBay to inform me that the item had been withdrawn as there was an issue concerning "intellectual property rights".
Apparently Joby, who are responsible for the Gorilla Pod, took exception to the fact that I was selling a cheap  imitation of their product and to ensure this does not happen they appear to troll the internet looking for people infringing their "intellectual property rights".
I could understand this if I was selling hundreds and importing fakes from China, but it is incredibly high handed to deal with a private seller selling one item. When I pointed this out to Joby through Sandro Fulgheri, one of their European representatives, I was informed that if I had a problem with this action I could contact the companies  lawyers.
This appears to be typical of American attitudes and indicative of their business methods. As a result I will never buy Joby products even if they were superb.
It is time people fought back against American standards which are unacceptable to most Europeans.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Plymouth Civic Centre

Yet another instance of a very small unelected group determining how much Council tax we are going to pay. How, in a democratic society, can a small group of academic architects,( English Heritage ) who are partially funded already by us tax payers, be permitted to designate a building as "listed".
This is based on a matter of opinion by an extremely small group of people and they should absolutely not have this power.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Plymouth Airport

Time for a change here also

For several weeks I have read and listened to so much rhetoric and jingoism about Plymouth City Airport and the "devastating" effect on the loss of the Gatwick Flights.
If the figures were properly analysed it would be evident that the flights are indeed used by a very small number of regulars.
I fly in or out of the UK about 40 times per year and all my final destinations are a minimum of 45 minutes from the airport of landing and in one case three and a half hours.
If all the wasted effort and discussion about the need for Plymouth Airport had been diverted to improving Exeter I would be delighted to have a 45 min drive to the airport and be able to fly to hubs such as Vienna, Paris and Geneva.
Currently I take a train to London Heathrow ( as most of my flights go from there ) and I can checkin within 4 hours of boarding the train in Plymouth. I have not yet missed a flight since I started using the train, whereby I not only missed several when flying from Plymouth but was sometimes dumped off at Bristol or Newquay at the end of 10 hours travel. At least I know I can get home at a reasonable time on the train.
So come on Plymouth - Chamber of Commerce, Councillors and all other vociferous parties and kill of this Airport in favour of something much more viable and more useful to the community as a whole.   

The Misuse of perfomance indicators.

Here is an example of the ridiculous  use  of Key Performance Indicators ( KPI's ) .The local bus operator was granted a licence and one of the terms of this licence was that they should reach a specific percentage of "on time" measures which specified how many minutes early or late the bus would be at a timed stop.
Unfortunately at certain times of the day,  as we all know, the traffic is  heavier than others, particularly when wet, so buses are invariably running late.
Now it is obvious that the tedious necessity of stopping to pick up passengers is likely to slow the progress of the buses and so they would not meet the target times as defined.
Therefore the genius management devised a way round this by allowing the drivers to change the destination board to "Sorry - Out of Service - Drop Down Only" so that they would not be inconvenienced by having to pickup these troublesome passengers.
The logical extension of this amazing solution to keeping up their target figures is that fewer people take the buses and more take to their cars. This will increase the amount of traffic so that more and more buses will be late etc,
Maybe we customers would prefer our buses to run on time rather than pick us up in the cold and the wet thereby delaying the progress of the bus. So perhaps, dear fellow traveller, when you see your late bus drawing near your stop, please think of others and wave it hurriedly past, happy in the knowledge that when it comes around the second or third time it will actually be on time.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Food sharing

To begin with I would like to encourage you all to follow what is being done in many locations, but to escalate it to a greater size and range. I am talking about food sharing. I am not asking people to dip into their pockets, but to organize themselves in such a way that thousand of others can benefit.
In the next few years there is likely to be much more hardship for all, but particularly those who will lose their jobs and it is possible to ease the burden on those without cost.
Many supermarkets have offers that are "buy one get one free". The suggestion is that all shoppers take up all these options whether they need the second item or not. If all of these offers where taken up and any ubwanted surplus was given to local food banks this would greatly increase the amount of food available.