The vote that Scotland is to undertake on September 18th 2014 is drawing nearer and I’m afraid that yet more warnings are being sent out the people of Scotland regarding the problems that it could face should they vote to go down the breakup of the United Kingdom as we all know it.
I personally have no “axe to grind” in this debate, but it does seem to me that they are many inherent dangers should they decide to break away. The First Minister, Alex Salmond is all sweetness and light saying that the people will be far better off without being “shackled” by the English, but let’s be serious shall we?
In the first place there is a huge uncertainty about the currency; the government has made it quite clear, endorsed also by the Bank of England that they cannot use the pound and Europe has also said that they will have to apply to be a member of Europe and apparently that seems pretty remote. So the Euro is out of the question as well. Now I know that some will say that it will be a good thing not to be in Europe, but business certainly does not support that view.
The latest huge corporation to warn Mr Salmond and his cabinet is the insurance and pensions giant Standard Life, who is well on in the process of drawing up contingency plans to move away from their headquarters in Edinburgh and relocate in London.
Another giant is the bank RBS which has warned that should Scotland vote for independence, it would have a serious effect on the Group’s credit ratings. They have also said that the current uncertainty about the referendum is impacting on it now.
From what RBS and Standard Life are saying, it seems that unless Mr Salmond can put a clear, sensible and credible position on the currency situation, Scottish jobs will be put at risk, of that I believe there is no doubt.
Picture: Amanda Slater
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It was whilst was I was down at my local a few weeks ago that I got talking to an old friend of mine Bob and during our usual banter he told me about a problem that he was having. He has a small retail unit and it was during the conversation that he told me about the problems he was having with a company that supplies his barcode labels. Now he told me that he was not complaining about the price as he thought they seemed pretty competitive, he was more concerned with the quality of the barcode itself as often the scanner would simply not read the barcode.
As he said he can punch the numbers in manually, but as I said he may as well just put a price on the product. Now there is one thing that I know as a customer and that it is so frustrating standing at a till or check out and having to wait whilst the operator punches in the information. Why we all get het up I not sure, but we all do.
So I told him about my experience with a company that I have used on two occasions this year Data Label who supplied me with some barcode labels and later on a special polypropylene label that I needed for a particularly harsh environment. Now I have experience that the barcodes which were supplied to me by Data Label scanned every time and as I understand it they ensure that every barcode they supply is scanned for its readability prior to dispatch.
Well Bob telephoned me and said how delighted he was with the service and prompt despatch of his self adhesive barcode labels and true to their word, the barcodes supplied by Data Label scanned every time. Nice when you can recommend a product to someone and they call and tell you they’re completely satisfied.
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No not really, it is just that the French ski instructors are getting a bit miffed because there are an increasing number of fully qualified British Ski Instructors taking classes at the French ski resorts.
War has broken out at Megeve in the French Alps, I know the area quite well having skied there some years ago, I can recall the time quite well because our party was quite blatantly given horse meat disguised as beef, well I think it was supposed to be beef, although I seem to recall that they referred to it a stew. Well as I recall it didn’t taste all that bad, but perhaps if we had known what it was we may have refused it!
The present troubles have arisen, as I understand it, because more and more British instructors who have the full top-level ISTD qualification from the British Association of Snowsports Instructors. What they do not all seem to have is the French equivalent which is not recognised in the skiing world, what’s new there folks?
I know well that the French are very protective of their nationality, language, and it seems jobs, but is it necessary to haul off the ski lift a British instructor, who has worked in the resort is for no less than 30 years, yes that’s right 30, in front of his class and other half term holiday makers.
The gentleman, who is 51 years old, spent the night in the cells and could face imprisonment for three months if convicted of the offence, which the authorities are claiming is because he is not qualified. Well I think it is sheer madness, we all have a right to live work in any European country and as the person pointed out, “the only thing that I am guilty of is not being French” surely sense will prevail, after all the British make a huge contribution and in some resorts are the majority of skiing holiday makers. Perhaps we should all go to Austria, Switzerland, Italy or Spain instead, that might have the desired effect.
Picture: Jerome Bon
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I discovered whilst I was talking to my insurance broker last week that I had not insured the biggest asset that my company has. It was time to renew and review my policies and it was then he casually said to me, that although I had all the necessary cover such as the legal requirement for public liability and professional indemnity policies, buildings and motor etc., I had missed out on the most important, me!
Now he certainly was not suggesting that I was totally indispensable, even if I think that I am no he was rightly pointing out the impact on my family should I fall seriously ill, or even die, but also the impact on the business itself. Now as you know I stared up this business about a couple of years ago and I have been quite successful, so I have to take into account advice that I am given particularly regarding things like insurance. In a major corporation, having the MD going off long term sick will not cause the outfit to run into many if any major problems, but I am a sole trader, with a limited number of employees.
Now if I was unable to work my business would probably cease, it might be able to be picked up by family, but I really hadn’t thought about it that deeply. So how would the family fare then, could they manage financially and how would my absence affect others. I have to say it really set me thinking, so I ask you, have you insured your businesses biggest asset, I intend to.
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There hardly seems to be a day go by when another celebrity or television personality is not appearing in the newspapers’, but the one that has raised more publicity that any I suppose, is the fallout from the “Jimmy Saville Affair” with more and more household names from the period being cited for offences linked with sexual behaviour towards women.
We can all recall the names of those who have been brought before the courts, some have been acquitted and some have not, the latest one Dave Lee Travis had all but two charges that were brought against him dismissed by the jury. However, I read in the morning press that the Crown Prosecution Service is calling for a re-trial on the two counts about which the jury could not agree a verdict and a date has been set.
Now I have no intention of making any comment or judgement on this particular case or any of them for that matter that is not why I have raised the subject. No what I am wondering though, is just when will all this end? What I will say though is I have often wondered why it is that the persons, who are bringing to the authorities’ attention the alleged misdemeanours, have waited so long to raise the complaint. Perhaps they did and they were not believed, or the authorities at the time just thought they could do nothing or could not get a conviction. Perhaps we will never know the answer to that one.
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The recent floods set me thinking that I should take a look and see just what does my household insurance actually cover. I do not live in a flood risk area, but hearing all the tales from the unfortunate people that thought they had cover, only to find that there were certain exclusions in their policy.
It was whilst I was doing some searching through the internet that I came across an item in a national newspaper that cited some research that was done by a UK insurer highlighting the rather sad fact that six out of every ten people taking out insurance for their car, travel cover, or household never bother to read the policy’s terms and conditions. Now I know that it can be a bit daunting to trawl through all the “small print” but believe me it is true that the quote in the newspaper item that the insurers who cover the car, home or travel, like nothing better than to pick over every item to see if they can find a way to reject the claim you may be putting in. Of course it is perfectly legal for them to do so, even if I and I’m sure you, think that it is a bit underhand, so read the terms and conditions and see what is included and what is not.
Also take motor insurance, if you leave valuables on display or the key in your car as you nip into that shop for a newspaper, why should the insurer pay out for your carelessness? Understating the value of household possessions is another area that the insurer can legally not pay out the claim in full.
The best advice that I can give anyone, is always to be absolutely up-front with your insurer and above all check with them to see what you are covered for, they prefer you to do that, you may be paying a slightly higher premium, though not always, and make sure that you get paid out in full, should you have the misfortune to have to make a claim.
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If you are one of the 5,800 homes or businesses that have been affected by the recent flooding, you cannot imagine that any benefit could possibly come out of it, but in all of these events there are bound to be winners and losers.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the unfortunate house holder will be amongst the losers, I understand that the average cost to a householder will be in the region of £30,000 to £40,000 per home and that is not including things that are just not replaceable or have great sentimental value. Some have had to take time off work, or in some cases simply could not get to work.
Of course we should not forget farmers in all of this, they have really suffered, I can imagine the distress at losing livestock, being unable to get transport through to get feed and of course fields that may take months to recover and unable to support either livestock, or crops.
Many small businesses will have suffered unimaginable damage and loss of trade and sadly this could take some of them under, I imagine it will depend upon their insurance cover. Insurance companies of course will take a huge hit, but that is why they are there and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever is that we all will be paying higher premiums in the future, whether affected or not.
Now what about the flip side in all this, well one sector that is sure to benefit are builders, who will be called on to make good all the damage, I suppose the next problem will be getting a builder who isn’t too busy to come!
Apparently I understand that a certain manufacturer of pumps in the Netherlands is making a few Euros by selling pumps to help drain the Somerset Levels, well the Dutch know how to do it after all. But, one of the biggest beneficiaries in all of this is the makers of sand bags and the suppliers of sand to fill them! Oh well I suppose every cloud, even if it is a rainy one, has a silver lining!
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It really may seem a strange thing to say since the two broadcasters are at loggerheads, particularly over sport and it is this which has caused the war the break out between them. However I have been reading that there are signs that they could be coming to an agreement about one of the areas of dispute, the European Rugby Cup.
The two are believed to be in advanced talks which involves a deal to share the rights for the European Cup and that can mean that the ongoing problems that are currently being experienced can be settled. I for one hope that something can be achieved as I look forward to watching my rugby at weekends on the “box” and it was the only reason that I got Sky in the first place.
I am a BT subscriber so I get my sport free from them and I wouldn’t mind if they came out the overall winners, as I could then stop paying what I consider, the excessive amount to Sky. What I would really like to see is one or both of them offering me the choice of paying a fee to watch whatever game I wanted, just as long as I did not have to pay a monthly fee as well of course. However, I am told that the clubs do not favour this because under the present system they are guaranteed a fixed annual sum, this could not be guaranteed under a pay per game arrangement.
Well I’m not going to be holding my breath about the negotiations, but if you try you might, if you don’t you won’t so here’s hoping.
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So the great debate is on and it has all begun with a vote in the commons which overwhelming voted in favour of banning smoking in cars which were carrying children. There seems to be pretty damning evidence that smoking in an enclosed space can do serious damage to peoples’ health, both the smoker and those who don’t if we are to believe all that we read.
I will defend anyone’s right to do what they want as long as it is legal, and smoking is at present, but I am one of those who do not want to be exposed to tobacco smoke and I welcomed the ban in pubs and public places. Today to go into a pub that is free from smoke is a real pleasure, I can remember, as I’m sure you can, when there was a time when you went out for a quiet drink with mates and on entering the pub, you literally could hardly see across the room. I remember times coming home and having to hang my outer garments in the garage to reduce the effects of smoke on them. It must have been awful for the proprietors as well having to try to keep the decorations and curtains clean, do you remember the walls were always a nice brown colour?
Well we shall have to see whether the new proposal becomes law, because to me the big problem will be enforcing it, how many people have been caught and fined for using mobiles in cars, precious few I think and I still see people, including truck drivers using them. We shall just have to wait and see.
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I had occasion to visit one of my favourite places recently and I was so pleased that I had because whilst in the delightful Victoria Shopping Centre I came across a store which was an Aladdin’s cave absolutely full of products that were a reminder of times past. Things like Victorian tin signs and old railway posters, but it was a section that had a collection of wooden plaques that really caught my eye.
I completely lost count of the number of hand painted wooden plaques that I saw, but I am told the it is around 345 that they have, the one that particularly caught my eye was a simple sign that said “Bathroom” just what I was looking for as I have spent a few days redecorating and I thought that it would really fit in. The plaque is simple, but what I like about it is that it had been made to look as though it is somewhat old fashioned and has been there for some time, I think that they call it distressed.
Anyway, I duly bought my plaque for under £4 and have fixed it to the bathroom door, it even got the approval of my partner so it must be good. I found that the store has an easy to use online service, so I expect that I will be using them for some nice old tin painted Victorian signs, if I get approval of course!
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