Oct 20, 2008

A rant - a reward - and the personal stuff - it's all here

Three things which got up my nose this last week.
1) I, amongst other citizens of this fair city of Plymouth, learned last week that Plymouth City Council had £13 million invested in the Icelandic banks. Now, I suspect this transfer to the Icelandic Banks was done by PCC in good faith and with due diligence, however I later learned in the media that Tory Party Treasurer Michael Spencer's City firm, Butlers, gave advice to local councils (it is to be seen if PCC was one of them) which led them to deposit around £200 million in these banks. Spencer's company apparently made a fortune providing information to town halls on where to invest their cash. At the same time his firm of brokers, ICAP, took hundreds of thousands of pounds in commission from the Icelandic banks for moving money into them. (Source - Page 9 - Sunday Mirror -Oct 19th). Would it be an idea to ask Billionaire Michael Spencer to hand the commissions to the ratepayers of the cities affected as it will probably be they who will end up footing the bill?
2) It appears that rogue foreign drivers with luxury supercars owe one council (not Plymouth - we rarely have supercars in the city) £4.5million in unpaid parking fines. A Hummer owner who's collected 35 tickets owes £4,000 in fines - A Rolls Royce Phantom owner with 23 tickets owes £3,000 - and, get this, the owner of a Kreidler motorbike worth £1900 owes £45,000 from 400 tickets. Apparently local authorities cannot enforce parking fines abroad - but what's to stop them towing the cars away until the debts are paid? The newspaper reporting it (Daily Mirror 18th Oct - Page 31) even gave the registration numbers of the cars and motorcycle concerned. Come on Westminster Council get your finger out and collect - if it was an old lady refusing to pay her council tax you'd soon sort her out wouldn't you?
3) Churchcastle Ltd (trading as Spencer and Mayfair 2007) have a full page advert in today's copy of the Daily Mirror (page 47) suggesting that people can solve a word puzzle and 'claim' a 'stunning emerald pendant' - however, what it places in print (around font size 6, I guess) at the bottom of the page is that the call to claim one's stunning emerald pendent lasts 3 minutes and 30 seconds (at £1.50 per minute on BT landline - god knows what it would be from a mobile) at the end of that call you will be asked if you wish to transfer to another phone line to receive a 'matching bracelet' - if one does that then the call will last 3minutes (again at £1.50 per minute). So, 6mins 30 secs at £1.50 per min = £9.75! Well at least Churchcastle have dropped the heading of 'Do you qualify for a genuine emerald pendant', which they used in two previous adverts for the same thing last year. Some interesting links - I'm assuming here that the Churchcastle Ltd mentioned is the Churchcastle Ltd of the above - fair assumption?
ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Churchcastle Ltd t/a UK Cash Rewards
The Office of Fair Trading: Prize promoter gives undertakings to High Court
This is a really interesting link - it was actually published in the Daily Mirror in 2002 They cash in on trash - Investigations Maybe the Daily Mirror doesn't look at its back copies.

On a rewarding point - Coroner Andrew Walker - keep up the good work. People in power need people like you biting at their heels -- Army bosses should "hang their heads in shame", says coroner - mirror.co.uk News Headlines, Celebs and Football - Mirror.co.uk

On a more personal point the old eyes have been playing up - white lights and floaters. Have to go see a specialist soon - talk of retinas detaching has me rather concerned.
I am on with the final (for the moment anyway) edit - page 104 at present - some rewrite, but overall it's working.
Jo and Leigh are over from Oz - meeting up on Thursday. It'll be good to catch up.

Back to the world of dreams ...

Oct 1, 2008

Did he jump or was he pushed?

Julian Grail committed suicide by jumping off the Tamar Bridge in the early morning of April 17th of this year. These things happen you might say, but this man did it because, according to newspaper reports, he could, no longer bear to be involved in immoral Council decisions. He worked in the Chief Executive's office of Plymouth City Council as a Planning and Performance Officer. His wife told the inquest that her husband had a very strong sense of fair play and he began to think those principles didn't sit alongside the job he was asked to do. She added, he was party to things that he thought were immoral. Sometimes huge amounts of money were involved. A spokesperson refused to comment on any suggestions of 'immorality' at the Council.
Time to put the claimed transparency of local government to the test me thinks. A public enquiry? Or is that too transparent - for some? My sympathies and condolences go to Mrs Grail. Men like Julian (men with principles) are needed alive. (The newspaper report of Julian's death can be seen at http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/SUICIDE-MAN-BLAMED-IMMORAL-COUNCIL/article-352029-detail/article.html )

We saw Jill's mother Molly off on the train this morning - she'd been with us for a week and was returning to Wells via Castle Cary. The train (Penzance to Paddington) was five minutes late. We quickly assisted Molly to her seat and pushed her small amount of baggage onto the rack as there was no room for it by her side or feet - and then the carriage doors locked automatically. I was trying to work out how to reopen the nearest one before the train left with us on it when a young lady said, ' You have to lean out and push on the handle' - I pulled the window down, leaned out, stretched down and grabbed at the handle. I managed to stop myself falling onto the platform as the door swung outward and wondered how someone who was infirm (or short) would manage in the mad rush of the train leaving to do the same thing (always assuming they had a young lady by their side to instruct them). Molly arrived safely.

Last stages of conservatory remodelling. I have to finish it today - I want to get on with final edit of Messenger.