Andrew Abbott's Blog

Friday, 20 July 2012

Lincolnshire this week.

Local train provider, East Midlands Trains has received a bail out from the government to cover losses made in the last year. The company lost £25m in six months and has received a payment of £46m to restore profitability. The unions were baffled, the RMT describing the payment as “corporate welfare”. Regional organiser Ken Usher said: "We hear on a daily basis of various cuts due to austerity measures and quite clearly it's a case that this does not apply to big business. It's ridiculous."

The company begged to differ. An East Midlands Trains spokesperson said: "Rail franchises were let by the Department for Transport on the basis that the government accepted it would get high premium payments when the environment for rail was strong, but it agreed to provide contractual revenue support when tough conditions meant revenue growth was lower than expected.

"We have had several tough years during the economic downturn and East Midlands Trains was loss-making in 2010/11 and during the first six months of the last financial year.

"Despite this, we have continued to meet all of our franchise commitments to government and we continue to invest millions of pounds to improve our trains and stations to encourage more people to travel on our network."

Labour leader Ed Milliband has urged the government to re think outsourcing services to firms like G4S, heavily criticized over the Olympic security fiasco. One of the foremost schemes is of course Lincolnshire Police who have a partnership with the company to provide back office and custody roles, not that Mr Milliband can be expected to know anything at all about Lincolnshire until it’s time to mug up prior to an election. Policing minister Nick Herbert said the Olympic debacle was a one off and shouldn’t cloud other deals but took the opportunity to give the embattled company another kick whilst they were on the floor calling their efforts “lamentable” but, in a sideswipe at the opposition leader he told the BBC News Channel:-

"There is no doubt failure here but to draw wider conclusions is merely opportunistic,"

The Post Office are trialling the use of satellite receivers in Lincolnshire and other eastern counties. The devices track precise property coordinates and the company plan to market the information leading to more accurate delivery and address location. Keith Jones, leading the "Pinpoint" project, said: "For individuals and companies, many everyday activities involve using information which is based on the location of an address.

"The emergency services, satellite navigation systems used by motorists and smartphone applications use this information.

"Mapping the co-ordinates which are accurate to the front door of addresses across the UK will help improve the accuracy of this information."

Needless to say the brothers are not totally enamoured at the initiative. A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union said: "We raised concerns about resource and customer reaction to this new work and Royal Mail has taken these concerns on board.

"Postal workers who volunteer for this work in place of their deliveries will be fully trained." So that’s alright then.

It looks increasingly likely that next years Spalding Flower Parade will be the last after funding from Lincolnshire County Council and South Holland District Council was ended. The parade, which used to attract up to 100000 has been running since 1959. Nowadays more like 40000 attend and the powers that be don’t think the investment from hard pressed funds can be justified. Lincolnshire County Council's Eddy Poll said: "Back in the day when we were getting 100,000 visitors plus, it was worth the investment but I would imagine there was less than 40,000 there this year.

"I know the weather played a part but visitor numbers have been falling off over the past few years and it's now at a level that I don't think we can really sustain."

"I've personally been involved with the parade for 25 years so it's not been an easy decision for me but I think it's come to a point where we can't afford to underwrite it any more." Ideas for a continuation in another form would be welcome.

Golf giant Ping has reaffirmed it’s commitment to Lincolnshire by expanding its Gainsborough site with the opening of a new multi million pound facility. The Lincolnshire town has been at the heart of the firms European operations since 1973. 15 much needed jobs will be created and the company says this underlines it’s optimism for the future. "This is yet another example of how money has been invested into Gainsborough," Said John Clark, managing director of Ping Europe.

"It's for the good of the people and Pings's employees – the company and Gainsborough are entwined together.

"We have been in a period of significant sustained growth year on year and this has necessitated an expansion of our office space.

"It's all part of an ongoing expectation of growth."

"It's a great statement of the prospects for the future and a sign of our expectations for continued growth," he said.

"If we can keep growing it will create more jobs. We feel very good about the future."

No doubt we all feel good about the prospect of the weekend coming up especially as the sun is threatening to make a reappearance. Have a good one.

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