It never fails to amuse the blogmaster when following international news- as his his wont[- to wonder how two buffoons were able to attain the heights of political office in their respective lands. Perhaps somethings are not meant to be understood and should be dismissed as the improbable made possible.
Tag Archives: UK News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Promises to BREXIT!
Boris Johnson to chair first cabinet on ThursdayThat finishes our coverage of Boris Johnson’s first day as prime minister.
It came with the biggest ever clear out of cabinet without a change of party in power.
BBC political editor Laura Kuensberg said it was “not a reshuffle it’s a new government”.
Tomorrow, Mr Johnson chairs his first cabinet meeting and faces the House of Commons. And of course we’ll bring you full coverage of that across the BBC.
UK Government Deports Collis King
[Barbados Underground] It is unfortunate that Barbadians and what is suppose to be a cricket loving region has not felt the urge to stridently protest a decision by the UK government to deport Collis King. There is no need to detail the cricket bio of the 67 year old all-rounder. His crime: he applied for a visa to live with his British wife while resident in Britain, this type of visa must be requested while residing outside of the country. From all reports Collis King has been living and working in the UK for the last 40 years.
The captioned article refers to an offer by Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to ‘assist’ Collis King in his immigration ‘matter’. The blogmaster unhesitatingly adds his tuppence to the discussion by calling for the UK government to do the right thing and at this late stage extend all courtesy to Mr. Collis King- a famous cricket who has lived in that country for decades. The manner which he has been treated so far not least the confiscation of his passport at the airport as he was ibeing deported to Barbados.
The blogmaster will resist pulling the race card. However, how can anybody explain why the UK foreign office (government) would not have felt compelled to intervene? The UK is a cricket playing nation – creator of the cricket game – surely there was time to halt the deportation action when the name Collis King was whispered to someone at King Charles Street?
The pride of a great West Indian warrior has been forever harmed, however, there is still the opportunity for the UK government to deliver ‘satisfaction’ to King with the urgency the matter deserves!
Many will remember Collis King for the innings he played in the 1979 World Cup final in a partnership with Viv Richards.
The blogmaster makes special mention of Heather Cole for bringing this matter to the fore.
Grenfell Tragedy | When the Cry of the People is Ignored by Officialdom
Social landlords should make fire audits and inspections public
The BU household was touched by the tragedy that unfolded last week at the Grenfell Tower in the UK. To be expected there has been a loud public outcry questioning what fueled the disaster.
The concern the tragic event raises for BU is how do we, the PEOPLE, hold officials accountable when they ignore our concerns and it results in loss of life and damage to property. From all reports tenants, for years, reported safety concerns about the building and there is the report that inadequate materials were used to maintain the building that housed low income minorities. The UK government must be congratulated for ordering an inspection of all housing units in the country to avoid a similar occurrence at Grenfell Tower.
Barbadians have been quick to parallel the tragedy at Grenfell with the possibilities of planting a 15-storey structure. Let Grenfell be an opportunity to learn from mistakes made by others. Let us avoid searching for shortcuts to fast track projects because it is deemed to be the politically expedient decision.
The voice of the people is the voice of God.
Barbadians Must Demand Better Governance
Yesterday in the news there was a report that the government will start construction on a secondary school at Searles, Christ Church in early 2017. The information caught the attention of BU not because the school is earmarked to have a sixth form, rather, Minister of Education Ronald Jones explained he preferred not to divulge the reason why the construction of the school was delayed. It is difficult to imagine a minister and by extension a UK or US government being allowed to avoid disclosing the reason why a government project was delayed.
To support the point, across the pond in recent days there has been a full parliamentary enquiry into the collapse in April this year of British Home Stores (BHS) which, until its sale last year, was the ‘jewel in the crown’ of frequent visitor to Barbados Sir Philip Green. Sir Philip is not scheduled to be in the parliamentary hot seat until next week but BU anticipates his testimony will follow the same course as BHS’s new owner, Dominic Chappell and its CEO and CFO have yesterday [08/06/2016]. In other words, the loss of over 11,000 jobs and the disappearance of its employees’ pension fund is everyone else’s fault, not his.
The noticeable difference between a major collapse of a large company in the UK and a similar collapse in Barbados lies in the robust application of transparency laws. Whereas in Barbados successive governments have given lip service to governance issues, in the UK, an enquiry is not only held to investigate suspected or reported malfeasance, it is publicly televised and information made available for a legitimate fourth estate to report on. It also goes without saying that the UK DPP will be following events with the threat of prosecution unlike our DPP Charlie Leacock.
Yesterday’s hearing was fascinating in that Darrin Topp, the CEO (or former CEO) of BHS and the CFO, Michael Hitchcock, blamed everything on the new owner Dominic Chappell and went so far as to accuse Mr Chappell of threatening to kill him (Mr Topp) and Mr Hitchcock called him a “premier league liar and Sunday pub retailer”. In his turn Mr Chappell denied that he had threatened to kill Mr Topp and stated, in effect, that Mr Topp was completely incompetent and blamed the collapse of BHS, which he purchased for £1 from Sir Philip Green, on…..Sir Philip Green. Mr Chappell however was forced to admit that he had made a profit.
We wait to hear from Sir Philip Green who may find himself in the law courts alongside Mr Chappell.
The key issues are:
The pension scheme: There is a pension deficit of £571 million (BBD$ 1,661,717,332). In 2013 BHS agreed to put £9.5m (BBD$ 27,642,867) into the pension yearly for 23 years to make up the deficit. Companies have a legal obligation to do this under the Pensions Act 2004. This amount does not compute and seems far too low a refund to the raided pension fund.
Property: Sir Philip bought BHS in 2000. In 2001 BHS sold 12 stores to Carmen Properties Limited for £105.9million (BBD$ 305,687,376) and then rented them back from the Carmen (which is off-shore and based in Jersey) for £12million (BBD$ 34,935,907) a year. Carmen Properties was owned by Sir Philip Green. Over the next 11 years BHS paid £141million (BBD$ 410,558,695) in rent to Carmen. These rents are generally considered to be high in comparison to the prevailing market rate.
Dividends: BHS paid £414 million (BBD$ 1,205,504,283) over 4 years (£220 million (BBD$ 640,581,016) in 2004 alone, more than £118 million (BBD$ 343,626,037) more than its pre-tax profits). More than $400 million (BBD$ 1,164,834,024) of that went to Sir Philip Green. This eradicated the £147.7million (BBD$ 430,121,852) reserves of BHS at a time when the pension fund had gone into substantial deficit. £60million (BBD$ 174,737,898) of these reserves went on dividends, instead of into the pension fund. The payment of dividends reduced shareholder funds from £335.2 million (BBD$ 976,268,985) to £86 million (BBD$ 250,556,126) between 2000 and 2004.
Sale and purchase: BHS was purchased from Sir Philip Green by Retail Acquisitions for £1 on 12 March 2015. Dominic Chappell, the new owner, is a TWICE declared bankrupt and was millions of pounds in debt as a result of a failed business building, a marina on the Isle of Wight. Mr Chappell has no experience in retail whatever.
Prospects of success: Arcadia Group/BHS’s 2014 results show like-for-like sales were up 3.6% at BHS. Yet it is generally held that BHS had fallen behind its competitors and were steadily falling.
In Barbados, Little England, we accord a high level of preferential treatment to these dubious foreign operators like Claire Cowan, David Ames, Eugene Melnyk (the father of our Charlie Leacock’s godchild) et al. Commentary on an article posted recently by Jeff Cumberbatch exposed our lack of appreciation of how dots are connected in the temporal space humankind exist. Freedom to exercise the intellect and nurture a healthy curiosity about all things in the ecosystem is a prerequisite to achieve actualisation and happiness.
If we want our system of government to work, we have to ensure checks and balances are legislated and practiced. There is a reason bipartisan Committees of parliament exist such as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), The Committee of Privileges to name two. Note these important committees of parliament have not functioned in the interest of the public under a BLP or DLP government. Instead the system has given rise to a political class whose interest is to serve themselves. Barbadians although rumoured to be an educated lot have ceded our right to advocacy under our Westminster system of government to an ineffective few.
Several lessons can be learned from the on-going BHS public parliamentary enquiry in Great Britain. No system is perfect, however, we must continually work to make it better.
Related Link: BHS: Death threats, ‘crazy’ rants and a scuppered Sports Direct rescue bid
Joint Administrators Appointed to Manage Harlequin Management Services (South East) Limited
The following is a Joint Administrators Report to Members and Creditors of Harlequin Management Services (South East) Limited pursuant to paragraph 49 of Schedule B1 of the Insolvency Act 1986. Of interest to Barbadians are pages 7 and 24 of the 76 page report.
See Report: JOINT ADMINISTRATORS REPORT TO MEMBERS AND CREDITORS PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH 49 OF SCHEDULE B1 OF THE INSOLVENCY ACT 1986
Notes From a Native Son: Pensioner Poverty and the Failure of Social Policy Planning
By the time you have read this I would have carried out a promise to address the Caribbean elders of the Pepperpot club in what we used to call Ladbroke Grove in West London, which pompous estate agents have now renamed Notting Hill.These people are warriors, pioneers, unrecognised in their countries of birth and treated with disdain in their adopted home, Britain.
These are people who came to Britain in the early post-war years to labour in Lyons tea shops, the national health service, the army, and most of all on London Transport, because they wanted a better life.They are almost all now in their late 70s and 80s, ill-treated by the local Kensington and Chelsea local authority, the wealthiest in Britain, who want to deprive them of even the opportunity to meet in their lunch club to swap anecdotes and a few laughs until the good Lord calls them home.
These are people who left the sun-drench Caribbean to get out of their beds in a snow-covered city to look after the thankless patients, sweep tube platforms while remaining invisible to passengers, make breakfast in working men’s canteens for a pittance, all the while sending money back home to their loved ones to feed and clothe them and to repay the cost of their travel to Europe. These are the pioneers that two of our prime ministers – one BLP and one DLP – are on record as saying did not make any contribution to the nation.Now, with great reluctance, it is recognised that their remittances were the backbone of the foreign reserves in the 1960s that we now talk so much about. It will be a pleasure to talk to them, to share memories of being a young man in West London, birth place of the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival, that demonstration of street theatre that the British, especially the media and police, still find so hard to accept.The invitation to talk to them from the club’s chairman, Barbados-born Rudi Brathwaite (Kizerman), one of our brilliant authors, was so much appreciated that unusual for me, it has occupied my thoughts ever since then.
Notes From a Native Son – How Thatcher/Reagan Changed Liberal Democracy for a Decade
The sudden, but not unexpected, death of Baroness Thatcher, one of the most dynamic if divisive of Britain’s post-war political leaders, and her grand ceremonial funeral have marked a staging point in the continuing story of Britain. Those who remember her elevation in to the Edward Heath cabinet as education secretary, when she gained notoriety as ‘Thatcher, Thatcher, the milk snatcher’ and then made the sudden jump to takeover of the Tory party then led it to government in May 1979, might have missed out some of the most important signals of her political drift to the right.
For me, 1979 was a time to remember: it was when Ken Livingstone carried out a post Greater London Council election coup to take control of the Labour-led authority; the exciting launch of Root magazine at Regine’s, later the Roof Garden. It was an exciting time. For Britain’s embattled black community, it was also a threatening time. Thatcher’s ideological guru, Sir Keith Joseph, then social security secretary, had developed a Social Darwinian view of single parents, the poor and those who some now call the underclass. It did not take very much imagination to figure out that the black community, no matter what, were part of this problem section of society; and, like now, the key debate was about immigration. In fact, Thatcher had given a television interview in February 1978 in which she talked about being ‘swamped’ with immigrants. Although Enoch Powell had made his well-publicised speech ten years earlier in April 1968, the debate about race and immigration had not moved from the public agenda and, to a large extent, Thatcher’s television interview set the tone for the next decade.
To UK’s Mail Online: Our View
BU has been steadfast in its condemnation of the treatment of the two rape victims for whose assaults Derek Crawford was wrongfully accused and charged. BU has been unrelenting in its condemnation of the Commissioner of Police’s racist statements that suggested that the ladies raped could not identify their attacker because he was black. BU has roundly condemned the Director of Public Prosecutions for pursuing the matter against Derek Crawford in the face of statements by the victims that Mr Crawford was not their rapist. BU has called for the resignation or dismissal of the CoP and the DPP and those officials who so insensitively botched the matter. BU is unaware of whether or not the rapes continue to be investigated.
Submitted by Check-This-Out
Just came across an article dated November 17, 2011 in Caribbean 360. The following is from the article “Harlequin Hotels restarts Barbados development amid fraud claims”
“Commenting on the developments Ames said, “It is fantastic to have both sites moving ahead quickly now. We are very committed to continued significant investment in Barbados and we are grateful that the interim concessions were finally approved by the Hon. Minister Sinckler and his team at the Department of Finance. This has allowed us to immediately resume works and will result in the creation of up to 200 construction jobs between both projects. Although Harlequin Developments have resumed work on both projects, we are still awaiting approval of the concessions package under the TDA for the luxury boutique hotel H Barbados.”
Garrett Ronan, Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Vice President of Hotel and Resort Development, commented, “We are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance to expedite these concessions and we are hopeful they can be issued this week. This would help us get H Barbados back on schedule for completion in November 2012, despite the recent delays. We are very appreciative of the recent approval granted by the Hon. Christopher Sinckler and his team, which has allowed us to move swiftly with The Merricks Resort Show Village. As a gesture of good faith, we also resumed work on H Barbados, but we do urgently need approval on the standard concessions to keep things moving there.”
Is this the Beginning of the End for Harlequin?
Submitted by St. Georges Dragon
Interesting news about Harlequin. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK, which regulates the financial services industry, has published an alert: Information on investments made through Harlequin Management Services.
Issued on Friday 18th January, it puts financial advisers on notice that if they recommend an investment in a pension for which the underlying assets are Harlequin overseas properties, the advisor must carry out a thorough due diligence on the various developments being sold by Harlequin Property to fully satisfy themselves that it is a suitable investment. The due diligence should involve:
consideration of how building work is progressing on the various sites and any factors involved in reported delays to completion;
establishing precisely how their customers’ funds will be used during the construction phase and the terms of their purchase agreements;
a full assessment of all publicly available information about the overseas property investments through Harlequin Property and on all the parties associated with these investments
The FSA does not regulate Harlequin, so it is quite surprising that it mentions Harlequin by name. Interestingly, the same day, the FSA released a second alert: Advising on pension transfers with a view to investing pension monies into unregulated products through a SIPP. This sets out further advice on what advisors need to do when recommending investments in third-party companies based on overseas property development.
Fire Somebody Please!
“Two British women who were raped within days of each other in Barbados say they are convinced the man who has been charged is not their attacker. Researcher Dr Rachel Turner, from Hertfordshire, and Diane Davies, from Anglesey, in north Wales, were attacked on a beach in Holetown St James in October 2010.
Barbadian Derick Crawford, 47, has been charged but both women, who have waived their right to anonymity, told BBC Breakfast’s Bill Turnbull and Louise Minchin why they believe he is innocent. They say he is much younger than the man who raped them. Both women hope the case will be dropped at the next hearing on Thursday.”
Read full BBC Report
Notes From a Native Son – Saving for a Rainy Day
Recently I gave a speech to some trainee financial journalists and thought it interesting enough to abbreviate some of the key points and frame them for BU readers.
Sometime ago, when the present UK Coalition Government was still in opposition, I appeared on BBC Radio Five Live with David Willetts, now secretary of state for universities, but at the time the Tory spokesman on pensions, and the likeable Steve Webb, now pensions minister but at the time the Liberal Democrats spokesman on pensions. We agreed on most of the key points, including our perception of the savings gap in the UK, but where we differed was when I suggested that ordinary workers should aim to save 20 per cent of their take home pay. It was a tough call, and Mr Willetts, who along with Mr Webb was on the phone, while I was in the White City studio, let out a screeching sound. It was clear he was not in agreement.
I now see that, with time, it is not unusual for speakers at pension conferences and seminars to repeat the view that a target of saving 20 per cent of take home pay is a reasonable objective if one wants to achieve a decent retirement income. Of course, all three of us realised that those on low and modest wages would find it rather difficult saving 20 per cent of their pay, and to focus on that is to miss the point. The point I intended to make, and still do, is that workers must introduce a level of discipline in the management of their wages. And, as any good financial planner would advise, the first deductions to be made from their pay packets should be the essentials – mortgage (or rent), on the principle that once must live somewhere, especially if children are involved; followed by paying essential bills, then food, fares to work and school, then set aside a regular set of money as a saving. This priority of payments is essential.
Tales From The Courts – Part V
Instead of touching on incidents that have actually happened, this latest edition of Tales From The Courts focuses on a developing international scandal that may involve the Barbados courts.
In the last month, the financial world has been rocked by evidence of LIBOR fixing by Barclays Bank. LIBOR is the London Inter Bank Offered Rate. The scandal in the making has led to the resignation of both the UK chairman and the UK chief executive of Barclays Bank and the setting up of a parliamentary enquiry in the UK involving, not just of Barclays, but of all banks. Last week Barclays was fined £290 million for LIBOR rigging.
This, however, is not just a UK problem, but an international one. There are ongoing investigations in the USA – to which the Barbados economy is pegged and in the UK and there is every likelihood of criminal prosecutions for certain people and massive fines resulting.
The scandal now has taken a turn and involved Canada and the Canadian courts, where the Royal Bank of Scotland is seeking to have a court order for the discovery of documents and evidence from a senior judge set aside on the basis that it breaches the Canadian Constitution (in Canada) and the Data Protection Act 2000 (in the United Kingdom). It is doubtful if this legal tactic on the part of Royal Bank of Scotland will succeed, given that all the other banks subjected to the Canadian court order are complying.
Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd is one of those controversial foreign companies operating in Barbados and other islands in the Caribbean. Given our thirst for foreign direct investment (FDI) there is sometimes an eagerness to fast track the due diligence and oversight process.
It is no secret that Harlequin is embroiled with certain matters across the globe which has done nothing to enhance its reputation for doing business. A recent negative alert ssued by respected D&B should give notice to the government of Barbados and prospective customers – Caveat Emptor!
BU makes the following information available given public interest in this matter.