Jump to content

grey_man

Members
  • Content Count

    730
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    73

Everything posted by grey_man

  1. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Sure enough. Addison Lee planning self driving taxis by 2021 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45935000
  2. grey_man

    Council buy Eddie Stobart HQ

    Time will tell obviously. I am not reassured by the council's headlong rush into so many of these investments nor their bullish attitude. I'm amazed for example that Lynton Green hasn't been snapped up by the Treasury or a major blue chip given the confidence he displays on social media about his exceptional business acumen. This extends to Redwood Bank, which seems an ill-advised thing to be crowing about just now. I haven't posted the comments underneath the FT story, many of them from people within the property and investment sectors, but they are even more pessimistic than the tone of this story. WBC has, of course, now invested far more than the sum quoted in the story which was essentially Birchwood Park. I do wonder who is advising them and also worry about their very close associations with developers like Langtree and Peel. If I had to bet, I'd say at least one or two of these deals will go tits up in spectacular fashion. If that does happen, I imagine the fingers will point at somebody no longer with the council - my guess will be Steven Broomhead who probably will be retired by then. Younger people like Russ Bowden and Lynton Green might have to face some music if it completely goes awry and the town ends up bankrupt. That is also a possibility.
  3. grey_man

    Council buy Eddie Stobart HQ

    Local councils ramp up exposure to commercial property Britain’s indebted councils have been spending billions of pounds on commercial property, raising fears that local authorities have ramped up their exposure to the troubled UK high street just as specialist investors look to exit. Councils invested £4bn in land and buildings in the financial year to March 2018, an increase of 43 per cent from a year earlier, according to data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Officials believe £1.8bn of last year’s total was for investment purposes, a sixfold increase from 2014. Local councils’ budgets have been squeezed by years of austerity, leaving them in search of new sources of income. Some have used record-low interest rates to borrow money to invest in property, including commercial assets ranging from office blocks and industrial buildings, to shopping centres and retail parks. Councils are not meant to borrow to speculate: the government said in 2009 it was “unlawful to borrow with the sole purpose of investing at a profit and without any spending objective”. However, the 2003 Local Government Act does allow councils to “borrow in advance of need”. The latest data also show that borrowing by councils shot up to £10bn in 2017-18 from £4.4bn four years earlier. The biggest spenders on commercial property were Spelthorne Borough Council — which invested mainly in offices — with £270m, Warrington Borough Council at £220m and Eastleigh Borough Council at £194m. Data from the property agents Carter Jonas show councils invested £2.3bn in office buildings between 2013 and 2017, along with £1.5bn in retail property. The figures suggest local authorities are putting an increasing amount of money into shopping centres and retail parks, just as experts warn of a structural decline in the sector as consumers increasingly move online. Though many are buying properties within their own borders as part of regeneration plans, the investments leave them vulnerable to market downturns. Landlords are struggling to sell billions of pounds of UK retail property, as they seek to reduce their reliance on a sector plagued by high-profile collapses. More than 2,100 stores and almost 40,000 employees have been affected by retail failures this year, according to the Centre for Retail Research. “Local authorities are trying to square an impossible circle and raise the funds they need to provide services which the government isn’t funding them properly for,” said Steven Norris, a former minister and chairman of Soho Estates. He said councils risked a repeat of the 1970s and 80s, when Hammersmith and Fulham council entered into billions of pounds’ worth of interest rate swap deals, threatening large losses until the derivatives were ruled invalid by the courts. Joel Benjamin, who is investigating financial activity at local authorities for Research for Action, said councils were taking “leveraged . . . bets underwritten by taxpayers”. He drew parallels with the financial crisis, when 127 councils had almost £1bn on deposit with failed Icelandic banks. Many authorities had borrowed that money, seeking to take advantage of favourable interest rates. “Our town councils remain financialised, unregulated, and financially reliant upon gambling activity, the risks of which, history suggests, they are entirely incapable of managing,” Mr Benjamin said. The government issued new guidance earlier this year forcing councils to explain how asset purchases relate to their core purposes, which could make it harder for them to buy properties beyond their own boundaries, some experts say. However, Tony Travers, visiting professor at the department of government at the London School of Economics, said the investment trend was likely to continue given the continued pressure on local authorities’ budgets. “They will continue looking for any revenue they can to try to prop up their much-reduced resources, and I suspect there will be more [property] investment unless the government decides it wants to cap it off more than it has already.”
  4. grey_man

    Council buy Eddie Stobart HQ

    From yesterday's FT, Warrington cited yet again as one one of the main arse-barers, sorry I mean standard-bearers, of this approach. https://www.ft.com/content/5dcd8fa6-d1e7-11e8-a9f2-7574db66bcd5
  5. grey_man

    Council buy Eddie Stobart HQ

    Well. Firstly, from a purely financial point of view, they need to be getting all of this right. If anybody isn't concerned, they should be. It has the potential to become a massive problem. Secondly, the council's growing role as a developer is in direct conflict with its role as a planning authority. Councillors should be raising some serious questions about what this means for local democracy.
  6. Now here's a thing. UK banks have made zero money from investing in commercial property in the long run. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-04/banks-beware-decades-of-commercial-real-estate-made-you-nothing
  7. From The Times Ban on local council investments in risky property portfolios Andrew Ellson, Consumer Affairs Correspondent December 27 2017, 12:01am, The Times Councils will be banned from borrowing to invest in commercial properties amid concern that they are putting taxpayers’ money and local services at risk. The Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) has outlined rules that will stop councils borrowing money to fund the purchases unless they benefit local residents. The plans, which have been published under a consultation, are likely to derail many councils’ investment plans, which can include buying shopping centres, retail parks and supermarkets. Earlier this year an investigation by The Times revealed that local authorities were making multibillion-pound bets on commercial property to replace revenue lost through government cuts. Freedom of information requests to every council in the country found that they had paid £2.7 billion for commercial properties since 2015, up from £500 million over the previous three years. Much of the money was borrowed from the Public Works Loan Board. Experts warned that some councils were building “exceptionally risky” portfolios with little or no investment experience, raising concerns that services would have to be cut or taxes increased if the property bubble bursts. Now the DCLG wants to stop councils from borrowing solely to generate a rental income. The consultation document says: “Borrowing solely to invest in a yield-bearing opportunity is borrowing in advance of need.” Borrowing in advance of need is banned under local government finance regulations. The rules will not prevent councils buying commercial property out of existing revenues or reserves but few, if any, have enough spare cash to do that. Professional investors hailed the new rules, saying that councils’ spending sprees were driving up commercial property prices. In parts of the country local authorities make up a third of buyers. The cross-bench peer Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, chairman of OUM Property fund managers, said: “The government has woken up to this gross abuse of public money and cracked down on councils gambling on property at long last . . . Why has it taken so long and so much forensic investigative journalism before it was stopped?”
  8. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    I think you're right in many ways, but there are dozens of cities already piloting autonomous vehicles and drawing up the necessary legislation. That will be where it begins, sometime within the next ten years. Cars driven by people will be restricted in major city centres. Then the creep on to the rest of the network begins.
  9. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    I think you'll see fully autonomous vehicles sooner than you think, first in city centres where other cars will be banned, then with freight and cabs, then more and more on other roads. All of this is the end game for Tesla, Uber, Dyson and Amazon as well as the car makers themselves. There's some interesting research about what happens to motorists' driving behaviour when they know another car is autonomous, because they make different ethical choices and know that the autonomous car will not respond in the same way as a human driver. Basically they behave more like arseholes. I'd like t link to it but can't be bothered to find it
  10. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    The advent of autonomous vehicles will address some of these issues, including the ability for linked vehicles to travel as a train of vehicles. When this will happen I don't know because the major obstacle in the path of all this happening is the number of morons and psychos already on the roads. Mistakes happen and can be accounted for but these people are either oblivious or don't care.
  11. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Part of the problem with the M6 right now and over the last couple of years is the 50 mph 'smart motorway stretch'. I travel up and down it maybe four times a week. Along the entire stretch you'll see endemic lane hogging with the usual clumping and congestion as well as lorries tailgating and undertaking as a result. Coupled with the usual moronic behaviour - last minute exits across two or three lanes, phone use, the assumption that indicators give you right of way etc, it's a recipe for accidents. Don't see many police cars either.
  12. The concern is well placed especially when you consider the number of prisoners who abscond from Thorn Cross. It may still be unlikely that anything dreadful happens but there will be an impact on the school and local residents.
  13. grey_man

    WBC You're joking!

    Or he made a harmless mistake.
  14. grey_man

    WBC You're joking!

    The Forge is obviously targeted as an income source. The same rigorous regime is not applied in other council owned car parks nor in the rest of Stockton Heath, for example with the people who think Sainsbury's is a drive-in shop. The common sense of the wardens doesn't come into it. I remember Cllr Mundry saying that The Forge is run the way it is to enhance the experience of motorists or some such BS. Funnily enough he hasn't yet decided to enhance the experience for the car park in his own ward.
  15. grey_man

    Panorama 27/06/18.

    It's not the fraudsters that are the problem at HS2. It's HS2 Ltd https://www.ft.com/content/6fb315ba-73b4-11e8-aa31-31da4279a601
  16. So basically it's the council tearing down its own listed buildings and applying retrospective consent?
  17. It does have a verb if you assume that 'financial expediency rules'.
  18. That list exists. It's perfectly easy to find it online, including a full roster of locally listed buildings. You also have to wonder what use it would be, given that the council does absolutely nothing to protect the buildings anyway.
  19. I don't know if bully is the right word. Setting out to obsessively abuse people for doing something you claim is rubbish is plain weird.
  20. Clear pattern of behaviour. Developers know they can either allow buildings to decay or simply pull them down and the council will just express their regret. It would come as no surprise to discover that developers are given the nod off the record to just do as they like. I know councillors worry when the council is described as 'officer led' but it would be more accurate to describe it as 'developer led' in these cases.
  21. grey_man

    Give Warrington town centre a chance!

    Even that straw man is a straw man - because I've just agreed with you. I've got to hand it to you. I guess that's how you manage to rack up thousands and thousands of posts by constantly misrepresenting what people say and then whinging on till they admit you can have the last word. Not big on irony though, are you?
  22. grey_man

    Give Warrington town centre a chance!

    You raised the subject of vanity projects. Of course, you've done your usual feeble attempt at creating a straw man argument, because I agree with you that a theatre should be commercially viable. There you go. Something else we agree on.
  23. grey_man

    Give Warrington town centre a chance!

    More straw men and personal comments. And you've answered your own question about the Parr Hall. Now that you've raised the subject, there is already a vanity project in the middle of the new development and it is being funded by the people of Warrington. So if you object to that sort of thing, then we agree on something.
  24. grey_man

    Give Warrington town centre a chance!

    The Parr Hall isn't a theatre at all (and doesn't claim to be) and the Pyramid is an arts centre that is capable of staging small shows. The space is comparable to those found in some local schools and FE facilities. Local theatre groups, which include my family members and friends, have to go to Runcorn to stage anything significant. Local cultural groups and people within the council have been raising this issue for years so why you're claiming that there have been two theatres in the town all along is baffling. You're making it far too easy. Which is why you end up resorting to straw man arguments and personal comments. The only people running the town down are those with low expectations for it.
  25. grey_man

    Give Warrington town centre a chance!

    I have. I don't just sit around whinging thousands of times on here like some people. I always go to source. They won't say. So, they've gone from publicising the costs in support of a business case, to increasing them (still in support of a weaker but viable business case) to pretending they don't exist. Occam's Razor leads to one conclusion. The business case has gone. As for all the other stuff in your post - it's just your usual straw man stuff full of things I never said, so I'll ignore that bit. BTW, somebody should have told the city of culture bid team that the town already has two 'municipal theatres'. It would have helped the bid no end and I can't believe they overlooked the facts you've just made up supplied.
×