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grey_man

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Everything posted by grey_man

  1. grey_man

    White Goods Removal

    Whatever mate. You can count them up for yourself. But relax. It may look like you're desperately trying to deal with a blow to your carefully constructed ego, but I don't see it that way, even if others might. Now I'll leave you to get back to posting thousands and thousands of posts telling other people they are wasting their time spouting off endlessly on the Internet. See you in a month or three with an update on my 'obsession'.
  2. grey_man

    White Goods Removal

    Yes. I can see why you would say me posting ten times in 14 months looks like obsession. Especially when you've just had to go back a month to find me saying anything. You really have to try much harder if you want to keep proving that you know everything about everything and are the final arbiter of opinions on every subject. Getting on for seven thousand posts and you're still pulling the same trick. Projection, much?
  3. 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?”
  4. The troll doesn't like being trolled. What a surprise. Called out on his BS, he tries to get back into the game with a response to a month old post.
  5. grey_man

    White Goods Removal

    Not as much as you.
  6. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Driverless cars on UK roads by end of the year Fully driverless cars are expected to take to Britain’s roads by the end of the year under government plans to scrap the requirement for a dedicated safety driver. A system will be introduced to allow the first advanced trials on any public road of self-driving vehicles without a steering wheel or human in control. A strict application process will apply. The Department for Transport said that the move would place Britain at the forefront of the technology. To date only limited trials of self-driving vehicles without a human monitor have taken place in the United States, which is seen as the global leader, and none elsewhere in Europe. The move has been condemned by critics who claim that the vehicles are years away from being safe enough to operate without a driver. In March last year a 49-year-old woman was killed by a self-driving Uber, with a human monitor behind the wheel, as she crossed a road in Tempe, Arizona. Transport experts from PA Consulting warned that fully driverless cars might not operate in Britain until the late 2020s because of public scepticism about the technology. Up to a dozen separate trials have been run in Britain over the past four years in areas such as Milton Keynes, Coventry, Bristol and Greenwich, south London. A government code of practice for trials was published in 2015, outlining that testers needed a roadworthy vehicle and appropriate insurance and must comply with the rules of the road. The Department for Transport is due today to publish an updated code that imposes tougher safety standards. These include rules on data that must be collected, such as speed, braking commands and the presence of other road users. Companies behind the trials will be expected to tell police in advance, issue directions to the public and consult local councils to understand the risk of encountering roadworks. The code also says that contingency plans for “scaling down, pausing or terminating activities during investigations or following an incident” must be in place. The rules echo the 2015 code by insisting that a safety driver must be in constant operation — either inside the vehicle or via remote control. The driver should be “ready and able to override the vehicles”, the document says. However, the Department for Transport said that it was also working on plans for “advanced” trials — those with no safety driver or remote operator. The system, which will be overseen by the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, is being finalised and applications are expected to open soon to enable trials this year. A spokesman for the department said: “The update to the code acknowledges the growing desire of industry to conduct more advanced trials, and a process to handle such trials on public roads is now being developed.” Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said: “Today we are updating our guidance on automated vehicle trials, cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in the development and testing of this innovative technology.” Christian Wolmar, a transport journalist and author, said: “This is cart before horse stuff. This technology is nowhere near ready to be let loose without an operator in control. This is so far ahead of what’s feasible and it is going to put lives at risk . . . We should have a driver on board at all times and even then I think these trials should be limited to more controlled areas like dual carriageways and motorways.” Charlie Henderson, a roads specialist at PA Consulting, said: “Everything I have seen in the last year suggests that the development of autonomous vehicle capability is still slow. We are likely to see autonomous vehicles in a very limited form on our roads by 2023 but there is unlikely to be widespread public adoption for ten years.” Q&A: Don’t we already have self-driving cars? Most cars are already fitted with features such as self-parking and lane assist. Tesla’s Model S and Model X have an autopilot system that can detect other cars and change lanes automatically. The race is now on to develop fully driverless cars that can operate without human intervention. Have fully driverless cars been tested here? There have been about a dozen trials with input from carmakers, universities and tech start-ups. Ministers have invested more than £250 million. An autonomous Range Rover, which drove on Coventry’s ring road last autumn changed lanes, merged with traffic and exited junctions as part of the £20 million Autodrive scheme. Most trials, including all those in Britain, have needed a driver on board or at a remote control system, ready to take over if something goes wrong. What’s the benefit? It is claimed that autonomous vehicles will make us much safer. Figures suggest that as many as nine in ten accidents on public roads are caused by human error, mainly drivers not looking properly and going too fast. Advocates of the technology also point to improvements in traffic flow in the long term as the stop-start of normal vehicles is eliminated. There will also be a productivity boost, with motorists free to work while the car drives itself. What’s the downside? A study last year by Arthur D Little, the management consultants, said that congestion could rise more than 16 per cent while driverless cars share the road with humans. It said that autonomous vehicles would be too focused on “obeying the law and not taking risks” when moving between lanes, causing more tailbacks. What are other EU countries doing? President Macron wants fully driverless cars on French roads by 2022. Spain and Italy are also among those to have held limited trials. However, as well as the tech problems there's this: http://www.thedrive.com/news/26307/self-driving-cars-could-increase-traffic-by-avoiding-parking-study-says
  7. They might really be digging a hole for the town. I didn't see this reported in the local media - a report from Grant Thornton about the dangers of large numbers of councils at risk of financial disaster. https://www.grantthornton.co.uk/en/news-centre/a-third-of-councils-at-risk-of-financial-failure-in-the-next-decade/ Of course, to a large extent they've been put in this position by the Government but it's a real worry and I'm not reassured by the council's statements about the level of risk involved.
  8. grey_man

    The BIG issues facing Warrington

    Should be "horse's", if you need a new sub... Interesting and I think you carry out your role as 'critical friend' far better than some other local media titles. I suspect there were a couple of issues you were told not to bother asking about however or you'd surmised it would have been pointless.
  9. grey_man

    Five storey apartment blocks given the go-ahead

    If they've got 200 cars coming and going from those flats, parking will be the least of everybody's worries.
  10. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    They see it as inevitable. One of the many problems is that there's some common idea it will all reduce traffic when it's pretty clear from the evidence it will actually increase traffic while possibly reducing private car ownership. Like most of these things, especially in retail, it's likely to be a bad thing for a lot of people. I hope it doesn't look like I'm advocating for it. Self-driving cars aren't even the most disruptive tech we're about to see. There's some very weird research going on into neural links and other things by Google for example.
  11. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    I didn't even realise we were arguing
  12. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    You have Google just like I do. There's already a limited commercial passenger service operated by Waymo in Phoenix but they're being run all over the world, including the UK. The fact that they're still in development and Governments are trying to introduce legislation for them doesn't mean they don't exist. I've only ever claimed on here that right now they'll be introduced slowly in city centres and on certain roads and only then in limited ways. I just think this is all further along than most people realise and that the more widespread application closer than they think. Doesn't the fact that all of the world's major tech and automotive companies are investing huge amounts of money in the technology tell you anything?
  13. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Well not really given unless you think next Spring is a long way? Then again of course the fact that there are already self driving cars on the roads hasn't convinced you that there will ever be self driving cars on the roads.
  14. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    One down, one to go https://news.sky.com/story/virgin-galactic-successfully-launches-tourism-rocket-ship-into-space-for-first-time-11580034
  15. It's tricky because I think the councils have been placed in a position where they have to do things like this. I have a degree of sympathy. What worries me in particular about Warrington is not only their habitual reluctance to be open about these things, but also the swagger they have about it all. You get this from the council in the news, but Lynton Green's cocksure boasting about it all (as well as Redwood) on Twitter is troubling. He seems absolutely convinced that the hundreds of millions of pounds they've borrowed is guaranteed to raise income with no risk. If he was so brilliant at getting high returns with no risk on that much borrowing over a period of decades, he wouldn't be working for a council, that's for sure. I'm sure one of those banks who admit they've made no money from investments over a long period would snap him up on a huge salary.
  16. This is a long read, but explores the issues surrounding councils taking on huge debts to invest in property. In a nutshell - it could be OK but the timescales involved are long, the sums involved enormous and if it all goes wrong, it will do so spectacularly. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2018-12-04/councils-borrow-billions-to-buy-real-estate
  17. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    People won't necessarily own the cars. That's the point.
  18. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    That's not the end game The quick wins will be in freight and restricted city centre routes. Then we'll move on. The paradox is that it may all lead to an increase in traffic as more people will be able to use cars who currently can't while delivery vehicles work round the clock.
  19. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Absolutely right. And not just the drivers. Anybody working in logistics needs to be thinking about their future.
  20. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    The links show that the technology is being introduced in limited ways right now, as I suggested; city centres on specified routes and limited freight applications. Basically, it's already with us and there's a good reason why the world's car makers are investing so much money in the tech, albeit that there are lots of problems to overcome. Space tourism is clearly imminent. The FT article says that D B Schenker is about to get a licence to carry freight on a hundred miles of Swedish public roads. I've cut and paste the article below. Swedish autonomous vehicle start-up Einride and German logistics group DB Schenker expect regulatory approval within weeks allowing an all-electric, driverless truck to carry freight on a public road. The two groups said the permit would be a world first, enabling the commercial operation of a battery-powered truck to operate without a driver, following a pilot phase in operation since early November. “An all-electric, autonomous truck has never been put to commercial use before,” said Filip Lilja, who co-founded Einride in 2016 alongside Robert Falck, a former Volvo Trucks executive. Einride and DB Schenker each said they expected to gain the permit by January. The 7.5-tonne “smart container on wheels” is called the T-Pod. Resembling a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet, the vehicle lacks a steering wheel or foot pedal — or even a driver cabin, which can be half the cost of building a truck — offering more room for freight. Powered by the Nvidia Drive platform, a powerful graphic card to process real-time, high-resolution visual data from the sensors and radar, the vehicle is considered “Level 4” Autonomous. An operator, sitting hundreds of miles away, can supervise up to 10 vehicles at once and take over when needed to navigate difficult terrain. To achieve “Level 5” a vehicle must operate without a driver in all conditions. The T-Pod is a 7.5-tonne 'smart container on wheels' and does not have a steering wheel or foot pedal “There is no driver in the vehicle, but there is a possibility to remotely drive it, almost like a drone,” said Jochen Thewes, chief executive of the logistics company owned by Deutsche Bahn. The Swedish Transport Agency already allows the T-Pod to operate as a pilot project going back and forth between two DB Schenker warehouses in Jonkoping, central Sweden. The agency said it was reviewing an application that would allow the vehicle to operate commercially but it declined to say how long it would take. The distance the single T-Pod would travel is quite short, just six miles a day and on only 100m of public roads where it would encounter human driver vehicles, but Mr Falck maintained it would still be a milestone achievement. “The Wright brothers flew 300 metres the first time they took off,” he said. “History is made in small steps.” Einride, a top 10 finalist in Sir Richard Branson’s 2019 “Extreme Tech Challenge,” has just 55 employees, most of whom are engineers. In addition to the T-Pod for transferring goods, the T-Log, its newest model, is made for hauling up to 16,000kg of timber over forest roads. The T-Log is made for hauling up to 16,000kg of timber over forest roads Mr Thewes said the partnership was symbolic of how the wider logistics industry is maintaining its competitive edge against a host of technology groups pushing into its territory. For DB Schenker to succeed, he said, it must win the “war for talent” by taking the lead in reducing carbon emissions and introducing cutting-edge technology. “The industry we are in is, by definition, one of the biggest polluters out there,” he said. “[But] we have the means, the capability to do something about it.” Einride has no intention of selling the vehicles; rather, it leases them and works with clients on a service model. Another client engaging in a pilot project is Lidl, the German grocery chain. For freight customers the lack of a driver, lower fuel costs, and ability to operate day and night should be an attractive proposition, Mr Lilja said. “Crunch the numbers, and it’s clear that self-driving technology combined with electrification is the future of road freight transport,” he added.
  21. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    https://www.ft.com/content/f76ef090-f47f-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d https://www.ft.com/video/8585a287-de36-4a1f-9863-667f030022e7 https://edition.cnn.com/videos/business/2018/11/30/virgin-galactic-christmas-orig.cnn-business
  22. grey_man

    Motorway woes

    Sure enough. Addison Lee planning self driving taxis by 2021 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45935000
  23. 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.
  24. 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.”
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