Road to recovery

first_imgRoad to recoveryOn 28 Mar 2000 in Personnel Today Recent developments in fleet vehicles are serving to ensure the company car lives on If the current state of Britain’s company car market could be summed up in song, you would probably imagine it in the miserabalist mode of Leonard Cohen.Uncertainties over taxation changes, linked to exhaust emissions, are causing fleet managers to shudder at the idea of ordering new vehicles (what happens if you get lumbered with 500 of the wrong ones?). Droopy residual values, and the ongoing cash-for-cars debate are adding to long faces in the world of fleet vehicles.Yet should company car proponents really be looking sad? According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, company cars took 54.6 per cent of Britain’s total new car market last year.Given that total British new car registrations are currently hovering at about 2 million annually, this represents a lot of metal, and a lot of employees for whom the convenience and status of a work-provided set of wheels remains undiminished. Yes, change is coming to the company car park, and with this in mind Personnel Today has drawn up a list of five positive fleet developments.1. Choice The choice of cars deemed suitable for fleet use has never been wider, with once-unlikely marques ranging from Skoda to Mercedes all keen to secure business sales. This slots in well with the onward march of user/chooser policies, and it is now rare to find cars with specifications which do not give a nod to business driver requirements – everything from airbags to air conditioning. Gone are the days of matt brown paint and plastic seats – today’s fleet offerings are generally fitted with the right options and painted in colours that will attract private buyers when the time comes to sell them on.Paul Simpson, South of England national leasing manager for Mercedes Benz, says specification levels of quality marques such as his have been improved by fleet industry requirements – drivers are less prepared to tolerate stripped-out specifications from prestige German brands. Air conditioning is also considered essential in today’s fleet vehicles. “The standard specification is rising and we are adding value to our cars as a result,” he says.2. MotivationJames Langley, client development manager for fleet management business PH* Vehicle Management, thinks the remuneration value of the company car is as strong as ever. “Choice is seen as one of the ultimate ways of retaining staff,” he says.This has led to a whole range of formerly out-of-bounds brands, such as Mercedes, Audi and BMW finding their way into company car parks. To compete, so-called bread and butter marques such as Ford and Vauxhall have added equipment, improved build quality and less easily defined dynamic elements of their cars.Many staff are surprisingly knowledgeable about such minutiae and view having the right car as something of a workplace badge of honour. Tales of good employees leaving jobs because they didn’t like their cars are sometimes true.3. ConvenienceIn 1999 a Europe-wide poll of company car drivers by fleet management company Lease Plan found that almost 63 per cent of UK respondents put convenience at the top of the list for sticking with a firm’s car. This was despite fewer of them believing it was cheaper to have a company car than owning one themselves – 41 per cent in 1999, compared to 50 per cent the year before.“For most companies outside the major metropolitan areas, the company car is still the most hassle-free way of getting people to work,” says Andrew Cope, managing director of contract hire company Zenith. He describes fleet vehicles as very people-friendly, and when staff take a “cash for cars” option, they tend to operate on different budget levels, choosing cheaper, older, less appropriate vehicles.In terms of providing a straight staff benefit, Cope says many employees used to a company car found related paperwork and duties onerous, and the costs involved an unwelcome surprise. Often, the convenience of letting their employer take care of these things is something they feel is worth paying for.4. TechnologyOne of the current vehicle industry buzzwords is “telematics” – a broad term that can be applied to satellite navigation systems, which are becoming faster, easier to use and more accurate. They are filtering into cars like the Toyota Yaris supermini and are part of a batch of equipment that can let you know where a car is located and the route it is taking, when it is due for a service, and send and receive messages to and from its driver.This so-called black box technology has a civil liberties element which has yet to be resolved (when does overseeing become spying?), but provides a degree of staff accountability and logistical advantages for an employer. Indeed, PHH Vehicle Management is fitting driver monitoring units – branded Fleet Command – to all its vehicles, and three car makers are thinking of offering this as an option.A more immediate technological aid for the modern company car driver is the fuel card. Keith Greenhead, PHH fuel division director, reckons some 66 per cent of them use fuel cards – up from under 50 per cent in the early/mid-1990s. “With the increased cost of fuel they focus on the expense and make people look at how to get a better grip on this,” says Greenhead, who believes the cards make administration easier, allow control over where fuel is bought and encourage economical driving.5. The futureThe trend towards downsizing company cars, in particular from Vectra- to Astra-sized models, has largely been ameliorated by the fact that the smaller cars give little away in terms of performance, refinement and creature comforts. They are also more tax efficient. Models like the Astra, Focus and Golf are all highly regarded, and new credible alternatives, such as the second generation Nissan Almera, will soon be with us.The car makers are also proving adept at producing vehicles that meet prevailing legislative trends, such as the likely arrival of excise duty based on CO2 exhaust emissions. Makes such as Vauxhall, Volvo and Ford have all moved to offer dual fuel gas/petrol powered models, which spew out far less CO2, and already sell in real numbers – Vauxhall will find buyers for 3,000 duel fuel cars a year. At least five petrol companies are working towards offering 200 filling stations apiece with liquid petroleum gas pumps, making this fuel – which is also much less heavily taxed – easier to obtain.Diesel is also much more CO2 emission-friendly, although mutterings about the potentially carcinogenic nature of the “particulates” it emits could see it hit by a special levy. Even so, the latest engines are making big strides in economy cleanliness and refinement – BMW scores well here. VW has just launched a very economical three-cylinder Polo 1.4 diesel – an average 64.2mpg is claimed. And Peugeot has an exhaust “dirt” trap for diesel versions of its upcoming 607 saloon.All this means the company car is changing, but given its undiminished practical and motivational advantages, reports of its demise are premature. By Martin Gurdonlast_img read more

Press release: UK festival of creativity and innovation to be held in 2022

first_imgA major nationwide festival showcasing the UK’s unique strengths in creativity and innovation will be held in 2022.Backed by £120 million government investment, the Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be a moment of national celebration and help attract new inward business and investment.It will deliver an exciting programme of events on arts, culture, design and tech across the country.Taking place in the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the festival will amplify key anniversary celebrations of some of our most beloved institutions. In 2022, The BBC will mark its 100th birthday, the Edinburgh International and Fringe Festivals will celebrate their 75th anniversary and Birmingham will welcome 54 Heads of State to the Commonwealth Games.last_img read more

Stencilled Cupcakes

first_imgQ: How do you get that wonderful shiny gold finish on your stencilled cupcakes?A: It is not difficult at all, you just need a good quality cake stencil – Lindy’s Cakes sells a good selection http://www.lindyscakes.co.uk/shop/Stencils/ and some white vegetable fat.I use Trex, and some edible gold lustre dust, I find that the Squires Kitchen lustres give you the most brilliant finish. Place your chosen cake stencil on some freshly rolled out sugarpaste. Press down on it with a smoother, or something similar, to force the sugarpaste up to the top surface of the stencil.Smear white vegetable fat over the stencil to act as a glue. Then using a soft dusting brush liberally dust over the stencil with the edible dusting powder. Remove any excess and carefully lift the stencil to reveal a gorgeous metallic pattern. Use the sugarpaste to decorate cupcakes or cookies.Good luckDo you have a question for the Cake Doctor? Send it to: [email protected] Lindy Smith’s websitelast_img read more

Bakkavor set to employ 100 new staff at Lincolnshire factory

first_imgFresh prepared foods manufacturer Bakkavor is set to hire 100 new members of staff at its factory in Bourne, Lincolnshire.The site is looking to fill vacancies in a range of roles including production operatives, team leaders and other skilled positions.The recruitment drive is part of a broader Bakkavor initiative across the country following the employment of an additional 1,000 people last year.The company said it was increasing capacity to meet higher demands from customers.Jonathan Zair, head of operations at Bakkavor business Bourne Prepared Produce, said this was an exciting time for the company.“We have a number of different roles on offer and we look forward to welcoming the new colleagues to our team,” Zair said.The business is a major employer in the Bourne area, with more than 1,200 people working at the site, which produces a range of products for the major supermarkets.Bakkavor currently employs more than 16,000 people across its UK sites and recently hired Yvette Sowerby as technical director.last_img read more

Wellington Police Notes: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

first_imgWellington Police notes: Wednesday, July 20, 2016:•1:52 a.m. Anthony M. Banks, 34, Wellington was arrested and bonded on a city of Wellington warrant for criminal damage to property.•1:52 a.m. Officers investigated possession of methamphetamine by a known suspect in the 100 block N. Washington, Wellington.•1:52 a.m. Anthony M. Banks, 34, Wellington was arrested, charged and confined with possession of methamphetamine.•6:06 a.m. Officers investigated a theft of food items in the 1100 block N. A, Wellington by unknown suspect.•10:41 a.m. Non-Injury accident in the 600 block N. Elm, Wellington involving a vehicle operated by Shay S. Stewart, 40, Wellington and a parked and unoccupied vehicle owned by Taber D. McGinley, Denver, Co.•10:41 a.m. Shay S. Stewart, 40, Wellington was issued a notice to appear for inattentive driving. (REF#16-1123)•2:05 p.m. Kimberly A. Verschelden, 35, Topeka, was issued  a notice to appear for        no proof of insurance and illegal registration.•5:25 p.m. Tessa G. Watson, 18, Edmond, Okla., was issued a notice to appear for speeding 45 mph in a 30 mph zone.•6:11 p.m. Officers took a report of suspicious activity in the 200 block N. Plum, Wellington.•6:58 p.m. Officers investigated a theft of cell phone in the 1400 block E. 16th, Wellington by unknown suspect.•7:56 p.m. Officers issued a trespass warning in the 1000 block Shady Lane Court, Wellington by known suspect.•8:42 p.m. Officers took a report of a mental subject in the 1800 block Edgewood Drive, Wellington.•10:56 p.m. Officers investigated a theft of a license plate in the 1400 block Michigan Court, Wellington.last_img read more

Battling CAF giants hope home advantage can bring change of luck

first_imgEtoile are virtually unbeatable when the 30,000-seat Stade Olympique is packed so the matchday 1 loss to fellow Tunisians CS Sfaxien came as a shock.Enugu, hoping to become the first Nigerian winners of the 16-year-old competition, forced a matchday 2 draw at Sfaxien and will aim to take at least a point away from Sousse.Group CZambian contenders Nkana and Zesco will want to continue a trend of home victories in this section when they host Asante Kotoko of Ghana and Al Hilal of Sudan respectively.Captained by striker Walter Bwalya, Nkana aim to extend a 58-match record of never losing at home in a CAF competition since their 1983 debut.Hilal have appointed Tunisian Nabil al Kouki coach for a third time having sacked his compatriot, Irad Zafouri, after a matchday 2 loss at Nkana this month.Group DBottom-of-the-table Zamalek last won a CAF title 16 years ago and must secure maximum points against Petro in Alexandria to retain a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stage.The White Knights boast an impressive squad with several Egyptian stars, Tunisians Hamdi el Nagguez and Ferjani Sassi and Moroccans Khalid Boutaib and Hamid Ahaddad.But an untypically porous defence conceded four goals away to Gor Mahia of  Kenya, and a last-minute equaliser to surprise group leaders NA Hussein Dey of Algeria.Share on: WhatsApp FILE PHOTO: Raja Casablanca at CAF Confederation Cup.Johannesburg, South Africa | AFP | Misfiring CAF Confederation Cup top group seeds Etoile Sahel, Raja Casablanca and Zamalek will have home advantage Sunday when seeking their first mini-league victories.Etoile have won the African version of the UEFA Europa League twice, Raja are the trophy-holders and Zamalek can boast of nine CAF titles.But the north African trio have not made the expected impact since the four groups kicked off with Raja drawing twice and Etoile and Zamalek collecting just one point each.Raja play fellow Moroccans Renaissance Berkane in Group A on matchday 3, Etoile face in-form Enugu Rangers of Nigeria in Group B and Zamalek meet Petro Atletico of Angola in Group D.Zesco United of Zambia are the exception among the four top seeds having won their Group C opener, but they then lost their first away match.AFP Sport previews the third series of matches as the 16 contenders for eight quarter-finals places begin a hectic schedule of playing on four consecutive Sundays.Group ARecently hired Raja coach Patrice Carteron from France is under pressure as his side have won just one their last five qualifying and group matches, and that was by a solitary goal.The impressive home and away from that took Raja to success in the competition last year has deserted them and their leading scorer in Africa, two-goal Badr Banoun, is a centre-back.Hassania Agadir, the third Moroccan club in the section, host AS Otoho Oyo of Congo Brazzaville needing maximum points to get back into contention for a top-two finish.Group BEnugu are the only unbeaten side left in the Confederation Cup with six victories and two draws as they prepare to tackle Etoile in their Mediterranean fortress of Sousse.last_img read more