Quango redundancies – A kick start to the economy?

Quango staff strike for fair pay (off)

This is not meant as any form of political comment, just an observation. I don’t believe any of the parties would have acted any differently, all would have made savage cuts to the government run/funded quango staffing levels.

There are a huge number of people who were given notice soon after the election. Their quango was closing or they were just put on notice to reduce headcounts. An awful lot of them have reached the end of their consultation period and will be out of work by the end of February.

This is NOT the case with most everyday public sector employees and and I have been told in no uncertain circumstances by a friend that most local government employees will only receive the standard 1.5 weeks per year if they are over 40, but with a max of £380 per week,

The quango redundancies do create a few interesting economic scenarios.

1. Some of them will be getting thumping big pay off’s

Government Quango redundancy doesn’t seem to work quite the same as private sector or local government sector. Over here, if we are between 21 and 40 years old, we get a week per year served. Some may choose to enhance it a little. At 40+ years old, this is ramped up to 1.5 weeks per year. Ten years gets you 10 weeks pay. 22 years, may get you 30 weeks. This may be subject to that limit of £380 per week, so hardly get rich quick stuff.

In the Quangos, the person I know will get a cumulative redundancy allowance. So for ten years service they get 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10 = 58 weeks. Wow! The first £30k is tax free too. This will be a big outgoing for the public purse in one single month.

I’d love to know how many people get this deal and how many get the normal one like the rest of us.

2. The respend may be the kick the economy needs to get it going

With that much money swilling about in the economy, a huge amount will be respent.

Mortgages will be paid off, freeing bank cash to lend again – maybe to first time buyers?

Building work will be done, helping boost the skilled trades economy

Lots of cars, and gadgets will be bought – most of which is exported cash, but at least a boost for UK retailers after a dodgy Christmas.

3. Tough to cope with

The biggest concern has to be that many of these services that are being removed will just be subcontracted to the private sector and some of the people made redundant taken on to do the actual work. Audit work is likely to be taken over by the accountancy firms and I can’t believe they will be able to deliver the same level of independent scrutiny for less money. Can they be truly independent if they are in danger of losing their contract renewal?

Thanks to elhamalawy for the cool image

Potholes on british roads

I went for a nice drive today to Chippenham. Two obvious routes. M5 and turn left at Bristol, or the shorter more attractive route of the A429 right down through the Cotswolds. It should have been beautiful and it was last time I drove it. But this time it was so full of potholes, I bumped and crashed through everyone of them. It felt like the car was going to snap. No wonder there are so many 40 and 50 mph zones.

And then coming home, I swerved to try not to run over a fox and hit a kerb instead. Ouch. One broken wheel and I wish I’d stayed on the motorway. I will next time.

Volvo alloy wheel required - One less than careful owner
Volvo alloy wheel - One less than careful owner

Vegetarian Shoes – brilliant promo video

I have to confess I thought this was a joke when I saw the domain name. But I had a look at their promo video and I think it is great. Funny, quirky and nowhere near earnest – as you would probably expect it to be.

I don’t know what the shoes are like, but I have noticed that they do offer a resoling service which is a great idea.

To compare another great south coast brand, when Body Shop started, they used to offer a bottle refilling service. Just send the bottle back to them and they’ll refill it for much less than the price of a new one. Once Body Shop stopped doing this, they lost a big part of their soul. I hope the Vegetarian Shoes people learn from this mistake and stick to their brand values.

Toilet Mirror advertising with interactivity

Advertising in toilets is probably a bit of a minority sport, but is an unusual medium in which to attract potential buyers.

This video demonstration/advert for a new type of interactive advertising toilet mirror is bloody awful, but the medium itself does have some potential for some fun concepts.

But what brands are going to spend large sums hanging out in toilets?

Ideas on a postcard to….

Jamie’s Italian in Nottingham and Carluccio’s too – How lucky are we?

Jamie's Italian Nottingham - I can't wait

Over Christmas, we ate in Carluccio’s in Canterbury and I have to say that I think it was the nicest food I have eaten this side of Venice or Rome. It was beautifully fresh, incredibly tasty and pretty remarkable value. Five of us had starters, main courses a bottle of wine and some drinks for the kids. It came to £80. Not absolute KFC bargain bucket, but great value for such top quality cooking and simple unfussy service. Carluccio’s wasn’t a brand I had been particularly aware of before this, so it was a nice surprise as my expectations probably weren’t that high.

So I was quite pleased to see they have a new one opening in Nottingham. Building work is well underway. I guess it will be February or so for the opening.

The website just says it is opening soon.

Also over Christmas, I cooked a rather gorgeous turkey and leek pie that I adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. Basically I added ham and some other leftover veg from Christmas dinner to make sure I had enough to feed the 14 hungry mouths around the table. It got quite remarkable critical acclaim, so thanks Jamie. I have to confess that I do rely on a few of his recipes, with his pizza base and tomato sauce topping recipe from his Italian book still being the nicest one I have ever made.

And then, I noticed that there is an all new Jamie’s Italian opening just up from Carluccio’s in February too. The difference is, I have high expectations of the Jamie Oliver brand. I know it so well, that I expect it to be excellent simple food and good value too. The whole Jamie Oliver brand is built on this platform, so it has to deliver.

I am genuinely excited to have an ‘eat off’ and see who does the best grub. I am convinced that the food in Jamie’s will be absolutely gorgeous. Friends have been rubbing it in about which ones they have eaten at and the reports are excellent.

It’s my birthday later this week, so I’m asking for a meal at both of these new places (when they open) rather than a conventional present.

I may invite AA Gill along so he can review them both with me. I’m sure he’s very welcome anytime in Nottingham.

According to the Nottingham Evening Post, Jamies Italian will open on Monday 7th February. Hopefully see you there soon after.

Updated 07.02.11
Just spoken to a friend who went last week as part of the soft launch. This was open to friends and insiders and seemingly, those who worked for Boots and was half price!

The verdict?

Fabulous food, really well thought out layout for a potentially difficult building, great value (even better at half price) and superb service.


The end of the road for Top Gear?

Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson – Maybe he has lost his sense of perspective?

Last night’s episode of Top gear was for me, the end of the road. I’m canceling the series link and I am now officially bored of the programme. It has become too smug for its own good and is less relevant for the man on the street than it ever had before.

It used to be three guys sharing some irreverent banter and clearly having fun driving fast cars, who couldn’t believe their luck that they were getting paid to do exactly what they loved. But now it feels far more like self congratulatory rich blokes who fawn at the celebrities and look down on anything/anyone normal.

How can the £150k Ariel Atom be anything other than foolish when the £32k one that is within reach of normal people is fast enough?

I got up and went and made a cuppa half way through it. I never used to do this. I spoke to Tim Garratt and he said his son did the same. Even my mate at work – a mad petrol head – thought it had lost it’s appeal. None of us bothered to watch the Christmas episode on watchback, the people who I know did, said it was a bit dull.

The new Stig was reborn because they bring in £1million a year from Stig related merchandise. Doesn’t that mean that their anti establishment position is now blown. They have become the corporate establishment they used to fight against.

Perhaps Clarkson, should hang out with his mate AA Gill and reinvent themselves whilst they still have time.

Otherwise, I can see this as the last series of Top Gear in this format. The Brand values of Top gear are pretty much worn out.

Soletrader – Rather exceptional customer service

My Brand New Doctor Marten shoes
My Brand New (replacement) Doctor Marten shoes

In September 2009, I rather excitedly wrote about my new pair of Doctor Marten Shoes. I loved them so much that I wore them almost every day. I polished them, I cleaned them, I genuinely loved them.

But this Christmas, disaster struck. The sole split on the left shoe and the welt came away from the sole on the front, making me squeak as I walked and giving me wet socks every time I went outside in the rain. Not nice.

So, in steps our hero Dave Mercer, Customer services supremo at Soletrader. A few emails later and my obviously faulty shoes were sent back to them for his attention. Looking good so far.

The result?

A new pair arrive at my office by return post and a genuinely warm feeling towards Soletrader. It must be pretty tough going being a shoe retailer in a tight market, so to still give this level of service is exceptional.

Thanks Dave. I wish all retailers were as good as you guys.

Purple Circle new website – Ready for 2011

After my post yesterday about Purple Circle winning Midlands Design Agency of the Year again, I am now very proud to introduce you to Purple Circle’s brand new website.

Purple Circle - New Website for 2011
Purple Circle – New Website for 2011

Please have a good play, help us spot any holes that we may have left and pass it onto your friends and family to play with too.

It’s a lot more Google friendly than the old one and we think it’s a lot more easy to navigate.

We’ve added lots of new stories and some projects you may not have seen before.

Our work over the last few years has become more and more digitally focused, so this is a reflection of our current thinking in what works well online.

Hope you like it.

Purple Circle – Midlands Design Agency of the year (again)

In the Drum magazine today, it was announced that Purple Circle have been named Midlands Design Agency of the year for 2010. Which is really rather good news. It’s the third time in four years we have won it.

2010 was a very tough year for us, we had some key people leave us, we had our nicest member of staff ever pass away and we had a government that decided that it would not just run down it’s spend with the creative services industry, but switch it off immediately and altogether. After ten years investing in a creative industries sector, they decided they were going to attempt to kill it overnight by totally withdrawing all of their work. It was our very own Annus horribilis. If we found it tough, some of our peers found it disastrous with some great and famous agencies falling by the wayside.

So to have survived and adapted at all was a pretty happy ending for us and it is genuinely the icing on the cake to have our peers voting to say our work is still the best you can get in our sector in the midlands.

Thankyou the Drum. We love you a little bit more now, than we even did before.

2011 will be better. And we’re going for four out of five.