Tag Archives: Recession

Biting hard at our local businesses.

It’s the end of June – already, doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were knee deep in Snow. It’s been a busy few weeks at work, and correspondingly it’s been a quiet few weeks on the blog: and the busyness couldn’t be more welcome – it’s been a quiet few months with work with the recession clearly having an impact not just on our business, but on many around us. Many commentators are trying to make out that the recession is a technical term, that it’s only having an impact on certain sectors – but I think that’s increasingly being shown to be untrue – recession’s take time to bite: they don’t suddenly arrive, instead they filter down, slowly using up reserves, making life more critical and making business ever more difficult for those that don’t quickly adapt to the conditions of the day.

It’s been a very sad few weeks on Berwick Street, admittedly it’s never going to win awards for being London’s most glitziest street, but over the years it’s developed a collection of great shops, cafés and restaurants that were always well patronised by anyone that considers themselves a local. Over the last few weeks we’ve lost a great indie fashion label, a record store that’s been on the street for as long as I can remember, a coffee shop that was always busy and the brilliant pie and mash shop, Pastry Pilgrim, all seemingly there one day, gone the next.

Businesses are like that – speaking from very personal experience, you always know things are going wrong, but the catastrophic end always sneaks up – you go from being a fighting chance to over in minutes: and it’s heart-wrenching. Often when you see coverage of ‘the recession’ you hear about job losses, but you don’t often see the individual tragedies, the small businesses, ignored by their banks, run on a pittance and run with heart, soul and endless back-breaking hours of toil: and as tragic as hundreds of people being laid off from a national chain might be, the death of a small business should be given equal billing – as it’s our small businesses that lead the recovery, they’re the major tax-payers, they’re the future – and that should never be forgotten.

So the next time you pass a closed up shop with a bailiff’s bolt through the front door, think long and hard about patronising your local businesses more – right now they need your business more than ever before. The bland, faceless chains will survive, but the businesses that enhance an area and offer you something unique won’t if you don’t spend your money with them. It’s not a good time to be in business right now – getting even a basic business overdraft is almost impossible, banks are raking through past failures and history to find any reason to turn people down. Landlords are getting jumpy about rents being paid, invoices are being paid later and later and some not at all, while all the big chains are more likely to be pushing out bargains to entice customers in to replace high value sales with volume sales that the small business simply can’t compete against.

This country needs entrepreneurs, it needs people to generate new products, new jobs and new markets. So never forget that our small businesses represent the grass roots of all business: because after all, every business has to start somewhere, and that start is almost always small.

Great Britain PLC is screwed

I’m almost too depressed to blog about politics at the moment, the current situation looks like it’s lurching toward what we all feared as a worst case scenario; that being Brown staying in power until the the most bitter of ends. He and his cronies have done absolutely nothing but panic the markets spinning out expensive nonsense while actually spending more time fighting disent within their own party. The Labour party is spinning into oblivion as the sparkly nu-labour types fight for little more than their expenses and perks knowing that they’ve got another 12 months of piss-taking before they’re going to be booted out at the next election; and at the opposite end of the scale the hard left of the party who never reformed seem to be gleefully rubbing their hands together at the opportunity to launch a scorched earth campaign on Britain, devestating the economy with poor choices and inaction so as to push through some Soviet style laws that’ll hold back the recovery of our ecomony for years to come.

People have been calling for bankers to be called to book, it’d be nice to see the political class also brought to book, unfortunately it’s not going to happen until the next election, but when it does let’s hope that not only do they get booted out in a landslide, but also that the powers that be step in to open up the books, dig around for the bodies and make sure that those that stood by fiddling their expenses while the economy was going tits up get locked up for a long time. </rant>

Dangerous Economics

Welcome to Brown's Britain, It's BROKENWell the markets have been all over the place and so is the Government: I’m genuinely depressed after watching the farce that was the Chancellors statement to the house earlier this afternoon, He clearly has no idea what he’s talking about – lines were being fed in that were overtly party political (the very last thing that’s needed right now), and frankly the understanding of economics was clearly missing from the statement, it was panicked and short on detail at a time when the incumbent muppets are proposing lumbering the british taxpayer with a crippling amount of debt that will, frankly, bankrupt us all.

I’m incandescent at Brown for his assertion that he’s “angry” with a few bankers when it was his Government as Chancellor that encouraged banks to lend, lend and lend – and what’s more he still is, and it was him that oversaw the FSA’s toothless last decade, and it was him let’s not forget that has swung like a pendulum over the last few months one week telling the public and banks one thing, while the next week telling them the bi-polar opposite.

We’ve got to admit that the banks are not going to lend, moreover we’ve got to admit that whatever we do now we’re going into a recession that’s going to clear out the dead and weak wood, both in business and in our personal finances; and someone needs to point the finger at Brown and his colleagues for destablising the UK market all by themselves, with half arsed attempts to meddle in businesses and marketplaces in which they have no experience.

Heathrow = Electoral Suicide (Hopefully!)

Well it’s been a busy couple of days in Westminster, we’ve had the frankly ludicrous assertion from Lady Vadera that we’re already seeing the green shoots of recovery from recession – announced ironically on, yet another, day of massive job cuts and announcements of long established firms falling into receivership, we’ve had the Ball’s up say that the ‘excuses culture’ won’t be tolerated anymore, presumably meaning that Schools and Academies will now follow the nulabour model of not apologising at all and then blaming the yanks, and we’ve had the contemptible attempts to hide expenses from the public by MPs with the week ending on the lunatic idea of creating a super–bad–bank from deep in the Brown bunker, presumably part of his plan to leave scorched earth when the voters kick him out.

And of course we’ve also the Heathrow decision, which has seen everything from Emma Thompson and Alistair McGowen threatening to go all swampy on us, to Labour MP John McDonnell running off with the parliamentary mace in protest at the lack of a vote in the house.

Heathrow is a funny one, I can see the economic arguments for better connectivity with the rest of the world – but, expanding Heathrow, as far as I see it at least, is entirely the wrong way of doing it. If we had joined up thinking we’d be looking at London’s airports as one large entity, joining up Stanstead, Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick with high speed transit which would allow them to operate as a proper hub, removing the need to expand Heathrow when Stanstead is the most obvious airport to expand in the coming 15 years.

But even before we think of expansion, the most clear way of clearing landing space at Heathrow would be to cut internal flights, it is outrageous that over 80 flights a day go between Birmingham and London, these journeys should be made on our railways, infrastructure that’s desperately needed money ploughed into it for years; and as for flights to and from Paris… for crying out loud we built the longest under–sea tunnel in the world to link us to Paris – people should be using Eurostar, it’s quicker (taking into account stacking and check-in/out times) than flying and it’s considerably more friendly to the world; just doing that would free up a tonne of landing slots, something the government could do quickly and effectively, but of course won’t do – because it’s fixated with air travel in an entirely unhealthy way.

What’s most concerning to me is the complete lack of attention given to the environment and public health which would seem to have been entirely ignored in the Government’s consideration of the Heathrow expansion; an expansion is going to almost double the number of flights stacked over the capital every year, it’s estimated that living under the flight path already shaves 6 years off the average life, what will a doubling in flights do? And while we’re on that doubling of flights when are Londoner’s going to sleep – I know they’ve conceded that ‘mixed’ operation (i.e 24 hour landings) won’t happen, but how long will that promise be kept, if at all? In the centre of town the stack releases a stream of traffic over Kensington & Chelsea at about 5 in the morning, and it does affect people’s sleep patterns, having also lived in Hanwell many years ago, the rumble was even more noticeable, god only knows what it must be like in Hounslow.

They’ve scored a massive own goal here if they think this is going to be a popular scheme, it’s the easiest option for them – it didn’t require joined up thinking, and it provides Brown with 60,000 jobs he can claim to have created out of thin air. I urge you to do whatever you can to protest against the expansion, not just in it’s physical form, but also at the contempt that the Government have shown for our democratic process, the London assembly seems united against it, most Londoner’s I know are cautious to completely opposed, and in an age where air travel is going to have to be thought long and hard about as we attempt to tackle climate change it is quite simply unbelievable that Labour have pushed this through with two fingers up to anyone that disagrees.

I do hope this battle is a long and sticky one, even more I hope it’s a final shot of poison to the Government that finishes their long-running electoral suicide.

Duck & Cover

So the PM has finally divulged today that it’s likely the recession we’re entering is going to be deeper and longer than first admitted. This of course is no real surprise for anyone who’s lived in the real world, but seems to have taken the Labour party entirely “by surprise”, I say that in inverted commas because even I can’t believe that all of the Labour party are simple enough to believe the rhetoric that “it wos the yankie bankers wot done it”.

Our dear leader. Gordo the great – saviour of the universe, as he apparently now has stamped on his stationary, also set out a raft of further measures to keep the country from sinking, these are – of course – further testament to his complete failure to grasp even the basics of today’s global economy; as his new measures are all tax-payer funded public projects with no cuts or perks for the business on the high street and no real measures to help the average family, just more “great” public works, which include, laughably… fixing the trains, something they promised to do over 11 years ago, presumably, they’ll be fixing them so all those extra people can commute into all those jobs that have just been cut in the city. Bright idea tonto. This is of course all defended with spin that the government “must play its role”, which, as the conservatives pointed out earlier is pointless headline grabbing.

I am amazed at the tunnel vision that seems to have enveloped the incumbent muppets; they truly believe that the answer to a crisis caused by a complete seizure of global borrowing due to worries about over-extension of credit – is borrowing!

It quite simply defies belief that a Government that has borrowed more money than any other thinks that it can simply print more money at a time like this to spend it’s way out of a borrowing induced financial crisis, surely someone must do something to illustrate that we’re going to be paying for this mistake, not just for the whole my generation, but probably for the whole of the next as well?

I’ve no doubt the good times will once again roll – most likely under a Conservative government; but there’s no question that those good times will be a long time coming, and when they do they’ll be tinged with the hangover of 11 years of utterly reckless, and in the most part, entirely pointless spending by an out of control Labour Government.

We’re doomed

Flint's real message!So the cat has been let out of the bag, not that it wasn’t already obvious, the “economic prudence” which ended the cycle of boom and bust has ended up in what’s looking increasingly like a bust, as Caroline Flint carelessly left her files open to the prying lenses of the political paparazzi, showing the world just how worried they all are that we’re heading for a 10% drop in house prices and potentially a corresponding slump in the rest of the economy.

This is, of course, especially bad news for Brown, who’s entire reputation has been built on his financial ‘genius’ as if he didn’t have enough to cope with at the moment worrying about the ten pence tax debacle, his chancellor frantically giving away money the government can’t afford to lose, while all at once embarrassing Britain in the eyes of the liberal world by not inviting the Dali Lama to Downing St when even the knuckle dragger in the White House managed to keep his appointment with the Tibetan spiritual leader at the big house.

Add to this the stress of watching his back at all times from the press, the opposition, and his own (rightfully) livid backbenchers, but also from former colleagues and acquaintances in Blair (Mrs), Levy (Lord) and Prescott (Two Jags and a bucket of lard) all revealing semi-salacious memoirs of their time in and around Number 10, all of which don’t paint a favourable picture of dear Gordon, he must be counting the days until he can quit this job.

It’s been interesting watching the various media channels today, the tone has swung from quiet resignation to outraged and shocked in the announcement that the economy is probably screwed. I don’t think anyone will be able to keep up outraged and shocked for too long, no matter how much damage they might wish to inflict on Brown, simply because anyone with half a brain has been able to see that you can’t continue to inflate the countries economy with ultra-cheap credit propping up all retail and property spending, let alone the state spending that was coming out of coffers unknown, we’ve been in a bubble for some time; we can now only hope that the landing for most will be softer than predicted.

Photo borrowed for a spot of Tuesday afternoon photoshopping from The Times.

End of a long week.

Almost the end week three, of what’s turning out to be an increasingly busy month, busy in good areas and busy in bad – work is busy, which is good, home is busy with impending house moves which is not so good, social life is distinctly un-busy, but there’s really no change from the usual there.

And what a week it’s been; I do look at the state of the UK in more and more of a depressed mood recently, Brown the Bottler and his incompetent cabinet of all the talents has-beens lurches from disaster to utter catastrophe as it appears that they’re going to have to force a nationalisation of Northern Rock to even consider recovering the tax-payer’s cash, nothing could be worse, both for the banks investors, the square mile and the wider economic reputation of Britain. What makes me cringe is the steadfast belief they all seem to have that they’re doing the right thing, seemingly not noticing that personal debt is at an all time high and it’s about all that propping up the economy at the moment as the FTSE tumbled 3% in one day and is now thundering toward 5800 at quite a terrifying pace. – The sooner Brown and his team of liars, cheats, fraudsters and baboons leave power the better, although one would hope that between now and then Cameron gets his team totally sleaze free and starts looking seriously at the possibility of coming to power in the middle of a recession…

The strange thing is as a business owner, speaking to other business owners there’s not a great deal of concern about the threat of recession, people do seem to think it’s going to be localised and that the world at large will carry on while housing and banking take the big hits, I’m yet to be convinced, but I’ve always believed in spreading business risk and keeping overheads down, so with some (and I do hate myself for using this word – I promise I won’t pull an odd look between a grimace and a grin half way through it before thumping my fist on the dispatch box) prudence *shudder*, things should be manageable without too many compromises.

Anyway, that’s quite enough of that: in other news, the new design and content is almost ready, so some time in late February I’m going to be relaunching the site, with new areas for the urbex stuff and a bigger, better blog with more space for all of the advertising/brand comment, plus the political and plain strange stuff. I’m quite excited about it, and you’ll be glad to know there’s a series of video podcasts coming very soon!