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The truths they don't want you to read....

Friday, September 25, 2009

The economic climate

"4 hours from being closed down"

These were the words of a director of a very large local business (who I am not going to identify, or allow to be identified), that came that close to disaster.

The economic climate turned against the firm, and the impact on the banks fundamentally affected the ability of that firm to continue to borrow at the previous level.

I looked at the 2008 accounts last night and you can see that the rapid growth has required large borrowings to fund the expansion, and it is easy to see where the pressure must have come from earlier this year.

The problem for this firm, and its competitors, is that the banking situation will have got even more difficult over the past six months, and will be tighter and tighter for them all. I foresee some blood on the carpets in that sector over the next six months as the impact of the global crisis starts to impact here.

It is clear to me that there is going to be a big contraction in the local economy, and that is going to have a serious adverse impact on employment and lead to increased out-migration of the best and the ablest.

The challenge of how to deal with this is firmly in the hands of HIE and the Council. The former instill little confidence in the business community and the later are going to have to work very hard with very limited resources to try to soften the blow.


Anonymous said...

Stornoway may survive the worst of the down turrn, but it is the rural areas that are suffering. Two food businesses have gone from Ness, and a third is on the brink. Add to that Spors Nis and its troubles we are heading for rural depopulation.

Perhaps the honeymoon of the buyout has gone and we are now realising that this was not such a clever move.

What next for the rural areas - Ness, Pairc, Uig, Lochs? Back to working the land and crofts?

Anonymous said...

I noted your previous post - or should that be the 'last post' - on the mood in Uist.

Unless there is a drastic rethink on the direction Storas Uibhist is going we are heading for wipeout of the Uist economy. Given the wider national economic situation it is appalling that the core duties of sound estate management are abandoned in favour of headline grabbing pie in the sky projects.

What wer have hanging round our necks like some dodgy albatross, is an administration which is headed by a couple of egomaniacs and administered by a thug who will be jumping on the ferry when the money runs out. Under close scrutiny the other directors more closely resemble nodding dogs, or should that be doormats?

Quite a few people are now beginning to wonder just how much has been spent over the last couple of years in accountants fees, consultants, and vultures... sorry that was a typing mistake, should have read as lawyers. Added to which there is a current wages bill which has to be in close to £250 thousand per annum.

And what do we have to show for it?

When the wheels eventually fall off the gravy train what options will the long suffering community then have?

I only hope that the community buyouts in Lewis and Harris are in better hands.

Anonymous said...


No chance the motivation and aims of the Trusts is just the same. The whole purpose is simply to line their own pockets - usually by co-operation in one form or the other with wind farm developers and secondly to be the new Lairds over the local commmunities.

Thanks for highlighting what is happening already - be warned Pairc and Galston.

Anonymous said...

"is an administration which is headed by a couple of egomaniacs and administered by a thug"

This could so easily be the Urras. They are a nightmare and are screwing the place over.

They just don't listen and are more like Ostriches than Albatross.

Anonymous said...

Angus is spot on. The cream are heading off, leaving us with not just the milk, but so often the sour milk. These milkers then become trust dictators, sorry directors, and think they are really something.

Reality has it that they may be big fish in a small community pond. In the wider world they are nowt and everytime they speak or set foot out of here they are laughed at and make a mockery of the rest of us here. Campbell, Rennie, Manford, MacDonald (Docus and slim Annie) - what a bloody shower. All in it for one thing - an ego trip. Then we have "sharp" Charlie and "spin dryer" Pete from Uist. Is this really the best we have?

How many readers saw Nesnight Scotland on Thursday? What an embarasement to crofters Norman Leask was. Was he pissed? He could hardly string two words together, yet he is supposed to look after crofting intrests. God help crofters. No wonder churches are so full on a Sunday. I'd be praying for devine intervention if this lot were reprsenting me!

Flirty Gerty said...

We get the Councillors that we vote in, selected from those who see fit to stand. As Angus has indirectly demonstrated, anyone who actually has a life usually has better things to do.

But the senior, paid officials? They aren't required to have any loyalty to the place or any stake in it. They're itinerant, jobbing administrators: that's how Local Government works.

Here, the best officials go quickly or get forced out by their indolent, cliquey peers. The worst stay for years, blocking and suffocating some of the lively talent beneath them. Nodding dogs is the best I can think to call them.

And do either lot have the insight, the experience, the skills or the influence to change the economy of the islands? Nope. There are a few flashes of brilliance (e.g. the recent Taskforce)but most of them are more institutionalised than a whole wing of long-stay prisoners, living in fear of the thuggish Governor and his harpy advisors.

Clear out the lot of them; put their salaries into small-scale economic development funding, not bonkers Arnish projects, and turn the White House into new business units, free to local entrepreneurs. Job done.

Anonymous said...

4:11 PM Let's have a look.

Hmmm. You have a point, but it looks more like stage/tv fright, rather than drink.

Alastair Allan looked about age 8. Seriously - has he reached puberty yet? No, judging from that interview.

Anonymous said...

I hear that the under the counter deals are very much now back in favour with Storas Uibhist.

One chap who was recently asked nakedly for what constituted little more than a bribe to have a piece of land administration concluded came within a whisker of exposing the whole rotten mess.

Storas backed down pretty quickly when they realised that he was serious about going to the press.

Point being, what recourse do the crofters in Uist, and elsewhere, have when things are going badly wrong?
Speak out public;y and you will be targeted on a very personal basis, as happened with the two directors that resigned.

Anonymous said...

10:08 PM - glad your broadband is good enough to watch IPlayer, so I will have to go by my memory of Thursdays show.

Are you really saying that the crofters front man has the PR naunce of a brick and suffers from stage fright? Surely someone in his position should be up on the media glare.

Not having a go at him personally (honest) just saying is this the best crofters have to offer?

Anonymous said...

2.55 Oh joy we can all get back to being depressed and defeated, just what we like.

Buy-outs in general are a disaster, and have simply allowed bullies, crooks and those on the gravy train of writing feasibility studies and consultations to prosper. Oh and of course those pretentious academic types who speak on behalf of crofters at dinner parties.

In these communities at least all development is now ceased unless if fits with the '5 year plan', which is about more projects based on grants or windfarm cash (also dependent on subsidy), rather than any real enterprise. There are some very good points made about the reality above. It would be really interesting to tot up the money poured into Uist, Pairc, Galson and the absurd Aline Forest, the capital they have generated (cough!), or how long it is going to take before they are viable.

These outfits have accessed public funds on the grounds of public interest. I would dearly like some-one to give me a convincing account of any public interest. It is a massive fraud.

T(Turbines) in the Pairc said...


Your are wrong this will not happen - opps wrong cause.

Sorry but the The Aline Forest is a crucial piece of publicly owned real estate deserving of massive financial hand outs.

Why - because the Trust that runs it, runs it ready for Oppenheim to take a short cut out into Eishken.
Look at its directors - same gang that direct the Wind Farm Community Trust (Community being the operative word). And the same gang that have 4 nice empty Industrial units at Habost ready for SSE when they march into Pairc.

Trusts. Trading Regulary Underhand Schemes (whilst) Taking Subsidies.

It stinks but sadly the new lairds have taken control.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1213

the absurd Aline Forest

Angus, is it true you once wrote a report advising against any investment in Aline on the grounds that it could never be economically successful???

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to find this string of whingers so depressing?

Regain land ownership from rapacious landlords, and within nanoseconds these commentators see misdeeds by the elected trustees.

Get any comment on the Comhairle, it has to be about its utter uselessness, its dearth of talent etc. Senior staff move on - they have no commitment; senior staff stay - they're blocking opportunities for people with flair and potential.

And, of course, as with 8:13, we end with a five-line explanation of what needs done to resolve totally these intractable problems. Job done!

Why do I suspect the whinging would move into overdrive when the bins weren't collected, when home helps weren't available, when school ceilings fell in, or when the absence of hygiene inspections led to an e-coli outbreak?

Well, you folk, on the assumption that some of you are no longer juveniles, that some of you are not bankrupt, that (a big assumption, granted) you are not among the criminally insane, then you are not disqualified from elected office. Instead of getting comfort from denigrating the efforts of your fellow islanders, let's see you move out of the shadows of anonymity and offer your ideas to your community.

Otherwise, I think it's fair to conclude that your comments are just so much hot air, fuelled by personal inadequacy.

Anonymous said...

5:07 is that you Donnie?

You raise an interesting point. One of the Directors of each the 4 pro-wind farm trusts in Lochs is a bankrupt. Are you saying he should not be their?

Anonymous said...

Am I getting this right that a bankrupt is a trustee? This is illegal is it not?

Anonymous said...

6.53 and 9.02, not quite bankrupt see: . It will have to go to court before bankruptcy is declared. However maybe there is a moral issue to be observed, or not, in the case of Aline, Pairc Trust (Chairman), Muaitheabhal Windfarm Trust (Trustee) amongst other ventures.

Angus, how long does it take for these cases to get to court?

Anonymous said...

Norman Leask is a very intelligent chap who has an extremely firm grasp of crofting and the surrounding issues. His thick Shetland accent may not make for ideal prime time national television but I thought his performance was just fine in the face of a rushed and slightly hectoring Gordon Brewer.

Angus said...

A report on the behaviour of directors doesn't usually start until the full financial picture of the company is known.

The Receivership is still continuing and - I understand - active, so it may be some time before any conclusion is reached.

However, if there had been anything serious and significant, it is likely that an interim report would have been made and interim action taken.

Anonymous said...

10.08 personnally i think it is Botox!

Anonymous said...

The point, missed by the last three contributors, was not to extract a further thread of grievances, real or imagined, from you; it was to see if there is any prospect of the serial moaners, gripers, paranoid put-upon commentators, to offer something more constructive than the tiresome repetition of all that is wrong with the people who do try to do something in this community.

Or, and this has equal value, to shut up.

Anonymous said...

12:35 PM

How about the correct link.

All I got was a capercalle trying to shag David Attenborough when I cut and paste your link

Kenny Flip said...

Anon 3:34

I think you'll find that the picture is actually Angus MacNeil MP greeting a constituent in his traditional fashion.

Difficult to tell the difference from your first impression, I know..

Anonymous said...

the one who moans about the moaners against the council speaks of those who wont stand out and test their ideas with the electorate...

well you wont stand out and say who you are! Are you too scared too!

(neither will I- because I know that my "comhairle must fall" attitude will really hold me back in future).

In this place you need to comply or die - basically.

We are in the stranglehold of a bunch of incompetant morons who are the root cause of nearly everything thats deficient and unjust in our islands! They of course are the comittee junkie councillors....

Flirty Gerty said...

Okey dokey - as one of the paid-up whingers I'll expand on my few lines about what to do to correct the problems in the local economy.

We have a surfeit of false bureaucracy and a deficit of entrepreneurial activity at the Council. This is a result of direct policy choices, including repeated decisions to use public money to create more public sector jobs rather than stimulate private enterprise.

The solution, which I caricatured earlier, is to divert funds into enterprise creation. And more specifically, start-up assistance; development assistance and rescue assistance to small local businesses, irrespective of sector.

This is an internationally-respected strategy for genuine economic development.

How to do it without chucking the existing post-holders on the street? Gradually - as fixed-term contracts expire, ensure they are not renewed. Pass policy ensuring that fixed-term, external funding does not create 'make-work' jobs and stop it happening.

I have posted here extensively in the past on my feelings that 'core' services should be completely protected: bins, EHOs, teachers, librarians, road maintenance, school crossing patrols etc. etc. should be left well alone. But there is real money to be saved by ensuring that as each 'Head of Special Projects' at the Council retires or leaves, the post should be abolished and the money used more effectively.

Why won't I stand for the Council? Because I'm too busy running my own successful small business and employing local people (and I've never had a penny of public assistance for it). And because I'm not interested in attending endless Committees presiding over more waste than you can shake a stick at.

But I do vote - and I'd be delighted to vote for any reforming candidate who would step forward. Dammit, I'd even deliver leaflets for them in the couple of hours a day when I'm not working.

Anonymous said...

"Moaning about the moaners"

Take a look at the Storas Uibhist website and you will see that the most recent posting of board meeting minutes was April!

Any wonder why there is cynicism in the community when the management team can't be bothered to keep the community informed.

Or is the explanation that they have dodgy deals to hide?

Anonymous said...

"However, if there had been anything serious and significant, it is likely that an interim report would have been made and interim action taken."

Angus, you seem to be implying something to the effect that there is 'good' bankruptcy and 'bad' bankruptcy? To those with money still outstnding...

MadEddieH said...

Correct me if I'm wrong Angus but I thought that it was only if you had personally become bankrupt that you were barred from being a Director. If your company has gone bankrupt then it doesn't bar you from having another directorship, unless of course you are found to have been the cause of said bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...


Too busy with local commercial success to put clearly strong opinions to the test, but not too busy to preach to us all about what needs to be done. Sounds like the virtual pub bore to me! God help us.


Worse. My picture is of a disgruntled Comhairle employee, sitting during the time you and I are paying for, ranting about their (alleged) lords and masters. Much of the comment on the Comhairle has been about the dead wood that needs to be cut away. Any mirrors available?

Angus said...


A bankrup is automatically disqualified, but non-bankrupts can be disqualified too.

A full search for disqualified directors is available.

Anonymous said...

in recievership

yes, and in the public domain, but bankrupt is not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Angus, what are the possible scenarios if one of the buy outs runs out of operating cash, and assuming that there is no further public sector finance available to prop them up.

Would they go on the market and be up for sale to the highest bidder?

I have just had a quick look at one such companies accounts which are available on their web site and cannot see how they hope to achieve the development targets which they have set. Worrying stuff.