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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Death by 1,000 cuts

So, Hebrides News reports that ADS is to be restricted - read prohibited - for business travellers and Comhairle employees.

So if I book a flight, who decides if it is private or business?

Me, or a faceless civil servant, who tries to later claim back the ADS discount?

Actually, that doesn't matter too much, as it is all administration.

Where the real problem lies is the change in the philosophy about the operation of the scheme.

Public sector bodies are supposedly already excluded - but the Comhairle/WIHB/etc seems to have been taking the urine, and only now have the Government realised what's going on.

Now apart from the body cavity searches at the airports, you are going to be asked if you are travelling on business or leisure. Just who is going to answer to the expensive former, rather than the cheaper latter. Still, the boxes will have been ticked, and the principle of cutting the provision will be established.

Next, a maximum number of journeys a year?

Only left-handed students on Tuesdays?

And thence to RET.

You can see where this is going, and the deafening cries of outrage from our MP and MSP will show exactly where they stand....


Dr Evadne said...

What difference does it make one way or the other. The air fares come out of the public purse in some shape or form. But why include private business travellers in the punishment?

It has been said here on so many occasions, why don't CNES use their very expensive video conferencing system instead of jet setting here there and everywhere. Do they really need to keep attending courses and junkets? It doesn't seem to be of benefit to anyone. It is an odd day indeed if you jump on one of those turbo prop bone shaking rust buckets, and not find at least 3 council employees/councillors off on a jolly. Might see less of them now that drinks trolley has been thrown out over the Minch.

Anonymous said...

'Actually, that doesn't matter too much, as it is all administration.'

Exactly. If in this current climate of cuts that is the only 'restriction' put on the ADS then we have got off lightly. Any excuse to cut travel in the council is welcome, for anyone who does not book through a corporate travel agent I suspect that there will be no change. The ADS may well add some sort of question when you log on - business of pleasure? I know what I'll be ticking!

It will raise costs for some, which is not good. The health board springs to mind, I would not say a visit to raigmore is either business or pleasure. Confusing.

Hairy McLairy said...

So, if I travel to see my mother in Glasgow but visit one of my business clients on the way, how will I classify my visit?

And how will they tell? What if my client cancels at the last minute (as they occasionally do) and my trip becomes purely for seeing Mum? Will I get my money back?

This is madness because most of us who travel regularly with our private commercial businesses, using the ADS as we have been entitled to do, also make the best use of our trips to see friends, relatives and pop into M&S on the way back.

Are we going to have to wear tracksuits at the airport and change into our suits when we get to the other side?

Someone hasn't thought this through, have they?

Anonymous said...

I hope this doesn't mean that Comhairle staff using their ADS Cards can buy ADS tickets and then claim the non ADS i.e. the full price ticket! I trust receipts are needed to reclaim travel expenses?

Also Comhairle are only actively encouraging staff to use their ADS cards this must mean that some perhaps don’t use ADS cards, Why? Surely it is incumbent on all staff to reduce their expenses as much as possible.

It also raises the question, of if so many flights are taken by staff and Councillors, why is there not some sort of block booking, and this probably should also include the Health Board, that enables a very cheap ticket for those who must travel as part of their work. Historically it must be known roughly how many flights are taken each year on Comhairle business, all someone has to do is negotiate with the airlines a discount rate based on this number of seats. If this number is exceeded or not reached then a re-assessment is calculated as part of the next year’s settlement.

Anonymous said...

Well if the drinks trolley has gone down over the Minch no hope for its rescue as our Coast Guard facility is next for the chop.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why the main focus of discussion is always the council. My business has had to pay the full air fare prices for years and nobody had cared about it very much. The additional problem with the ADS scheme is that it promotes and sustains a comfortable monopoly. The fares are always based on the full fare price and then the ads discount is applied which means that the airline are on a win win course, a great deal for them, maximising their income from Edinburgh with every passenger. If as a cost conscious business you book a normal ticket, which is not an insignificant sum for the economy price, and you then have to change it for some reason, you can't. In this situation when you have to change and travel at short notice you will again pay a very large sum for an additional new ticket. I thought the ADS scheme was meant to help the business economy as a whole? It is clearly no good since businesses always have to pay the monopoly price which is usually a lot in comparison to the choice available in the central belt or Aberdeen for example. The island businesses will always be at a major competitive disadvantage with the current system and it looks as if its going to get worse. A large number of travellers who to and fro are self employed, so this new development merely emphasises the danger of creating and allowing a monopoly to take root in the first place. In the good old days when profligacy was the norm and councils and government depts were awash with money, it didn't matter, but now, we're either going to fold or move to a more level playing field.

Grumpy Old Git said...

As a former Comhairle insider, I can tell you that up to a few years ago it was Comhairle policy to book full price seats for its staff.

The thinking was that if the Comhairle paid full price, there would be discount seats left for the ordinary traveller. There was a feeling that it was unfair of the Comhairle to hog the discount seats, as there are only so many on each flight.

The other reason they used to book full price seats was that they changed them so much that it was often cheaper to book a fully flexible fare than pay the admin costs to keep chopping and changing as meetings were moved.

But with the ADS the goalposts have moved. It IS (and had been for years) a Comhairle policy to only allow the reclaim of travel tickets with receipts - no receipt, no money. But not everyone uses it - because not everyone who works for the Comhairle has an Air Discount Card (why would you bother applying if you only fly once a year, and for work?)

I now travel a lot with my new work (private sector) on the Flybe boneshaker. And I see a lot of flights being made that don't need to be made. But step back a minute and think what would happen if all public sector workers stopped flying (except for hospital trips.) Flybe would say that the route isn't viable and stick the prices up further, and cut the service frequency. So who would that benefit?

Heaven knows I'm no apologist for the Comhairle, and I'm deeply critical of the waste in there, but it probably keeps the flights running.

Anonymous said...


......I now travel a lot with my new work (private sector) on the Flybe boneshaker. And I see a lot of flights being made that don't need to be made. But step back a minute and think what would happen if all public sector workers stopped flying (except for hospital trips.)....

Then presumably there would just be a direct or increased subsidy.

Remember that when you're seeing 'a lot of flights that don't need to be made' you're also paying for subsistence costs, mainland travel costs (likely) down time (where those council workers are not at their desks working) time spent preparing for 'meetings', time spent reporting back on those 'meetings', admin costs for all of the above, accommodation costs for people who are not at their desks because they go to 'lots' of things on the mainland.

The list could be longer still - but if, say, 40% of those meetings are not strictly necessary then what could that differential be used to pay for - apart from the subsidy that is ?

Anonymous said...

The thinking was that if the Comhairle paid full price, there would be discount seats left for the ordinary traveller.

Seriously? No consideration of the cost to the ordinary taxpayer?

Anonymous said...

Seriously? No consideration of the cost to the ordinary taxpayer?

There may well have been extreme consideration for the ordinary tax payer. Personally I feel that this may have one of the more honest and smarter 'policies' regarding travel.

I've a couple of reasons for saying this:

The flights in & out of the Island are a finite resource, I've had to book tickets at full fare only to find 10 or 12 people on the flight, that shows how many cheap seats are available. If any corporate body booked these seats in advance for meetings that may or not happen, they would be doing the Islands a real disfavour. Some can only afford the cheap seats.

Like it or not travel is part and parcel of doing business in these Islands and travel is expensive, even more so when you need to change your plans at the last minute and unless you can change your ticket things start to get complicated and expensive, hence a lot of business's have a policy of only buying flex (which are close to or full fare)tickets. One may ask why and the simple answer is experience. They know the costs of having someone stuck at Glasgow airport at 6pm when they have just missed a flight with a so call 'cheap' ticket in their hand!

Business travel is very different to personal travel - for all the wrong reasons.

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