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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Carbon Capture

I'm not displeased that the plan to pump Carbon Dioxide from Longannet into empty oil wells under the North Sea has been rejected.

I have serious technical questions about the sanity of pumping toxic gasses into a subsea cavity, where various chemical reactions will take place, unobserved, unmonitored and uncontrolled.

Add water to carbon dioxide, and what do you get?  Carbonic Acid and vast underground caverns. 

Add in all the other toxic compounds n the smoke.....

However, let's pose a simple question to all supporters of Carbon Sequestration:

What is the practical difference between pumping gaseous waste from Longannet into holes under the North Sea and putting nuclear waste into holes in the ground?

As far as I am concerned, there is no difference. In both cases you are hiding the problem, not sorting it.

If Longannet is pumping out such a toxic mess, then close the damn place, and end the dependence on dirty coal.  Don't leave it for future generations to resolve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Employment vacancy

We have a vacancy for an International Tax Accountant to assist us primarily with the preparation and control of foreign tax returns and payroll processing, along with many other activities.

The full details of the vacancy are on our website, and applicants will want to look at and for an appreciation of what we are doing.

This is an exciting and rapidly growing aspect of our business, and we are seeking an appointee who can meet our needs.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Salmon exports to China

Whilst it is undoubtedly Good News that salmon exports to China are growing, the real reasons behind the growth are much less savoury.

These reasons bear some consideration, and the implications for Scotland are much less obvious and savoury than we might like.

It is not that Scotland has succeeded, but more that Norway has been punished.  Norway, you may recall, is held up as a model that Scotland should try to emulate.

So what did Norway do?

Well, the Norwegians had the temerity to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, a move that the Chinese Government didn't like in the slightest.

The end result was a vast hike in import taxes, increased import controls, and a serious attempt at economic payback against a country that only hosts - not awards - the Nobel Institute.

I for one am concerned that Scotland is so happy to be seen to benefit from a superpower trying to gag opponents, and that we are allowing/encouraging the Chinese Government to repeat this effort should anyone else try to raise issues about human rights, executions or economic jiggery-pokery.

Alex Salmond has effectively allowed himself to be boxed into a corner, whereby condemning the abuses of the population in China or Tibet will be met by threats of economic sanctions.

It was not edifying to see Tony Blair cosy up to Gadaffi.  This is no different, and sells the moral high ground to the Chinese; a position we should try to occupy beside the Norwegians.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Google Adwords - updated

I just got the statistics through for this month, and I think that they are quite impressive.

Apparently 11.17% of people who see one of our online ads are clicking through the advert for more information, and whilst we haven't got exact figures for conversions as we rely upon our recollection of phone class and emails during the month, we estimate that 15-20% of clicks turn into new clients.

That's a very health 1.67% of everyone who sees our advert becoming a client.

It can be done; and location is not an issue

Street lighting

As I drove into wrok very early this morning, the reason for the metal attachements on the trees in Bayhead palypark became obvious.

Beautiful blue lights, to guide the competitors from the Whisky Olympics home; in the absence of street lights.

I went to take a photo, and in the 15 seconds that passed between exiting the car and coming back out from the office, the street lights came on and the fancy lights went out.

Can some other early bird take a photo and sent it on for use on the site, please?

Monday, October 10, 2011


How to try to keep your constituents happy without actually agreeing with them...
Western Isles SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has today responded to the consultation on the proposed marine Special Area of Conservation for the Sound of Barra.
Alasdair Allan commented: “My constituents, not only in the fishing industry but in the community more generally, have expressed their clear opposition to this proposed designation and believe that the designation is still unnecessary."
Translation for the general public:
I've been told in uncompromising terms what to say, but I don't believe a word of what I write...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Gritting contracts

The goat has been well and truly scaped.

The Councillors were given an informal and off the record briefing on Monday night which was complete-ish but meant that there could be no discussion during the rest of the week about the utter mess that the tendering produced.

There is an internal audit report in progress that, I believe, tells a different story.  No doubt the embarrassing bits will be edited out before the Councillors get to see it.

Just so that no-one is in any doubt, although the entire tendering process is managed from top to bottom by a small and very powerful group in the Executive Office (the Chief Executive's dept), they are found to be utterly, completely and totally blameless in having anything to do with the tendering process being wrong.  After all, it can't be their responsibility to check the facts....

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

UHI to face cuts

This is something I've been aware of for some time, but the public announcement that Capita are on the prowl to look at the governance of the UHI has sent shivers through the tiers of management, and right down to the lecturing staff.

They know - as we know - that a 'review of governance' means cuts.

And this 'review of governance' is being led through by the junior Minister for Cutting Education, Mr Allan.

I am told that the expectation is that functions will be centralised, leaving only nominal control and responsibility in the discrete locations.

Far be it from me to suggest that the review is a sham, but Inverness are already gearing up to receive some of the posts; which are expected to include much of the finance function and many of the administrative functions.

I'm told that there will be a move to centralise staffing and HR functions, which will also mean that staff may face the prospect of being moved between locations, as courses evolve.

Who will welcome the birth of the University of Inverness, and the loss of local autonomy?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Mobile phone coverage

An online report indicates that (some) of our connectivitiy problems may be solved...
The UK's Chancellor has confirmed that the government will sink £150m into buying up cell sites with the intention of extending rural coverage to 99 per cent of the population.
Ofcom will advise the government on how it should go about spending our cash on sites for base stations to be utilised by multiple operators, with the intention of creating greater coverage for existing networks and encouraging operators to roll out next-generation services to the edges of the UK.
Details are still scant, with more to come from the Department of Fun (properly Culture, Media and Sport) at some future point, but the basic idea is to buy up sites during 2012 and make them commonly available by early 2013. Operators will be able to move in cheaply, to provide service to the six million or so people who currently aren't getting blanket coverage today, hopefully with 3G or 4G services, but at least 2G.
I just hope it is true, and reaches here.

The top-secret final submission from the high-tech high-speed node-sniffers at Bayhead, is shown below, and no doubt influenced the Chancellor greatly.

"You can only get a signal if you stand to the left of the wooden sheep"

Township clerks

I have just become aware of a wrinkle in the legislation, planned or otherwise, which might will cause nothing but grief, tears and neighbourly disputes of the most bitter kind.

I am told - and this comes from the mouths of the Crofters Commission - that Township Clerks will be expected to provide an annual township report which includes identifying each and every crofter who is not properly working the costs, and those which should be taken back by the Commission for redistribution.

This might be an admirable aim, but which Clerk in their right mind is going to put in an adverse report.

It is not the horses heads in your bed that you would need to fear, but the rapacious lawyers suing you for libel and the Commission accusing you of not doing your job.

So much for 'building new communities'.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A Councillor writes.....

"Do any senior council Officers ever get held to account for any incompetency, failures or for wasting Council resources?"

He didn't wait for a reply, as he knew the answer.

But, that may not be the case by this weekend.

Update: According to an email from the Executive Office today, the gritting contract was withdrawn because the mileages on the tender were wildly (my words) wrong.

It may be possible that the mileages have changed since the last tenders, or that there is some kind of timeslip outside the boundaries of Stornoway, which must play havoc with the bus contracts.  Perhaps 36 years of managing the road network has not given enough data for the Department to give accurate measurements.

Nevertheless, that is only part of the story.  Perhaps Councillors might want to look at the first and second tenders and note some of the other fundamental changes.

And ask the simple question: "Why?"

Further thought: Given that the entire process was abandoned, are they Officers saying that they got the mileages wrong in every parcel?  Remember that the last but one mis-tender cost £250,000 in damages to Sovval's, and Councillors should ask if the same fingerprints are all over the same process. (A: Yes)

As there is now an in-house option, does this not amount to skewing the contract in the favour of a new bidder at the expense of the existing bidders, who have been tacitly accepted.  And now the Comhairle has the prices; which of course the DLO won't see.  I predict multiple legal action if any of the winning tenders are now lost.

Supermarket wars

Spotted in Tesco on Friday, a member of the Board accompanied by the usual entourage of groupies, assistants and flibbertigibbets.

A very brief and very rapid tour of every single aisle was followed by a swift exit; without the need to converse with the merest of employee.

About 2 hours later the same party of suits were seen touring the Co-op in the same high speed and aloof manner; quite obviously checking out the opposition.

With rumours of a greenfield site having been identified, it seems that Tesco have big plans to challenge the Co-op.

And as is the way, the small local shops will suffer collateral damage.