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Dale’s Diary: From Capita to nuclear profits, via City TV

Dale’s Diary: From Capita to nuclear profits, via City TV

🕔25.Jul 2014

Chamberlain Files chief blogger Paul Dale decides it’s high time to make some fresh entries into ‘Dale’s Diary’,

At long last, some good news to report about Capita.

The outsourcing outfit that most people in local government love to hate is doing rather well according to the company’s half-year results.

Pre-tax profits rose 16 per cent to £238 million and revenues were up by 14 per cent.

This rather puts into perspective Birmingham city council’s exhaustive attempt to renegotiate its Service Birmingham IT contract with Capita.

The council succeeded in reducing the amount it has to pay Service Birmingham by just over £20 million a year, which in the general scheme of things turned out to be small change for Capita.

As part of the deal, Capita will hand back responsibility for running a call centre to the city council although that might not be quite such a hardship given the challenges of dealing with millions of phone calls a year from angry residents demanding that their gutters must be cleaned or pot-holed roads mended.

Capita’s year to date has been boosted by winning central and local government contracts up and down the country including a £400 million deal to run Ministry of Defence barracks and training grounds.

Indeed, Capita boasts that it has £5.7 billion of bids for new contracts pending, and that it is winning two out of every three contracts it tenders for.

The new company chief executive, Andy Parker, expects to benefit further from the Government’s ‘austerity’ measures and the onus on central and local government “to do more with less”.

Mr Parker pointed out that there are a quarter of a million civil servants in the UK, compared with just 64,000 Capita staff, before adding “obviously we’re not going to replace all these civil servants”, which will come as some relief to what remains of the public sector.

City analysts are keeping an eye on Capita shares, which rose 3.5 per cent off the back of the half-year results to close at £12.10.

It’s a definite ‘buy’, I’d say (although Chamberlain Files does not provide financial advice value of and shares can go up and down, blah blah – Ed.).

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Us media folk are always chasing impossible timetables.

However, two years to get a television station on the air does seem like a long time.

It was November 6th 2012 that Ofcom awarded the local TV licence for Birmingham to City TV, an outfit fronted by former Birmingham city council Canadian spin doctor Debra Davis and her partner Alan Grindley.

City TV’s parent group BLTV has until November 6th this year to get some programmes up and running or the licence will be re-advertised, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey told MPs this week.

Back in May Ms Davis insisted the company was “making excellent progress” for an autumn launch and she expected the new station to reach 1.2 million households in Birmingham and the Black Country.

For some reason Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe doesn’t appear to believe her and has been asking difficult questions about City TV in parliament.

He branded the launch a “fiasco” and claimed the people of Birmingham were being “short changed”.

Is there, though, any know reason to suppose that the autumn launch deadline will not be met?

Personally, I’m waiting to see whether Ms Davis turns out to be City TV’s ‘weather girl’. I think she’d be rather good at it.

It’s been a week of mixed fortunes for UKIP.

West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour has been handed the party’s transport portfolio. All she needs now are some policies to go with it.

Birmingham businessman Keith Rowe will be the UKIP candidate at the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election on August 21.

Former West Midlands UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclair is set to appear in court to answer allegations that she fraudulently claimed travel expenses during her time at Brussels.

She’s been charged with offences of money laundering and misconduct in public office.

There was an impressive gathering at Wolverhampton civic hall of the political great and good for the funeral and celebration of the life of Bob Jones, the West Midlands police commissioner who died on July 1.

Almost everyone respected the family’s wish that they should wear something red to symbolise Bob’s socialist credentials. Chief constable Chris Sims looked very dapper with a red rose in his buttonhole.

After singing Jerusalem, mourners were asked to whistle Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ as the coffin went out.

Meanwhile, Roger Lawrence, the leader of Wolverhampton Council and one of Bob’s oldest friends, is reported to have said he intends to write Bob’s name on the ballot paper for the police commissioner by-election, which hardly seems to be a vote of confidence in the Labour candidate David Jamieson.

The little heard of Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced what appears to be a fool-proof exercise in making money.

Local communities can cash in to the tune of £40 million, yes £40 million, and all they have to do is put their area forward as a site for one of Britain’s new nuclear waste dumps.

Now, I know what you are thinking. We would all be dead from radiation before getting a chance to spend the dosh.

Not necessarily. The Government is so desperate to find locations for the dump that it has agreed communities can back out of the site-selection process at any stage…..and still keep the money.

It’s envisaged that communities would receive £1 million a year for five years if local people “engaged constructively” with officials seeking a site for the waste. The real money would be made if bore holes are sunk in the ground, with a £2.5 million a year pay-out over 15 years.

Get those bore holes sunk, wait 14 years, and then say ‘nahh, changed our minds actually’.

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