Norman Olley, a well-known baker and one of Rick Stein’s food heroes, has closed his business in Dereham, Norfolk, after falling sales left him with no choice. The self-proclaimed “campaigning baker” told British Baker he blamed the increasing dominance of the supermarkets, for the falling number of consumers coming to buy bread from his shop. “I’ve been trying to fight the big boys and everything they represent… but now they’ve finally got me,” he said.The North Elmham bakery, which Olley had run for 34 years, shut its doors on Saturday 16 January, after he had run through his finances the day before and realised he didn’t know where the money was going to come from to pay the bills and his staff their wages. “I thought it best to walk away now, rather than be pushed,” he said.The business, which employed eight people, comprised a shop in Dereham and a stall at Norwich market. The bakery also supplied between 30 and 40 wholesale clients in the local area, including schools.Sales had fallen over the past year, explained Olley. “A year ago I was taking around £1,500 a week on the market stall, but this has dropped to £500, and the business had been turning over around £5,000 a week, but this had dropped by around £1,200 a week on average.” Olley said he’d noticed falling customer numbers over the past five years as people chose to shop at the supermarket for their bread instead. Looking back, he said he probably should have closed about five years ago, “but being a baker you run business from your heart rather than your head”.
On March 30, Washington County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford issued a decision to award attorney’s fees ‘in the amount of $5,400 plus costs of $626.44’ to the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA). The decision stems from a January 6 decision by Crawford, ruling then that the State of Vermont was in violation of the law when it attempted to charge the union approximately $1,300 to view public records. Judge Crawford ruled that the State’s inspection fee “is plainly a financial impediment placed in the way of persons seeking access to records.” In determining that the union was entitled to an attorney’s fee award, the Court noted, “The state’s position was not supported by the language of the statute, by its history, or by subsequent case law. It represented a statement of what the administration wished the statute to say rather than what it actually says.’‘The court’s ruling sends an important message to public officials that they could face direct financial consequences for wrongfully denying access to public records,’ said VSEA Associate General Counsel Abigail Winters, who brought the lawsuit against the State. ‘Because the State attempted to charge VSEA unlawful fees to review these public records’and the union had to take the administration to court to enforce our rights under the law’an attorney’s fee award is entirely just.’Winters added that VSEA has not been permitted to review the records, even though the Court ruled in January that the union was entitled to freely examine them. ‘As a staunch supporter of access to public records in government, I applaud the decision by Judge Crawford,’ said Secretary of State Jim Condos. ‘At a time when our state is engaged in a vigorous discussion of ways to increase and encourage open government, including pending legislation H.73, I feel it is important to remove unnecessary barriers to public access of state business.’Winters also warned that H. 73 (open records legislation currently making its way through the Legislature), contains a small but significant change to the public records act, which would allow the state and other public entities to begin charging fees to inspect records. “VSEA believes this statutory change is a significant step away from government transparency,’ said Winters. ‘It would enable government officials to create financial barriers to the public’s access to government records. Under the statutory change, an agency that does a poor job storing its records will be rewarded by being able to charge fees to a citizen who simply wanted to look at those records.” Condos said he also believes the Legislature should remove the language from H.73 before passage. ‘Vermont needs a culture change in regards to access to public records,’ Secretary Condos. ‘Free access to inspect public records was clearly intended by previous Legislatures and should be maintained.’ Source: VSEA. 4.4.2011 ###
Several key players in Vermont’s electric and telecommunications industries appeared with Governor Peter Shumlin today to announce the finalization of a collaborative agreement to give Vermont more control over energy consumption, expand access to broadband and telecommunications services, and boost job creation and economic development. The agreement between Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service Corp., and Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) is critical to Shumlin’s call to reduce our dependence on oil and fossil fuels and simultaneously provide high-speed internet access statewide by the end of 2013. ‘What we are celebrating today is the operating agreement that supports the ‘marriage’ of smart grid and our telecommunications infrastructure. Smart grid is a national and Vermont priority,’ Gov. Shumlin said. Green Mountain Power, CVPS and their 17 partners will install about 250,000 advanced meters over the next two years and those smart meters will transmit their information to and from homes via the wireless open world broadband network that is being built by VTel. This project will provide the critical backbone to transmit information. ‘Early on, I spoke of a ‘wireless canopy’ across Vermont,’ the Governor said. ‘This is but one application that will rely on that canopy.’ Under the agreement, the parties have essentially agreed to share use of VTel-owned and operated technology to expand the smart grid efforts designed to provide energy information to companies and homeowners, as well as deliver high-speed broadband service across the state. The Vtel Wireless Open World (WOW) project, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, is currently in permitting phase with completion targeted for early 2013, in sync with the activation of the smart grid. ‘Today’s agreement is a major milestone in our efforts through 2013, and a groundbreaking move for smart grid installations across the nation. GMP and CVPS are the first two utilities in the country to rely on a commercial, 4G LTE communications network. The operating agreement will provide the security and data prioritization attributes necessary to operate SG across a public network. This development is directly aligned with the goals of the FCC’s national Broadband Plan as it looks to integrate commercial broadband communications networks into smart grid applications,’ said Karen Marshall, chief of Connect VT. ‘The partnership between VTel, GMP and CVPS is an important step in fulfilling Vermont’s dual objective of universal broadband coverage and smart grid communications,’ said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. ‘The collaboration among our companies will create a platform for energy innovation and economic development of Vermont going forward.”‘The real promise of smart grid for Vermonters is to reduce peak demand on our electrical distribution system by giving consumers the information they need to change electric use patterns; integrating clean renewable power generation, and eventually supporting the adoption of electric vehicles. Realizing that promise requires two way communications and this agreement supports that,’ said Gov. Shumlin. ‘VTel’s service will reach many un-served and under-served areas of Vermont, which is critical for connecting our state to the modern economy,’ said Michel Guite, owner of VTel. ‘Plus, this connectivity will enable a more robust smart grid, enabling even larger impacts on energy efficiency.’And by combining GMP and CVPS’s smart grid funding with VTel’s Rural Broadband funding, the LTE broadband network being developed by VTel will cover more of Vermont’s geography. ‘The original VTel network was designed to support unserved and underserved Vermonters with best-in-class broadband access, and this agreement will help extend that network to more people faster,’ said Joan Gamble, vice president for strategic change and business services at Central Vermont Public Service. ‘This unique partnership between telecommunications and electric utilities will benefit all of our customers, and is a model for business collaboration that reinforces the fact that Vermont is open for business.’
Emma Douglas, PLSA“Drawing on the wide expertise of the PLSA’s policy board, we have identified four key priority topics: well-run schemes, effective engagement, adequate contributions, and addressing the challenges of consolidation – with some actions for government and some for the industry.”Scale and transparency The PLSA said it would continue to support consolidation of defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) schemes, although it acknowledged that “scale should not be pursued as an end itself”.Based on its 2017 work on what it dubbed pension “superfunds” for DB consolidation, it said it would seek to play “a major role” in their development. The industry is currently waiting for a regulatory framework to be set out by government to support commercial consolidator vehicles.The association also highlighted its work on cost transparency as part of its focus on improving governance standards. It recently partnered with asset managers and local authority pension funds to launch templates for the reporting of investment costs, through the Cost Transparency Initiative.“The focus on well-run schemes recognises that good scheme governance goes to the heart of trust in the industry and the delivery of good outcomes for savers,” the PLSA said. “As well as scheme governance, this area covers cost transparency, value-for-money, sound investments, and stewardship.”Adequacy and engagementImproving engagement with savers and ensuring individuals were saving enough for a comfortable retirement are the other two areas of focus for the PLSA.The association called for the development of retirement income standards, which it described as “quantifiable saving targets [to] help the industry communicate people’s likely lifestyle in retirement and help them understand the impact of savings decisions”.It also highlighted work on the pensions dashboard and a proposed new “simpler annual statement” to improve reporting to end investors.The PLSA also vowed to push for auto-enrolment minimum contributions to be increased to 12% of salary by 2030, in line with a recent report into retirement income adequacy. It would actively seek to recognise schemes that meet this level through its “Pension Quality Mark” standards, the association said.On the DB side, the PLSA voiced support for a proposed new DB funding code and new powers planned for the Pensions Regulator. The UK’s trade body for pension funds has put consolidation at the heart of a new four-year strategy plan.The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) announced today that improving scale and advocating for consolidation efforts would be one of four main aims for the trde body over the course of the next four years.As well as supporting consolidation of pension schemes, the PLSA said it would focus on raising scheme governance standards, improving pension outcomes, and boosting member engagement.The association’s policy board, formed last year as part of a strategic overhaul of its leadership structure, has formed four sub-committees to lead the work in these four areas. Emma Douglas, chair of the PLSA’s policy board, said: “We have an ambitious policy agenda to ensure the UK regime for retirement savings delivers a better income for everyone.
Non-performing household loans — share of loans. Source: RBAMr Kearns said weak economic conditions drove cyclical upswings in arrears.“What we can see across Australia is there is a clear pattern of more loans going into arrears in locations where the unemployment rate is higher. Notably the unemployment rate has increased and income growth slowed in Western Australia and parts of Queensland with the end of the mining boom. These areas have seen larger increases in arrears.” He said while housing arrears had risen, it was “by no means to a level that poses a risk to financial stability”. 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This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHow much do I need to retire?00:58 Banks’ non-performing household loans: Share of loans outstanding, domestic books. Source: RBAThe vast majority of Aussie borrowers have prepayment buffers on their mortgages, according to his figures.“Around two-thirds of borrowers have accumulated buffers of prepayments of their mortgage, and some others have other assets outside of their property,” he said.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus12 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market12 hours ago“Households with financial buffers can withstand some period of unemployment, but if that extends too long and depletes their savings, they risk falling into arrears.” How this woman made $100K in eight weeks Coast’s first penthouse sells under the hammer Around two-thirds of Aussie borrowers have prepayment buffers on their mortgages. Picture: Penny Stephens.The Reserve Bank had a typically Australian response to home loan arrears rising today – no worries – thanks to the phenomenal chunk of Aussies blitzing mortgages ahead of schedule.Reserve Bank of Australia’s head of financial stability Jonathan Kearns told the 2019 Property Leaders’ Summit in Canberra this morning that “an increasing share of housing borrowers are behind in their mortgage repayments” but he also revealed the percentage of Australians that are blitzing payments. MORE: Free pontoons on offer “Several factors have been interacting to drive the rise in housing arrears. Economic conditions are undoubtedly part of the story. Weak income growth, housing price falls and rising unemployment in some areas have all contributed,” he said.“But they have not acted alone, interacting with earlier weaker lending standards, and the more recent tightening in lending standards.”He warned “the arrears rate could continue to edge higher for a bit longer”.“But with overall strong lending standards, so long as unemployment remains low, arrears rates should not rise to levels that pose a risk to the financial system or cause great harm to the household sector.” FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK The Reserve Bank of Australia board dropped its cash rate target to a record low 1.25 per cent at its June meeting, with experts predicting more to come this year. Picture: AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi.He even seemed to applaud the fact that the arrears rate was not too low: “Making loans involves risk, and banks are used to managing this risk. If the arrears rate was persistently very low, that would suggest that lenders were being too cautious in lending. In that world, some people who could almost certainly repay a loan would struggle to get one”. “The share of banks’ housing loans in arrears is now back around the level reached in 2010, the highest it has been for many years. But arrears are still well below the level reached in the early 1990s recession,” he said, adding that Australia’s rate of arrears was “still relatively low internationally”.He revealed that a phenomenal “over 99 per cent of housing loans are on, or ahead of, schedule”.