Selling out, or selling off?

In between searching for the Paris Hilton tape (uhhr, it's not for me, you understand, it's for my, uhhr, friend, who actually knows who she is) and doing some work, I was pondering Bradford Council's plans for their asset stripping exercise. For those bits of my reader who don't know, Bradford have decided to sell various of their buildings off to private companies and then lease them back. Well, they sort of have, cos now they're saying they might not be totally selling them off, just letting various companies help out with management of the land and property. It's a bit, well, murky. Which is odd, really, because much the same (and worse) can be said of the three companies that have made it through to the beauty parade at the end of the process. And, as you can tell, Bradford has done spectacularly well in its selection: First up there's Carillion (formerly known as Tarmac). Best known for its involvement in the Fazakerly/Altcourse prison debacle, where they managed to renegotiate the terms of their financing agreement in order to make a 100% return on their investment within three years of a supposedly 25 year contract, while passing hardly any of those savings on to the taxpayer (who had, of course, taken all the risk during the building stage). Quite how such actions would benefit the rather financially-challenged citizens of Bradford is anyone's guess, but any sell-off agreement would, of course, mean they'd no longer have any right to complain. Maybe it's to do with their recent moves into military contracting? Then we have the more delightful Land Securities Trillium. LST were most recently in the news over their involvement in the sale of job centres at a fraction of their real value. For reasons that no-one has explained, LST got the job without any proper tender process, earning itself a likley £600m over the next 15 years as a result. If the BBc deal LST recently did is anything to go by, it's not just the buildings that transfer over but all the staff (hence the recent 'who cares who does the cleaning?' comment from Bradford); it's an excellent opportunity to shed staff and reduce quality provision. And, infally, there's Mapeley Accord. Not unconnected to the company that recently took over 700 or so buiildings from the Inland Revenue, only for it then to be discovered that Mapeley isn't a registered UK company and all profits from the operation of the deal were, uhhr, not being taxed in the UK. And, of course, one of the problems with under-investment in the public sector is that companies insist on dodging tax to such an extent. It could be an interesting situation... Just make sure you check out the figures guys!

By-law, schmy-law

And so here we go again. There's going to be a by-law introduced to ban skating on the streets of Ilkley. We, of course, hate young people who cause so many accidents and so much trouble and generally smell and litter up the town. Now, admittedly, our skate park is very nice. It's not like Addingham's, which is, let's face it, just a tad flat (hey, no, that's a whole post on its own, the tale of the councillors who thought it was a good idea to build a skateboard park for the town's youth, but neglected to put any, that's right any ramps, pipes or rails in). But there are no lights. And it's very dark at this time of year. And it's right down on the river. How long is that going to take for most kids living in South Ilkley to get to of a school evening? So they stick to the car park. Not doing any harm. Just, y'know, skating. But that's wrong, so they're going to be criminalised. It's been fascinating to watch the number of times young people get criticised for their actions in Ilkley. I'm not suggesting the place is biased towards the elderly, but... no, actually, I am trying to suggest that. So we have criminal kids (which will please the middle class Middleton boys who think they're hanging in the hood). And the police will, presumably, be coming after them. Only, we already have by-laws. Notably one that's sign-posted on every lamp-post. No dogshit. And have you ever seen a member of the constabulary making an arrest over that one? Nope, neither have I. Frankly, given the state of crime in Ilkley, that four major businesses in town have been broken into over the last four weeks (for anyone whose keeping count that's Boots (again), William Brown, the Grove Dentists and Olicana Stationers), you'd think the Police would have something better to do. Certainly the council doesn't think suh events are important. It spends its time, after all, abetting our local criminals by making it easier for them to ram-raid shops. Why else are they so intent on refusing permission to law-abiding shop-owners when they request the right to put shutters on their shops? Perhaps that's the reason for the new by-law. Keep the Police busy while the Council's friends in low places go about their shady business. Whose going to be the next leader of the council? Tony Soprano? Come to think of it, Mike 'funky' Gibbons is filling out a bit, isn't he?

Visit Baht'at country

What the fuck were they thinking? What goes through the minds of people when they come back from the first day of their Marketing HND and go, 'boss, I've got this great idea'? Ilkley and the dales are to be re-branded as 'Baht'at Country'. We kid you not. You can sort of work out what they were thinking. 'Bronte Country has worked for Haworth, Herriott Country for wherever that is, Heartbeat Country for Goathland; surely Bahtat country will work for us?' Well, no, it won't. And a moment's thought would explain why. Here's what we learned at Branding 101. And what we didn't learn there, what we learnt from the good people at snarkhunting. First, don't jump on the bandwagon. The bandwagon has inevitably already jumped the shark. Just because tagging an area with 'country' has worked for a few places, doesn't mean it will work for you. This practice reeks of desperation. Especially when, for the first time, this country is named after a song. A song that no-one understands! Classy move that! Second, don't get confused about your market. The places with 'country' attached aren't real anymore, they have no class, they appeal to the lumpenproles and the foreigner wanting the 'England-in-an-easily-consumable-and-swallowable-globus' experience. They're all tea shops and sitcoms. Shit, there's even a summer wine country (and, oh, that's a place where I don't ever want to go). Ilkley and the Dales aren't like that. Sure, it's always been traditional for the place to be filled with the scum from Bradford come Bank Holiday, but that's okay as long as they're gone by nightfall. And why do they come? Because Ilkley offers them a short holiday in a better class of existence. Don't appeal to them, don't sell to them, or they won't be interested in coming. And thirdly and most bleedin obviously, bahtat country doesn't work because no-one can spell the fucking word. Anyone who's been to the wonderful Bar T'at knows that that phrase is almost impossible to spell first time. So you do a radio spot and declare 'come to visit baht'at country'. And everyone who hears it goes 'hunnh?'. Not to mention having to take six runs at the url. What IS the fucking point?