Archive | October, 2012

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FREE Website for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Posted on 31 October 2012 by editor

As the recession continues, it is of vital importance to have an online presence to help boost turnover and profits. davidvidgen.co.uk is a Birmingham based business specialising in building SEO friendly websites for small and medium sized businesses. They are offering any small and medium sized business the opportunity to have a free website, when they purchase their ‘link building services’.

A website without inbound links will never show up in the Google search results pages (SERPS) for any competitive keyphrases. Anyone can build a website, but few can build SEO friendly sites, and even fewer have the expertise to build quality inbound links from highly relevant and trustworthy domains. davidvidgen.co.uk do not believe in just building websites, they want you to own a business tool that through the power of search brings new customers to your door – hence why they will offer a free website when you sign up to the link building services.

For any website to rank top on Google, it needs to be optimised and have links from good quality and relevant domains. Links should come from Social Media websites such as Google+1, Blogs, Industry Relevant Websites and be registered on Google Places.

To find out more about this offer, please visit davidvidgen.co.uk – David Vidgen Ltd, Birmingham, B31 3XB, Tel: 07583 508836

Online shopping statistics for 2011 indicate that the market was worth an estimated £50.34 billion, accounting for 12% of all transactions. This is the highest percentage of any European country, with Germany a distant second at 9%.

David Vidgen, owner of davidvidgen.co.uk said, “Having an online presence is a must for any modern business. The internet has changed the way we shop, and the dominance of Google now dictates the market. Those websites who appear top of search engine rankings reap the rewards. However, few businesses understand how to achieve such listings, so the aim of our free website offer, is to educate and help those achieve top rankings over a period of time.”

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Birmingham Businesses Prepare for Snow

Posted on 29 October 2012 by editor

Birmingham based businesses are bracing themselves for a cold snap after early autumn snow showers last week provided a bitter taste of what this winter may entail.

Snow in previous years has caused massive disruption to road and rail networks, which in-turn affect local businesses. Snow ploughs have previously sold out, so businesses are being encouraged to buy early this to avoid disappointment. Snow Ploughs are available at stepsandstorage.co.uk

David Peters a local photographer and business owner said, “Snow causes severe disruption to our daily routines. Simple journeys either by foot or car for most are very difficult, as driveways and walkways become blocked and unsafe. We are preparing early by purchasing some heavy duty snow ploughs, this will allow us to clear paths and roads very easily, not just for my own business benefit but for others in close vicinity.”

The forecast for the winter indicated freezing conditions, and if like the last two winters, it will be weeks of below -freezing temperatures. Birmingham Airport has also suffered in previous years with closure and many flights being cancelled.

 

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London Midland Chaos

Posted on 26 October 2012 by editor

London Midland, which operates Birmingham-Coventry-Northampton, Lichfield-Birmingham-Redditch and Wolverhampton-Birmingham-Walsall-Rugeley lines have cancelled more than 400 trains in the last three weeks because of driver and staff shortage.

133 trains are expected to be cancelled on Sat 27th Oct 2012.

The operator runs more than 1,300 journeys a day, but has had to terminate services due to the shortfall in staff. A London Midland statement said: “Due to a temporary shortfall of qualified train drivers, we have had to cancel a number of trains over recent weeks. We’re sorry if you have been affected.”

Further cancellations are expected everyday until 11 Dec 2012.

Norman Baker, Rail Minister has said the firms performance will be monitored because it is currently ‘unacceptable’.

Local Birmingham businesses, in particular the retail sector has been hit, especially during the school half term.

More to follow…

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Massive cuts at Birmingham City Council

Posted on 23 October 2012 by editor

Birmingham City Council has reported that it must make savings of £600m by 2017, with 1100 jobs in jeopardy and services left in tatters as decommissioning was imminent. This is £200m more than previously thought when the government introduced spending cuts.

The coalition government responded by saying, Birmingham City Council has got £2,576 to spend on every household – more than the average in England of £2,186.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore said that the governments cuts to grants are to blame for the financial situation, which does not take into account population changes and inflation. Birmingham City Council wanted to raise council tax by 1.6%, but the government banned them from doing so. As a result this is the end of the council as we know it.

Councils are encouraged to be inventive and find new ways to work with partners like public agencies, schools and the business community to find different ways to do this.

The council has been know to employ over 19,000 individuals, but this figure is likely to reduce to approx 15,000 by the end of the cuts. The extent of the cuts and just how many jobs would have to be axed will not be known until mid November, but senior posts are at most risk.

Ravi Subramanian, Unison’s regional secretary for the West Midlands, said: “We want the council to stand up for Birmingham and take a strong message to Eric Pickles to say we need more money to keep our city services running.”

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Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell resigns

Posted on 19 October 2012 by editor

Governement Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell has finally quit after several weeks of mounting pressure over allegations he mistreated a serving police officer.  The Tory MP admitted that he swore at the officer whilst trying to cycle through the main Downing Street gate, but has denied calling the officer a “pleb”.

He informed Prime Minister, David Cameron who has stood by him since the allegations came to light – that continuous “damaging publicity” meant he could no longer carry out his duties. The resignation is likely to be warmly welcomed by the police federation and some member of Labour who have called for him to resign.

Andrew Mitchell has been an MP for Sutton Coldfield for the past 25 years. He was recently promoted to Chief Whip when David Cameron re-organised his cabinet in September.

We are though to believe that the prime minister has accepted his resignation.

Mr Mitchell – whose role as a Conservative MP was to maintain discipline on the Conservative benches – was thrust into the public spotlight when The Sun newspaper accused him of calling police “plebs”.

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Sitting for excessive periods causes health issues

Posted on 17 October 2012 by editor

A recent study of 800,000 people by Loughborough University has revealed that sitting for excessively long periods increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. Even those who regularly exercise are also at risk.

David Vidgen, a personal trainer in Solihull and Birmingham at uniquephysiquefit.com said: “The real cause lies with our sedentary lifestyles, caused by watching Satellite TV, driving, or sitting in front of a computer. Even though many people in society own gym memberships, the amount of physical exercises undertaken is far too low.”

Diabetes UK reported that anyone who spent a lot of time sitting or lying down would “obviously benefit” from moving more.

Dr Emma Wilmot from the Diabetes Group at the University of Leicester, says while going to the gym or pool after work is better than heading straight for the sofa, spending a long time sitting down remains bad for you.

The university undertook several studies using different measurements – e.g, more or less than 14 hours a week watching TV, or self-reported sitting time of less than three hours a day to more than eight. The report could not specify just how much time sitting is bad for you.

Prof Stuart Biddle,Loughborough University said: “If a worker sits at their desk all day then goes to the gym, while their colleague heads home to watch TV, then the gym-goer will have better health outcomes. But there is still a health risk because of the amount of sitting they do. Comparatively, the risk for a waiter who is on their feet all day is going to be a lot lower.”

He added: “People convince themselves they are living a healthy lifestyle, doing their 30 minutes of exercise a day. But they need to think about the other 23.5 hours.”

What is clear from the report is that people should not be discouraged from exercising.  Individuals should aim to undertaken at least 2-3 hours of aerobic exercise per week.

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Unemployment fails to fall in Birmingham

Posted on 17 October 2012 by editor

Recent figures released by the government reveals that the number of people out of work in the UK has declined for Sept 2012 from 8.1% to 7.9%. However, Ladywood, Hodgehill and Sparkbrook areas of Birmingham all failed to show progression. With over 10% in Ladywood and Hodgehill currently unemployed and figures for Sparkbrook are only marginly lower. All three areas have remained stagnant for the year.

The government said it was positive news, but Labour highlighted the growing numbers of people in temporary or part-time work because they could not get full-time, permanent jobs.

The ONS figures show that some 1.57 million people claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance in September, a fall of 4,000 on the previous month.

A combination of more jobs being created and more people entering the workforce pushed the absolute number of people in employment to 29.6 million, the highest since these records began in 1971.

The percentage of people in work rose to 71.3%, the best rate since April 2009. “It’s a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before,” Employment Minister Mark Hoban said.

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Birmingham Tops UK Cities in Latest Construction Survey

Posted on 16 October 2012 by editor

In a recent survey undertaken by The Drivers Jonas Deloitte 2012, measuring construction forecasts output for five major cities, Birmingham has been identified as the best performing city. The five UK cities included are Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Birmingham boasts 56% of all new construction output with 14 new starts scheduled, a rise in 6 from the previous year. The new starts include:  The Pallasades Shopping Centre and John Lewis store, the New Street Station re-development and various educational constructions at Aston University, UCB and BCU.

The survey, which takes place annually with data collected from July to August, monitors development activity across the office, retail, residential, student housing, education, leisure and hotel sectors.

Remarkably, out of the five cities, Birmingham was the only city to record an increase in new construction starts.

Overall, there is a 36% national decrease of activity (in comparison with the previous year) proving that overall economic difficulties in the UK and the construction industry as a whole, prevail. However, positively for Birmingham, 14 of the total 25 new starts are in the city (56%).

Philippa Pickavance, Head of Agency, Drivers Jonas Deloitte, said: “The results of the Crane Survey are always a good measure of the development activity in a region and the increase in activity across Birmingham is reflective of the attitude of the local business and economy in driving the city forward through investment, even in tough times.

Where other cities across the UK are seeing no new development in many sectors, with the exception of the thriving student housing sectors, Birmingham continues to move forwards with development across all sectors, albeit with the previously active residential and office sectors more muted.”

On a positive note the market is good for occupiers who are looking to move as there are some good deals to be had. In addition, we still have some good quality new stock already on site where Hines are the main developer at Two Snowhill, which will deliver Wragge’s new offices in early 2013 and will also see 120,678 sq. ft. available to let.

Hines/Moorfield have embarked on the substantial refurbishment of Five Brindleyplace, which includes providing additional space to provide a 134,000 sq. ft. building, along with creation of improved public domain area externally. This represents one of the two new commercial space starts in the city this year, the other being 16,000 sq. ft. of offices at the Mint scheme.”

Bruce Hartle, representing the Construction Industry Sub-contractors, said: “These results are very positive for the construction industry in Birmingham. The industry has suffered dramatically in the recession, but this report signals some very positive growth for contractors and sub-contractors looking for work in the city.”

The 2012 survey forecasts that student housing schemes and education projects are showing the most active construction sectors – it is thought to be because of universities trying to attract fee paying students.

Although activity in the commercial and residential sectors are low, Birmingham by comparison is the best performing region in the residential sector due to two new starts that represent the total residential new starts for all five cities in the survey.

Bruce Hartle, 265a Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull, West Midlands, B90 3AL. Tel: 0121 733 8511

 

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Online Retailers Breaking Consumer Law

Posted on 16 October 2012 by editor

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said that nearly a third of online retailers are not meeting the consumer protection law. Of 156 most popular websites they visited, 62 are thought not to meet the required standard.

Most websites were not meeting the standard because they placed unreasonable restrictions on refunds and compulsory charges for returning unwanted items.

Another most common problem found was internet sites were wrongly advising their customers that returned goods must be in their original packaging / condition. The OFT has indicated that this could be in breach of the buyer’s right to inspect or assess a product. We inspected Amazons website today and although they did allow goods to be returned within 30 days, they were required to be in their original unopened packaging.

The OFT has given retailers until Christmas to change their online policies.

Online shopping: Your rights

  • Goods must be delivered within 30 days, unless agreed otherwise
  • You can cancel an order within seven working days in most cases (longer for financial products) and get a full refund
  • The refund should include any delivery charges, although you may have to pay for returns
  • You don’t have to return the goods in their original packaging
  • You are responsible for the safe return of items
  • The retailer would have to pay for return postage if the items are going back because they are faulty or not as ordered

Alarmingly, nearly over half of websites did not provide an email address for customers to get in contact – this is breach of the E-Commerce regulations.

The distance shopping regulations stipulate state that items should be delivered within 30 days and that shoppers should be given a 7-day cooling-off period in which they can cancel an order and get a full refund. This is because online shoppers are unable to inspect the items prior to purchase and therefore need to the opportunity for the goods to arrive, inspect them, and then make the decision whether to keep them or not.

This poses obvious problems for online retailers, particularly those selling clothes. It is not uncommon for individuals to order goods for a special occasion. To wear them, an then return them for a full refund.

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Virgin : West Coast mainline

Posted on 16 October 2012 by editor

Virgin Trains are said to be inline to continue running the West Coast mainline for at least another nine months.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the government will hold talks with Virgin for a temporary contract, until a new franchise deal has been agreed. The winners of the original franchise deal. FirstGroup were the original winners, but this was recently withdrawn after a review highlighted that there were “technical flaws” in the bid process, which made the franchise void.

A review of the why this franchise deal went wrong is due to be published later this month.  Remarkably, 3 senior civil servants have been suspended and the government faces a bill of £40m to compensate franchise bidders.

EU procurement rules mean everyone must get a decent go at bidding for new business.

Another review is also currently being undertaken  to determine whether franchising really works. This is not due until Christmas. If it the reports includes large scale recommendations, then this is only likely to cause further delays to the tender process.

It is clear that the Government is having to buy some time until they sort everything out.

The franchise was withdrawn in early October and led to the suspension of other franchise programmes including bids for Essex Thameside, Great Western and Thameslink.

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