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Everything posted by Westie1889

  1. Manchester airport is a bit tired in places but they are spending a billion to expand and renovate it with the terminal 2 expansion last year being the first step so it will outgrow any airport in the north by some distance. Doncaster is a lovely little airport and so convenient but in terms of business I’ve only been able to use it for Warsaw and Eindhoven and I think the Eindhoven flight has now stopped. They did fly to Dublin but the times are not really convenient when I last looked.
  2. Totally agree, we should have more connectivity not less - so much for the Northern Powerhouse. Its not just Sheffield but all the areas to the East as the train originates in Cleethorpes. Most people traveling regularly on business don’t have the time or inclination to waste hanging around the airport unnecessarily, it’s another blow to productivity caused by a poor transport system. I get the whole line and Piccadilly needs improving but to cut off a direct airport route is a major retrogressive step IMO.
  3. Wow 10% that’s huge, I must have been lucky. I see quite a few delays on the Northern services at Dore but hopefully that gets sorted when they finally carry out the work they have planned, although saying that it was originally planned for 2017 I think so don’t hold your breath.
  4. In a perfect world yes I would too but I travel too much to allow lots of room for error or I would spend half my week in train stations and airports hanging around etc tbf the direct train is very reliable, I usually aim to get there 1 hour minimum before my flight and haven’t missed one yet. I expect I will use Manchester less if they change things and will fly out of London more as I’m down there every Monday in the office. It seems typical of UK infrastructure projects, to make something better we will make something else worse - crazy really. Most airports in Europe I use have really good public transport connections for the wider area, In Germany the inter city connections have airports as key hubs so you can go directly to most places really quickly after you land. Italy is good too and even some parts of Spain as long as you aren’t trying to go north to south or vice versa. With our relatively small geography surely we should be doing better than this?
  5. Spot on it’s a major link and with the planned growth at Manchester airport it would be a shame for Sheffield to be even further away time-wise. I use it (or did pre-Covid) for work flights at least a couple of times a month and more through the winter, it will make business travel more difficult, especially the early morning flights as the extra time and greater risk due to more connections probably makes for an overnight stay at the airport. I used to drive but missed flights due to accidents etc on the roads so the train is the best way. If this happens I think that Sheffield then has no direct rail link to an airport - not great when trying to pitch for investment in the city internationally.
  6. We’ve used them twice in the last 18 months including a replacement attic window and exterior work in my daughters bedroom, excellent both times and planning to use them again when we have an extension later this year.
  7. Hope this doesn’t happen as the direct train is a godsend, especially coming back at busy times as it guarantees you a seat whereas changing at Piccadilly makes that much less likely. Also late at night you can be hanging around Piccadilly for far too long when you just want to get home. It seems a backward step in the wider scheme of things, surely we should be having more integration and faster services and not less?
  8. It depends what they mean by a failed state, if it’s economic ruin etc then no it won’t (although we will have lower growth as a result of Brexit). If it’s some of the home nations deciding to go a different way then probably yes. I think it’s 90% certain that Scotland will leave at some-point as the main driver (anti-English sentiment) has been there for a long time and has found a conduit through nationalism. Northern Ireland is an interesting case, most ROI friends I know don’t want reunification as they fear the problems that it will lay at their doorstep. It’s very unlikely the Unionists will ever accept it with all the issues that will bring. I can’t ever see Wales leaving the UK, there’s never been much support for it and the economics are far more disastrous than those for Scotland which is saying something. Personally as someone of Scottish blood born in England I do hope Scotland leaves, but not for the reasons you may assume. England needs to look after itself rather than being pulled in every direction by a nation that is the same size as Yorkshire and receives £15bn more a year than it earns. For every criticism of Brexit (economic issues, nationalism, racism etc) you can multiply that several times when you looks at the Scots situation. There are some genuine independence supporters who want self-determination for the right reasons but they are in the minority.
  9. Having worked in retail for 30 years I can say that online businesses have had an impact. However, to say they are responsible for many of the mainstream retail closures is wrong. Quite simply there are too many bad retailers out there who would not survive irrespective of online competition. Many business took bad strategic decisions about their proposition (Debenhams), others buried their heads in the sand and refused to accept the online opportunities they had (Argos for a time). Department stores have a high cost format and didn’t offer the right experience to attract the footfall they needed, also most of their online sites are terrible - HoF being a prime example. Some neglected to invest in new ranging to remain relevant which is critical in the fashion world - some of which was due to bad ownership (anything to do with Philip Green). If any sector could find it tough to compete with online it’s the independents, as they obviously have a big disadvantage on price. However, if creative they also have the best chance to differentiate, specialise and offer great customer service. The other factor is that the expansion in retail space has been huge, too big infact which has led to retailers opening too many stores in sub-prime areas. Think of B&Q in Sheffield opening 2 huge stores a few miles apart - absolutely crazy. Yes it’s tough at the moment but the retail market will re-invent itself as it does every so often and online will help not hinder this process. It’s pointless trying to fill empty retail units as there are too many, they need re-purposing to residential ideally.
  10. Yes I think that’s broadly right. Geopolitically they are following the same policies as the US did in terms of loading other countries with huge loans in the name of investment (belt and road project) which those countries cannot afford to pay back. They then take those assets or use the debt for political influence, Gwadar port in Pakistan being an example. I suppose the danger militarily is that once you have a new modern capability you want to test it, In this regard I think India will be the key power in the region to act as a counter to China, they have a huge army due to the ongoing issues with Pakistan and share a border with China which already sees plenty of skirmishes with the Chinese army.
  11. The press are reporting that the Irish government were not consulted before article 16 was triggered, how on earth does that happen? On something that’s so sensitive to a member state it’s unbelievable.
  12. I’ve been going to China for the best part of 25 years and have seen changes in their policy. What I would say is that in the past they have gone out of their way to avoid interfering in other countries be it militarily or otherwise. Part of that I believe was to stop other countries interfering in their domestic issues, especially around democracy. However in the last 5 years or so this does seem to have changed. The editorials in the daily papers (which are basically propaganda machines) are much more vocal on external issues than they used to be. Whether it’s a huge threat or not I’m honestly not sure. The issues with Taiwan are not new, I stopped taking flights on the eastern seaboard as soon as the new train system opened as there were always 2 to 3 hour delays as they closed the airspace to perform maneuvers near Taiwan. They also want control of the South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and others. It will be a turning point in their military policy if they go on the offensive so maybe then is the time to get more worried. Ultimately they are a world superpower and will want a military capability to match.
  13. It will be interesting to get your view on the contract when it’s available as I believe that’s your field of speciality? I also read about the significance of which factories were deemed secondary supply will also have a bearing. I agree it shouldn’t be a Brexit issue, it’s a contractual issue between the EU and AZ. I can’t help feel though that part of the EU’s delay was due to ill feeling over Brexit, and I base this view on some of the noises that were being made about the Oxford vaccine from EU politicians last year. I think they wanted an EU solution and not a British one so avoided placing orders for a period of time. I’ve read a few of the European newspapers today and most seemed anti EU for the vaccine issues with the exception of some of the Dutch press but that’s only a snapshot. TBF the press and politicians here have been pretty quiet about it apart from the usual suspects, there’s been very little nationalistic tub thumping which has surprised me, but maybe it’s yet to come. I do think it will harden a lot of people’s attitudes towards the EU if it affects the UK’s program though, but let’s hope it doesn’t and everyone gets what they need both here and in the EU because ultimately it will affect us all.
  14. I agree it takes time to organise and sort the number of doses and funding between the EU 27, but I thinks it’s fair to point out that it took them far too long even taking that into account. Some of the Northern European health ministers had got together already to plan procurement for their respective nations, as it is possible to do this as you point out. However, they were then over-ruled after pressure was applied by the EU commission and according to one German newspaper were forced to write what amounted to an apology to the Commission for attempting to go it alone. I get people have an agenda based on their Brexit views and it must be hard not to defend whichever viewpoint you adhere too, especially after years of wrangling and some serious affects on people’s lives. But this decision will cost lives, either in the EU or here so that should be the primary focus in this debate. I would like a closer relationship with the EU than we have now, and I admire many of the things it has achieved but on this occasion the criticism that it is too bureaucratic and over-bearingly political has been laid bare and will result in the loss of life sadly. Hopefully the politicians will reflect on why they made these mistakes and focus on doing the best they can for their citizens rather than playing costly political games.
  15. They didn’t cut corners, they stopped all approval work on other vaccines and tripled the manpower on the Oxford approval so it took only one third of the normal time to go through the data. people need to read what the scientists say, it’s out there.
  16. I agree it’s politicians being politicians, and I’m not saying we are superior to them, just that they are just as bad despite many peoples protestations otherwise. In terms of us corner cutting etc if you are referring to vaccine approval in the UK this myth has been debunked by all the leading scientists and does the people working on this issue a great disservice and also leads ultimately to a lack of take-up on the vaccine.
  17. The Guardian are saying the EU commission is preparing legislation to block vaccine exports - if true it will delay the UK vaccine program by 2 months to September and likely cause many deaths. They are using the fact that the UK has banned the export of certain medicines to justify this. A quick search shows half the EU nations did this themselves in the past 12 months, the EU also banned the export of medical equipment and PPE from May which was heavily criticised as it affected poorer countries greatly as Germany is a big producer. I’m usually pretty ambivalent towards the EU, there are things I don’t like about it and there are things I do but this stinks of politicians failing to do their jobs properly then blaming others to save their own skins. If this goes through it will cost British lives and why - because the EU commission failed to sign-up to the Oxford vaccine when they should. Whether that was due to overly- bureaucratic processes in agreeing doses and funding between member states or a political view that they didn’t want a ‘British’ vaccine we will probably never know. I hope they don’t go through with this, my parents have been hiding away for 10 months and have had the first Pfizer jab - will they get the second one now? Its especially galling as my Dad is not in the best of health and had moved closer to me in the hope we could spend what time he has left together. Covid has meant this has not been possible so far, this issue could further delay that and who knows what might happen in-between? The EU are not covering themselves in glory here, either in terms of their capabilities or morals and if it comes to pass I think there will rightly be outrage and it will damage relations even further.
  18. I have voted Lib Dem in the past but I think they are a total irrelevance now. I would struggle to pick out the leader in a line-up such is my disinterest in what they have to say. It’s not so the coalition that did it for me, more their leadership afterwards. Also what’s the point in voting for a party with so few seats that has no chance of having any influence - it’s a wasted vote in that regards. I can’t see anyway back for them.
  19. You are going through more than me Becky so deserve your chocolate and alcohol. Im struggling with home schooling never mind the conditions you are having to work in so I take my hat off to you and thankyou for everything that you are doing. We will get through this and things should look different by Summer but this does feel like the toughest time of the pandemic and it’s understandable you and many others feel this way as I think we all do to some degree. Stay safe.
  20. The government is following the science - from its own scientists. Chris Witty explained very clearly this week why they want to wait 12 weeks and the benefits it will give. Ultimately they believe it will give even stronger immunity than the 3 week gap as most if not all vaccines behave in this way. The trials didn’t test 12 weeks as they wanted fast results, using other learnings you can forecast how it will behave. On the age issue they didn’t test it in many over 50’s or chronically ill people initially due to the risk if it didn’t work, in normal times that would be trialed at a later stage but again due to timings a small test was carried out on this age group on 200 people without issues. Again using knowledge from previous vaccines they can predict with good accuracy that it will be as good if not better in the older age groups. The UK government has chosen to take legal responsibility for any issues in order to get the virus out quickly and save lives, the EU went down the route of having the Vaccine companies take responsibility for any issues but this means they do not have the freedom we do to deviate from the manufacturers guidance. The manufacturers are not saying it won’t work after 3 weeks, they are saying that based on their trials they can only guarantee it for the period it was trialed. Basically they are covering themselves legally due to the liability route the EU went down. The CEO of AZ has said himself there is no issue with 12 weeks. The AZ CEO explained that it takes upto 3 months to get the manufacturing process to produce the correct amount of anti-bodies and the EU were told this could prove an issue and effect supply. The UK production is now producing 3 times the amount of antibodies than it did at the start and the EU factories have to go through the same process to get there which involves things like tweaking filtration systems until you get the right result. The EU have rubbished the Oxford vaccine from the start, and only signed up for it when it was showing promise - make you own minds up why that was. Their biggest purchase is the Pfizer vaccine which they have lauded as being the best, maybe they should concentrate on getting that production up and running which I assume is within their control as they have 600m doses ordered. I can’t help but feel that politicians are creating mischief as they have been too slow to sign-up to vaccine programs and know there is a backlash coming from their citizens.
  21. The devil will be in the contractual detail. If as the AZ CEO says the UK sites were deemed secondary production sites then the EU has no claim. Also if the quantities scheduled were worded as being a ‘best attempt’ as opposed to fixed within a specific timeframe then again they have no claim. If the opposite is true they are correct to demand their required doses from AZ. But that doesn’t mean they will get them or that they will come from the UK. They are under huge political pressure from EU citizens and media so it could be posturing to pass the buck for the delay in signing this deal. Either way I hope they get them soon but we shouldn’t disrupt our program to do it.
  22. I don’t disagree with a lot of your comments Anna, It will be difficult for some people if the education system doesn’t provide what they need. Germany is a good case in point as they have a good vocational education and training programme. The manufacturing point is also an interesting one, Germany is famous for its manufacturing base but the figures show it has been in decline just like most Western economies. Manufacturing was just over 19% of GDP in 2019, for the UK that figure was just over 17% so a surprisingly small difference taking into account successive UK governments disdain for the sector. With a bit of creativity and government support I am sure we could grow to a level similar to Germany. Germany is also a neoliberal country, I work there quite often as we have an office in Dusseldorf and really admire a lot of the things I see. I think the big difference I’ve noticed compared to the UK is that everyone tries to do what’s best for the country. They buy German products wherever possible, they hate ‘taking’ from the system (just an observation not making a personal point), and they also plan long-term for the economy. I’m guessing this mindset was born out of the ashes of war when everyone had to work together to build the country. The unions are also stronger but work very differently to those in the UK. They get involved with driving efficiencies on the understanding that everyone will then benefit, and don’t seem to be out for the workers at any cost and to hell with the impact on the businesses future. It just seems a more harmonious, sensible and beneficial set-up all round. We could have that in the UK but the scars on both sides run very deep so maybe it’s too difficult. Ultimately I do think jobs will be created, some will be in industries yet to be developed or even created so it’s hard to grasp that potential. Just think of how much growth in jobs and industries the advent of the Web has brought as an example. One thing is for sure though it will be a period of huge change and yes there will be winners and losers.
  23. There are 1.724m unemployed in the UK as of November 2020 and yes many are on furlough. Pre-Covid we had virtually full employment, yes Covid has changed the situation but this structural change is a long-term shift and will still happen although it will take a little longer. Without wanting to get into the (very tiresome) Brexit debate, it’s effect on the UK labour market will be significant on the the bottom 30% of earners as that pool of labour will shrink. Also fear of technology is misplaced, Germany has the most production robots in the world, they’re not doing too badly on wages and living conditions It has driven efficiencies and allowed people to be employed in other areas of those businesses that add more value and in turn pay higher wages as a result. There will be more better paid jobs available, but people will need to ensure they have the skills to do them hence the need for education and training. Technology opens as many doors as it closes - if not more, consider the luddites - should we have banned technological development from there-on in?
  24. It was around 200 people according to this and for reasons that make sense. Also there seems no evidence from this or previous vaccines to suggest it won’t work in older people. Quite an interesting read if you have the time as it’s quite long. https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2021/01/26/news/interview_pascal_soriot_ceo_astrazeneca_coronavirus_covid_vaccines-284349628/amp/
  25. We need to move to a high wage - high technology economy and prices will go up as a result but that’s no bad thing whilst inflation is so low. As previous posters have highlighted most of the wage increases those at the bottom of the pay scale receive are spent and not saved, so that money is recycled and contributes to growth. We also have a huge inefficiency problem in the UK, the amount produced per worker is not as high as it should be which acts as a drag on potential wage increases. Covid not withstanding the lack of readily available cheap labour for semi-skilled roles will force businesses in the medium to long-term to address several key issues which they have been able to avoid for too long. Firstly, as the labour pool shrinks they will have to pay higher wages to attract staff, this is already starting to happen in areas like transportation. Secondly, they will have to get back to training and developing staff for the long-term instead of employing ready-made cheap alternatives. The drop in UK training investment in the last 15 years is staggering. Thirdly, they will have to look at technology to become more efficient. People shouldn’t worry about this as it creates more wealth and ultimately higher paid jobs as people move from un-skilled roles into those that add more value. There are a whole host of issues around delivering this, not least how the economy will look post-Covid and the need to re-train the current workforce and adjust the education system for those yet to come but it’s do-able. The good news is that some of these things will and have started to happen regardless of the politicians, the labour market will drive issues for businesses that they can no longer avoid.
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