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The Solicitors Regulation Authority will appoint an independent reviewer to oversee the way it handles complaints in a bid to improve efficiency. The SRA plans to introduce a single complaints-handling policy that will deal with all complaints, including those involving discrimination. The complaints consultation proposes a three-stage process, whereby complaints will initially be dealt with internally by the SRA. But where a complainant is not satisfied or the matter is serious, it will be referred for an external independent review. To date, the SRA has developed a number of different mechanisms, depending on the nature of the complaint. The consultation closes on 13 November and can be accessed.
Law firms’ bank debts have jumped 36% in the past year to an average of £38,000 per equity partner as firms seek to expand, according to research by a specialist accountant. Hazlewoods, a top 40 firm which carries out the Law Society’s financial benchmarking, says that many firms are increasing headcount and staff salaries as well as investing in assets such as IT as confidence improves.However with more cash tied up in unpaid billing and work in progress, many have been forced to increase their borrowing.Bank debts rose from an average of £28,000 to £38,000 per equity partner in the past year while non-bank debts rose from £10,000 to £17,000. Lockup among law firms now averages 140 days, the research showed. Jon Cartwright, legal team partner at Hazlewoods, said: ‘Bank debt is being driven up in part by the legal profession being a victim of its own success – workloads and billing are both on the rise, and firms are ploughing that back into their practices.’As confidence rises, so more firms are feeling positive enough to take on more debt from their banks and make investments in staff and systems that might have been shelved years ago.’In this climate, a lot of firms are dusting down investment plans that were put to one side during the downturn: ‘Renewal of matter management software, increased marketing activity, and refurbishment of premises are all on the agenda again,’ he said. Another driver of the rise in bank debt among law firms is the pressure applied by banks to convert overdrafts to term loans in order to speed repayments by their law firm clients.’As incomes rise in the sector, banks have seen an opportunity to get repayments started on some of this unsecured debt, and reduce their exposure to a sector that some of them still regard as being higher risk,’ Cartwright said.
Magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has put nearly 200 personal assistant roles into review with many being offered voluntary redundancy.Under the terms of the review, all PAs have been offered the chance to apply for an executive assistant role – a position that would involve fewer administrative tasks and working with fewer partners.A firm spokesperson told the Gazette 180 roles will be affected by the review.Current PAs who unsuccessfully apply for an EA role are able to choose between taking a voluntary redundancy package or staying in their current roles, the spokesperson said. Those who do not apply for the executive assistant role will choose between a voluntary redundancy pay-out or staying in their current role.The news follows speculation over Freshfields’ new London headquarters. In November last year, the Gazette reported that the firm was set to relocate its headquarters from Fleet Street to 100 Bishopsgate.The firm’s lease in Fleet Street reportedly expires in 2021 but new skyscraper accommodation is said to be being prepared for occupation next year.
PTV AG will be explaining how its operational and strategic consultancy services have developed to cover all service planning and optimisation tasks.The Karlsruhe-based company will present its Interplan/Select vehicle and crew scheduling software, and the Visum transport modelling database which now offers options for passenger counting.
On December 11 Unife and UIC signed an agreement to jointly publish Technical Recommendations which will form voluntary standards applicable to European rolling stock.Russia will become the 44th member of OTIF with effect from February 1. The Cotif convention governing international rail transport will initially apply between the port and station in Baltiysk, and from the Ust-Luga port to the station at Luzhskaya. Further lines may follow. EU regulation EC 1371/2007 setting out passengers’ rights came into force on December 3. It covers liability for passengers and luggage, insurance and non-discriminatory access.The European Passenger Train & Traction Operating Lessors Association has been formed by train leasing firms Angel Trains (UK), Angel Trains International, HSBC Rail (UK) and Porterbrook Leasing. Boise Valley Railroad in Idaho was launched on November 23. Watco Transportation Services subsidiary BVRR serves 84 customers shipping potatoes, timber, fertiliser and fuels on two leased UP lines totalling 60 km. The full Southeastern High Speed domestic service between London St Pancras and destinations in Kent via High Speed 1 was launched by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on December 14. Preview services started in June. On December 14 EBRD announced a €15m loan to Montenegro‘s rail infrastructure manager ZCG Infrastruktura to fund modernisation of the 57 km Niksic – Podgorica line. A €950000 grant is being provided by EBRD’s Western Balkans Fund and the French government. Saskatchewan Highways & Infrastructure Minister Jim Reiter formally opened the Canadian province’s 10th short line on October 15. Last Mountain Railway received a C$1·6m provincial loan towards the C$5·1m purchase of a 108 km former CN route. The NWRT Hungary subsidiary of Czech open access operator OKD-Doprava has bought a 90% stake in Hungarian private industrial railway Balatoni Iparvasút. The remaining 10% is held by freight forwarding company G.Transport 96. Border checkpoints at Soyuznoye and Irtyshskoye have been closed under an agreement for Kazakhstan and Russia to transfer ownership of railways forming part of one country’s network but cutting through the other’s territory. Oyster smart cards used on Transport for London metro, bus and light rail services will be valid for ‘pay as you go’ travel on rail services in Greater London from January 2. Coalcorp Mining has begun carrying coal from its La Francia mine in Colombia to Santa Marta using its own wagons on the Fenoco line, in which the mining firm owns an 8·43% stake. Unloading is undertaken by Vale. A further €293m for TCDD’s Ankara – Istanbul high speed line project was included in Turkish infrastructure financing agreements totalling €718m signed by the European Investment Bank on December 10. Through services between Beograd and Sarajevo were restored after an 18-year gap with the December 13 timetable change. Czech competition authority UOHS has approved CD Cargo’s purchase of a further 22% stake in CD Logistics from Viamont Cargo for an undisclosed price, giving CD Cargo a 56% stake.
FRANCE: Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier announced on November 14 that RFF is to undertake studies for a new line between Paris and Rouen, with the aim of improving conventional services between the capital and the regions of Basse-Normandie and Haute-Normandie.The project is to be undertaken in two phases. The first is to concentrate on the three ‘priority’ areas of Paris – Mantes-la-Jolie, Mantes – Evreux and around Rouen, where studies will consider a new rail crossing of the River Seine. Broad route corridors will be selected at the end of 2016, with the aim of defining the alignment of the new line for consideration by a public inquiry prior to seeking legal powers. The steering committee overseeing the studies will include representatives of regional and local authorities, as well as the cities of Paris, Rouen, Le Havre, Caen and Cherbourg. With ‘chronic’ delays highlighting the fact that the existing route had reached its saturation point, Cuvillier said that the new line ‘will provide a real time saving for passengers’. He also stressed the improved reliability and other benefits that the project would provide for ‘everyday’ services in the regions concerned.
UK: The Mendip Rail joint venture of aggregate and cement producers Hanson Aggregates and Aggregate Industries has awarded Freightliner a long-term contract to haul an expected eight million tonnes of aggregate a year from quarries in Somerset to terminals in London and the southeast of England. The current contract is held by DB Cargo.The contract, covering approximately 107 000 annual wagon-loads, is scheduled to start in November 2019. As part of the agreement Freightliner will purchase Mendip Rail’s fleet of eight EMD Class 59 locomotives. ‘By adding one of the largest bulk haulage contracts in the UK, we are also adding to the foundation of our long-term bulk business as we have successfully replaced traffic losses caused by the collapse of the UK coal industry in 2015’, said Freightliner Chief Executive Officer Gary Long when the contract was announced on December 20.The Mendip Rail business has its origins in the 1980s when Foster Yeoman (now part of AI) bought its own locomotives in an effort to improve the reliability of rail services. The EMD Class 59s entered service in 1986. Hanson adopted a similar model, and the two companies then founded the Mendip Rail joint venture in 1993.
The Peoples Project and Rotary Club of Dumfries Devorgilla get all clear to go ahead with plans for a fireworks display in Dumfries on Sunday the 8th of November 2015 .The FREE Bonfire Display will be held on Sunday the 8th November at 6pm at the Dumfries Whitesands, and it will be the first time in 3 years that Dumfries has had Public a Bonfire Night celebration.The evening is hoping to raise money for ‘Cash For Kids’ and some local projects. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedIn
Graeme Wellburn11.03.16 AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInSuspicious activity – Dumfries Police Scotland want to trace the following described man who was seen exiting a garage at a house in Hardthorn Crescent in Dumfries at around 2100 hours on Wednesday 9 March 2016. The man was disturbed by the householder on returning home. He is described as being about 5’7″/5’8″ tall, slim build, in his late teens and was wearing a dark coloured zipped, hooded top. He spoke with a local accent.Constable Keith McKinnell at Dumfries said “we have had a number of crimes committed in this area and would ask the public to report any suspicious activity in the area at the time. We can be contacted through the 101 number to report such incidents.”