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DIARY - TOULMIN SMITH

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It looks like a bleak Christmas for Amey after the firm was forced to wipe£85m off its book value of assets....
It looks like a bleak Christmas for Amey after the firm was forced to wipe£85m off its book value of assets.

But after the departure of two finance directors and a catalogue of financial woes, the firm is becoming adept at coming up with explanations for its ever-worsening fortunes.

If anyone is worried about facing the bank manager after Christmas, they could take a leaf out of Amey's book-keeping.

A statement from the firm explains reassuringly: 'Further adverse effects will arise as a result of a decision to exit the millennium settlements partnerships [and] the performance of the technology services companies has deteriorated somewhat further during the disposal process. It is estimated that the combination of all these items will reduce EBITA (pre FRS 17 and exceptionals) for the full year to around£35m.'

It may not win plain English awards, but who cares when 'a preliminary review of goodwill impairment indicates that a write down of the goodwill arising from the Comax acquisition is not considered necessary'?

In LGC's capacity as a respected publisher of vital public information, it seems only right to let people know what to do in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency.

Hertfordshire CC's head of safety, emergency and risk management David Moses says: 'Whatever the emergency, the thing to do is to stay indoors, close the windows, and tune in to the local radio station.'

The BBC is producing a guidance pack for emergency planners and its own staff on what to do if there is a terrorist attack or other emergency.

Local radio will provide a valuable advice service, rather than the news service which is likely to be provided by other means.

Scottish finance minister Andy Kerr could be forgiven for having an attack of the jitters before his speech at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers Scotland conference last week.

Predecessors Angus McKay and Frank McAveety both found themselves 'spending more time with constituents' immediately after addressing the great and the good of Scottish councils.

But the curse of SOLACE Scotland is more likely to fall on Grant Thornton, the sponsor which underestimated the amount of red wine needed with dinner.

The ire of first minister Jack 'The Knife' McConnell is nothing to that of a room of thirsty Scottish chief executives.

Low-energy light bulbs given away by Nottingham City Council have been blamed for interfering with radio transmissions.

The bulbs wreaked havoc with two-way radio systems, forcing one security firm to buy mobile phones for some of its 50 staff.

Now red-faced council bosses have been forced to write to everyone given a free light bulb and ask them not to use it.

The problem began about a month ago - two weeks after 40 householders collected free bulbs at a special event.

Crackling and long pauses began to interrupt conversations between cabbies, security guards and other firms using a radio mast sited nearby.

The mast's owners, Nottingham Radio Communication Services, tracked the source of the problem to a house about 100 yards away.

Homeowner Vic Blake, 55, was gobsmacked. He said: 'I'd picked up the bulb from a 'meet your councillor' event. So I thought it was quite funny that all this had come about just from me having my light on in the living room.'

Industry watchdog the Radio Communications Agency and bulb manufacturer Osram are conducting tests on the bulb.

If you wish to disseminate any gossip, please email me on

joshua.toulminsmith@lgc.emap.com

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