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Leeds-born minister becomes first Cabinet blogger

Leeds-born David Milliband, the Minister for Communities and Local Government has become the first Cabinet minister to start a blog. It is David's way of helping to bridge the gap between politicians and the public. Coral Gables Homes

I think he should be applauded for his efforts and I'd encourage you all to take a look and use the comment facility. The work that David is doing at the moment could potentially have a massive impact on the future Yorkshire, especially if we see more moves towards Leeds becoming a city region. Luxury Miami Homes

Yorkshire Forward podcasts

Yorkshire Forward has unveiled its new podcasts which "give visitors to the web site the chance to listen to audio files containing the highlights of our major regional events".  Eight different audio files at the moment including

The instructions are very misleading and imply that you have to use iTunes and an iPod. The truth is you can use listen on any MP3 player and use programs such as FeedDemon or Doppler to subscribe.

XP: YorkshireBizTalk and A PR Guru's Musings

Hartlepool Mail editor moves to Yorkshire Evening Post

UK Press Gazette reports that Hartlepool Mail editor Paul Napier has been named editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post. The appointment follows the departure of Neil Hodgkinson to become editorial director of Cumbrian Newspapers, where he started work this week.

Napier has worked for Johnston Press almost his entire career. Prior to the Mail, where he has been since May 2003, he edited the Scarborough Evening News, the Banbury Guardian and was editor-in-chief for the Bucks Herald.

The YEP, which won evening newspaper of the year in 2001, has a circulation 43,066 higher than that of the Mail at 63,265.

XP: A PR Guru's Musings, YorkshireBizTalk, Stuart's Soapbox

If you want financial advice don't ask your uncle

Some sage advice from Stuart Jones at BusinessMatters who reminds us that it always pay to expert counsel. If you need business financial advice then ask your accountant - they are the ones that are qualified to give it.

This is good advice for any professional issue. For legal advice ask your solicitor. For medical advice ask your doctor. For tax advice ask your accountant. For public relations advice ask your PR consultant.

For these last two I would add a major qualifier. Make sure they are qualified. Anyone can set them self up as a 'tax adviser' or a 'PR consultant'. Make sure the ones that you appoint are qualified and members of either the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Chartered Institute of Public Relations respectively.

Rip-off GNER are taking the p**s

I'm a big fan of train travel. I'm based in Leeds and lots of my clients are in London and the south east but thanks to the internet and a great train service it's not a problem.

But since January something has changed. We book our tickets on the GNER website and are used to paying between £55 to £80 for a return journey from Wakefield to London. Recently the price has rocketed so we no longer find similar journeys for under £107. Newspaper reports in January said GNER's unregulated fares on the East Coast line were going up by 8.8%. And the rest! All that I can think is that they've reduced the number of discounted and saver tickets available.

But the price I've just had now takes the p**s. £237 for a business saver ticket on January 30! Who are they trying to kid? I could drive down the night before, stay in a London hotel (booked via Laterooms), have a decent meal with friends and still be quids in.

Even booking a month or two months in advance the cheapest I can find is £107. What I want GNER to explain is how last year I could travel at the same times for between about £55 to £80 yet they claim fare increases of less than 10%.

Cross-posted from A PR Guru's Musings blog

Fighting spirit still on the pitch at Elland Road, shame it’s not happening off it.

Photo: Mr Bates "Another Grand in the Bank!"

After the worst few years in the history of Leeds United, from the Champion's League to almost extinction, I’m glad to see that the club seems to be rising from the ashes. Although I’m from a place across the Pennines that wears red and is not so popular in Yorkshire (I won't link you to their site), I believe that Leeds are finally on the way back to the big league.

The Yorkshire Post wrote a very positive article about the performance in the FA cup against Wigan, and comments from the fans had deserved praise for manager Kevin Blackwell.

Even though the team was playing against Premiership opposition midweek, the attendance was just over 15,000, nothing to the regular 40,000 that they achieved week-in week-out in the Premiership, making Elland Road a very intimidating ground to play football.

Fans are still angry at controversial chairman Ken Bates for the rise in ticket prices, and the policies he’s brought in for season ticket holders. I understand the financial difficulties that the club are still trying to fix. However, an FA cup third-round reply against a Premiership side should have brought in the numbers and increased the attendance. I don't think that I would have payed £35 at the turnstile.

Evidence of spirit from the team has been shown all season, and all credit should go to Blackwell and his players, but an evening cup-tie should be enjoyed by more than 15,000 Leeds fans. Mr Bates needs to think more about the history of the club and what the FA cup means to football fans, instead of counting his money.

Sticky issue for gum companies


Today’s Guardian features a full-page advertisement from a city coalition, including Leeds and Bradford, who want the chewing gum industry and the government to help councils with the removal of gum from our streets. The Yorkshire Post quotes Alan Bradley, a cabinet member for street environment at Westminster Council, who states: “Westminster spent £100,000 a year on cleaning up gum alone.” This is evidence of the growing problem that councils have to spend more and more money on this problem and it shouldn’t even be necessary.

There are certain parts of the world that have completely banned chewing gum, such as Singapore. However, it has been discovered by certain dental groups that chewing sugar-free gum because it produces more saliva into the mouth, can actually improve your teeth. On the Wrigley wesbite, it states numerous benefits of chewing gum. Funnily enough, there were no problems with gum on this particluar site. In my opinion, I don’t believe there will be extreme measures such as banning gum in the UK (the likes of Vicky Pollard would be outraged) but the advertisement in The Guardian should hopefully have effect on the industry and possibly the government, which could result in some sort of action.

Leeds Council has brought in on-the-spot fines for improper gum disposal but I don’t know or have heard of anybody who has been issued with such a punishment. Personally, I think an officer would have more pressing matters on hand although it is vile when you either step or put your hand in someone’s used gum. (I have had the privilege of both experiences.)

I did a simple web-engine search for anti-gum in the UK and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. In February 2005, Leeds City Council did take action and handed out gum pouches for their 100 day clean-up campaign. Would it really be that difficult and expensive for multi-million pound companies such as Wrigley to include something along the idea of a pouch included in their products to dispose of their gum? I don’t think so. Do you?

PR student's one week blog begins!

Hello and just before I introduce myself, I would like to issue a minor warning to the majority of businesses around Yorkshire, that it is that time of year again where many students from various universities across the region will be contacting your company to find a work placement as part of their degree. So be prepared for panicking phone calls and thousands of rushed e-mails.

My name is Matt Peden and I am currently half-way through my second year studying Public Relations at Leeds Met. I have spent time gaining experience in my first year at a Manchester based firm, however this year I have turned my attention to Bruce Marshall Associates for their expertise and guidance to help along with my degree.

I am only here for five days due to the stressful, busy and demanding lifestyle that we students have (no irony). Nevertheless, I hope to gain as much experience as possible, including blog writing, which I was only referred to by Stuart recently, not in my first year, which I believe has been taught this year to our first year students.    

Hopefully, I can provide an interesting account of the news and my opinions in this blog in these five days and possibly persuade you to comment.

Mohammed to be Lord Mayor of Leeds

History will be made this year when a Leeds councillor becomes the first Asian Lord Mayor of Leeds. The Labour group on Leeds City Council have selected Councillor Mohammed Iqbal to be the city's first citizen from this May.

I know Mohammed from my time as a Leeds councillor and I think that the Labour group have made an excellent choice. Mohammed is a likeable chap, very down to earth and friendly - an adopted Yorkshireman! I've been particularly impressed by the work Mohammed has done since the London bombings in promoting community cohesion.

Mohammed is a Muslim born in Kashmir and he came to Leeds when he was nine years old. He was elected to the city council in 1999 and represents City and Hunslet ward. This south Leeds community was rocked six months ago when it was discovered that the London bombers had lived as part of the community there. The choice of the Labour group to make Mohammed Lord Mayor will certainly boost the south Leeds Asian communities.

Mohammed said that Labour's decision to nominate him sent a strong message to communities across the city, "It shows that if you are prepared to get involved in your community and the wider society, be positive and make a strong contribution then Leeds offers all its people opportunities. Everyone should realise they are an important part of society."

Mohammed has promised to work hard to promote Leeds and bring together people of all different faiths and cultures and I know he'll do an excellent job. He'll be devoting himself to the year of office full time which is just as well as he has been told to expect up to 1,000 engagements.

"Leeds has a great tradition of welcoming and embracing people from all over the world. It welcomed my family and it is a great honour and  a privilege to be given the chance to represent it in this way."

Mohammed is a self employed businessman and is married to Fatima. They have a daughter Sayeka, aged 22 and a son, Mohammed Awais, aged nine. Sayeka, who is studying law at Leeds University, has agreed to carry out the duties of Lady Mayoress.

All the best to Mohammed for the busy year ahead as Lord Mayor. I know that he will make his year of office count and make a real difference!

A Yorkshire success story

An interesting story in today's Yorkshire Post Business Week about the Mumtaz founder Mumtaz Khan. Mumtaz asian food is well known for its quality and the success of the Mumtaz empire was down to something his mum said.

Mumtaz started out on the same site as his current 2.5M restaurant cum palace is now but started trading as a 12 square metre takeaway in 1979.

One day Mumtaz was filling samosas up in the takeaway and didn't realise his mum was watching him. He only had the filling for one samosa but the pastry for two, so he made two smaller samosas. His mum then came out of the back and asked him where the shop keys were. She then took the keys and locked the doors and said that the shop was closed for the day. At first Mumtaz didn't understand what she meant. But then she told him that she had seen what he had done and that he'd cheated and that it doesn't lead to success. From that day onwards Mumtaz Khan says that he has never knowingly cheated. He has always made his own recipes, made fresh food on the spot, and that has been a lesson which has been the secret of his success.

Mumtaz wishes his mum Sarzand Begum was here to see the success that his business is now and that she helped to create. The Mumtaz brand is a highly successful food and drink range which supplies hundreds of thousands of products to leading stores and locations around the world every year. His restaurant is one of the best known Kashmiri curry houses in the world. He thinks his mum would be proud if she could see it now. I'm certain she would be.


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