Item 1. Local Government nest eggs hatching in very cold, very empty, Icelandic bank accounts Bye Bye £1Bn. (ish)
According to Governmen figures rleased today , at the end of 2008 125 local authorities in England (Scotland looks after their own via Holyrood) had outstanding investments of around £923.2 Mn in Icelandic banks. Guradian list Oct 2008 here eg : Nottingham city council: £41.6m invested in Glitnir, Landsbanki and Heritable • Transport for London: £40m deposit with Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander
At the time the Prime Minister told the BBC that the Icelandic authorities' handling of accounts had been "effectively illegal" and "completely unacceptable".
Local Government Minister, Cambridge educated John Healey. Communities and Local Government (National) Minister since June 2007 has laid an order today before Parliament Local Authorities (Capital Finance and Accounting) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 [S.I. No. 321] under the Local Government Act 2003.
The effect of this is to enable enable authorities to postpone ( ie : fiddle their accounts) to apparently remove any possible budgetary impact of this until 2010-11.
Without this help, ( he claims) they would have to make immediate provision for possible losses in their revenue budgets - with potentially serious impacts on council tax or services.
" ...I am taking this exceptional step that gives authorities some breathing space that should allow them to be clearer what sums, if any, are still at risk. Meanwhile the Government will continue its efforts to ensure that investors recover as much as possible from the banks." ... which on current evidence looks like zero. Still, we can put off the accounting for it until after the election.
UPDATE : Friday newrelease with more information links details of Councils affected etc.,
Item 2 : DfT gets into train leasing via Diesel Trains Limited Kerching £ 1.5 Bn.
The beautiful and talented, unelected and unelectable, yet adorable, godlike , Transport Minister, Lord Adonis (Andew to frineds on the scarlet benches of our House) has quietly announced today yet more tax payers funds for railway companies.
Subsequent to its mention in the Chancellor's pre-budget review in November 2008 a company, Diesel Trains Limited, has been set up which will see an extra £1bn dedicated to accelerating major transport projects.
Initially this involves around £300m for an additional 202 train carriages (say £1.5 MN each) to relieve overcrowding in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distances in northern England. The trains (which will be rented by the DfT) are set to enter service by 2012 subject to negotiations with train operators First Great Western, Trans-Pennine Express and Northern Rail.
The DfT is currently negotiating with other train operators for the purchase of 120 new carriages, in addition to these DMUs, and, over the next 12 months, would expect to see orders for a further 250 carriages. By the end of next year, orders for over 1,000 new carriages are likely to have been placed = about £1.5 Bn. (ish)
A successful bidder (Bombardier are the sole UK manufacturer left in UK ) to build the new train carriages is expected to be announced in April. The DfT makes clear that it does not intend to be a long-term owner of trains (Ho.Ho.Ho.) and the new company is not intended to compete with other rolling stock leasing companies.
These are the major leasing companies who will benefit from these plans... . (ROSCO's)
* Angel Trains - owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and which claims to be the biggest rolling stock company in Britain, with some 5,000 assets... and is now owned by the taxpapyer anyway.
* HSBC Rail - a lessor of domestic passenger rolling stock, owned by HSBC.
* Porterbrook - owned by Abbey National, which leases some 3,500 locomotives, trains and freight wagons.
These were joined by 2 more companies in 2008:
* Sovereign Trains - a company that forms part of the same group as the open-access operators Grand Central and Grand Union. Sovereign Trains owns the rolling stock currently operated by Grand Central.(see pic)
* QW Rail Leasing - a joint venture between the National Australia Bank and SMBC Leasing and Finance to provide the EMU rolling stock to London Overground.
Which makes you wonder why the leasing companies don't just go out and buy the trains they need to meet the evident demand
PS : Pic is of a Grand Central DMU at York Station.
PPS : Meanwhile premium ticket and season ticket sales are declining.