12 Month Jail Sentence For Landlord Who Failed To Provide Fire Safety

slade lane - manchester evening news

slade lane - manchester evening newsManchester Landlord Put Lives at Risk in “Death Trap” Flats

A property landlord has pleaded guilty to 14 fire safety breaches relating to a network of flats above commercial premises in a deprived area of Manchester

The Manchester Evening News reported an interesting case of a landlord who was fined after failing to provide adequate fire health and safety in his properties.

Kamarat Hussain owns a number of connected properties on Slades Lane in Longsight, Manchester – these are commercial shops housing travel agents, a butchers and other small businesses, with eight residential flats above them.

Fire safety officers found numerous problems, including an absence of fire escape signs, missing or broken fire extinguishers, blocked fire exits and faulty wiring.

Child at a window

A hearing took place at Manchester Crown Court in December, at which Prosecutors reported that a fire officer was passing Hussain’s premises by chance in July 2015, when he noticed a child at an upstairs window and became concerned. On entering the building, he immediately saw numerous dangerous problems, prompting an official investigation that would last for months.

The officer issued an enforcement notice within weeks, and over the subsequent 14 months, he made 12 follow up visits in an attempt to bring the building up to standard. Despite this, little had been done when he made his last visit in September 2016.

Hussain was also unable to produce a fire risk assessment, despite repeated reminders and the fact that he claimed to have spent £700 on having one conducted.

Cost cutting

The Prosecutor described Hussain’s “flagrant disregard” for the safety of his tenants through cost cutting measures, that placed them at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. All this, in spite of the properties generating more than £7,000 for Hussain in rent every month.

Hussain’s defence lawyer pointed out that he has had recent health and financial difficulties. He also stated that Hussain recently spent £2,000 on improvements and had not been deliberately cutting costs.

The ruling QC, Judge Patrick Field, disagreed and said there had been deliberate cost-cutting. He noted Hussain’s previous convictions for food safety breaches, and remarked that he has a “tendency to disregard the law regarding the safety of others”.

Hussain was ordered to serve a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ unpaid work and £11,025 costs.

In agreeing to the suspended sentence, he remarked that Hussain was fully aware of the consequences for him if he failed to make the necessary improvements.

Bullish

Hussain was bullish in his own defence after the hearing, although his word of choice was slightly different.

He told the Manchester Evening News: “This case is 100 per cent bull****. They’ve done this to me because I’m a young man with a big building. I have done everything they told me. This building I’ve bought is a very big building, and I’ve worked hard for it. I’m not worried about prison because I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a 100 per cent bull**** – and I’ll come back and prove it.”

Is Golf The Next Business Team Building Trend?

golf team building

golf team building

Golf is less solitary than you think so makes a good team activity

When people think of golf, they often think of it being a ‘self-centred’ game with one person playing against many others. This view may be influenced by the amount of big ‘singles’ competitions such as the US and British Open that are part of the four major tournaments played each year with one person beating the field to win.

That said, golf can be a team game – witness the USA versus Europe Ryder Cup played every two years – and it certainly can make for a very sociable gathering.

Golf for team building

There are many corporate golf days and charity events, so golf lends itself to team building days. A day out in the fresh air, and various ways of competing including team configurations such as a Texas scramble, turn the game into a genuine group activity as opposed to ‘singles’ play. To top things off, there’s often the chance for everyone to get together at the end of the day’s play for a drink or maybe a meal.

The only drawback is that golf can be enjoyed better by those who play at least occasionally. It’s maybe not a game non-golfers can enjoy beyond crazy golf or pitch and putt level, and there’s the need for participants to be suitably equipped.

It’s not just the golf clubs (which can probably be hired), but other essentials such as proper footwear, as many golf clubs won’t allow people to play wearing trainers or similar. Many golf clubs also stipulate some type of dress code that must be adhered to on the course and possibly in certain areas of the clubhouse.

For a group of people who are all keen golfers, what better way to help team build and enhance morale than taking to the links for the day? If, however, not all the team play then taking a look at many other team building activities may be preferable and appropriate for a more diverse group of people.

Finding a golf club in London that may be happy to host possibly a large number of novice golfers may prove difficult in any event. Many might insist on players not only possessing a valid playing handicap, but one no higher than a certain level.

Other options

Getting ideas from a specialist organiser for a corporate team building event in London is an ideal first step. Choosing an activity that will appeal to your mix of personnel is key to everyone having an enjoyable time along with something appropriate to the time of day and year.

For example, a casino evening or a murder mystery might be just the thing for a winter’s night whereas a GPS treasure hunt or an ‘It’s a Knockout’ could be a great idea for a summer’s day.

A time honoured quiz is always fun, but expert events organisers often offer more than just a bunch of questions on a list. Interactive rounds using video and various options to tailor the quiz to suit the number of people and the time slot can be created.

A bit of fun mixing (literally) with something creative and mildly competitive can be achieved with a cocktail masterclass. Your people split into teams and, with the help of expert mixologists, create their own cocktail and compete with other teams to see who comes up with the most appealing drink.

As seen on TV

Activities inspired by successful television programmes such as ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘The Great British Bake Off’ can be undertaken to help your people have fun and cooperate in a team environment, as can a series of pub games. Everyone splits into teams and completes a circuit playing a variety of pub style games while totting up their scores on each and seeing how they fare against their colleagues in other teams.

Seasonal activities

Rather than simply organise an office party or take staff out for a Christmas meal, team building activities run by expert organisers can be given a festive twist if desired.

It’s not just golf

While golf is certainly a popular team building activity and has long been a favourite corporate entertainment option, the innovation in team building and corporate entertainment in the hands of a professional events organising company means there’s much else to choose from whether in or outdoors.

Build A Stronger Team in 2017

team

teamGood Working Relationships Increase Happiness and Improve Productivity

Research has shown that employees rank their relationships with colleagues higher than having a competitive salary when it comes to enjoying their working day.

Every manager knows the importance of employee satisfaction in running a successful business. People who enjoy what they do will go the extra mile to ensure the quality of the products or services your business offers. And when employees are satisfied with their working conditions, they are less likely to look elsewhere, reducing staff turnover and the associated costs and management time in recruiting and training new staff.

There is, however, more to employee satisfaction than offering a good salary and benefits package. In 2012, Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey of 200,000 people on the subject of happiness in the workplace and found that good relationships with colleagues was second only to being appreciated for one’s work in driving workplace happiness. Salary was way down in seventh place.

No wonder so many leading companies see team building events in London as one of the most valuable investments they can make to protect their business’s most unique and valuable assets – its people.

Why team building?

Team building activities bring a whole host of benefits, but most managers agree that the most noticeable is a marked improvement in the way people communicate and work together. This applies both to colleagues who rely on each other to work effectively and to the way employees and their managers interact with one another.

By helping employees to feel relaxed and comfortable together, the workplace is a more pleasant environment. It becomes a place where people have the confidence and motivation to take on new challenges and reach new heights.

The sense of camaraderie brought about by achieving something as a team can be truly inspiring. One only needs to watch members of a sports team celebrating a win to see the positive energy that is created.

Many team building activities are designed to encourage creative thinking. This is a great skill to take back to the workplace, whether it is to drive the business forward through new product and service development or to come up with better ways of doing day to day tasks.

The ability to think creatively can also be of critical importance when it comes to problem solving or crisis management, something that every business, no matter how successful, has to deal with from time to time.

Different types of activities

To some, “team building activities” just conjure up images of people getting covered in mud while they build makeshift bridges across rivers. Great fun, but maybe not everyone’s first choice in the middle of winter!

However, there are many other types of activity too, including less physical activities that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or fitness.

At this time of year, indoor activities are particularly popular, and the possibilities are numerous. Many take inspiration from popular TV shows, including the Crystal Maze, the Great British Bake Off, the X-Factor and others.

Staging a team building event does not necessarily mean taking the workforce away during office hours. Evening events are a great way to bring people together, and around this time of year can provide a memorable twist to the traditional Christmas party. With the whole workforce together and full of festive cheer, what could be a better time to build happier and more productive teams?

Making Tax Digital

making tax digital

making tax digitalHow Will New Tax Accounting Processes Affect Individuals and Small Businesses?

In 2015, the UK Government announced plans to introduce online reporting processes for taxpayers. What does this mean for businesses and individuals?

In the March 2015 budget, the Government announced a £1.3 billion programme that would revolutionise tax reporting. The five-year plan will introduce online accounts through which taxpayers can interact directly with HMRC.

The new system envisages quarterly updates that will effectively signal the end of the tax return as we know it.

As with any major change in financial reporting, the rules and timelines are still being finalised, but the current deadline for digital records is April 2018.

The change might seem daunting, particularly for the thousands of small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs in the area, who should consider taking advice from their local tax accountants in Peterborough while there is still enough time to get prepared.

Making tax easier

In December 2015, HMRC published a document (.pdf) that fleshed out the Government’s budget announcement. In his foreword, David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, heralded digital tax as part of Whitehall’s “digital revolution” stating that it would “transform the experience of millions of taxpayers” by introducing a system that is easier, more efficient and more effective.

The document also set out a timeline for implementation. Like any major project, we can expect some dates to be fluid, and a detailed consultation that was originally scheduled for spring 2016 was the first to be pushed back while ministers waited to see the results of the EU Referendum.

Nevertheless, the April 2018 deadline for the first online submissions remains in place.

Impact on individuals and businesses

The Government has published a series of case studies detailing how digital tax can affect a cross-section of individuals, including landlords, pensioners and small business owners.

The case studies certainly point towards a much easier and less frustrating system than the current method of tax reporting. Using smartphone apps to regularly update pre-populated data fields looks far less onerous than the task of manually filling out pages of information once a year. But can it really be that easy?

The right technological tools

Research by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) suggests that many small and medium sized enterprises are not currently in a position to meet the 2018 reporting rules.

In its paper “Digitalisation of Tax, International Perspectives,” the ICAEW analysed similar projects in other countries around the globe. It found that digital exclusion is the biggest obstacle to full implementation of such programmes.

Businesses below the VAT registration threshold are particularly at risk in this respect, as these businesses are unlikely to have existing bookkeeping software. Indeed, an ICAEW survey earlier this year revealed that only 25% of UK businesses maintain electronic accounting records.

Be prepared

The good news is that for businesses and individuals alike, there is still time to get fully prepared for this aspect of the digital revolution.

In the long run, putting tax accounts online should make tax reporting quicker, easier and more accurate for everybody. Get the right advice and support to make sure it represents a positive change for you and your business.

Luxury Transfers From London City Airport To West End

London West End transfers

London West End transfersThe convenience of touch down to theatre land in around an hour

London City Airport is a popular and highly convenient way to enter and leave London. It’s just ten miles from the West End so, depending on weight of traffic and if you just have hand luggage, it’s possible to be sitting down to dinner or checking into your hotel somewhere in the West End less than an hour after touching down if you use the services of a professional airport transfer chauffeur service.

Ease of transfer

Once arrived at City Airport, the next priority is to get to the West End or other London destination as quickly and easily as possible. Thanks to City being a relatively compact airport, there’s none of the miles of walking you find at airports such as Heathrow or Gatwick so you can be off the plane and into the compact arrivals area in no time.

If you secure the services of a professional chauffeur company offering a fully featured airport transfer service you’ll soon be on your way to the West End. The company will know when your flight landed having tracked it online so the chauffeur will be in arrivals to meet you.

Your car will likely be a spacious limousine type such as a Mercedes S-Class saloon, Range Rover long wheelbase or maybe a Rolls Royce depending on what you choose. If you’re travelling with a party, you may have arranged a spacious Mercedes V-Class people carrier or similar.

The driver will know what to expect at that time with the capital’s traffic loads so will do their utmost to pick a route that gets you to your West End destination as soon as possible.

City Airport: the air travel hub in the midst of the capital

Other London airports aren’t actually in the capital but London City is. Situated in the Docklands area in Newham, the compact airport is ideal for business travellers who need to get to their central London or West End business engagements quickly and easily.

The airport caters primarily for people flying to and from various European destinations including France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain amongst others – and UK locations including Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. It’s also possible to cross the Atlantic with flights now available to and from New York.

Over four million passengers now use the airport each year, contrasting with the 133,000 passengers who used it in 1988, its first full year of operation.

Limousine company credentials and how to choose one

The basic requirement of your London-centric chauffeur company is that its drivers are PCO (Public Carriage Office) licensed. This is essential for drivers of private hire vehicles, mini cab drivers and chauffeurs and basically proves they’re medically fit and can be trusted (they will have been DBS – previously known as CRB – checked).

Some companies also offer close personal protection services through some or all of their drivers being vetted and licensed by the SIA (Security Industry Authority). This can be of major reassurance to celebrities and those carrying valuable items.

Along with the credentials above, look for a professional and informative website preferably including some testimonials from satisfied clients.

Varying transfer needs

For some, it’s not just City Airport they need to transfer from and too. The Excel Centre – a major exhibition and show venue – is virtually next door to City and it’s quite common for people involved in exhibitions and shows there to need transfers to and from the West End during their stay. Therefore a similar transfer arrangement as when using the nearby airport can be arranged.

Conversely, perhaps business people staying in the West End but needing to get to the City or Docklands area for meetings need transferring from and to the West End. A swift and efficient door to door limousine transfer could be the ideal solution rather than battling the London Underground or hailing black cabs.

A stranger in this town

For those unused to London, the services of a bespoke limousine company can be worth its weight in gold. Access to an expert and fully trained chauffeur providing a door to door service removes the hassle of working out Underground routes, deciding how much to tip the cab driver and navigating a London using the ‘A to Z’.

It’s even possible that a few useful ideas as to where to book theatre tickets, get on the guest list at an exclusive London nightspot or choose a discreet restaurant for dinner can be picked up.

Small Business Guide To DIY SEO

Google DIY advice and tips - tool box

How to boost your business up the search engine rankings

SEO may seem like a ‘dark art’ but there are some simple steps you can take to make your business more visible to prospective customers.

Small business owners are often told that they need SEO to grow their business, but many don’t know why they need it, how to go about it, or even, in many cases, what SEO actually is.

If this sounds familiar, then read on. SEO might seem like somewhat of a ‘dark art’, but it is something that you can easily learn and put into practice. We’ve put together some advice and guidance to introduce you to the SEO basics and help you make SEO work for your business.

So, what is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. In a nutshell, this basically means optimising a website so that it ranks as highly as possible on search engine results pages.

Think about how you use the Internet. These days, most online experiences begin with a search engine and, generally speaking, the first five results that appear get the majority of clicks. So, if your website is languishing on the second page of a google search, it’s very difficult for prospective customers to find you. And if your customers can’t find you, they may find your competitor instead.

There are a number of elements to SEO, some more complex than others. Here are some of the more basic steps to get you started on your SEO journey

Choose your keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that people might use when searching for a business such as yours, and when it comes to SEO success, selecting the right keywords is crucial.

For the best results, you should select words and phrases that your customers already use to talk about your business, so consider carrying out some simple market research with your customers such as a short survey or some face-to-face questions.

Ideally, you’re also looking for keywords that have a high search volume combined with a low-medium level of competition. Test your preferred keywords by entering them into the free Google Keyword Tool.

Don’t forget to also include key phrases which include your local area and variations of that area. For example, Essex digital marketing company, SEO Essex Co, explain that you should target a range of keywords, which include your county, local town, and a variety of services in combination with location searches. Danny Hall says: “Always think about where your customers are and what they will search for. You might be based in the main town, but many people will first search for services more local to them, so develop a campaign that covers your entire geographic region”.

Optimisation

Once you have decided on your keywords the next step is to start optimising your website content. Search engines favour certain page fields, so by putting the right words in the right places you can help to improve your search engine rankings.

This is pretty easy to do and simply entails ensuring that a page’s keywords and phrases are included in the page title, body copy and URL. It’s also important to complete a keyword-rich meta-description for each page.

Free tools such as Boostsuite can help to flag up pages which need further optimisation.

Create regular content

Google has a preference for websites that are updated regularly, and writing relevant and engaging blog posts is a great way to keep your site updated.

Create a content schedule to keep you on track and don’t be afraid to ask other people to contribute content, whether it’s a post from a staff member or a guest blog from someone in a related field. Don’t forget to include links to relevant sections of your website where you can.

This is also a good opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field, so make sure that the content you post is well-written and useful to potential customers. Good content also garners more views and shares on social networks, which leads us on to…

Go social

Google likes websites and business owners who are active on social media, and it tracks your social interactions such as likes comments and shares. With this in mind, it’s important to dedicate some time to social media if you’re serious about boosting your SEO.

Aside from improving your search engine rankings, having a good social media presence also offers you another way to connect with potential customers and make useful contacts.

Look past your own website

Successful SEO doesn’t just entail focusing on your own website. Looking further afield can also pay dividends.

Obtaining backlinks from trusted, quality websites can really help to improve your SEO and there are a number of ways in which you can do this. Get in touch with suppliers or people you’ve done business with and offer them a testimonial for their website if they can provide a link back to your site. Another option is write guest blogs, which has the added benefit of getting your name known in your industry.

And don’t forget your competitors. You can pick up some useful tips for your own business by reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ digital marketing activities

Taking it to the next level

Basic SEO can be pretty simple and straightforward, but it does require a fair amount of ongoing time and effort. And, as a small business owner, you may not have the resources available to dedicate to SEO activities in the longer term.

With this in mind, if you want your business to really compete in the search engine rankings you should think about calling in the experts.

SEO and digital marketing specialists come in all shapes and sizes, and can offer a number of different services. Perhaps you want to commission an agency to help you develop a SEO strategy that you can then run with, or maybe you would prefer to hire a company to devise and create regular content for your online channels.

Whatever, you’re looking for, you can be sure that a professional digital marketing company will have the expertise and resources needed to help you take your SEO to the next level.