Daily Archives: January 28, 2011

Jim Pickard

It has become a favoured accessory of the modern political leader; the personal trainer. David Cameron is often spotted jogging around with his fitness coach, who also works for comedians James Corden and Michael McIntyre. Even Gordon Brown had one by his side to keep him in, er, peak physical shape.

Now my colleague James Crabtree has revealed that Ed Miliband has hired a personal trainer to get him into shape. It will be interesting to see how this pans out for Miliband, who – up til now – hasn’t shown much aptitude in the sporting sphere. Read more

Jim Pickard

As I revealed before Christmas, Network Rail has agreed to pay for an independent inquiry into allegations of misuse of public funds that have dogged the publicly funded company for months. You can read the full story here. The state-funded track operator believes it has no case to answer but wants to “close this chapter” through a QC-chaired investigation. There will be a “statement of full exoneration” if the key allegations prove to be groundless. As I disclosed:

Chaired by QC Antony White, the inquiry will begin at an undisclosed London location by February. In a letter to Network Rail’s 100 members, Mr Haythornthwaite said the inquiry would focus on allegations against Iain Coucher, former chief executive. He told members he wanted a “focused and effective gathering of hard evidence” that would “establish the truth around specific allegations of fraud”.

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Jim Pickard

I wrote in yesterday’s FT about Caroline Spelman’s plans to sell off much of the Forestry Commission’s estate.

The environment minister is keen to rebut the idea that she is poised to flog every tree in Britain to private companies who will then chop them down and replace them with golf courses, leisure centres and business parks.

So what is her plan? Put simply there are two legs to the strategy.

1] The commercial forestry estates – largely monoculture conifers – which mainly grows logs for commercial sale, could be sold off under one of four options put forward. This could raise several hundred million pounds. As Julian Glover at the Guardian suggests: “The state has no business being a lumberjack.” Much of the forestry that covers the uplands of the north and Scotland is so unlovely that perhaps it might as well be in private hands. Alternatively, community groups could club together to buy some of this land and – perhaps – turn it back to native deciduous habitat.

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