Nuclear energy price falls affect EDF (except at Hinkley C) so ramping up renewable energy (except at Hinkley C!)

“French state-owned energy firm EDF reported falling profits, including a downturn in the UK due to falling prices for nuclear power, improved energy efficiency among its household customers and the slide in the value of sterling since the Brexit vote.

Profits in the UK division, which includes EDF Energy, slumped by a third to €1.035 (£920m) as sales dwindled by €579m to €8.68bn, partly because UK customers pay their bills in pounds but the company reports its results in euros.

EDF said the decline of the pound against the euro had cost it €608m.

The company has faced criticism over delays and the cost of its £20bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. However, it has blamed a 12% fall in nuclear energy prices in the UK, where it is the market leader.

Revenues were depressed by lower home energy consumption among customers, with usage falling 1.9% due to “milder weather and rising energy efficiency”.

EDF, which is majority-owned by the French government, reported a 2.2% decline in overall revenues to €69.6bn, with profits down 16% to €13.7bn, excluding the impact of asset sales.

It said group results had declined due to lower prices in almost all of the regions where it operates and an exodus of nearly 1 million customers.

It was also affected by lower nuclear and hydroelectric output in its domestic market, where it is the dominant supplier with more than 85% market share.

Last year the company had unplanned outages at some of its 58 French nuclear plants, where reactors had to be shut down for safety reasons.

It lost 960,000 customers, shaving €341m off profits, blaming the exodus on heightened competition, including in the UK.

Chief executive and chairman Jean-Bernard Levy said the group’s profitability in the face of a “difficult market context” was evidence of EDF’s financial strength, adding that he expects a “rebound” in 2018.

He said the company would launch an “unprecedented” ramp-up of renewable energy this year, as France looks to reduce nuclear’s share of power generation from 75% to 50% by 2025.”

“A Chief Executive to Lead the Heart of the South West LEP Towards Prosperity for All” ***

*** Prosperity for all LEP Board Members perhaps? !!!

“The Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership is looking for a new chief executive to start in the summer following the retirement of Chris Garcia, who has led one of England’s most successful LEPs for five years.

The role demands a high calibre candidate for this increasingly pivotal role in the HotSW economy, which covers Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, Steve Hindley CBE DL [Chairman if the Midas construction empire], said: “We’re a strong business-led partnership between the private sector, social enterprises, local authorities, universities and colleges throughout Devon and Somerset and the unitary areas of Plymouth and Torbay, making us one of the largest LEPs in the country, so we’re looking for strong leadership and talent.

“Across the HotSW area, there’s a mix of urban and rural economies, stunning natural capital, rich heritage and a tremendously exciting range of business opportunities.

“We’ve established an impressive track record with a £750m investment programme to support our mission to see better productivity and better jobs; and we’re poised to launch a new delivery plan for a step change in productivity.

“The role of LEPs is increasing as we become firmly aligned with the delivery of the government’s Industrial Strategy, our funding is secured for at least another two years, and we’ll now have regular meetings with the Prime Minister.

“I look forward to meeting some exceptional applicants for this exciting role as HotSW LEP enters the next phase in its journey towards prosperity for all.”

Applications are open until 16 February and a candidate briefing pack is available at:”

What if businesses and tourism turn right at the Severn bridge when tolls are removed this year?

“The government announced last July that tolls would end on the Severn bridges by end 2018.

What happens to our Local Enterprise Partnership and Greater Exeter Growth Plans if everyone turns right at Bristol?

As a current Guardian article says:

… “The abolition of the tolls on the Severn bridges will create a “once in a lifetime” chance to build an economic region to rival the northern powerhouse and challenge the south-east of England, politicians, business leaders and academics have said.

Making the crossings between the west of England and south Wales free could lead to a “western powerhouse” stretching from Bath and Bristol to Swansea, boosting prosperity and jobs, advocates believe.

A summit at the Celtic Manor resort, on the Welsh side of the border, yesterday discussed how regions on either side of the bridges could benefit from government plans to abolish the tolls by the end of the year……..”

The concept of a “Severnside” region has been around for decades. Welsh devolution is seen as one reason why the concept lost traction but Brexit has led to a reassessment.

Dylan Jones-Evans, the assistant pro-vice chancellor at the University of South Wales, said abolishing the tolls was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Many businesses on both sides of the bridges felt [the tolls] formed a major psychological and financial barrier. Wales was seen as being separate from the rest of the UK economy.”

But he warned: “The current transport provision for road and rail between south Wales and the south west of England is not fit for purpose. … “

“Key figures in Devon and Somerset devolution deal meet to thrash out a way forward”

Owl says: Translation of headline – “A few rich businesspeople with vested interests and a few power hungry but rather uninformed councillors with their eye on the future panic because they risk having their fingers extracted from lucrative pies and will make unsustainable promises if that’s what it takes to keep them in”.

And as for that “productivity strategy”:

“Moves to shift more power and cash to the Westcountry took an important step forward this week when key players met civil servants to thrash out the way forward. The Westcountry has been pushing to join former Chancellor George Osborne’s “devolution revolution”, which would take powers away from London and put it into the hands of local people.

The first meeting in Whitehall last week included discussions on transport infrastructure, broadband access, home building and support for business growth.

The bid for devolution is led by the Heart of the South West local enterprise partnership, which includes leaders from business and councils across Somerset and Devon, including Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter.

A delegation has now met representatives from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to discuss devolution proposals.

The group claims that additional decision making and budget powers could have huge benefits for the Westcountry, including higher productivity, better paid jobs, improved transport links and more affordable homes.

Devon and Somerset are lagging behind the rest of the country. By November 2016, 11 regions had already reached devolution agreements.

Heart of the South West submitted its first proposal in February 2016, but has yet to reach a concrete deal.

An earlier stumbling block, the election of a regional mayor, has already been removed by the Government.

The issue had threatened to split the partnership.

But now civil servants have agreed to hold regular meetings on the issue, according to the region’s leaders involved in the bid.

Plymouth Council leader Ian Bowyer said: “Creating a strong economy, which means jobs, stability and strong prospects for our young people as well as families is vital for the future of Plymouth and the region as a whole. We are already working together across so many areas to deliver growth.

“This was a really positive meeting and sets the scene for closer working that will benefit all our residents.”

A total of 23 partnership organisations from across the region, which also includes clinical commissioning groups and national parks, are involved in the plans.

A joint committee for the Heart of the South West economic region is now being set up to move the discussions forward.

Cllr David Fothergill, chair of the Heart of the South West shadow joint committee, said of last week’s meeting: “We explained our vision for the area and how to help it become more prosperous.

“We discussed skills, transport infrastructure, broadband access, ways to provide more homes where they are needed and support for businesses to grow, innovate and export more. We also talked about the specific challenges faced by rural communities.”

The group said its first meeting will be in March, where it will agree a productivity strategy.”

Council 2018-2019 budget – many elephants in the room!

Recent comment on “pay to pee” article (below):

“Notice the contradiction here: one councillor says the idea is not being looked at, another group of councillors say town and … [quote from original article]

Might I suggest that there is fake news (or misdirection).

Instead of concentrating on the big savings – the biggest costs/budgets under management, we are being misdirected to something we actually understand (don’t forget the seaside towns are over endowed with the elderly, whose needs include lavatories) so that we can gain a small ‘win’ by demanding the facilities, so that we forget the elephants in the room. And there are several of them.

A gallery that only Councillor’s want.
A move of headquarters that only Councillors want.
A drastic reduction in healthcare services, that only Councillors want.
Seafront developments that only Councillors want.

William of Occam would say I have over-made the point.

Do you suppose there is a picture developing here?

I could add the absolutely fantastic budget demand coming from a Police body that has a management cost out of all proportion to its actual size. You could make significant savings by firing the bosses and not lose any quality of service?

And what about getting rid of the LLP [LEP] which, in my view, has achieved precisely nothing since it was created (except increase the salaries of the leaders although they have yet to achieve any results). That would make some tidy savings.

Maybe we can afford a health service after all!”

External auditor reports on risks of combined authorities

“In July, the NAO published its report on Progress in setting up combined authorities which concludes that for combined authorities to deliver real progress they will need to demonstrate that they can drive economic growth and contribute public sector reform.

These authorities have inherently complex structures and are not uniform.

They vary in the extent of the devolution deals they have struck with government. The combined authority with the greatest degree of devolution, Greater Manchester, has now absorbed control over the office of the police and crime commissioner and fire and rescue services.

Others are currently primarily focused on transport issues, as well as housing and regeneration.

The report highlights a number of risks including:

— local councillors will have limited capacity for the overview and scrutiny of combined authorities. Furthermore, in May 2017, six mayors were elected to combined authorities in England, with candidates having campaigned on manifestos which frequently made policy commitments beyond the current remits of these organisations. This raises the question of whether mayors can be credible local advocates if they only deal with the limited issues under the remit;

— a number of authorities have been unable to bring local authorities together to establish combined authorities, while areas with a long history of working together have often found it most straightforward to establish combined authorities;

— the capacity of most combined authorities is currently limited and the lack of geographical coherence between most combined authorities and other providers of public services could make it more problematic to devolve more public services in the future;

— if the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union (EU) results in reductions in regional funding, the economic regeneration role of combined authorities would become more pressing. Combined authorities are generally in areas which receive the most EU funding. The North West, for example, is scheduled to receive in excess of 1 billion euros in European Regional Development Funds, European Social Fund, and Youth Employment allocations between 2014 and 2020.”

The report is available on the NAO website at:

page 41