Column Eight: Another stink at Barclays

An ad in national newspapers runs: 'Sir John Quinton, we pay you pounds 412,000 (Ed: wrong, pounds 356,000) pa to look after our concerns. So why are we waiting?

'We are more than 200 shareholders in Barclays plc determined to meet our Board about our ever-growing concerns. Meanwhile, Barclays' lawyers are 'taking instructions' about the Board's 'policy (if any) . . . in relation to meetings with shareholders']]]'

A source not a thousand miles from the bank says one of those behind the advertisement is Brian Jones, a disgruntled account-holder who began stink-bombing Barclays branches nationwide in August during an argument over his personal account . . .

Column Eight identifies the latest barometer for spotting companies that are going bust. Come in, Coopers Deloitte New Company of the Year award. Two of the five companies on last year's shortlist have gone belly-up, with Clarke Foods joining Airbreak Leisure in the dismal world of receivership.

Another project that appears to be going bust is the pounds 400m Hotel Arts mega- complex in Barcelona: Construction Weekly reports that administrators have been called in by the Spanish courts. The hotel was supposed to be finished in time for the Olympics, but wasn't. Not surprisingly, this blighted business.

The developer involved is G Ware Travelstead, best known in this country for coming up with the idea of Canary Wharf, buying up the land and then - brilliant touch - selling the land to Olympia & York in 1987. How prescient.

Definitely not in the running for a Plain English award is the report on 'Constrained-on plant' issued yesterday by Professor Stephen Littlechild, director-general of electricity supply at Offer, the electricity watchdog.

The report follows a thorough investigation of the 'pricing and scheduling of generating plant which is constrained to run on the transmission system'. It concludes that customers 'are not adequately protected by the present system'. There has been an 'increase in Uplift payments for constrained-on plant', and PowerGen has secured an 'exceptional contribution to profits at two of its plants'.

Baffled?

The Government was apparently anxious that publication of Professor Littlechild's report be delayed until the shock of the coal cuts had been absorbed. The fate of coal- fired power stations as discussed in the report was said to be a sensitive area. But, no need for the Government to have worried. Few people will have managed to read that far.

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