Column Eight: Barratt is given the bird

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The Independent Online
Arow has erupted in picturesque Farndale in the North Yorkshire Moors, where Sir Lawrie Barratt, the developer who gave mankind the Barratt home, has applied to chop down 300 trees, including mature beeches and oaks.

He wants to clear the trees to make way for vegetation more suitable for pheasant cover. Sir Lawrie, a keen marksman when he isn't golfing or sailing, holds two shoots a week on his 4,500-acre estate, which be bought in 1982 for pounds 1.5m.

Demonstrating the unquenchable optimism that any housebuilder has to have these days, Sir Lawrie also claims that removing the trees will improve the landscape.

Local residents, not to mention the North York Moors National Park, aren't so sure. And the last thing they want is more pheasants, which they claim have reached plague proportions, snaffling garden vegetables and constituting a road hazard.

The Institute for Quality Assurance has just published a book, Quality 2000 - Management for Success, and kindly sent us a review copy. Subtitled 'An anthology of total quality experience', this earnest tome leaves you in no doubt about its subject matter. The index alone lists 19 different aspects of quality. Directors from ICL, Safeway and Girobank gush ad nauseam on how they have raised quality standards in their companies.

A pity then that the entire text is printed upside down.

About 5,000 shareholders of Westpac, Australia's oldest bank - and arguably its most incompetent - subjected the board to a merciless grilling at the annual meeting in Sydney yesterday. Kerry Packer, the polo-playing billionaire who this month resigned from the Westpac board after just one week, was notable for his absence.

But he has another chance - the marathon meeting had to be adjourned until next week after 8 1/2 stormy hours.

US corporations are getting more picky about the executives they recruit, according to a survey of members of the Association of Corporate and Professional Recruiters.

One firm would hire only senior executives who played golf to a 10-handicap or better. Another wanted high-flyers able to jog and talk business simultaneously.

Physical imperfections can rule you out. One shampoo-maker refused to consider dome-heads. Paunchy candidates were outlawed by a maker of weight-loss products.

A savings bank looking for an executive to work in Norway was admirably specific: candidates without a sound knowledge of fiddle playing and traditional Scandinavian folk songs need not apply.