Yorkshire council fishes around for coat of arms; City Diary

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The Independent Online
Problems of a politically incorrect nature at the newly formed East Riding of Yorkshire council which is replac- ing the old North Humberside council in Bridlington. The new body had been hoping to celebrate its links with the local fishing industry with a new coat of arms featuring a mermaid. Nothing wrong with that, you might think, only the mermaid in question featured "large prominent breasts".

Though popular with local fisherman, the mermaid's embonpoint proved too much for Doreen Clarke, a Labour councillors who described it as "inappropriate". "You wouldn't use a naked man in the same circumstances," she said.

The council has replaced the mermaid with a seahorse.

Nigel Whittaker, the former Kingfisher director who was ousted in a boardroom shake-up last year, now claims to be so busy that he has given up his beloved marathon running.

Mr Whittaker regularly used to pound the streets in his quest for fitness but now says he can live without it. "The running was useful at Kingfisher to rid myself of the stresses and strains of the job. But I don't feel the need for it any more."

Not because he no longer has a job, you understand, but because he has several.

Anyone ringing his London home is greeted by an answering machine informing you that this is "Nigel Whittaker corporate affairs consultancy". So far his clients include "a privatised train company, an energy company and one of the big six audit firms".

Then there is government department work on issues such as mental health. And the odd directorship which includes Cardcash, the anti credit-card fraud group which floated on Aim recently. "I don't want to be working on something and grooming it for the market. I just want to do things I enjoy."

British Airways has completed the shake-up of its PR division with the appointment of a new communications director. He is Kevin Murray, who has been working in a similar capacity at AEA Technology, a de-merged part of the Atomic Energy Authority which is coming to the stock market soon.

Mr Murray, who hails from Zimbabwe, will takeover from Peter Jones, who will remain on board in his previous position as head of public relations.

Mr Murray, 41, moved to the UK in 1985 when he joined Shearwater Communications in Oxfordshire. He later moved to Bayer, the chemicals group before joining the Atomic Energy Authority in 1992.

Arsenal has JVC, Newcastle United has Newcastle Brown Ale and Manchester United has Sharp. Now Blackburn Rovers has a sponsor to replace McEwans, one of Scottish & Newcastle's beers. Step forward the Co-Operative Insurance Society, which is paying Blackburn an estimated pounds 4m over four years for the honour of having its logo on the blue and white shirts of Alan Shearer and Co.

CIS said it was keen to back football due to its rising popularity and the decrease in incidents of hooliganism. This was before the England team re-arranged the club class lounge on their flight back from China, of course.

Terry Maher, the ex-Pentos chairman, has completed the first chapter of his first novel after four months' hard labour. At this rate the tome should be published some time in the next century. But in spite of the slow progress he is pleased with the results.

We also know a little more of the plot - a kind of City thriller based on a dastardly takeover bid and unscrupulous behaviour by all concerned. He would not confirm that the hero is a small, bespectacled man with a love of books but don't bet against it. "I don't want to give too much away," he says.