Should we stay or should we go now?

“Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know,
Should I stay or should I go?”

The lyrics from the 1982 Punk Rock Band The Clash, seem to be very appropriate for the upcoming Referendum. They said that if you leave the trouble will be double and I wonder if that is what a lot of people are thinking about.

I wonder how the future of Pan-European maintenance contracts will work out if some of the states involved are in and some are out. This could be a tricky situation.

I have been the BIFM representative on the BSI standards committee for FM Standards for nearly three years now. During this time, we have worked on the British Standards which are now being proposed to be the ISO standards. We lead the way in helping to develop International Standards, which have huge benefits back to British Industry.

I am concerned that if we leave the EU, then our bargaining power on the global stage will not be as strong and this will have a huge negative impact on the future. I am aware that the EU is not perfect and there are some very compelling responses to the Leave campaign and well as very compelling responses to the Stay campaign.

I think a lot of people will still be undecided like the lyrics in the Clash Song and will only make up their mind when they are standing in that voting booth looking down at their voting slip. Their gut response then will tell them how they will vote.

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Can you help Wateraid?

Below is an request email from Kate at Wateraid


Unfortunately the recent story in India is something we hear about every day. Whilst the rape and murder of the two sisters is a terrible and shocking story, it is unfortunately all too common, this particular story just happened to make International headlines. The two girls had gone out into the field because they didn’t have a toilet in their home.

WaterAid and many other agencies work really hard to increase rights for women and girls to empower them to ensure their voices are heard.

Unfortunately in many countries such as India, deeply entrenched cultural taboos and, what to us would be inhumane practices, are still very common and are deeply entrenched as a way of life. It takes a long time to break down these barriers but we work with communities to do just that.

Research has shown that installing taps and toilets in schools ensures that more girls will gain an education (currently many girls miss school either through having to spend days collecting water, or when they are menstruating as there are no facilities for them) and in these cases, many girls drop out of school altogether, leading to generations of girls who have no future, no livelihoods and are unable to fulfil their potential simply because of a lack of taps and toilets. We know that educated girls are much more likely to marry later and have fewer children who will then be educated themselves.

This is exactly what ‘To be a girl’ is about. Life is very different for girls in the UK and many parts of Europe, and it would be really interesting for us to know what, if any, taboos and stigmas exist around being a young girl in this country. Wateraid will shortly be launching a Campaign called “To be a girl” where they want girls under 18 to post a picture on social media holding an A4 sheet with a few words about what they feel it is like to be a girl. Messages could be for example “To be Free”, “Strong” etc. Do you know any girls that would like to get involved, then could they please contact me on the details below.

I have attached an infographic that might be helpful too, that shows some of the issues faced by women and girls with access to water and sanitation, and for more info on our work on gender inequality and the issues faced by women, visit

Thanks for the plug, really appreciate it

K xxx
Kate Whittaker
Brand Resources Manager

+44 (0) 207 793 4793

Please note I don’t work on Fridays

Aid for water and sanitation is not going where it’s needed most. Our latest report calls on governments to tackle this problem as we strive to reach #EveryoneEverywhere with clean water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.

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Various States of “In” – A fun blog to cheer you up on a wet Tuesday

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work. I live close so it’s a short drive.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenaline flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

And, sometimes I think I am in Vincible but life shows me I am not.

People keep telling me I’m in Denial but I’m positive I’ve never been there before!

I have been in Deepshit many times; the older I get, the easier it is to get there. I actually kind of enjoy it there.

So far, I haven’t been in Continent, but my travel agent says I’ll be going soon.

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Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100… If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…
– The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
– The fifth would pay £1.
– The sixth would pay £3.
– The seventh would pay £7.
– The eighth would pay £12.
– The ninth would pay £18.
– The tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by £20′′. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free; but what about the other six men? – the paying customers.

How could they divide the £20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realised that £20 divided by six is £3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay . . . and so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving)

– The sixth now paid £2 instead of £3 (33% saving)
– The seventh now paid £5 instead of £7 (28% saving)
– The eighth now paid £9 instead of £12 (25% saving)
– The ninth now paid £14 instead of £18 (22% saving)
– The tenth now paid £49 instead of £59 (16% saving)

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.
“I only got a pound out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man ”but he got £10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a pound too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!”

“That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back, when I got only £2 . . . the wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works.

The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

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Recycling – Targets and Realities

St Albans Council have just announced that they wish to be amongst the top performing councils in the country for recycling to meet the Government’s target of more than 60% recycling. (See press Release

The realities of road side collections never seem to meet the desires of the councils due to Service Level Agreements written for their sub-contracted providers.

I have big issues with the majority of Service Level Agreements written for facility contracts as very, very few of them ever actually help you achieve whatever your goal is. Most of them are designed to bash the contractor rather than manage the contractor.

I am firmly behind recycling as much stuff as possible so I get very annoyed when I fill my green wheelie bin with garden waste and cardboard and then if I have some extra cardboard boxes that I leave beside the full bin to find that the recycling company leaves the extra box behind.

We are being encouraged to recycle as much as possible but the Service Level Agreement set up by the Council to their contractor states that they are only allowed to empty one green bin. I am now left with these extra cardboard boxes for the next two weeks until they come back again, but probably by them I will have completely filled the green bin again.

Lets set these service level agreements so that they actually match the aspirations of the councils and not those of the Governments cost reduction targets.

Yours Mr Disgruntled of St Albans

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How the European Bailout System works!

It is a slow day in a little Greek Village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works

(Please don’t take this blog too seriously!)

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The Train is not an office!

The train into London over the last few weeks have been very educational but all for the wrong reasons. People should not use the train as an office.

Last week the lady next to me was reading an update on the Legal cases for London Underground, which is a legally privileged document. I am now up to date on all of the Legal cases that they are challenging.

Another man was reading a presentation to the Board of a major limited company. Another chap was reading his company’s bid proposals for a new tender.

I know that I should not be reading over people’s shoulders but sometimes you can’t help it as everyone else is reading the Metro. These people should not be reading commercially sensitive information in a public space. It is almost as bad as the Cabinet Ministers on the way into Downing Street who leave their papers showing.

If you have an office then use it.

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The Green Thing

In the line at the shop, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The till girl responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery shop and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go to town.

But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Wales.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

Isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

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Drinking to Workplace Success

Guest Blogger on FM Expert
Simon Knapp, National Field Sales Manager from Mars Drinks offers a refreshing perspective on keeping the workforce happy in challenging times

Few UK workplaces haven’t faced some hard decisions over the last couple of years with economic constraints forcing cuts across most businesses. Reducing ‘perks’ can appear an obvious place for companies to make savings, but this can often come at a higher price and to the long-term detriment of an organisation.

Keeping employees motivated throughout the working day can actually ensure the longer-term health of a business. Employees feel they are being invested in and cared for, which means loyalty to the company remains – if not increases, helping the company to tackle challenging times ahead knowing they have the people on board to help them through until the better times.

Also, so-called perks don’t have to be highly expensive items. Offering employees good quality hot and cold drinks that are cost-effective and easily accessible throughout their working day can not only improve the morale of a team of people, but can also have additional advantages.

Research (1) conducted by Mars Drinks showed that 43% of employees believe that hot drinks have a positive impact on their productivity with 39% of them specifying that hot drinks help them to concentrate.

From an FM’s perspective, further research (1) reflects how important a seemingly simple decision over what coffee machine to buy can have, with 76% of decision makers believing a positive impact results from the choice of drinks system selected.

When you look at the rapid growth of high street coffee shops even in challenging economic climates, the demand for a drinks break becomes obvious. For UK workplaces, offering a reliable and efficient way for employees to enjoy a range of great tasting drinks during the working day, such as a vending machine, can provide benefits to both employer and employee.

And systems like drinks vending machines can also offer additional financial benefits if they are energy efficient and help the company to reduce its energy bills!

So, for UK workplaces looking to secure a positive future, it’s important not to forget it’s the little things that can make the big differences.

Simon Knapp is National Field Sales Manager at Mars Drinks (

(1) McKinsey & Co Study 2008

If you would like to appear as a FM Expert guest blogger or if you would like more information on FM Related topics then please contact Craig Shepheard on 07879 486116 or email him on

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What would happen to your Profit margin if your Gas/Electricity prices rose by 15%?

Britons face jump in energy bills, Bank of England warns

Britons face massive rises in their gas and electricity bills, the Bank of England warned as it laid out its latest forecasts for inflation.

The Bank’s projections for the economy assume that between the coming July and March next year the UK will see a 15pc rise in domestic gas prices and a 10pc rise in domestic electricity prices.

Just three months ago, the Bank was only expecting a 5pc increase for households’ gas prices to come in final quarter of this year.

The Bank cited the soaring cost of crude oil and gas, driven upwards by the turmoil in the Middle East, for the looming rises in utility bills. Futures prices for Brent oil, London’s benchmark oil, have risen about 16pc in the past three months, it said, while futures prices for wholesale gas were 18pc higher.

Do you know how much you currently spend on gas and electricity contracts. Use that figure and multiply it by 15% and then take that amount straight off your profit line. What does your profit look like now?

You are never going to be able to buy gas and electricity prices at the level that you used to be able to say two years ago. The stark reality facing everyone is that the price will only continue to increase. When you come to arrange  your new contract you will hopefully try to make a saving, which will be very difficult. Realistically you will have to try to minimise the gain or increase. or to put it another way “Minimise the Pain”.

Do you know how to organise your contract?

Do you know precisely when your Termination Window opens? (Do you even know what this is?)

Do you know your MPAN  or MPR number is or what they can be found?

Do you know what your CED is?

What is your AQ or your EAC?

Do you know how many suppliers there are to talk to about your contracts.

These are some basic questions that you will need to know the answers to to be able to talk to the utility suppliers.

In the words of Douglas Adams – “DONT PANIC!”

Here are FM Expert Ltd we know what these terms mean and with our Utility Contract provider we can organise your utility contracts for you and hopefully save you money or at least minimise your pain/gain. The best bit of news is that it is FREE. We get paid an introductory fee via the utility supplier so we don’t charge you anything at all. You just pay the agreed rate. We advise you on the best contract deals available but you decide which one you want.

For more advice on utility contract issues, please contact Craig Shepheard on 07879 486116 or email him on

P.S. Answers to some of the questions above

Termination window is a time period before the end of your contract when you can terminate your contract and therefore start discussions with all of the suppliers to organise a new contract. When this starts and how long it is open for is different among all of the suppliers and will probably be different for each of your meter points. I used to run a factory which had 4 separate gas meters and two separate electricity meters. Each one with a different contract start date and end date. Multiply this by the number of sites in your companies portfolio, and this can be a real headache to organise. If you fail to notify the supplier during this small time-frame you will be rolled onto a new year contract at more expensive rates and there is nothing that you can do about it for a whole year. The rates can be as much as 50-100% above a contracted rate.

MPAN = Meter Point Administration Number = The identity number given to an individual electricity meter. It is always a 13 digit number comprised of the following layout – 2 numbers (space) 4 numbers (space) 4 numbers (space) 3 numbers

MPR = Meter Point Reference.  The identity or administration number given to an individual gas meter, not its serial number. This number can be between 6 and 10 digits long.

CED = Contract End Date

AQ = Annual Quantity = The amount of gas predicted that you will use in the next year, normally based on the previous year’s gas usage.

EAC = Estimated Annual Consumption. = The amount of electricity predicted that you will use in the next year, normally based on the previous year’s electricity usage.

Number of Suppliers = There are 24 suppliers in the UK and they all have different prices that change every day. How do you know if one of them suddenly has a great offer on the day that you need to organise your new contract.

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