Saturday 29 April 2017

Coombswood Trust Open Weekend

The Coombeswood Canal Trust 

Is holding its Bi-annual Open Weekend during May and at the same time commemorating the 50th anniversary of Stewart and Lloyds closing down at Coombeswood in 1964.

The free event is open to the public between 10am and 4pm  each day over the weekend of 13th and 14th May, 2017 at Hawne Basin, Halesowen. Intended to enable visitors to see what the Trust has to offer and at the same time learn about its work and its historical links to the former Coombeswood Steel Works.


There will be trade and craft stalls together with trade boats selling their canal related items plus other items. There will be live music throughout the weekend as well as plenty to keep the kids occupied, as well as other attractions on site.

Canal boat trips will be taking visitors on a tour up to view what is left of the Tube Works Factory. Including the Gosty Hill Tunnel portal and back. Refreshments will be available in the club house with both hot and cold food and a real ale bar.

Thursday 27 April 2017

Smartphone Smarter Than You?

Is Your Smartphone Smarter Than You?

The chances are that you have in you handbag or pocket a smartphone. The problems is - that sometimes the smartphones turn out to be more sophisticated and smarter than us.  Things you do online and offline can put you at risk of identity theft and other types of fraud.

A few years ago in a past life, I wrote a handout for students for securing internet 'Access Points and Routers'. At that time - the buzz was 'Out-of-the-Box' or 'Plug-and-Play' The idea being that anybody could take a device, plug it in to the phone line and the mains then without any knowledge whatsoever be able to use it.

People at the time were often left wondering why their internet charges from their internet service providers were so high. They did not know it, but they were a fraud victim.  They had experienced what was known at the time as a 'Drive-By-Attack'. Except that the bill payer had no idea that their Internet connection was compromised.

The problem was to make the system 'foolproof' the manufacturer of routers and access points provided the device with a set of default security settings. The Administrators account was usually called 'Admin' and often the account password was 'Password'. They were all the same and if you did not change the default settings. Anyone within range of your router, with a little bit of knowledge could login using the admin account and the default password.
They could then use the victims internet for free  then when they were leaving, delete information from the device connection record. Including their MAC Address and other information. Things today are much better and the first time set-up configuration application, as a bare minimum prompts for a user defined admin password to be set.
Smartphones by comparison are much better protected than the old routers and access points ever were. However, smartphones are much more complex. (including GPS, still camera, video camera, games console as well as being a telephone) Whilst most modern smartphones do have good security settings. Some security features have to be turned on and in some cases configured.

The consumer magazine 'Which' has published a PDF document that can be downloaded. Targeted at the two most popular types of Smartphone.  It has a great deal of information on protecting you, your personal information and your smartphone from being compromised.

The most popular Smartphone is based on the Android system. Click Here to download

The other one is based upon the less popular Apple smartphone system. Click Here to download

There is also another 'Which' document on protecting yourself from financial scammers. Click Here to download

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Red Diesel Conundrum

In the Spring Budget, the government announced that it would be issuing a call for evidence on the use of red diesel. This is so that the government understand how, where and why red diesel is used throughout the country. Red diesel (rebated diesel) sales account for about 14 percent of all forms of diesel sold. The vast majority of sales is commercial farming and forestry. However diesel sold for domestic and propulsion on boats is also significant.

There is a popular Brexit myth in boating circles that leaving the EU would mean the duty would automatically be removed and duty free red diesel would extend to propulsion once more. Governments are notorious for collecting tax and duty. Because diesel is now seen as a 'Dirty Fuel' and the need to improve 'clean alternatives' the government will be minded to increase duty to reduce use.

While the original sales of red diesel were duty free. Then as a result of changes at HMRC a derogation was granted for domestic use for heating. This brought about the ubiquitous 60/40 duty split. There is no call for keeping the 60/40 split and there is a good chance that HMRC will bring red and white under the same duty charge. Therefore the boaters as individuals and collectively as associations and trusts. Need to ensure some input into the collation of the evidence.

More information can be downloaded. Click Here

You can have your say by email:

You can also have your say by snail mail: Red Diesel, Energy and Transport Tax Team, Business and International Tax Group, HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ