Saturday, 18 August 2018

Winter sun: Flights to The Philippines from £341rtn - incl. luggage & meals

If you pirates are in the market for some stunning beaches and friendly people, you simply must check out The Philippines! The country is made up of over 7,000 islands - so you're sure to find one to suit. Browse below for flights departing between September and December. Use Manila as your base and go… Samcana POSTS ARE NOT OUR ENDORSEMENT

Halt final TfL payment to Garden Bridge Trust, says shadow minister Andy McDonald

Preparations to pay the charity behind the Garden Bridge project its final multi-million pound chunk of public money should be suspended, the shadow transport secretary has said

The Garden Bridge Trust recently wrote to its public sector sponsor Transport for London with a request for up to £9 million of public money earmarked in an underwriting agreement provided by the Department for Transport (DfT).

However, Labour politicians including shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald have now called on TfL to withhold the money in the wake of a new legal opinion by a QC recently revealed by the AJ, raising the prospect of limiting the aborted scheme’s cost to the taxpayer, currently estimated at £46 million.

Jason Coppel, an expert in public and procurement law, said it was ‘likely’ that the trustees breached their legal duties to act with reasonable skill and care, ‘in particular in relation to the conclusion of the construction contract with Bouygues’, although he added that a claim against the trustees would not be straightforward due to the difficulty of any potential claimant proving they had suffered loss.

While Coppel’s opinion is understood to be strongly denied by the trustees, Labour London Assembly member Tom Copley has now written to TfL commissioner Mike Brown, attaching Coppel’s legal opinion and calling on Brown to ‘halt any payment of further public money to the trust’ until TfL had obtained its own legal advice over whether trustees had indeed breached their legal duties.

Copley’s intervention was backed by McDonald, the second shadow cabinet member to raise serious questions over the actions of the Garden Bridge Trust in recent weeks after repeated calls for a new Parliamentary inquiry were made by shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne.

McDonald said: ‘It’s the right thing to do by taxpayers to attempt to recover every penny possible from Boris Johnson’s scandalous Garden Bridge vanity project.

‘The taxpayer’s interest must be the priority, and that means using whatever legal means are available in order to limit the cost to the public purse.’

In his letter to Brown, which was copied to London mayor Sadiq Khan and the Charity Commission and was dated August 7, Copley wrote: ‘It has come to my attention that the Garden Bridge Trust has yet to draw down the £9 million of public money provided by the DfT, but has recently made a request to do so which TfL is reviewing.

‘I’m sure you will have seen the opinion of Jason Coppel QC … in light of this opinion from an eminent QC, which I attach, I’m writing to ask you to halt any payment of further public money to the trust until you have sought legal advice as to whether TfL can withhold further payments on the grounds that the trustees may have breached their legal duties. If this is the case it should be the trustees that are liable, not the taxpayer.’

In its latest set of accounts, published recently by the Charity Commission after being submitted more than 150 days late, the trust estimated that it would request £5.5 million or less of the £9 million underwriting facility from TfL in order to meet its financial liabilities.

The DfT’s guarantee was controversially provided in 2016 by then transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the face of strong opposition from the department’s then permanent secretary Philip Rutnam.

Brown has yet to reply to Copley but a TfL spokesperson said: ‘The Garden Bridge Trust has written to TfL with a request for payment under the underwriting agreement. We are currently reviewing their request.’

The Garden Bridge Trust is currently in the process of winding up and trustees were unavailable for comment.

from Taxi Leaks

Early-bird: Adults Only 4* Marbella holiday 6nts from £383pp - incl. flights & hotel

Ahoy early-birds! We've laid eyes on the stylish, Adults Only 4* Amare Marbella Beach Hotel in an enviable location right on the beachfront offering an outdoor pool and spa, along with a buzzing beach club. Holiday details Travel duration: 6 nights (longer or shorter stays possible) Example date: 9th 15th Apr 2019 Flight +… Castaway_Cee POSTS ARE NOT OUR ENDORSEMENT

Cotswolds hut stay with private hot tub from £110pp - incl. breakfast

Pirates! Make the most of the fresh country air and go exploring the ever-popular Cotswolds. A staycation break at brand new Hilly Huts at The Fish Hotel in Broadway can be booked from £110 per person, per night, based on 2 sharing. These uber-cute cabins have a private outdoor hot tub and the price includes… Captain_Niamh POSTS ARE NOT OUR ENDORSEMENT

Beachfront bliss: Ibiza getaway from £280pp - 6nts 4* adults only hotel, breakfast & flights

Ahoy pirates, fancy heading to Ibiza, we have found an awesome holiday to our favourite Balearic Island this October! You will stay in a great rated and award winning 4* hotel for 6 nights (longer stays possible) with breakfast included each morning of your stay. Book today with a deposit of just £25 per person!… Lola POSTS ARE NOT OUR ENDORSEMENT

Young Couple ‘Nearly Die’ As Uber Car Plunges Into Sea…But Still Charged The £18 Fare

AN Uber passenger was still charged his £18 fare — despite “nearly dying” when his cab plunged into the sea.

Businessman Nick Christoforou, 31, and colleague Sophia Toon, 23, had to swim for their lives after their taxi drove off the end of a jetty.

Nick said: “One minute I was in the back of an Uber heading home, and the next I was in the sea.”

He went on: “I managed to get the car door open and got to the surface to find the others.

"If I wasn’t in a fit and able state we would all be 100 per cent dead.”

The real estate worker from Cockfosters, north London, was on a work trip to the South of France when he booked a car via the popular Uber app.

Sophia were picked up at 1.30am in Cannes by a driver in a Citroen DS5.

Nick said: “All of a sudden I felt falling.

"Five seconds later and the car was filling up with water.

“Even now I am not certain what caused it.”

The route the car travelled and its landing point
The car sank into water 3m (10ft) deep at Port Pierre Canto, a marina for 500 yachts in the city, which hosts Cannes Film Festival each year.

Nick swam to the nearest boat and pulled the others to safety.

The driver was breathalysed and found to be sober.

Uber driver plays game on his phone as he speeds along busy London street
No arrests were made.

A police spokesman said: “Luckily the car sank slowly, allowing some time for the occupants to get out safely.”

Source : The Sun.

from Taxi Leaks

We Still Don’t Know Whether Uber Is a Real Business?

It has never had to live on the cash it generates

In March, Uber will turn 10 years old. On paper, it’s one of the world’s most highly valued companies. Uber has become a verb for rides on demand, changed the transportation habits of millions and pushed changes in city planning around the world.

But after a decade of operation and perhaps a year or so away from its initial public offering, an essential unanswered question remains: Is Uber viable?

Put aside questions about whether Uber is overvalued, evil or whatever other clouds exist. I’m talking about simple dollars and cents. Uber Technologies Inc. has burned through more than $1 billion in cash in the last year, by design, and continues to fund itself with the huge capital pools available for young superstar companies since about 2010. If all that cash from SoftBank, Saudi Arabian oil wealth, conventional tech investment funds -- or even cash from future public stockholders -- unexpectedly dries up, does Uber’s business model work? I don’t know, and almost no one else does either.

There are always questions about whether relatively young companies will have staying power, but because Uber has never had to finance itself solely with the cash generated by its businesses, questions about the company’s basic viability are even more urgent. 

It’s been said before that Uber has sensibly tailored its business strategy to the financial realities of the last eight or so years of financial markets. Never before has so much money been thrown at promising young technology companies, and for good reason. People with money are desperate to make more money, and private technology companies have been an appealing way to turn $1 into $10 or $100. 

If Uber had started just a few years earlier, it might have been confined to its original business of dispatching luxury cars. Instead, Uber has taken in more than $15 billion from stock sales and borrowings, and that cash has let Uber dream big. It offers semiprofessional drivers at the tap of a smartphone screen in dozens of global cities, has branched into transportation by bicycles and has visions of robot-driven cars and flying taxis. It’s investing in food delivery, matching supply and demand for freight and more.

Uber’s cash has let it become this ambitious, but it’s never been forced to live in a world where it has to operate solely with the cash it generates. The company’s free cash flow -- or cash generated by its operations minus costs for capital projects -- was negative $1.3 billion in the last 12 months, according to Bloomberg News and other media reports on the company’s self-reported, cherry-picked financial figures. For the sake of comparison to a recent but dramatically different era in technology, Facebook had positive free cash flow for three full years when it filed to go public in 2012. 

Don’t just listen to me about the importance of companies that can sustain themselves with their own cash flow. Listen to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. "The most important factor for me," he said at a Fortune conference last month, is "cash flow generation."

 "I don't want to be dependent on private, public or any markets to fund the business expansion and the extraordinary expansion in front of us," he said.

Well said. Uber doesn’t need to be cash flow positive when it goes public. And maybe not for years. But eventually it does, and at this point it’s not clear how or when that might happen. 

Khosrowshahi and investors in both Uber and other on-demand ride companies have said the economics of the basic business are nicely profitable and improving in some established cities. They say finances for Uber and its rivals are distorted by intentional decisions to grab market share in many cities, global expansion into areas where rides aren’t immediately profitable and investments in promising but cash-draining businesses such as driverless cars.

Young tech companies often say they can pare spending or curtail growth investments if they need to fund themselves solely with cash their businesses generate. That sounds great, but it’s remarkable to think we don’t know what Uber’s business looks like -- or if it can even exist -- if the company had to live within its means.

If times change and Uber needs to become cash flow profitable earlier than it expects, what happens to Uber’s fares or the availability of rides? Does the cost for a ride double or triple? And if so, and demand for rides shrinks, how much more does it cost Uber to attract and retain drivers, which then depresses demand from riders? If Uber has to stop or pare back its investments in driverless cars or food delivery, what happens to the company’s future value or its cash flow?

And it’s not trivial to cross the chasm from a fast-growing technology company that needs constant fresh cash to a firm that can finance its own operations. In a recent analysis I did of tech companies that had gone public since 2010, I was surprised to see that some relatively seasoned companies had for years generated less cash than their businesses needed to operate. Companies such as Pandora Media and FireEye need continual supplies of fresh cash from stock sales or borrowings. 

To be clear, Uber had billions of dollars of cash on hand as of June 30. It’s not in danger of blowing up. But nothing about Uber is a sure thing. Not its eye-popping valuation, not its ability to withstand competition and regulatory challenges around the world, and certainly not its very viability as a business. .

Source : Bloomberg 

from Taxi Leaks