London University Introduces Cycle Hire Scheme

Angela Shine reports from Brunel University where wheels are in motion to introduce their own cycle hire scheme.

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Sun Editor David Dinsmore on Page Three, Phone Hacking and Hillsborough

David Dinsmore during interview with John Pienaar

Photo: Angela Shine   By Angela Shine

David Dinsmore, now five months into his editorship of The Sun newspaper, was speaking at a Breakfast Forum hosted by The London Press Club at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.  In interview with John Pienaar, Chief Political Correspondent on Radio 5 Live, he spoke about the newspaper’s past and future.

Mr Dinsmore, ex Director of Operations at News International, looked sharp and focused as the session began. He answered questions on ex Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and the police at Downing Street and spoke about his ‘pain every day’ for arrested and mistreated journalists abroad as well answering questions on a diverse range of news topics.

When asked whether he was considering moving away from Page Three, Mr. Dinsmore replied ‘I make the paper for the readers, I don’t make it for the No More Page Three Campaign, I don’t make it for the Twitterati, I don’t make it for readers of the Guardian.’  He talked about the various polls and investigations done with focus groups and continued ‘the word that came back loud and clear was ‘do not touch it.’ He also said that women offered strong support for the feature adding; ‘they feel it is intrinsic to the brand and also they don’t want to be told, by someone else, what should be in their paper.’ And finally ‘Frankly, I have now parked the issue and we move on.’

‘I make the paper for the readers, I don’t make it for the No More Page Three Campaign, I don’t make it for the Twitterati, I don’t make it for readers of the Guardian.’ He talked about the various polls and investigations done with focus groups and continued ‘the word that came back loud and clear was ‘do not touch it.’

Discussing changes to the layout of the paper, he talked about making the paper more lively and vibrant by including single column stories of interest and changing set sections to different pages. He later commented ‘It is not set in stone that there must be a pair of breasts on page three every day in The Sun.’

Phone Hacking

I asked Mr. Dinsmore if he thought phone hacking should be allowed, and if so, in what circumstances would he use it for journalism? He replied ‘No, I don’t think it should. It’s illegal, apart from anything else.

As he took questions from the floor, I asked Mr. Dinsmore if he thought phone hacking should be allowed, and if so, in what circumstances would he use it for journalism? He replied ‘No, I don’t think it should. It’s illegal, apart from anything else. Are there circumstances? I just can’t see any circumstances in the UK where anyone would ever, in their right mind, hack a phone again. No matter what the story is, because of what has come from all of this. Now it could be that if this hadn’t happened, you could possibly make an argument that something was in such public interest that you could do, but I think you’d have to be to be in leave of your senses to go and do that.’

When questioned on Hillsborough, he spoke about the ‘special challenges’ involved and commented ‘there is no doubt there were mistakes made in the past’ adding ‘Everybody had the same story, we just had the wrong headline on it.’  Mr. Dinsmore also said ‘I don’t expect to start selling papers again in Liverpool.’

When asked whether the paper has lost its Mojo, he replied ‘I’ve been here five months; we changed the name of The Sun to The SON when Prince George was born; that kinda went round the world, it was something that was different and exciting and a great snapshot of that moment in time.’ Adding ‘I don’t think it has lost its Mojo, what has changed is the media landscape.’ Acknowledging those changes as he compares the newspaper market four years ago,  he adds ‘We have to kinda recalibrate where we are today because I don’t think the Sun will sell 4m print newspapers today, but I don’t see there’s any reason why we can’t have 4m subscribers in the future.’

Researching the internet, you will find the clean lines of the News UK website combining The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. The website is already casting its metaphoric net with iPad versions of themselves, print and paper costs free. Of course the Sun is offering a tempting ‘Appy days’ Get the paper on your iPad – Free Download. Click on a small, interactive icon, strategically placed next to a mini front page of each paper and the news is at your fingertips, literally.

His eyes firmly on making The Sun a paid for multi platform readership; he appears to be in morph mode to meet the ever-changing needs of his readers. With the lure of so much available free web content, only time will tell if he will reel the falling Sun readership figures back in via on-line subscriptions.

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Paddington Cleaners Fight Dirty Over ’London Living Wage’

RMT Strikers in London

RMT Strikers in London  Photo: Angela Shine

Workers at Mitie Group PLC are on their second 24 hour strike within a month as they demand ‘The London Living Wage’. The RMT members, mostly train cleaners, were chanting and waving flags outside London’s Paddington Station in a bid to gain attention from employer Mitie Group PLC, who are under contract to First Great Western Railways. The strikers are demanding to be brought back ‘in house’ so that they get the benefits associated with working for the company.

Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the Rail Maritime Transport Union said ‘Boris Johnson promised everyone a London Living Wage of £8.50 an hour, but some of these workers are on £6.37.’ He continued ‘We’ve been in negotiation for a period of years; we don’t get proper sick pay, we don’t get pensions, we don’t get free travel like everyone else who works for First Great Western because we’re contractors. ’Mitie Group PLC and the RMT met yesterday, the second time in a fortnight but without resolution. Strategic outsourcing company Mitie Group PLC have been contracted to First Great Western for two years and the RMT believe that Mitie Group PLC have agreed  Boris’s 2012 promise of a London Living Wage of £8.55 for other cleaners elsewhere in the London’s capital after heavy negotiations.

Erica Lockhart, Head of Corporate Affairs for Mitie Group PLC said ‘We have met with them but I don’t want to comment further.’ Mitie Group PLC then released a statement ‘We have only recently confirmed an extension of our contract with First Great Western, and as are now in a position to have further discussions with the RMT. We hope to reach an agreement with the union but have full contingency plans in place to ensure no disruption to passengers travelling during a strike.’

Inside Housing.co.uk reported that Mitie Group PLC posted preliminary results for the 2011/12 financial year and reported a 5.9 per cent increase in turnover to £2 billion. Its operating profit before other items increased 7.2 per cent to £111.7 million while its pre-tax profit increased 8.9 per cent from £86.8 million to £94.5 million.

As the workers united in their shouts for a better working package, Steve Hedley added ‘if this doesn’t bring them to the table, it will be longer periods of strike’