No love lost for Heady[QQ] – We are horrified Don Heady and Noel Kelleway are considering forcing an egm which would cost ICAEW members some #100,000 (District society row, 4 January, page 2).

We have no great love of Heady or the district societies he supports.

His comment: ‘Without district societies there will be no independent thought in the institute’ is typical.

We don’t have statistics to hand but doubt whether more than 10% of members attend district society meetings. We doubt also whether they are a good cross section of the members. Why should the rest of us continue to subsidise them?

We are in favour of institute moves to reduce costs. There is still a long way to go but they are moving in the right direction. But we support Heady’s right to hold a meeting to debate the planned moves to replace the societies with 10 regional organisations. But the right time to discuss these things is at an agm not an egm.

If it is too late to include it on the agenda for this year the decisions should be held until next year. It is important that democratic principles apply and important decisions are not taken without a fair hearing.

Dr Jeff Wooller, ICAEW Ginger Group (not ICAEW approved), London

Time to fine the Revenue

– Much play has been made of the windfall to the Exchequer from #100 fines levied on those failing to file their tax returns by 31 January – but what about the other side of the coin?

As many practitioners know, some of their clients will be sent penalty notices despite returns being filed by the due date. Some 30,000 were issued last year which was upsetting to clients and caused extra work for the accountant.

Besides the courtesy of an apology surely there should be a payment of #100 to the client and a similar sum where an accountant is involved for the distress and effort incurred.

This year I’m proposing to issue my own ‘payment notice’ to the Revenue for each penalty notice received.

Peter Mitchell, Sole Practitioners Association, Bucks

Think about a dream job

– We should all be able to manage our workload effectively enough so we don’t have to work late or take work home (Opinion, 4 January, page 10).

The majority of us who work long hours and make ourselves unhappy are doing it for a reason … to advance our careers in the shortest possible time, so we can retire early. If a job existed where I could go home at 5.30 that offered fast-track career prospects and pay rises, I would take it … dream on!!

Sara Burke, Bristol

Sven will he make it?

– I was surprised to find Sven-Goran Erikkson excluded from last week’s Top 50 of those whose decisions will affect the working lives of the profession in 2001. A serious omission!

Michael Watts, Penrith, Cumbria

Political manoeuvring, not finance, will decide euro issue

I suppose it might have been expected from an accountancy magazine but I do have to say that I find the penultimate paragraph of your editorial about the euro debate in last week’s issue quite remarkable (Leader, 11 January, page 14).

To contend that probably the greatest political issue to have faced this country in many years should be ‘governed by finance’ is blinkered and shortsighted. There will of course be profound financial effects arising from the decision but whether one likes it or not the issue is highly political.

The problem with the debate over the euro, and indeed membership of the European Community itself, is that each side can select facts to support its arguments. An informed decision also needs to take into account future intentions of the politicians which vary over time and are often presented in a way to support whichever case one is arguing.

Joining may or may not present a short term financial advantage depending on the interpretation and stability of ‘economic convergence’ but it will also lock us in to a further step down the road to a European superstate.

The case for membership is far from conclusive and unless – or until – it is, it seems to me we should concentrate on the strengths of our own economy and systems of law and government which appear to have been cast aside in the ‘will we won’t we’ debate.

Until convinced otherwise I will remain a eurosceptic.

I am not anti-foreigner but I prefer that our relationship with other countries, including Europe, continues as friends, not family.

Cliff Redman, FCCA, ACIS financial director, Hydrachem

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